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Discovering Mr. X: Chapter 14


“This all looks good,” I say to Drew as I finish looking over the contract papers. “Are you happy with Mike heading things up over there once I get everything finalized this week?”

Drew places his coffee cup down on my desk and sits back in his chair. “Yes, for the tenth time.” He smiles at me easily. “Tan, mate. I know you’re a control freak when it comes to working, but we’ve got this all covered. Mike is our best project manager in London, and it’s only a three-month refurb. He’s got the guys in the New York office helping him. They’re happy to have him, what with Tina being off on maternity. Besides, I told him how beautiful the women in New York are.”

“Uh-huh,” I murmur, checking over the papers again. I don’t have any doubts over Mike’s ability to lead Tina’s team while she’s off. I just need to feel in control at work because I am sure as hell not outside of the office.

“What’s got into you, anyway? You take a week off work with no notice and then call me in for a meeting on a Sunday afternoon, the day after I have a hot date. You’re lucky I said yes.” Drew drums his fingers around the side of his coffee cup.

“How did it go?” I ask, raising my eyes to his, glad for the distraction.

“Meh.” He grunts.

I chuckle. “That good, eh?”

“No, man. I mean, phew, she’s insanely hot.” Drew puts his hands on the back of his head as he stretches.

“Why am I sensing there’s a but? You took her out to dinner like you said you were going to, didn’t you?”

Drew avoids my eyes. “Nah, slight change of plan.”

“She turned you down, didn’t she?”

“Of course not! She just needs a bit more persuading to sample the ‘Drew Delights’, that’s all.” He frowns.

I shake my head, smiling. “You drove for two hours to take a woman out for dinner, who hadn’t even agreed to it, yet you’re the one asking what’s got into me?”

“Minor details, Tan, minor,” Drew says, skirting the issue. “I’m not the one who’s been cozying up with a rabbit and sleeping on the sofa.” He laughs, slapping the table with his palm.

I scowl at him. “That’s the last time I tell you anything. Oh, and that bonus we were talking about? Forget it.”

Drew laughs harder. “Tan, mate, loosen the fuck up. Seriously, what’s this chick done to you, man? Have your balls shriveled up inside your body?”

“She’s not done anything to me,” I say as I lean back in my chair, blowing out a breath.

“Don’t give me that. We’ve been mates for years,” he says, finally having stopped laughing. “So? What’s going on?”

“I don’t know. One minute she’s all over me, and then the next, she acts like it’s nothing.” I tap the heel of my foot on the floor as I look out the window at the street below.

“She sounds like a head-fuck,” he says, his eyes on my face.

“She’s complicated. I know she doesn’t have any family, and she told me she doesn’t have relationships, only ‘friends’.” I pick my pen up and slide my fingers down it, turning it once I get to the bottom and repeating the move while I think.

“Look, Tan. I get that she’s hot. I dunno; maybe you feel like seeing her again out of the blue all these months after you got back from New York is a sign from the universe or something?”

I mull over his words. “It’s more than that. I mean, yes, seeing her again at the auction was unexpected, but there’s something about her. I can’t even think straight.” I throw my pen down on the desk.

“Maybe it’s just a weird coincidence? When you saw her at the airport, and she said that saying that made you think of your mom, it made you notice her.” Drew shrugs. “You felt, I don’t know? Connected to her or some shit?”

“Ugh.” I let out a groan and lean my head into my hands on the desk. “There was just something about her, and yeah, it threw me when she used my mom’s saying. I don’t know. I just wanted to help. Look at the shit it’s got me into now.”

“Hang on? You said you were going to tell her?” Drew’s eyes shoot up in surprise as I raise my eyes to his. One look at my face, and he’s shaking his head in pity. “Fuck, man, you’re in for it when she finds out. From what you’ve told me and what I’ve seen, she’s going to have your balls on a spike.”

“Thanks for the support,” I snap.

“I can’t believe you haven’t told her yet. You’ve spent all week together, let alone the house viewing, and all the time you’ve had her number in your phone. What’s been stopping you?”

“I know, I know,” I groan. “But what was I meant to say? Hi, nice to meet you, Rachel, except I already know your name; I’ve been the one emailing you and sending you money for your worn panties for the past year and a half?” I shake my head. This is so fucked up.

“When you put it like that, it does sound weird,” Drew says.

“Exactly.” I look at him. “She’ll think I’m a creep.”

“Okay, look.” Drew leans forward in his seat. “Women love all those honest, open conversations. Just tell her the truth. She already goes all weird on you after sex. What have you got to lose?”

Her. I could lose her.

Even if I don’t get her fully, I still get a part of her when we’re together.

“You’re right; I know I’ve got to tell her, and I will. After New York. She’s only fucking operating on the flight Penny booked me on tomorrow,” I mutter as I gather up the contract papers, and we head to the door.

“No way! That’s hilarious.” Drew chuckles.

I glare at him. “You’re not helping.”

“Sorry, Tan. Hey, I’ll come to your funeral, mate,” Drew says, patting me on the back as we wait for the lift.

It’s only a matter of days before I have to tell her who she was really talking to all these months. Fuck.

I can barely tear my eyes away from Rachel in her red uniform the entire flight out to New York. It’s been over eighteen months since the airport coffee bar, and somehow, she looks even sexier in it than I remember. She’s been looking after the section of upper class I’m seated in. I don’t know if that was deliberate or just pure good fortune—well, mine anyway.

From the seat I’m in, I can just about see every time she bends over to get in the end trolley in the galley. Her perfect ass calls to me to hitch her red skirt up around her waist and slip my fingers inside her panties. Oh, Fuck yeah. Seeing her now, knowing that all those flights she was working just like this, then posting the panties underneath her uniform to me, has more of an effect on me than I expected. I feel my dick stir in my suit slacks.

“Would you like another drink, sir?” one of the other female flight attendants asks me. Her eyes roam down my shirt, down to my crotch, and back up slowly, a flirtatious smile on her lips.

“No, thank you. Rachel’s got me covered,” I say without smiling.

“Okay.” She shrugs and walks off.

I watch her pass the galley and say something to Rachel, who then looks over at me. I smile at her, and she lifts her chin in acknowledgment before going back to what she was doing. I drop my gaze back to my laptop and the document I’m working on, but I can still see Rachel out of the corner of my eye. She finishes putting things away inside the trolley before she looks back over in my direction and stands with her arms crossed, leaning back against the galley side.

I love that she’s watching me.

Oh, Snow, if only I could know what you are thinking.

“Hey, Mom,” I say down the phone as I slide into the backseat of the town car the New York office has sent to collect me from the airport.

“Hi, Sweetheart, how was your flight?” Her warm voice expertly masks her relief. She’s scared of flying. I always call her every time I land as I know she will worry otherwise and check all the news channels expecting to see a horrific crash headline.

“It was interesting. Rachel was working on it.”

Mom’s tone lightens immediately. “The girl you’ve been telling me about?”

“Yes, Mom.” I smile at her sudden interest.

“How exciting! So, what are you going to do in New York together? I assume she doesn’t just fly straight back again?”

“No, she gets two nights here, but, Mom, I’m here for work. I have no idea what she has planned.”

“Nonsense, Tanner,” she scolds. “You don’t have to work the whole time you’re there. I appreciate your call. Now, get off the phone with your old Mom and call Rachel! Ask to meet her later.”

I shake my head and smile as Mom barks out her instructions. Some things never change.

“Fine,” I say to placate her, rolling my eyes.

“Have fun.” Mom giggles like a schoolgirl, obviously satisfied that I’m taking her advice.

“Love you, Mom.”

“You too, Tan,” she says as I end the call.

Before I can talk myself out of it, I fire off a text to Rachel.

Me: I know where to get the best caramel lattes in Manhattan if you fancy it tomorrow?

I stare out the window at the darkening sky as we drive over the Queensboro bridge. I always ask to drive this way from JFK airport rather than through the tunnel. Something about seeing the New York skyline on the way in and knowing we have an office there gets me every time. It reminds me just how far the company has come since I started it.

My phone buzzes in my hand.

Snow: I doubt your latte connections are as reliable as mine but sure.

Snarky. I smile. I guess she flies here most months.

Me: I should be done in the office by 2pm. I’ll pick you up from your hotel.

Snow: No need, meet you at the corner of West 49th and 6th Avenue.

I shake my head at her text, typical. Heaven forbid she would listen to me for once and just agree to me picking her up. Growing up with a mom like mine, I’ve always had one strong-willed, independent woman in my life, and now I’m trying to add another. Surely this is a disaster waiting to happen.

What the fuck is wrong with me?


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