Dazed Page 10

I look at her, intrigued. She has one of those haunting faces that look like it should be gracing magazine covers. She\s wearing black lace-up pants, a completely sheer blouse, and a killer raspberry leather jacket with raindrops dripping from it. The raspberry color of her coat accentuates the red highlights in her blonde hair. I feel like I\ve seen her before, but can\ place where. A pang of jealousy hits as I glance down at my corporate attire. She exits the elevator on the ninth floor and I stay put riding to the tenth.

As I exit the elevator, Shelly rushes up behind me. ’’Ms. Daniels, Mr. Wolf is waiting for you in the conference room.’’

I look at my watch 8:05. Crap, I completely forgot about the summons he left me yesterday afternoon. I hand off my things to Shelly. ’’Will you put these in my office?’’

She nods and as she walks away I call, ’’Shelly, wait. My shoes are in there.’’ I put my hand on her shoulder and remove my flats, replacing them with my wedges. Shelly looks at me with admiration. ’’Ms. Daniels, you have the coolest wardrobe.’’

I beam at her. ’’Thank you.’’ A compliment is just what I needed.

Shelly\s an intern working for us full-time while Megan, my assistant, is out on maternity leave. She\s doing a fabulous job and I hope to hire her full-time when she graduates this summer.

The conference room is on the eleventh floor and by the time I enter it, it\s almost 8:15. Damon is sitting in there looking through some ads I know I have already approved for this month. He glances up, and in a deep voice he says, ’’Ms. Daniels, you\ e late.’’

I see that Kimberly Hudson hasn\ arrived yet but rather than be on the defensive, I apologize. He sips his coffee and I cross the room toward the credenza and place a teabag in a porcelain cup. As I pour the hot water I say, ’’Damon, please call me Aerie. Ms. Daniels isn\ necessary.’’

’’Of course, Aerie.’’

The door opens and a woman carefully carrying a tray of coffees enters. ’’Oh, Damon, I\m so sorry I\m late,’’ she says placing the tray on the table. ’’My sister unexpectedly stopped by. She\s meeting with a director to discuss a role she\s dying to play and wanted to make sure she looked the part. She moved to LA with me and we\ e both loving it.’’ She hands him a coffee cup. ’’With sugar,’’ she says smiling. ’’And then I decided to take the stairs up the two flights. Not a smart move with a tray of hot liquids in hand.’’

He waves his hand in the air. ’’Relax, K, it\s fine. Ms. Daniels only just arrived herself. And if I can help your sister in any way, you let me know.’’

Now I have to wonder if he will call me A or if he doesn\ remember her name. I want so much to assist him but I\ll let ’’K’’ have that privilege. Her outfit black lace dress, leather biker jacket, and heavy dark eye makeup seems very cosmopolitan.

’’Aerie, I assume,’’ she says extending her hand. ’’It\s such a pleasure to finally meet you.’’

The word finally bites, but I choose not to assume she\s insulting me. She is stunning her hair is shoulder length, pin straight, and dirty blonde.

’’Kimberly.’’ I stress the word. ’’The pleasure is all mine. I\m so happy to have you aboard and look forward to growing the magazine circulation with you.’’

She passes a coffee my way. ’’Oh, call me Kay. Kimberly is so formal and I think a pen name is in order. Although I\d love to ride my previous successes from the New York Times, I explained to Damon I think I\ll be more successful without the bar set so high.’’ She looks at him. ’’And he agreed.’’

He nods.

I smile, and put a hand out to the coffee. ’’I\m fine with tea, but thank you anyway.’’

She shrugs. ’’I\ll get to know all of your habits. Next time I\ll bring you tea.’’

’’Well, ladies, I don\ want to take too much of your time this morning, but I thought it would be worth discussing a training schedule. As you know, Aerie, Sound Entertainment won\ launch until the summer, but I\d like you to get Kay up to speed in the meantime. In fact I\d like you,’’ he says to Kay, ’’to interview my fiancé, Ivy Taylor. She\s preparing a new album that won\ release until next year, but I\d like to see your brilliance applied toward growing her career.’’

I don\ let this ruffle my feathers. I\m sure there will be plenty of opportunities for me to meet with Ivy once her album releases. The meeting seems to go on for hours, and my mind wanders back to Jagger at every opportunity. I get lost in the memory of our night together.

Damon\s deep voice rattles me from my thoughts. ’’Ms. Daniels, you\ e in agreement then?’’

When I don\ answer at first, Kay jumps in. ’’Aerie and I will be the perfect workmates.’’

I glance her way, silently thanking her for cluing me in. I guess she\ll be sharing my office. ’’Yes, of course, Damon. Anything she needs,’’ I answer, turning to meet his glare.

’’Great then. Kay the construction will begin on the ninth floor immediately and by summer\s start we should have a state of the art newsroom and studio.’’ I swear I could practically see him rubbing his hands together as he speaks.

Damon rises and I say my goodbyes, scurrying to my office and wondering when Kay will be moving in. Once I sit in my chair, I grab for my purse and remove my BlackBerry. No messages. I go about the rest of my day, trying to make up for lost time and when I look at my BlackBerry again it\s four o\clock. Still no messages. I had told him I\d leave work at six today so I guess there was need to call me. I just thought . . . I\m not sure what I thought.

Time passes slowly after that. I twirl in my chair and pop my legs up on my desk. I\ve always prided myself on never being one of those needy girls, well not never once and only once. But I learned my lesson quickly, and not since Levi have I sat around and waited for a guy to call me. So why is it I\m thinking it would have been nice if Jagger called me today? In fact, why isn\ he calling me? Oh God, what if he doesn\ pick me up? Was he really just using me?

My phone rings and I jump.

Reaching to pick up the receiver on my desk, I hug it to my ear. ’’Hello?’’

’’Aerieee, I\ve been waiting for you to call me all day.’’ It\s Dahlia.

’’Dahlia girl, how am I supposed to know you\ve been waiting for a call? I did just see you yesterday.’’

’’Fess up now. Don\ make me squeeze it out of you.’’

I laugh. ’’Jagger spent the night.’’

’’I know that. I figured that out when he didn\ come home. So . . .’’

’’So we had se*,’’ I say it as fast as I can.

’’And?’’

I bite my lip just thinking about it and the ache between my legs is back. ’’And, I think I had my first orgasm.’’

A scream explodes through the line. ’’You think?’’

’’No, I did. I know I did. More than one by the way.’’ I can\ believe I\m having this conversation at work.

’’So you still like him then?’’

’’Yes, Dahlia, I still like him. Actually, I really like him.’’

For the longest time silence fills the line.

’’Dahlia?’’

’’Sorry, Aerie. I am trying not to cry right now.’’

’’Dahlia! It\s not like I\ll be getting married tomorrow. I like him. I enjoy his company.’’

There\s a knock on the door and before I say, ’’Come in,’’ it opens. Kay stands there. I kick my feet down and straighten myself.

’’Hey, Dahlia, I\ll need to call you back later, but really quick is he there?’’

’’He stopped by long enough this morning to shower and then took off. I haven\ seen him since then. Is everything okay?’’

’’Yes, Dahlia girl. Just curious. I\ll call you later.’’

I hang up the receiver.

’’Aerie, I\m so sorry to interrupt. I just wanted to stop by and make sure you were really okay about sharing your office with me until mine is ready.’’

I roll my chair toward her. ’’It\s fine. When did you want to move your stuff up?’’

’’Friday should work. Damon said construction wouldn\ begin before Monday.’’

’’Tomorrow I\ll ask Shelly to arrange the move then.’’

’’Thanks so much. I look forward to learning the ropes from you.’’

I fold my hands on my desk and give her a friendly smile.

As soon as the door clicks shut, I pull my BlackBerry from the pocket in my purse 6:05. Finally! Time to leave. Anticipation at seeing him again burns through me, but fear that he won\ be there worries me. As I walk out of the office, I convince myself that he\s not using me. That playing the role of my uncle in the movie isn\ why he\s spending time with me. But old ghosts haunt me and I remember what happened with Levi how one minute he had me under him na**d and the next he was kissing another girl.

The automatic doors open and through the light drizzle I can see his car isn\ parked where he dropped me off this morning and my heart sinks. But then I glance sideways. Under the awning, leaning against the wall, I spot him the wayfarers that cover his gray eyes, the faded jeans that fit snuggly on his narrow hips, the scuffed boots with the orange laces, the messy but somehow perfect dark hair, and the wool coat the one I told him I liked. He appears deep in thought, but then suddenly glances up.

He walks toward me and tucks his glasses into the opening of his coat before reaching me. I stand there, unable to move. I\m so elated that he\s here. His hands curl behind my neck as he pulls the clip from my hair out with one hand and sticks it in his coat pocket, tangling his fingers though my hair with the other. Before I can study his expression, his lips are on mine. Soft, full, kissing me with burning passion. He pulls back, leaving me breathless and completely aroused.

’’How was your day, Alice?’’ he asks with a grin.

I press against his chest, not caring that this is a very public display of affection. Then I lean back to look into his eyes. ’’Better now that work is over.’’

His hands run down my arms and lace in my fingers, and my stomach dances with excitement.

’’And how was yours?’’ I ask.

As he speaks I notice sadness in his eyes. ’’Mine was ’’

’’Have a great night, Ms. Daniels,’’ Shelly calls from behind me.

I turn toward her voice. ’’You, too. See you tomorrow.’’ I wave.

Before I can turn back to him, his lips are near my ear. ’’I missed you.’’

I can almost feel his beating heart against my back. I flip around and reach up on my toes to find his mouth. ’’I thought about you today.’’

He dips his head and finds my lips, brushing them lightly. ’’What exactly did you think about?’’

I normally wouldn\ want to say what I\m thinking, but it\s the truth, so I say, ’’How you could make me come like no one ever has. How you felt inside me.’’

His lips curve into that smug grin and his stormy eyes dance with pleasure. ’’Good, because that\s all I thought about, too. So what do you say we get out of this rain and I feed you, so we can go practice?’’

’’Where\d you park?’’

As he pulls me closer he lets the umbrella drop to the ground. He wraps one around my waist. Then with his se*y smoldering grin, he points toward the parking lot. ’’Where I\m supposed to park.’’

I don\ care that I\m getting wet, I don\ care that my shoes might be ruined, I stop right there and step in front of him. ’’What do you say we order in again?’’

Chapter 6

Unconditionally

The past six weeks have passed by in a whirlwind. Jagger and I have been spending more than just a lot of time together. We have seamlessly combined our lives. He\s joined my evening yoga classes and sometimes he comes to my morning training sessions. He\s not a morning person though it\s cute how much he dislikes getting up. He stays with me almost every night, and I have never had se* as much or as often as I do with him I love every minute of it.

The movie audition has been delayed because of script issues. But regardless, Jagger has kept busy. He picked up a few small modeling jobs and last week he went for a second round of shots to do print for a big fashion house. He\s pretty excited about that. He\s also gone on numerous casting calls. He was offered a small part in a movie that he turned down because he was filming overseas and it would interfere with his audition for No Led Zeppelin. And although I\d like to say I\ve been the one helping him, he\s been helping me as well. Having someone to talk to while I go through my uncle\s belongings has been therapeutic. I\ve found photos, cards, and his complete vinyl. We also found a bunch of old sales reports, some from when Uncle Ian was Avery Wilde\s silent partner and some from Nick Wilde\s days under the Little Red label. I know Avery was very involved in his son\s career so I assume the items just got mixed up in their offices.

Once I told him about Damon and my other half, I stopped talking about work. It wasn\ as interesting as other topics. And sharing an office with Kay has been much more pleasant than I thought it would be. She\s actually really nice and doesn\ seem to have any hidden agendas. She keeps to herself and sometimes even seems nervous. I don\ ask it\s not my business. But I have shown her all the facets of my job and she seems very appreciative. In fact, with her at the magazine, I\ve been able to come in a little bit later and leave slightly earlier a win/win for both of us. And a bonus Damon was really happy with the article we co-wrote about Ivy Taylor and I think he feels comfortable that the magazine is running smoothly so he hasn\ been around as much.


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