Strictly Business

Jack doesn't do relationships. He especially doesn't do relationships with blonde alpha males who don't seem to understand the word no. But when the relentless stranger he rejects at the club turns out to be his boss, Jack realizes that he's going to have a much harder time keeping this one out of his pants.

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3. Chapter Three

I yawned and stretched, rubbing my eyes, rolling my wrist, and twisting my back to get the kinks out. I had been hunched over my office issued tablet for the past two hours working on coloring in an ad that one of my coworkers had drawn. Not like it's really bragging, but I have been claimed to be the best colorer in the department so people tend to ask me to color their designs. We trade projects and work gets done better and faster. Samantha is totally cool with it so long as the work actually gets done and it's not like we steal the credit from one another.

It was almost lunch and I was looking forward to it. I still had to contact Tim and ask if he was okay with Carson joining us. It would probably be a good idea so I don't give him the idea that I'd be interested in a romantic or sexual relationship with him. He was cute, I'll give him that, but I was serious when I said I needed more friends.

Just when it was about to hit one and I was going to abandon the ad for some upcoming anime that I was probably going to watch when it came out in favor of getting some food with Carson, the overhead speakers started up.

Carson's slightly distorted voice echoed through the floor informing us of a meeting that we were to attend before heading out to lunch. I groaned along with a few others but we dutifully put our work on pause and headed to the elevator to go to the second floor where all the meeting rooms were located.

"Wonder what's up," Kent, the guy I was coloring for, questioned as we got on the lift.

"The photography department had a meeting too this morning. Mr. Stone is formally introducing himself to each of the departments," Crystal said. "I heard he's incredibly attractive."

I shrugged, "He's alright, I guess."

My lift mates looked to me in surprise.

"You've already seen him?" Crystal asked.

"Samantha asked me to give him the chocolate ad submissions after our meeting this morning," I explained.

"What does he look like?" Courtney and Crystal asked. The other girls in the lift were eager to hear too and I could see the guys rolling their eyes at their behaviour. The only girl that didn't seem to care was Evelyn, but she never really cared about anything honestly. Except her dog. Her dog is her life. It's actually really cute how much she loves that Border collie.

I scratched the back of my neck as I humored them, "He's blond, a little taller than me, pretty muscular, clean shaven, and blue eyes. Uh, that's about it."

"Ugh, you're useless! And you claim to be gay," Gretel slapped my arm. It didn't hurt but it did surprise me.

The other girls seemed to agree and started gossiping amongst themselves. I turned to Frank completely lost, "The hell did I do?"

Frank shook his head in amusement, "Women are mysterious creatures, Jack. You're lucky you don't have to figure them out."

With that, the elevator stopped and we all filed out, heading for meeting room four as Carson had directed. The meeting room was like any other, a long oval table in the center surrounded by numerous swivel chairs that I could never sit still in, white board, projector, tall windows, and a coffee machine. There was a coffee machine practically everywhere in the building to be honest. It was quite ridiculous. I probably wouldn't be complaining if I liked the bitter beverage but I was a tea guy through and through.

We all took a seat around the table, and within five minutes the entire graphic designing department was seated, chatting amongst ourselves. Unfortunately, Martin decided to sit next to me so I pretended to be busy on my phone as I waited by playing some game.

"Fooling around on the job, Jackie?" Martin commented even though I made it pretty damn clear I did not want to socialize with him.

"Technically, it's our lunch break so no, I am not fooling around on the job," I replied curtly, continuing my game.

I managed to beat a level before everyone hushed down. I looked up and saw Carson entering, holding his iPad. That thing is practically his soul. I touched it once and he damn near tore my head off. Following right behind him was Mr. Stone. He looked around the room emotionlessly which was rather odd considering he was quite expressive when I met him a couple hours ago. Then his eyes locked on mine and his lips twitched upwards. I fucking swear I've met him before.

Carson stood to the side, leaning against the door and looking bored as Mr. Stone took up residence at the head of the table. I kind of felt bad, Carson's gonna have to hear Mr. Stone's introductory speech or whatever for each of the departments.

I let my eyes drift from Carson back to Mr. Stone as he clasped his hands together and grinned, "Well, good afternoon everyone. Sorry to do this during your lunch break but I'll give you all extra time to make up for it and I'll be as quick as possible. Let me start off by introducing myself. I'm your new CEO Cole Stone. I just turned twenty-nine the last month and even though I am pretty young, I assure you I know what I'm doing. I used to be the advertising department head of Stitch, if you're familiar with that company."

Who wouldn't be familiar with Stitch? It was only the most successful modeling agency in the country with one of the best advertising departments.

"Now, I work a little differently than Cash, Mr. White. I'm much more into being hands-on so you'll be seeing a lot of me. I'll be popping by departments a lot to check up and give my own personal feedback and assistance where need be. I'm also one to make close relationships with my employees so don't be surprised if I join you in the cafeteria or invite a bunch of you out for lunch, because I will. I'm not a complete workaholic and do have my fun." He paused and stared right at me as he said, "I like to go out and drink and have fun just like everyone else. In fact, you'll probably see me hanging about at a club called Hung over the weekends."

My eyes widened as it finally hit me. Fuck. Now I know where I had met him. My new boss was blondie. My new boss made me spill my drink on me. My new boss tried to pick me up. I told my new boss to fuck off. I am so fucked.

Mr. Stone seemed to have noticed that I finally remembered him and smirked right at me while I tried to not run out of the room and have a panic attack.

Still keeping his blue gaze locked on me, he finished off by saying, "If you have any questions, personal or otherwise, I will be glad to answer them as best as I can. I hope to get to know each and every one of you. And that'll be all. You are all free to go have your lunch with an extra twenty minutes if you wish."

Everyone immediately got out of their seats, some going to Mr. Stone to converse and welcome him to the company. I hightailed it to Carson, grabbing his arm and pulling him out of the room. He pulled back and made me wait though as he went to Mr. Stone, quickly speaking to him. Mr. Stone looked over Carson's shoulder at me for a moment then nodded to Carson, giving him a tight smile.

"Where do you want to go?" Carson asked once he came back to me.

I didn't reply and grabbed his hand, pulling him out of the room, wanting to get away as fast as I could.

"Jesus, Jack, where's the fire?" Carson exclaimed as I dragged him to the elevator.

Once in the elevator and heading down one floor, I fell onto Carson's chest and he automatically wrapped his arms around me.

"Carson, I am so fucked," I groaned into his neck.

He rubbed my back and was about to question me when the lift stopped and we were gawked at by those in the lobby. Although really, our position shouldn't have been too unbelievable. It was a well-known fact that Carson and I were best friends and there have been times we'd comfort each other when need be.

"C'mon, let's go to Gloria's and you can explain," Carson coaxed me into getting off of him and led the way out of the building down two blocks to a little diner we frequented when we weren't in the mood for the food in the company's cafeteria.

We quickly got a booth next to the window at Gloria's and ordered our usual. Then Carson waited for me to start explaining myself.

I groaned and flopped onto the table, hands digging through my hair, "I am so fucked."

"You said that already, I would like to know why. What happened, Jack?"

I put my weight on my elbows and massaged my temples as I went on to explain what happened the previous night to the point of my realization that blondie and Mr. Stone were the same people. I even included the little instance of the knuckle caressing in his office this morning.

Carson remained silent after my explanation and only spoke once we were given our food. "Well. Our new boss has the hots for you."

"I'm going to get fired," I whined.

"He can't fire you for that, and if he does, you can file a law suit against him. You didn't know he was going to be our new CEO so it's not your fault and you weren't the one who went after him. Plus, you can pretend you don't remember last night and—"

"He knows I remember. He was watching me and saw the moment I realized who he was," I interrupted.

Carson rolled his eyes, "Fine. But you can always file sexual harassment if he bothers you. You've been working at Vendi since even before we graduated and one of the best in your department. CEO or not, sexual harassment is sexual harassment and it's not like you've got a shit reputation at work. The worst thing said about you is that you come in hungover. And no one would even think to call you out on being some kind of gold digger considering how badly you reacted that time your department went out and you threw the biggest hissy fit about paying for yourself."

I sighed and moved my pasta around my plate, "I'd really just rather he forget about it and we pretend nothing happened. Life would be so much easier that way."

"Whatever you do, you do know that I'll support you one hundred percent, yeah?"

I smiled gratefully, "Thanks, Carson."

Carson shrugged but returned the smile, "What're best friends for? By the way, weren't you going to call that guy you met last night? Tom?"

"It was Tim and yeah, thanks for reminding me." I dropped my fork and pulled out my phone, scrolling down my contacts and finding Tim's name.

Tim picked up after almost seven rings.

"Hello?" he sounded half asleep. He apparently didn't check his caller ID.

"Hey, Tim. It's me, Jack."

"Jack… Oh, Jack! Sorry, I just woke up."

I chuckled, "It's one in the afternoon, dude." I have to admit I was extremely curious about what he did for him to still be asleep.

Tim chuckled, embarrassed, "So, is something wrong?"

"No, I just wanted to talk to you about Friday."

"Oh? Are you cancelling?" he sounded disappointed making me feel oddly guilty even though that wasn't my intention and I never usually felt guilty. Ever. I blamed it on the fact that I could picture his cute little face dropping, eyes lowering to the ground as he nodded even though he was upset.

"No, no. You see, my best friend's sister's coming to town and he's trying to run away. I was wondering if you'd mind if he joined us on Friday."

"No, I don't mind at all. The more the merrier," Tim replied and I didn't detect anything akin to reluctance or disapproval.

I grinned, "Great, thanks. I'll see you Friday then. Bye."

"See you."

I put my phone away and saw Carson staring at me expectantly, "So?"

"You're allowed to crash my date," I replied and resumed eating. We spent the next forty-five minutes talking and I managed to get my mind off of the whole Mr. Stone/blondie situation.

I was so fucking done.

Apparently Mr. Stone had joined some of my department mates for lunch and they would not stop talking about it or him.

"He's so young!" Crystal said for the umpteenth time to Juliet. My eye twitched in irritation. We were supposed to be brainstorming ideas for a magazine spread for some upcoming video game but no one was paying attention! Even the guys were gossiping about Mr. Stone's car or the fact that he was a sports fan or whatever.

"Guys!" I exclaimed in frustration.

Heads snapped to look at me and I couldn't be bothered to clear my scowl. "We need to come up with some ideas for Samantha to approve. You can fangirl about Mr. Stone later. Christ, he's not even that attractive."

The girls gaped at me in disbelief.

"Are you blind?" Jade questioned. "He's a Greek Adonis!"

I scoffed, "Hardly. I've seen and fucked guys ten times more attractive than him."

"Well this is certainly an interesting conversation."

My eyes widened in horror, as did everyone else's. Fucking shit, why me?

I turned around in my seat and tried to salvage the situation since it seemed no one else was willing to speak. "Uh, Mr. Stone, hi, um… is there something we can help you with?" Hopefully we can just move on past this incident.

Mr. Stone smirked, his eyes dancing in amusement, "I just came down to inform you all that Samantha is taking a two weeks' leave to be with her wife and newborn son. While she's away, she's decided to hand her responsibilities over to Jack."

I blinked in surprise, "Huh?"

"So, Jack, if you would please come up to my office when you've finished here."

"Uh, right, yeah, I mean, yes, sir," I stumbled. He chuckled and waved, leaving us alone once again.

"I hate all of you so much," I scowled at the others.

"Hey, you get a pseudo-promotion though," Brent said.

"It is not a pseudo-promotion, Brent. And could none of you have told me he was right fucking there?"

"We didn't realize he was there either," Jade defended.

I sighed, "Whatever. Let's just get this over with."

Almost an hour later we had finally developed some ideas and seeing as it was now apparently my job to go through them, I took them with me and headed on up to Mr. Stone's floor. To say I was anxious would be an understatement. I was practically having a panic attack.

When I got to the lobby Carson looked at me in surprise, "Jack? Why're you back?"

I rubbed my neck and grumbled, "Samantha's given me her responsibilities while she's gone and Mr. Stone asked me to come up here. Carson, the universe hates me."

He gave me a sympathetic look and picked up his phone, paging Mr. Stone and telling him I had arrived. He finished talking and told me to go on ahead.

"If I don't come out in thirty minutes or you hear weird noises, you'll come save me right?" I asked, hesitating at the door.

"I doubt he'll do anything, Jack. But yes, if it comes to it, I'll be your knight in a bowtie."

With that bit of reassurance, I opened the door and was greeted with the sight of Mr. Stone running his hands through his hair as if styling it, though how you could style hair cropped that close to your head, I will never know. Well okay, he did have longer hair near the front, closer to his forehead, but still.

When he saw me enter, his hands retreated from his blond locks and he grinned, "Jack. Take a seat on the couch."

I nodded and did as told, my fingers clutching the brainstorming ideas.

"Are those the ideas you lot came up with? For that video game, Absolute something?" he asked, getting up from his seat and moving to sit beside me on the couch. I was so tempted to scoot away from him but managed to refrain. No need to piss him off.

I nodded, "Yes, sir. Absolute Evac." I really hoped he wouldn't bring up the sidetracked conversation.

Mr. Stone nodded, "Even though Samantha is taking leave, she requested that she still be informed."

"I'll call her and keep her up to date. I'll probably be needing her help anyway," I admitted. "I've got no clue how to do her job."

"Don't worry about it, I'll help you as well and it's only for two weeks. You'll manage just fine, I'm sure of it."

I rubbed the back of my neck, "Uh, thank you, sir."

"May I see the ideas? If Samantha were here we'd be going over them. You'll have to call her up to figure out her usual procedure."

I handed him the file and nodded, "She usually goes over them and then assigns the project to about five or six of us after giving some suggestions."

He looked up from the ideas and grinned, "See? You're already getting into the swing of things."

I let my hand run through my hair, "I guess."

We sat in silence for a moment as he looked through the file, but he eventually said, without looking up, "I have to admit, I'm quite curious about the conversation I interrupted."

"W-what?"

He looked up and smirked. I felt my face heat up as I tried to think of a way to get out of this discussion as well as not get fired.

"H-how much did you hear, exactly?" I asked, trying to see what I could salvage.

"I came in when Jade, I believe her name is, called you blind."

I almost flopped back in relief after replaying the conversation in my head. There was no indication from that point that we were talking about him.

"I'm really sorry about that, we don't usually goof off. They were just a bit…excited."

"May I inquire as to who you were talking about?"

I scratched my head, "Oh, it was no one. Just some guy."

"Mhmm. Well, would you like to go out for some coffee right now? We can go over your workload and you did promise to tell me about the company and my employees."

"Aren't you busy?" I tried. I did not want to go out on a coffee break with him.

He shook his head, "I've got no appointments for the rest of the day. Please, Jack? Unless you have a lot of work, then we can go out another time."

I withheld a sigh. He wasn't going to let this go. "I guess… I mean only if you're really not busy."

Mr. Stone grinned and got to his feet, taking the file with him as he led the way out of his office, "Do you recommend a place for a quick bite and drink?"

I was about to respond when I saw Carson and a light bulb flashed in my mind, "Yeah. And why don't we take Carson with us? He knows a lot more about the company than I do, right, Car?"

Carson saw my pleading expression and nodded, "If you don't mind, Mr. Stone. I was about to ask you if I could go on a short break anyway."

"See, it's perfect. We can go to Gloria's. It's just two blocks down."

Mr. Stone looked between me and Carson then smiled, though it didn't quite reach his eyes that had narrowed marginally, "Yes. Let's go then."

So with that the three of us awkwardly stood in the elevator and walked down to Gloria's. I made sure to walk next to Carson but Mr. Stone was on my other side and I was almost sweating buckets. This would be the most stressful coffee break in the history of forever. I'm just glad I got Carson to tag along as a buffer.

We got to Gloria's and were seated quickly, the host giving me and Carson weird looks since it hadn't even been more than two hours since we last came.

We quickly ordered drinks, Carson and Mr. Stone getting coffee while I got tea, along with some French fries and cheese sticks to share. We kept conversation work related although Mr. Stone kept glaring at Carson when my best buddy wasn't paying attention. I really hoped I didn't fuck things up for Carson by making him come along. Hopefully, Mr. Stone was not immature enough to make Carson's work miserable just because he apparently wanted to bang me.

"So how long have the two of you been working at Vendi?" Mr. Stone asked.

Carson looked at me trying to count the years, "About…seven, maybe eight years?"

I nodded, "That sounds about right. We got internships during our first two years at college then got hired in our third."

Just then Carson's phone started to ring.

"Sorry," he said, pulling it out to see who was calling. "I got to take this. I'll be right back, excuse me."

I opened my mouth to protest seeing as I'd be left alone with Mr. Stone but Carson was gone in a flash.

We sat in silence for a couple minutes until our drinks and food arrived. When the waitress left, Mr. Stone decided to speak.

"Do you have a plan for how you'll be distributing the work load for this new project?" he asked.

Grateful that he decided to stick to work topics, I nodded, "I have an idea. I was thinking of getting Martin, Dennis, Frank, Jade, and Courtney to handle it. I personally really liked Jade's idea for the poster but Frank's got more experience for what she had thought up of. And I know Courtney, Frank, and Dennis work really well together despite their often clashing ideas and Dennis has been following the game since its announcement sometime last year so his input would be beneficial."

"And Martin?"

"Martin's got a great eye for the overall product and I know he's got the time. He's really organized and I think he'd help the group keep on task. He's really good at the finer details." Although his personality could do with a whole lot of tweaking.

Mr. Stone nodded and smiled, "You seem to know your coworkers really well."

I shrugged, "I've known most of them for years and we're a pretty close knit department. We know a lot about each other though not all of us are exactly friends in a sense. We're comfortable with each other."

"Comfortable enough to talk about sexual exploits, it seems."

I flushed. My mouth opened and closed, attempting to produce words but my vocal chords were muted. Eventually, I managed to stutter out, "Th-that was just a onetime thing. We don't usually discuss things like that. Sexual preference is about as far as we ever go."

"Hmm, and yours would be men, though not the person you all were talking about when I dropped by. Not your type?"

This was getting into dangerous territory. "Mr. Stone, this is getting highly unprofessional," I said stiffly. I couldn't handle it anymore. Carson, where are you?

"Sorry, I tend to be too curious for my own good. But to be fair, we're not working right now and I'm really curious as to what your type is exactly. Is it timid little lanky brunets who hide behind a glass of whisky and ice not even delivered by themselves?" Oh boy, he wanted to talk about last night. And he sounded awfully bitter too.

I sighed, "Mr. Stone, I would really like it if we could just forget about last night. You're my boss, it's unethical to say the least, and I like working at Vendi."

"Well that's unfortunate, Jack," Mr. Stone replied, leaning forward onto his elbows, resting his chin on his linked fingers. "Because I don't want to forget last night, especially what could have been."

Tension was thick between us and I couldn't help but fidget. Neither of us said anything though I think Mr. Stone was waiting for my response.

I almost went to the floor to kiss Carson's feet when he returned seconds later, saving me from having to think of a response that would not result in me getting fired or having to actually discuss last night or whatever it was that Mr. Stone was hinting at.

"Sorry about that," Carson said, oblivious to the current ambience shrouding us. Or he just decided to wisely ignore it. "It was Ms. Stevenson from Quartz. She said that there's been a change in the release date and that needs to be fixed on the advertisement."

Mr. Stone didn't stop staring me down as he nodded, "We'll fix that when we return to the building. Thank you, Carson."

We quickly finished our food and drinks, keeping conversation light and on work and then left Gloria's. The tension never dissipated. I was itching to get back to the safety of my floor but as we got on the elevator, Mr. Stone grabbed my wrist before I could press the button for the fourth floor.

"We need to finish our conversation," he said, his stern tone, resolute gaze, and commanding status allowing for no discussion.

"Yes, sir," I muttered, looking away and taking my hand back to my side.

Carson sent me a worried glance but I tried to reassure him with a small smile. Not sure how well it worked.

We arrived to the top floor much too quickly and I was practically dragging my feet as I followed Mr. Stone and Carson down the hallway. Carson went to his desk and I hesitantly followed Mr. Stone into his office. He made sure to hold the door for me, forcing me to step in before him and allowing him to block the only exit. Well, I mean there was the window but I wasn't suicidal quite yet.

"Take a seat on the couch," he directed.

"I'd really rather sit in the chair in front of your desk," I replied, hoping he'd allow me that one small favor.

Looking at him, I sighed and trudged to the couch, making sure to sit right in the middle. He merely raised an amused blond brow and sat right next to me, his thigh pushing against mine, fuck, his entire right side was pressed against my left. I conceded defeat and scooted to the very end of the couch, but he only followed. I made to get up and sit in one of the chairs on the other side of the table but Mr. Stone placed a restricting palm on my knee, keeping me in place.

"Personal space is a thing I kind of like to have," I grumbled.

"And fucking you is a thing I'd kind of like to do," he responded.

I groaned, "Look, Mr. Stone, I'm flattered and all but I'm not into casually fucking the people I work for. I keep my fucking to one person."

"Boyfriend?" He didn't sound like he particularly cared if I was taken or not.

I shook my head, "Not into those relationships. I go for a fuck buddy, no emotions other than lust though I just split with my most recent one..."

"I'll be your fuck buddy then," he offered.

"Mr. Stone," I sighed, exasperated.

"What, you want a raise? Promotion?"

Rage hit me like a freight train. I shot to my feet, scowling, "What the hell? I'm not a fucking prostitute! Go fuck yourself, you presumptuous pig! Fuck you!"

I stormed away, or at least tried to. I ended up bashing my shin against his stupid coffee table in my rush and went straight to the floor, groaning in pain.

"Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck," I groaned in agony.

"Shit, are you all right?" Mr. Stone knelt beside me. I was kind of curled up on the floor, clutching my throbbing shin.

"No I just curl up on the floor clutching my shin – that I'm pretty sure is fucking bruised to hell – and almost burst into tears for fun," I spat although I doubt I managed to give the intended effect seeing as I was doing as stated with my eyes screwed shut.

Mr. Stone chuckled and just as I was about to snap at him again for finding my pain amusing, I felt arms go under my knees and around my back before I was lifted into the air, held against a firm, muscular chest.

He set me down on the couch so that I was lying down, my head resting on the armrest. I was still clutching my shin.

"Let go of your leg," he directed. At my hesitance, he continued, "I just want to check your leg. That's all."

I clenched my jaw for a minute before nodding and letting go of my aching leg. Mr. Stone gently massaged the limb, immediately letting go when I yelped in pain and kicked.

He managed to avoid my foot and apologized, "Sorry. Good news is that it's not broken, probably just bruised. I'll get you some ice. Stay there."

Before I could protest, Mr. Stone went to the door and called out to Carson, asking him to get a bag of ice or something close enough.

"Could you roll up your pant leg?" Mr. Stone asked.

I nodded and carefully did so, wincing when I saw my skin already bruising. It was concentrated heavily at the point where I directly hit my leg and faded out.

Carson came into the office holding a plastic bag filled with ice and his eyes widened seeing me on the couch.

"Jack, what happened?" he rushed over, ignoring Mr. Stone who had held his hand out for the ice bag.

I managed to grin, "Remember how clumsy I am?"

Carson sighed and placed the bag on my bruising, making me hiss at the sudden temperature change.

"Don't be a baby, Jack. Jesus, how did this even happen?"

"I may have walked into the table…" I muttered.

Carson raised a brow, clearly seeing that there was more to my story than that. I simply looked at him, silently saying that I would explain later when Mr. Stone wasn't glaring at us from two feet away.

"Carson, thank you for the ice, but I do believe you have some work to do," Mr. Stone said.

Carson looked between the two of us and nodded stiffly, "Yes, sir." He gave me a reassuring smile, "I'll talk to you later, Jack. Be careful."

I just nodded and Carson left the office, once again leaving me alone with our new boss.

I shifted on the couch so I was now sitting with my injured leg stretched out in front of me and my other hanging off the edge in case I needed to move quickly.

Mr. Stone took a seat in the chair on the other side of the coffee table, but I still didn't relax. I eyed him warily as he trained his gaze on me.

"I'm sorry," he finally said after our little staring contest.

I blinked, "Huh?"

"I didn't mean to insinuate that you were a prostitute. In my experience, a payoff tends to get people to agree with me and I want you, Jack. I just thought giving you something in return would sway your mind."

I sighed and rubbed my face, "Mr. Stone—"

"Cole," he interrupted. "Call me Cole."

I narrowed my eyes, continuing, "Mr. Stone. I don't know who or what you did at your previous job, but I'm not one of them. I worked hard to get where I am now and I will work harder to improve. I will not, nor will I ever, resort to personal favors to succeed in this company or in life in general. I will not be bribed or paid off like a two cent hooker just so you can scratch an itch."

Mr. Stone smiled at me making me frown.

"What? If you have something to say, spit it out."

He shook his head, "No, it's nothing. Just a bit surprised at how dedicated you are to your job. I bet you were one of those super hard working kids back in high school."

I scoffed, "You couldn't be more far off. I was a huge slacker in high school. Never paid attention to any of my classes except art. And English 'cause the teacher was hot and I was a teenager with a crush."

My leg was numb because of the ice but at least it wasn't hurting too bad anymore. I removed the ice bag and slowly got to my feet, wincing ever so slightly. It hurt, but I could manage and I'd be sitting at my desk until I clocked out anyway.

"Well, I'm going to head back to work. Got a lot of stuff to do and I really do need to call Samantha."

"Need help?" Mr. Stone asked, getting to his feet and reaching a hand out.

I shook my head, "I'm good."

Still, Mr. Stone saw me to the door, even opening it for me.

"Bye, Mr. Stone," I said and rushed out, making a beeline for the elevator.

I was in such a rush to get away I completely ignored Carson who was busy on the phone anyway.

I only relaxed once I was safely at my desk, bent over Kent's advertisement focusing solely on the palette and getting the shades right. I was practically OCD about the ad and my coworkers were commenting on my change. Some were already spreading rumors that Mr. Stone had lectured me on my work ethic and was a hard ass despite seeming so chill and easy going. If only they knew…

Our new CEO was a spoiled, rich, flirt who had no sense of keeping the workplace sacred and wanted in my ass.

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