Against better judgement

Kara-Lynne lives in New York City as a writer for People Magazine. Fresh out of college, writing for People has never been the job of her dreams. She's hardly given thought-provoking assignments and when Kara's given the task to publish a story on popular, pretty-boy and charming 'love expert' Ryan Barre, she expects it to be a simple assignment. However, she realises very quickly that things are far from simple with Ryan.

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1. Dropping a bomb

She stared at herself in the mirror, scrutinising the deep red colour she'd painted on her lips. She checked her wristwatch and had 45 minutes before having to be in the office. More than enough time to get herself an iced latte from the cafe five blocks away from her apartment. After grabbing and making sure she had all her stuff, she pulled the front door with a hard tug. Like clockwork, Ms Pearson who lived across her opened the door.

"Hey Ms Pearson, how are you today?"

"Oh I'm just old. Here ya go, hun." She fluffed her white curls and handed out a paper bag to Kara. She waved her manicured fingers as Kara hurried down the stairs, the soles of her sneakers squeaking against the floor as she turned around each corner. 

"Thanks Ms Pearson, you look great!"

If Kara was being honest, she pretended to be in a rush so that Ms Pearson wouldn't strike up a lengthy conversation. That  woman was pleasant and kind but like any old lady, boy, she could talk! Kara herself was more of a writer than a speaker, which explained her career choice.

With the cool breeze blowing her straightened shoulder-length hair, Kara's eyes were glued on her screen as she skimmed through her emails while waiting for her order to be prepared. 

"A special guest?" she wondered to herself, mouthing the words as she read them from the email that was listed at the top of her priority list. 

"An iced latte for Kara!" Kara's head popped up briefly as she made her way to the pick-up counter.

"Hey." Kara looked up from under her glasses, tearing attention from her phone. 

"Oh hey Sam," she greeted, offering a small smile. 

''Do you want a carrier for this?"

She pursed her lips, realising a carrier would help so she didn't have to deal with a dripping drink. "Sure, thanks."

She moved a loose strand of auburn hair from her face. Her eyes drifted back to her screen to continue reading the email.

"How was your weekend?" Sam placed the iced latte and a straw into the plastic carrier. He glanced at Kara, gathering his courage.

"It was fine," she mumbled, her forehead creased in concentration.

"Cool," he swallowed, pulling the plastic carrier taut so it'd be easier for her to carry. "So, I was wondering," he glanced at Kara's lips as she chewed on them "do you wanna go grab lunch sometime or maybe dinner after wo-?"

"Oh crap!" she gasped. "Sorry Sam, gotta go!" Kara didn't even meet Sam's eyes as she grabbed her order and ran off. "Thanks for the latte!" she yelled over her shoulder as she hailed down a cab.

Kara hadn't heard a word of Sam's proposition as she read that she had to be at work half an hour earlier for the arrival of the 'special guest'.

After shoving a twenty dollar note that meant her cab driver got a real good tip, Kara zoomed out the door and into the office building. In between her foot-tapping and sips of her iced latte, Kara scrolled through her phone to check her WhatsApp messages. She wasn't late but she preferred being early.

Kara strode into the elevator and jammed her finger on the button, resuming to tap her foot. 

"Hold the lift, please!" 

Against better judgement, Kara did. She couldn't stand idly by even if she was in a rush. 

"Cheers," the dark-haired man said, smiling at her as stepped through the doors. She nodded in acknowledgement, only looking at him when his back was turned to her.

He was definitely well-groomed. Crisp clothes, not too formal but it was clear he meant business. His broad shoulders and well-formed arms were apparent through his clothes as he raised one hand to comb back his tousled hair with his fingers.. British, by his accent. She hadn't managed to see the colour of his eyes but caught a glimpse of his well-defined jaw when he looked to the side to check what floor the elevator was on. 

Kara sipped her coffee silently, no longer interested in the contents of her phone. 

When the doors finally opened, she politely excused herself so that he'd make way for her to exit the shared confined space. She heard his footsteps follow hers as she got off, wondering if he meant to get off on the same floor or if she could dare fancy herself to suggest that he was following her and would eventually speak to her. As she was about to push the office doors open, the man strode ahead to do it for her.

"Thanks," she smiled sweetly. He tipped his head. His eyes were hazel. 

"Ah, you're here!" her boss greeted, her high heels announcing her approach. Kara raised an eyebrow,  the warm welcome unfamiliar to her. 

"That makes sense," she laughed to herself. The waft of expensive perfume invaded her nostrils as her boss strutted past to hug the stranger behind her.  

"What splendid timing," she quipped, an arm behind his back as she turned around to face Kara. 

"Kara, this is Ryan." Ryan extended a hand to which Kara took and shook lightly. "He's from the UK," her boss gave her a knowing look,"he's an expert in the dating scene and is slowly but surely gaining popularity with ladies here."

"You're very kind," he laughed.

"Modest and good-looking," Kara's boss purred.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Kara." 

She managed a smile in return. A love expert? She held back a grimace. 

This was going to be an interesting assignment.

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