I sit nervously in the waiting room of the office, staring at the floor and pulling my bottom lip, most likely ruining my lipstick. The receptionist with too much make-up chews her gum loudly, probably checking Facebook, and it's really grinding on my nerves. I think she's Sophie, the woman who called me to make the appointment, but she didn't introduce herself and I'm feeling much too distracted. I've already been waiting here for 15 minutes and it's making me even more anxious. I feel like I'm exposing myself. I felt the eyes of strangers drilling in to the back of my skull as I walked into the building. On the train ride in, I was so sure I would meet someone I know and then they would ask me why am I wearing business clothes and what am I going into the city for and then I would have to tell them and I really hate small talk. I tell myself to calm down; I'm making myself crazy. Just breathe.
A door opens and two men emerge. My heart is in my mouth, and I know I'll be going in soon. I don't pay attention to them as they banter, shake hands and one man leaves. Stay calm, stop pulling at your lips and stop staring at the floor.
My eyes dart up to the doorway, and I finally pay attention. Shit. This is the man who is interviewing me, who I could possibly be working with? I can barely look at him. He's tall, broad shouldered with dark hair, grey-green eyes, strong jawbone... the man is a walking cliché. His charcoal trousers sit just right and his shirt is snug across his chest. I smile and walk as gracefully as possible towards him. He extends his right arm and smiles warmly. His hands are large and strong.
"It's nice to meet you, I'm James Smithfield. Come into my office." His voice is deep and smooth.
We walk through the doorway James just walked out of, and it leads into the office space. He turns left and opens another door and he motions me inside the room, closing the door behind him. The office has a desk with a chair on both sides and a brown leather couch against the right side wall. I don't know where to sit, I've lost whatever confidence I had just looking at this man and now I seem to have lost all sense of myself. I look nervously at him and wait for him to take the lead. He sits in his office chair and I follow suit, sitting at the opposite side of the wooden desk.
"What can I get you? Tea, coffee, water?" he asks.
"Coffee, black, no sugar. Thank you." My voice is gravel but somehow, it comes out.
James picks up the phone on his desk "Two black coffees please. Thanks, Sophie"
James smiles at me, his eyes wrinkling slightly in the corners. He must be in his 40s, but I don't spy a wedding band. Jesus, Bianca! Get a hold of yourself; you're here to try and get a job and not to salivate!
"So, Bianca, tell me about why you're applying for a job as my PA?"
"I've worked in sales for most of my career. To be honest with you, I applied because I want to use my hands on experience in sales and marketing to learn the support side of the role." I say, aiming to sound confident while James' eyes threaten to make me melt. "Maybe one day take your job." I joke to try and break the ice.
"You would be more than welcome to it." James laughs. "May I take a look at your CV?"
Finally, a chance to draw my eyes away from him, I reach down to get the manila folder with my CV inside. As I sit back, James' eyes haven't left me and I smile nervously at him. I slide the folder across the desk and our fingers brush as he takes it from me. It's just a moment but my knees go weak. Another smile from James and I am thankful that Sophie chooses this moment to come in with the coffees. I was right; she was the one behind the desk. I thank her and bring the warm mug to my mouth, savouring the comforting aroma and take a large gulp to calm myself. James picks up my resume and begins to read.
"Your history in sales looks great, especially for someone of your age. So that's a good start. And, you joke, but this role has the potential to develop into more as L&L Foods continues to grow."
He asks me the same standard interview questions about my working life so far and he seems to like what I have to say. James doesn't take notes or read his questions from a prepared sheet, and he doesn't once break his gaze. It's an easy but intense conversation. I feel like I have the job in the bag, but what would I know? I can feel the interview coming to a natural close, and thank goodness because I feel tired, but I've spent the better part of 45 minutes watching James' smile and I don't want it to end.
James stands up and walks around to this side of the desk and leans against the edge. "Thanks, Bianca." God, my name sounds sexy when it rolls off his tongue "I'll be in touch."
"If you need anything else, I'm not working full time right now so I'm just about free whenever." I say, almost hopefully.
James leans down and takes hold of the strap of my handbag, lightly brushing my leg as he brings it up to give to me. He offers a hand to help me out of my seat and we are standing so close that the freshly laundered scent of him goes to my head. I smile and step backwards, almost tripping over my heels to break this tension. He still holds on to my hand, and leads me towards the door.
"Thank you for coming by. I hope we'll speak again soon." He says, just before he opens the door to his office, and the way he says it makes it sounds like something more exciting than just a call back for a second interview.
I am caught like a deer in headlights. I don't know how to respond, and suddenly the door is open and the real world is back around me.
"Me too. I mean, thank you for seeing me today." I splutter. We're still holding hands, and I shake his awkwardly and step away to leave.
"One final question," James says as I'm a few feet away "When would you be ready to start?"
That, I didn't expect. "Pretty much right away, if you need me. Monday?"
"Right, well I think I might be needing you by then. I'll be in touch." He repeats, and waves goodbye.
Leaving the building in the city, I practically power walk to get to the train station. I'm shaking, I'm flushed and my mind is racing with thoughts that need to be dealt with at home. What the hell was that about? He seemed like a nice guy and it's not that ridiculous a thought that he may find me attractive is it? Or did I imagine the whole thing?
I get inside the house, flick off my heels and head straight for the bath. I turn the water on as hot as I can handle, get undressed and look in the mirror. I evaluate every lump and bump, running my hands over my hips. Like every woman, I pick at imaginary flaws, but the way James was looking at me has left me feeling perfect.
I sink slowly into the heat of the water and turn off the tap. My thoughts drift as I lay in the hot water and it's no surprise to me when I start to think about James Smithfield. James' face, his smile and what he would look like out of those clothes – they all slowly come to my mind and my body responds. I run my hands across my breasts and pinch my nipples until they harden and I ease my touch, gently running the tip of my fingers around them before pinching them again. I moan softly. Yes, this is what I need, and I need it so bad.
I close my eyes and I'm instantly transported to my time in his office. James' hand brushing my leg, but this time he does take hold of my handbag. His hand snakes up my skirt and half way up my thigh and his fingers lightly tickle my skin. He gets onto his knees and swivels the chair towards him. Both hands reach under my skirt, hitching it up to my waist and exposing me. He takes a firm hold on my ass and moves my body forward so that my legs are spread, one on either side of his body. He begins to nibble my left knee, and I convulse slightly, but he continues and moves up slowly up my thigh. The tension is almost painful and I can feel myself getting wet. He reaches the hem of my underwear, and his teeth pull at the edges. His kisses move across my pubic bone and down, and he stops and nuzzles into my crotch, his nose rubbing my throbbing clit. I groan and push against his mouth and he inhales deeply.
"You smell so good...I want to taste you" James moans. His voice vibrates through me, and I am more than eager to feel his tongue. With one hand, he pulls aside my panties, brushing against my sensitive lips as he does so. He holds my gaze as he lifts his other hand and sucks his finger before slowly feeling the length of my slit and pushing inside me. I cry out and arch my back, thrusting my whole body towards him.
I'm lost in my daydream. I have two fingers buried deep inside and another two rubbing my clit. I am so close to coming. I can feel everything tightening and then...
...And then my mobile rings. I try to ignore it but the harsh sound has cut through my fantasy. I dry my hands and pick up my phone. In my annoyance, I don't even check the number when I answer.
"Hello?" I answer breathily.
"Hi Bianca, it's James Smithfield, from L&L Foods. Have I caught you at a bad time?" His voice sends a pulse through me.
"No, not really. I was actually just thinking about our meeting earlier."
"Really? So was I."
I know it's not in the same way I was, but in a flash an image of James behind his desk with his cock fisted in his hand has me arrested.
"Is there something else you needed?" I ask.
"No. I was actually calling to offer you the job, if you're still interested."
"The job? Oh wow, yes! Thank you." I knew I was in with a chance but I wasn't expecting the call today. My excited voice echoes around the tiled walls.
"You're welcome...where are you?" He asks, and I can hear the smile in his voice.
"I only got home 20 minutes ago so I was just relaxing in the bath. I didn't expect a call so soon."
"Lucky you." he says with a laugh that sends a thrill right through me. "You said earlier that you would be able to start on Monday. Is that still the case?"
"Absolutely. Thank you, really. I look forward to starting!"
"No, thank you. You're the perfect candidate for the job. I look forward to working with you. I'll see you at 9am on Monday then."
"I'll see you then. Bye"
"Bye" he says, almost a whisper.
I sink back into the bath and pick up where I left off with renewed vigour.
When mum gets to my house on Sunday evening, she immediately notices the difference.
"Oh my baby, you look wonderful!" She says as she cuddles me tightly. She laughs as she hands me the bottle of Veuve that she brought. "I think we have a lot to celebrate!"
In the dining room, Lily has set the table and started placing dinner on the table. Maxine, my mum, loves my best friend and roommate Lily and her face lights up when she sees her. It's almost as if Lily is a second daughter to her.
"Maxi!" Lily runs to mum and hugs her tightly.
It's only halfway through dinner that the topic of conversation gets to my new job. I try to tell mum as much as I possibly can, conveniently leaving out any mention of James. She is absolutely shameless in her hunt to find me a man.
"Yes, it is very exciting, isn't it, B?" Lily says with a wink.
Mum looks back and forth between us. "What was that all about?"
"Nothing, it's just my new boss, James. He's incredibly handsome. He looks like Superman. He's probably married or something though, they always are, aren't they?"
Mum's eyes light up. "Do you have a picture of him somewhere?"
"Mum, please. Where am I going to get a picture of him from?"
"Maybe from The Facepage?" Lily and I howl with laughter. Mum's technological talk is always adorable.
"Actually, that's an idea." Lily says as she wipes tears from her eyes. "I'm going to look him up on LinkedIn!" She dashes out of the room and comes back in with her laptop.
It could be the mix of too much wine, champagne and nerves but I suddenly feel too hot.
"Are you blushing?" Mum is shocked. "B, are you nervous about working with him?"
"Kind of, mum. He's really handsome, but you know how I am with men." Mum smiles at me and rubs my arm for comfort.
"What's his last name again?" Lily asks.
"Right." She types away. "There's only one and...Oh. My. God." She sighs dramatically and turns her computer to face us.
Everything inside me tightens as James stares at me from the computer screen. Of course his professional photo is perfect. I know I'm blushing and I hide my face in my hands. The hand that was rubbing my arm is now gripping me.
"Oh Bianca, Jesus. No wonder you're nervous about tomorrow. Who wouldn't be?" Mum drools.
"Lily, please turn it around, I can't look anymore." I beg through my fingers.
"Fine." She says, stealing one last, and very unsubtle, look at the picture on the screen before shutting her laptop closed.
Before mum or Lily can start at me, I get up and clear up the table. I really wish we hadn't looked at that picture. I was happy with my clear head. I make tea, cut up cake and put it all on a tray to take into the dining room and when I enter, Lily and mum are whispering quietly to each other. There's no need to ask what they're talking about, so I don't even bother commenting. Thankfully for me, the rest of the evening goes with out mention of the coming day and I get to relax and enjoy time with my favourite women. When mum decides to leave, it's only with the promise that I will call her tomorrow to let her now how my day went. I take myself up to bed and fall to sleep feeling incredibly nervous, but contented.
I wake up much earlier than necessary and with a wine-induced headache on Monday morning. I get in the shower and wash my hair, shave my legs and wash myself down. My nerves have me on edge and I don't know how I am going to get through the day working beside James. I just hope we end up having nothing in common, or that he has a few warts I didn't see before, anything so I won't be attracted to him anymore. Honestly, the warts would have to be pretty bad to turn me off.
I dress with care, putting on my usual make up and spraying my favourite perfume. I pick out a bright yellow pair of lacy French knickers and matching bra because I read somewhere that yellow is the colour of confidence, and I need as much of that as I can get. I wear a dark full skirt, cut just above the knee and a short sleeve black blouse, buttoned up to just above the V of my cleavage. I look in the mirror. My outfit is professional, and a little sexy. A pair of black t-bar heels and I'm ready to go. Provided the train is on time, I should be at work in 20 minutes, getting me in 10 minutes earlier than necessary which will make me look dependable. God, I'm nervous.
I walk into the building only slightly less nervous than last week. Sophie is sitting at the front desk, popping her gum. She looks up and her smile is so warm that I could almost be fooled into believing that it's not my first day.
"Bianca, great to see you again. James asked me to send you through when you arrive. You ready?" She says cheerily. I briefly wonder if she gets the jitters in front of James as well.
"Sure." I say with the biggest smile I can manage with my stomach looping like mad.
Sophie leads me through to James' office. With out knocking, she opens the door and there he is, just as perfect as last week. His hair is slicked back, his suit jacket and tie are on and smooth and his face is freshly shaven. Best of all, he looks happy to see me. As he stands up to greet me, Sophie whispers to me "Good luck on your first day."
James walks towards me, his body language open. He extends his right hand to shake hands and as we do, his left hand rests upon my right.
"Bianca, how are you? It's great to see you." He says with rich warmth that I could fall into.
"I'm great, thank you James. How are you?" I smile at up at him through my lashes.
"Brilliant. Take a seat on the couch. I want to go through a few things with you regarding the position, and then we'll set you up in your office and get underway! Can I get you a coffee? Long black, right?" He remembered my drink from last week, and he's still clasping my hands.
"If a flat white is possible, I'll have that. Otherwise long black is fine, thank you."
I sit to the side of the couch and watch James strides to his desk and picks up the phone to ask Sophie to organise our coffees. He's insanely distracting. He comes back and sits down on the other side but the couch is cozy and our knees knock, sending a shock through me that James doesn't appear to notice.
"Right, are you ready to get started?" He's so friendly today and I feel instantly at ease, and I begin to feel that my suspicions about us not getting along will go unfounded.
James takes me through some examples of his typical day and as he talks, he touches me lightly on my hand or shoulder, each time he lingers a little too long. Sophie walks in with our coffees during one of these moments and he withdraws his touch quickly, only to resume soon after she leaves. I listen intently, relishing every moment I get to look at him when he's not looking at me. I take in the curve of his neck, the stretch of his jacket across his back and watch his long thick fingers as he talks animatedly about the job. That final thought distracts me for the longest amount of time and I need to shake myself out of my daydreams.
"I think it's time to show you to your office. It connects through mine so you will have to come in through here each morning. Don't worry about that though, I'll be expecting you now. Sorry to keep you so close but it's the design of the office. Besides, you will be under my directorship for some time so it's best we work in spaces close to each other." He says, hardly sounding sorry at all and the smile that flits across his face fuels the fire that's burning in me.
He stands and looks down at me as I stand, trying to be as lady like as possible, conscious of the length of my skirt. He walks to a door in the wall beside his desk that I didn't notice last week and opens it, ushering me inside. My new office opens up in front of me. It's smaller than James's but large enough, and besides, it's the first office I have ever had. The same sizeable and stylish worn wooden desk with chairs as I saw in James's office is in here, and the couch as well. A window behind the desk looks out onto the city landscape and the walls of the office are lines with some rather bland abstract art. James closes the door behind us and is standing just a little too close to be professional.
"So what do you think?" He says with an almost strained voice. His warm breath flutters against my neck, raising the hairs on my arms.
I take a step forward, turn around and smile. "It's really great, thank you."
"These paintings on the wall, feel free to get rid of them. They were from the person who was here before you, Luke. You will pretty much be picking up where he left off. His logins are at your desk. Take a seat, I'll bring another chair around and we'll go through the things he left."
It turns out that Luke only left a few weeks ago and James and I go through all of the unread emails together. He explains all of Luke's client files in detail, making sure I know exactly what's going on, and it's clear that his expectations of me are high. The hours fly by and it's only the rumbling of my stomach that alerts me to the fact that it's time to eat lunch. I blush deeply at the sound.
"Don't worry, I'm feeling exactly the same myself." James laughs, and my embarrassment dissipates. "I've set aside the day to help you settle in so I have nothing to rush for. Shall we go out for lunch, and maybe a cheeky beer?" James winks.
At my slight nod, James is up and opening the door for me and we head out of the office and onto the street. We're round the corner of the building and hit Chinatown. James bypasses a whole row of restaurants with pretty young Asian girls showing us their menus and leads us inside a small and crammed restaurant. We're told the wait will be 10 minutes so James grabs us each a Tsingtao beer.
"You like Chinese food, right?" He asks after his first sip of beer, a look of concern crossing his face.
"It's a little late for that question, I think but yes, it's actually my favourite." I answer and James relaxes visibly.
We make small talk for a few minutes before being waved to a table. As soon as we sit down, James rattles off a few dishes to the waiter and turns back to me. Once we're settled, our conversation becomes relaxed and easy. He bombards me with questions about where I grew up, what I like to do on weekends, my favourite books and I am unable to get a question in at all. I take the moment when our food arrives as the moment to strike in.
"So long have you worked at L&L?"
"Too long!" James laughs. "Actually, I started working for them as a sales rep ten years ago when L&L was just a handful of people, and just worked my way up the ladder as the company grew. That's how I met my wife, actually."
My stomach flips. Suddenly all that flirting and touching made me feel queasy.
"Wow. Good job then?" It's hard to keep the sarcasm out of my voice, so I settle for deadpan instead. "Does your wife still work for the company?"
"Ex," He says, swallowing a mouthful of beer, "Ex-wife. I finalised my divorce more than a year ago. And no, she left not long before we separated." James offers me a thin smile.
"Oh shit. I'm so sorry." I'm so relieved that it takes everything I have not to get up and dance on the tabletop.
"Don't be, I'm not. She cheated on me and it was my choice to leave. We don't have kids and that made things easier, I guess. Worked out for the best. Anyway, let's not spoil a perfectly lovely lunch. Think you can handle another drink before we finish?" James grabs a waiter that walks by and orders two more beers.
"Are you trying to get me drunk on my first day, Mr Smithfield? You'll give a girl a bad reputation, you know?" I toy. I'm back in full on flirt-mode.
"I would love to give you a bad reputation." He says with a wolfish grin. I stare at him in silence as dirty thoughts run through my head. He interrupts them with a counter question. "And what about your love life? Any serious boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands?"
"An ex boyfriend." I play with my chopsticks. "Honestly? He wasn't a nice guy. He never hit me, but you know, other ways. I ended it a few months ago, about 4 years too late."
Silence hangs over us. The only person who knows the depths of the relationship between my ex and I is Lily, and here I am about to spill my guts out to a man I barely know.
"That's some heavy shit." I look up at James and his brow is furrowed with concern.
"Yes. Yes it is. Relationships can be needlessly complicated."
James scoffs "You're telling me! I've tried dating since splitting with my wife but it's hard to start from the beginning again, especially with a woman my age."
"I'll be 46 in a few months. The women my age have kids, or want to act like they're 18 again. It's too much baggage for me."
"I'm pretty sure you'll find someone when it's right." I say as my heart drops again. He's made it crystal clear he doesn't want someone nearly 20 years his junior. I feel utterly ridiculous.
"I think we both will. There's someone out there who will want to give you everything." James flashes me a killer smile and the thought of exactly what he could give me makes me squeeze my legs together.
As we drain the last of our beer we're shuffled up to the register to pay the bill and despite it now being past 2pm, the restaurant is still busy. James and I are chatting in the queue and I wonder if other people think we're a couple. The thought both warms and terrifies me.
When we get into the building, James and I are the first to get into the elevator. He leans against the back wall and I face him as we chat, trying to keep my distance in the confined space as the lift fills to capacity after the lunchtime rush. One more person wants to squeeze in, and James reaches around my waist and pulls me closer to him to make more room. When the elevator doors close, he still doesn't loosen his hold on me.
The sexual tension between us is electric.
"You can feel that too?" He whispers softly in my ear, his breath once again raising the hairs on my body. I nod against his cheek. James pulls me slightly closer to him, a smile playing on his lips. "So what can we do about that?"
I tremble in his arms, in anticipation but also in fear. I'm so tightly wound that when the elevator dings for our stop, I nearly jump out of my skin. I can hear James laugh softly behind me as I power walk back to my office and close the door behind me.
I put my head down on the desk and take a few deep and steadying breaths before I decide look after some house keeping. I order business cards and a new diary and lay out the things I want to speak with James about tomorrow. I pick up my bag to leave and when I open our adjoining door, James is sitting at his desk, jacket off, sleeves rolled up, his tie loose and the top buttons of his shirt undone, revealing a light smattering of dark hair on his chest. I'm completely disarmed by how sexy he looks.
"You off then?" He says with a smile.
"Yeah, I don't really have much to do. I'd better save something for tomorrow, huh?"
"I'm sure I could find something for you to do." He says, leaning back in his chair.
Everything he says seems to be laced with sexual promise and it's only my first day here. How long can this go on? For a couple of seconds I wrestle with myself as to whether or not I should say anything, and I break.
"James, it's my first day. If you think there is something that might get in the way of us having a productive professional relationship, please let me know. I would hate to settle down only to have to leave." I hope I'm not being too presumptuous.
"I think we can have a very productive professional relationship." He stands up and walks towards me. He stands just inches away from me, and the smell of him is intoxicating "When you told me you were single, I said there was someone out there who wants you. In case I wasn't clear, I was referring to myself. I'm sorry if I misunderstood this situation."
We stand in silence, staring at one another. I'm relishing the tension crackling between us. I just want to throw myself at him, but I have to be firm.
"Whatever, James. I really want to have a career here and I don't want anything to get in the way."
"I'm not going to get in the way of your career, but I think I'm going to have a hard time with my self-control around you. Tell me that you're not interested in me, tell me that you don't feel something."
I say nothing. The truth is that I am interested, very interested. I look down at my knotted hands. He takes a deep breath before speaking again.
"That's what I thought. Now go home, before I do something stupid." His arm is around my waist as we walk to the door of his office. "I can assure you that I won't affect your career, but I can't speak about what happens outside the 9-5." He promises, and my knees almost buckle beneath me.
Sep 11, 2018 in romance