We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Fall Into You: Chapter 27

Shay

I watch him stride through the forest of cubicles toward the elevators until I’m reasonably sure he’s not going to turn around and run back in to snarl some new unpleasantry at me. Then I walk around my desk, sink into the chair, and stare at the wall, stunned.

My hands shake. My heart pounds. I’m ninety percent sure my face is the color of a tomato.

But because I’ve got dozens of people staring in my direction through the glass walls, I can’t throw myself facedown onto my desk and scream or start shouting obscenities as I normally might. I keep it together with sheer willpower until the urge to do something dramatic passes, which is conveniently when Simone shows up again.

She knocks softly on the doorframe. “May I come in?”

“Of course. I was just…” Dazed, I look around the office. “Um. Settling in.”

She chuckles. Hands on her hips, she approaches my desk. “Letting the dust settle, more likely. You okay?”

“Yes.”

“I only ask because you look like you could use a stiff drink.”

I meet her amused gaze and shake my head. “Is he always so…”

“Bad-tempered? Yes. You get used to it after a while. If you last long enough, he’ll start to treat you like a human.”

I recall how he apologized to her for his manners when he first walked in and wonder how long they’ve worked together to get him to that point. Probably thirty years.

“He’s not violent, if that’s what you’re wondering. And he’s not verbally abusive. He’s just very intense.”

“So I’ve been told. But there’s intense, then there’s Cole McCord. His poor receptionist is terrified of him.”

“Marion is terrified of her own shadow. She’s a lovely girl, but a poor match for that position.”

“Why did he hire her, then?”

Simone smiles. “He enjoys terrifying people.”

“That’s just mean.”

She pulls up a chair and sits opposite me, crossing her legs and folding her hands on her lap. Wearing a lovely lavender skirt suit I recognize as vintage Chanel and a pair of beige Ferragamo pumps, she’s classy from head to toe.

“Some people would rather be feared than loved. He’s one of them.”

“Again, mean.”

“Or a defense mechanism.”

I study her for a moment, understanding she’s trying to give me insight into our boss without getting too specific about it.

“He doesn’t terrify you, does he?”

She smiles. “Nor you. Which is why I think you have a good chance of lasting here.”

At least for ninety days until I get that bonus.

Sighing, I push my hands through my hair and look around the office. “I guess you should show me where to get started. I have a feeling Mr. Dark and Stormy doesn’t tolerate dawdling.”

I freeze, horrified that my nickname for Cole slipped past my lips, but Simone chuckles.

“That’s a good one. Most everyone around here calls him the Grinch.”

I say drily, “A cynical grump born with a heart two sizes too small.”

“So the movie described him.” Simone grows serious, her smile fading. “But the thing about the Grinch was that his heart wasn’t too small. He was just unbearably lonely.”

Unbearably lonely.

I recall how Cole looked at me at the bar that night we met, how his eyes were filled with such naked longing. How we bonded over our shared misery about our recent breakups.

How I told him he wasn’t a villain as he described himself, he was a hero, because only a hero would break his own heart to save someone else’s.

Now I feel like an asshole.

A prideful, impatient asshole who should have taken a deep breath and maybe cut the guy some slack when he overreacted at seeing me standing in his office doorway.

Me, the girl he fucked to within an inch of her life a month before.

Me, the girl he ordered dinner and breakfast for because he wanted to make sure I didn’t go hungry.

Me, the girl he spent who knows how much money on a couture blouse to replace the one he ruined.

Me. Shay Sanders. The girl who walked out of that hotel the morning after our night together feeling happier than I had in years.

Because of him.

The man who not even five minutes ago I compared to an owl.

Good God, I told the poor man he had no neck, and I’m sitting here feeling sorry for myself? He should’ve fired me on the spot for insolence.

Dismayed, I look at Simone. “I think I owe him an apology for how I acted just now.”

“No, you don’t.”

“But you weren’t here. You didn’t hear how I spoke to him. How rude I was.”

“Trust me, Shay, it’s good for him. If you were really out of line, you wouldn’t still be sitting behind that desk. But if I may give you a word of advice? Don’t disrespect him in front of other employees. He can’t bear to be belittled with an audience. But he can take as good as he gives one-on-one. And he needs strong people around him who aren’t intimidated by his overbearing persona.”

I notice she said persona instead of personality, indicating Cole’s bearishness is a calculated choice. One meant to keep people at arm’s length.

Then I remember I told him that his heart wasn’t cold, it was warm, he just kept it on ice so it didn’t get hurt, and I feel like an asshole all over again.

How could I see him so clearly in that hotel room but not in this office?

Maybe it has something to do with his magical dick. I haven’t had it in weeks, and my vision got clouded.

I want to bang my head against the desk.

“Thank you for the advice, Simone. I won’t forget it.”

“Good. Now let’s get to work.”

For the next few hours as she introduces me to all the work my new job entails, I do my best to focus, but Cole simmers on the back burner of my mind, his angry eyes haunting me like ghosts.


Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Options

not work with dark mode
Reset