This man, p.61
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       This Man, p.61

         Part #1 of This Man series by Jodi Ellen Malpas
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Page 61

  Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

  I glance at the clock on the cooker. ‘I’ll grab something at the office. ’ I can’t be late. I grab my bag to get my pills. ‘Can I have some water?’

  ‘Knock yourself out, baby. ’ He returns to his jar of peanut butter.

  I walk over to the huge fridge-freezer, delving into the deepest depths of my bag. Where are they? I slap my bag onto the worktop next to the fridge, removing everything, but I find no pills. Please, not again. I’m hopeless.

  ‘What’s up?’ he asks.

  ‘Nothing,’ I mutter, dumping everything back into my bag. ‘Fuck. ’ I curse under my breath, but then mentally applaud myself for separating the packets and putting some in my underwear drawer.

  ‘Watch your mouth, Ava. ’ he rebukes me. ‘Come on, you’ll be late. ’

  ‘Sorry,’ I mutter. ‘This is your fault, Ward. ’ I swing my bag onto my shoulder.

  ‘Mine?’ he blurts, all wide eyed. ‘What’s my fault and how?’

  ‘Nothing, but it’s your fault because you’re distracting me. ’ I accuse.

  He looks down at me, his lips twitching. ‘You love me distracting you. ’

  I do as well. I can’t deny it.

  I’m delivered to Berkeley Square in record time. He really is a menace on the roads, in his stupidly expensive car. He parks illegally on the corner and turns himself to face me. He’s chewing his bottom lip and he has been for most of the journey. What’s he thinking about?

  ‘I love waking up with you. ’ he says gently, reaching over and running his thumb across my bottom lip.

  I turn in my seat so I’m facing him. ‘I love waking up with you too. But I don’t like being run ragged at five in the morning. ’ My legs are really feeling it, and it’s only going to get worse. I didn’t stretch after the run because I was sidetracked by Mr Challenging and his challenging ways. My day is looking to be really uncomfortable with my nude heels to boot.

  ‘You would prefer to be fucked ragged?’ He grins that roguish grin, running his palm down the front on my dress.

  Oh, no you don’t! ‘No, I prefer sleepy sex. ’ I correct him. I lean over, plant a chaste kiss on his mouth and get out of the car, leaving him and his frown line alone. I lean back in. ‘I’ll be seeing you tomorrow. Thank you for exhausting me before work. ’ I shut the door and start walking off on my abused legs in the most uncomfortable shoes I own. Thank God I’ve got a day in the office because I couldn’t be prancing around London in these beauties. My phone shouts at me from my bag. I pull it out.

  You look incredible in that dress. Good choice. You’re welcome. Jx

  Turning around, I see him watching me walk away. I perform a little rotation and catch his dazzling smile before I hear the guttural roar of his car go speeding off. I smile to myself. He’s been really rather reasonable this morning.

  I walk into the office and find Tom consoling Victoria at her desk. I roll my eyes to myself. What drama has occurred at eight thirty on a Friday morning?

  ‘Just get it fixed. ’ Tom soothes, rubbing her back. I look down, finding Victoria inspecting her thumb nail. I roll my eyes again.

  ‘I don’t have time today,’ she cries. ‘This is a disaster!’

  She broke a flipping nail? The girl should have sought a career in stage school. But then I remember…she has a date with Drew tonight. Oh, this really is a disaster for Victoria. I make my way to my desk as she files down her broken nail, Tom continuing to rub her back. He looks up at me, making an equally dramatic give-me-strength gesture before virtually sprinting over to my side of the office. I know what’s coming.

  He plants his palms on my desk, leaning forward. ‘What was all that about?’

  ‘Shhhhhhh!’ I scowl at him, looking over my shoulder into Patrick’s office. He’s not there, but he could be in the kitchen or the conference room. I should have known my gay, inquisitive friend would be picking my brain on Jesse’s shock visit to the office yesterday. In fact, I’m surprised he held out until this morning.

  Tom waves a dismissive hand. ‘He’s not here. Tell me!’

  I focus my attention on my computer, turning it on and faffing with the mouse. What do I tell him? I’ve fallen in love with a controlling, domineering, unreasonable, neurotic, trampling man, who happens to be a client and fucks me senseless? Oh, who also gives me the countdown when I disobey him? Yes, that about covers it. I look up and find Victoria’s joined the interrogation party.

  ‘He’s one hot S. O. B!’ she sings.

  ‘S. O. B?’ I frown.

  ‘Son of a bitch. ’ they say in unison.

  Oh? Yes, he’s that too. I smile to myself, stretching my legs under the table on a sigh. Oh, that feels good.

  ‘Don’t hold out on us!’ Tom whines, executing the gayest pout I’ve ever seen.

  ‘I’m sleeping with him. ’ I shrug. I’m in love with him!

  They both look at me like I’ve sprouted horns, then at each other on an eye roll. Both sets of arms get folded across their chests as they stand before me. Tom looks over his fashion spectacles, and I glance over my desk to see if they’re tapping their feet as well.

  ‘Ava, we know that,’ Tom huffs impatiently. ‘We just want to know if the rebound fucking has moved into more interesting territory. ’ He lowers his head further down, making me feel like I’m under a microscope. I am. I remove the fingers from my hair.

  ‘I could ask Drew. ’ Victoria chirps.

  ‘What?’ I throw a filthy look in her direction when I realise what she means. ‘Victoria, I’m not in high school. I don’t need you picking his friends brain. Keep your mouth shut!’ I sound really harsh, but I honestly cannot believe she has just suggested something so pathetic and immature.

  She looks at me all hurt and backs off, returning to her desk and her broken nail. Tom looks at me, disapproval written all over his face. I shake my head at him. I don’t care. She can be such a ditsy cow sometimes.

  ‘It’s sex, nothing more. ’ I inform him. ‘Now, leave me alone!’ I grab my mouse and direct it aimlessly around my screen.

  ‘Hmmm,’ he muses, leaving me at my desk in peace. ‘Just sex, my arse. ’ I hear him mutter.

  I spend the morning checking on my clients and schedules. I’m pleased. Everything is running smoothly, with no major dramas to attend to and no lazy contractors to sack. I pencil in a few site visits for next week, smiling as I write between the diagonal lines of permanent marker pen. I need to replace my diary before Patrick cops a load of my daily appointments with the Lord.

  I gladly accept the cappuccino and muffin that lands on my desk, courtesy of Sally, and frown when I hear a commotion of car horns coming from outside the office. I look up, spotting a pink van double parked and Kate frantically waving to get my attention. I lift myself from my chair, groaning as my muscles scream in protest. I hiss on every step I take until I’m stood at the side of Margo Junior, smiling fondly at my fiery friend’s excited face.

  ‘Isn’t she pretty?’ Kate lovingly caresses the steering wheel of Margo Junior.

  ‘Beautiful,’ I agree, but then I remember something. ‘What are you playing at letting Sam have free reign on my underwear drawer?’

  ‘I couldn’t stop him!’ Her voice is high pitched and defensive. It bloody well should be. ‘He’s a cheeky swine. ’ She grins.

  I’ve no doubt that he is. The thought instantly reminds me about the whole tying up charade. I’m tempted to ask Kate, but I quickly decide that I really don’t want to know.

  ‘How’s Jesse?’ Her grin widens.

  ‘Fine,’ I narrow my eyes on her.

  ‘You stayed there,’ she says, her tone suggestive. ‘Have fun?’

  I scoff. ‘Well, I had a wild ride on a Ducati 1098, had daggers thrown at me by Sarah and ran nine miles this morning. ’ I reach down, rubbing my hands over my aching thighs.

  ‘Fuck, is she still a
t it? Tell her to take a leap. ’ She frowns. ‘You ran nine miles? Well, that stinks. And what the hell is a Ducatsiwhatevery?’

  ‘A superbike,’ I shrug. I wouldn’t have known that myself a few days ago. ‘He’s deposited a hundred grand into the Rococo Union bank account. ’

  ‘What?’ she shrieks.

  ‘You heard. ’

  ‘Why?’

  I shrug. ‘To keep Patrick quiet while he hogs me. He doesn’t want to share me. ’

  ‘Wow! That man’s crazy. ’

  I laugh. Yes, crazy man; crazy deluded; crazy rich; crazy challenging, crazy loveable… ‘Are we out tonight?’ I ask. I’ve rebuffed crazy man on the assumption that Kate’s free. He can’t assume I’m there to fuck at his beck and call. It is very tempting, though.

  ‘Absolutely! Ask Victoria and Gayboy. ’

  I sag in relief. ‘Victoria has a date with Drew, but I’ll ask Tom. Are you not seeing Sam then? He’s becoming a bit of a permanent fixture at your place. ’ I arch a brow. He’s actually a semi naked permanent fixture, but I don’t point that out.

  She’s going to play it off as fun. ‘It’s just a bit of fun. ’ she replies haughtily.

  I laugh at her casualness. I know different. We’re talking about the girl who hasn’t been on a second date for years. Sam’s cute. I can certainly see the appeal.

  A car starts honking its horn from behind Margo Junior. ‘Oh, fuck off!’ Kate yells. ‘I’m off. I’ll see you at home later. You’re in charge of getting the wine. ’ The window starts to rise and she grins from ear to ear. I still can’t believe he brought her a van.

  I suddenly remember the deal I brokered in exchange for my clothes…no drinking tonight. Well, that’s rubbish because I’m looking forward to a glass or two. He’ll never know. Kate zooms off down the road, and I return to the office.

  ‘Patrick called,’ Sally informs me as I pass her desk. ‘He’s not coming in at all today. He’s playing golf. ’

  ‘Thanks, Sal. ’ I return to my desk, stretching my legs back out. Yes, I’m really feeling it now. Standing back up, I pull my heel up to my backside, letting out a long, grateful breath when my thigh muscle stretches most satisfyingly. My phone starts jumping around my desk and Placebo starts crooning about Running up that Hill. I don’t even have to look at the screen to know who it is. He has amazing taste in music.

  ‘I like. ’ I say, by way of greeting.

  ‘Me too. We’ll make love to it later. ’

  ‘You’re not seeing me later. ’ I remind him again. He’s doing this on purpose.

  ‘I miss you. ’

  I can’t see him, but I know he’s pouting. And as for the make love part…well, it’s a massive improvement on fucking. I smile, my heart performing jumping jacks in my chest. ‘You miss me?’

  ‘I do, I miss you. ’ he grumbles. I glance at my computer. It’s one o’clock. It’s not even been five hours since I left him. ‘Don’t go out tonight. ’ he says. It’s not a plea, it’s a demand.

  I flop back in my chair. I knew this was coming. ‘Don’t. ’ I warn, in the most assertive voice I can muster. ‘I’ve made plans. ’

  ‘You know, you may be at work, but don’t think I won’t come down there and fuck some sense into you. ’ His voice is deadly serious and even a little angry.

  He wouldn’t, he couldn’t. Or could he? Bloody hell, I’m not even sure. ‘Knock yourself out. ’ I respond, very lightly.

  He laughs. ‘I was serious, lady. ’

  ‘I know you were. ’ I’ve no doubt about it, but he will have to wait until tomorrow to do any sort of fucking.
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