Authors: Eve Adrian
Dinner with the Billionaire
Copyright 2014 Eve Adrian
Published by Eve
Table of Contents
Cameron’s radio was way too loud. She had the door closed and was sitting in her room all by herself, but I could hear every word screaming out of the DJ’s mouth. Unfortunately for me, the girl had awful taste in music. But unless I wanted to sit in my room with earphones over my head and my own mp3 player covering her noise, I just had to suffer through it. It was making concentration a bit hard.
But I kept trying. And after a few minutes I’d actually blocked out all of her noise and was reading up on upcoming trends for the summer. Not that I could actually update my wardrobe, but it didn’t ever hurt to at least know what was in style. And I’d never been one to ignore fashion.
“New details have come to light in the investigation of the murder of Nicholas Bitterman which occurred last Saturday in the early hours of the morning.”
I nearly dropped my magazine and my head snapped towards the sound. Cameron’s radio had turned over to the news, the one thing less welcome than the sound of dubstep. But as the anchor talked, I found myself closing the magazine and straining to listen. While it had seemed easy to hear just moments ago, now that I wanted to hear every word, I found I had to concentrate.
“The police are searching for Mr. Bitterman’s companion from the night of his murder, a white male in his early thirties. A sketch is available on the station’s website.
A white male in his thirties, I knew one of those. I stopped paying attention to the newscast as my thoughts flew to the other problem in my life, the one all tied up with the Bitterman murder investigation.
If I could go back in time and give myself a word of advice, it would be pretty simple. Don’t sleep with your boss, even if he’s a ridiculously gorgeous billionaire who offers you one night of no strings attached passion. Even if you think you’re going to get fired for sending him an unsolicited sexy text message. Really, once the police come knocking it’s not worth it at all.
I kept telling myself that.
Because now, in the span of a week, I’d been questioned by the police twice in a murder investigation, and I couldn’t even give them my alibi since he’d sworn me to secrecy. Even weirder, the dude on the news, the one who was murdered, Nicholas Bitterman, had pictures of me on his phone. Not just coincidentally, I was the subject of at least a dozen shots taken the night of his murder. And I knew I’d never met the guy. No matter how close he was to me when those pictures were taken, I couldn’t remember him at all.
That night I’d been too excited at the prospect of sleeping with Evan to pay much attention to all of the people around me. And no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t summon up the faintest picture of Bitterman. No matter that we’d been in the same hotel, in the same book store. It was totally creepy.
But Evan had provided me with a lawyer and after one meeting with her and the cops, the cops had backed down. Maybe they realized I was innocent, or maybe Carmen’s “super lawyer powers” had actually scared them off. I was just happy to keep them away from me. Forever, if possible.
Evan, too. Because here was the crazy thing. Even after the monumentally stupid act of sleeping with him, and I truly thought it was stupid. I still kissed him, after being questioned by the cops, after he was kind of a dick to me about keeping my silence. What the fuck was wrong with me?
On the bright side, I hadn’t see
n him since. He’d been out of town on business, or vacation, or something. So every day the lights in his office stayed dim and my heart didn’t start trying to beat so hard it burst out of my chest.
I checked the clock and saw that I had to be off to work. Cameron had switched her station back to music, but I’d been so caught up in my own thoughts that I hadn’t been paying any attention to it. I jumped up from the couch and straightened out my outfit. I had to speedwalk to get to the subway, but I made my train and made it in to work on time.
Just about everyone had heard that I’d been questioned by the cops, though no one actually knew why. The theory going around the office was that it was something to do with drug charges, but no one had been brave enough to ask me. On the bright side, I’d found it easier to have room to myself at the normal work benches, as if they were afraid I would bring the cops down on them by proxy.
The office was set up in a remarkably stupid way meant to look cool, but it quashed about half of my productivity. Instead of desks, offices, or cubicles, every associate checked out a computer in the morning and sat at one of two long tables on benches with no back support. If you were lucky you could get something almost like a backrest by wedging yourself against a wall, but only those who got to work at least thirty minutes before everyone else ever snagged those seats.
All of the associates hated the seating arrangement, the managers, directors, and vice presidents who all sat in the offices around us didn’t seem to have a problem with it. It was probably a side effect of getting to witness our misery, they got pleasure from it.
So I wasn’t able to get a spot near the wall, but one half of a table was still deserted, and once I sat down I could be pretty sure that no one would care to join me. Once my computer was all setup, I shot a glance at Evan’s office.
“Fu--” I swallowed the word when I saw that his light was on. I flattened my hands on the table and closed my eyes taking several deep breaths. He was back. For the first time in a week I’d need to see him again. Crap.
It turned out that Evan wasn’t in the office that day. But after a week of jumping at every hint of him I knew something had to change. I’d been concerned that I’d be fired after I sent that text, but now I knew that I had to quit. That night, I started applying to different jobs all throughout Manhattan. I’d been with Daringer Associates, named for the elder Mr. Daringer, for nearly three years. Even without being prodded by external events, no one would look twice at me for trying to leave.
And while I knew it was not a great idea to get attached to any job before I even got an interview, I already knew that I wanted the Junior Director position at J. Calendar and Co. The firm specialized in PR and Marketing for up and comers in fashion and music. I had all of the qualifications, and could fake the “go-getter” attitude they said was required.
The time I spent working on my resume and cover letter paid off. Two Evan free days later I got a call inviting me for an interview. I set it up without a second thought. Evan continued to not show up at work and I began to wonder if he was avoiding me. Maybe it was self-centered, but he
disappeared after we kissed, so maybe that had freaked him out.
I didn’t let myself believe that it was anything as juvenile as emotion for me that kept him away. No, he’d made it abundantly clear that he “didn’t do” relationships. Ugh, I had to stop thinking about him, about it.
Instead I prepared for the upcoming interview. And though the light was occasionally on in Evan’s office, no one was home. On Thursday morning I used the excuse of a doctor’s appointment to take the morning off for the interview. It wasn’t far from the office, but I didn’t want to risk being caught by taking too long of a lunch.
I arrived too early for the interview to go straight into the office, so I stopped in the coffee shop in the lobby and grabbed a latte and a seat. I pulled out my phone and reviewed the company’s website for the hundredth time. At that point I had just about everything that I could have memorized, but I still felt the need to read through everything once more.
I heard the other chair at my table scrape against the floor and glanced up. My heart sank in my chest. “That seat’s taken,” I said as Evan picked up my bag and set it on the floor under the table.
He smiled and my pulse sped up the tiniest bit. His lips only pulled up in one corner, the smile verging on smirk. But damn if it didn’t get to me. He set his bag down next to mine, it was much longer, at least three feet.
“It doesn’t look taken,” he sat down.
How had this happened? Nearly two weeks go by with no sign of the guy and then the one day I’m not in the office I run into him at a coffee shop while trying to get a different job to escape his presence. These were the things that made me believe in a cruel god with a sick sense of humor.
“Then by all means.” I said it with no humor, no inflection.
“You’ve been avoiding me.”
I nearly knocked over my drink from the jolt of his words. “I’ve been exactly where I am every day.
the one who hasn’t been in the office.” Sometime between the last times we kissed and now I’d lost my wariness of him. Yes, he could fire me at any moment, but I didn’t think he would over this stuff.
The grin slipped from his face and I saw something I couldn’t place flash through his eyes. “No calls, no texts.”
“Wasn’t that the deal?” It came out harsher than I intended. But he didn’t get to pull shit like this. “They were your rules.”
He opened his mouth once and then closed it, at a loss for words. I let the silence stretch. But he eventually found something to say. “I’m sorry if I made things complicated for you. With everything that went on after, I understand that it’s been stressful.”
“Oh, um. Thanks.” That wasn’t what I was expecting. Not at all. “Okay, so this is going to sound stupid. But you weren’t avoiding me, were you? At the office?”
He smiled, less like a smirk now. “No, I was out of town. My mother’s birthday.”
“And that took two weeks?” I laughed, my mom would kill my family if we all descended on her house for so long.
Evan took a sip of his drink. “Well, I wouldn’t go to England for just the weekend.”
“I thought your family was American.” He didn’t sound English. At most he sounded a bit like he was from Connecticut, from somewhere in New England.
“My father is, Mother is from Durham. She wouldn’t dream of having her birthday anywhere--” He stopped talking and patted his pocket. “Excuse me.” He pulled out his cell phone and typed in a quick message. “I’m sorry. Anyway, we must do it at the estate, you know how it is.”
I really, really didn’t. “I’m glad to know that I didn’t scare you away then.” I could feel myself smiling, getting comfortable. And that wasn’t good, this was a nothing relationship, based on nothing but a little lust and way too many martinis.
“You didn’t want to avoid me, did you?” I couldn’t tell if he was teasing or if he was serious. But I knew my heart was beating far too fast for what his little smile warranted. I knew he was smoking hot, I even knew how great he looked naked - and now was
the time to think about that - but now he was being human. Why now?
“Of course not!” I said it so loud that a couple of the other patrons glanced over at us. “I had no reason to avoid you,” the words tumbled out before my thoughts could actually point out that I did have every reason to avoid him. “Well, I mean, other than the police thing. I’m still not happy about that.”
His face grew solemn. “I do want to thank you sincerely for your discretion in the matter.”
I could feel my defenses building right back up as the conversation circled back to my main problem. “Whatever. Listen, I’ve got to get going.”
He held up a hand. “Of course, I’m meant to meet a friend for lunch. Well.” We both paused for a moment, unsure of how to disengage from the conversation. He settled on shaking my hand. “I’m sure I will see you soon.”
Far too soon, I was sure.