Most Eligible Billionaire: Chapter 13

Vicky


IF YOU TOLD me a month ago that I’d ever find myself in a workshop room deep in a fabrication facility owned by Cock Worldwide, crafting with Henry Locke, aka the top cock of Cock Worldwide, I would think, in a word, not.

It seems like a dream doesn’t it? Not a dreamy dream so much as one of those weird jumble dreams. Like, Leonardo DiCaprio is your father and he sent you a letter but you can’t find your mailbox. Who blew out all the candles?

Henry has a couple of junior guys bring the model into a small side room and set it on a table. He dismisses them, shakes off his beautiful suit jacket, and rolls up his sleeves. “This’ll just take a minute.”

“Do you need it for a presentation or something?”

“No, it just needs to be fixed,” he mumbles, conducting an intensive inspection of the thing.

I stand on the other side of the table conducting my own intensive inspection of the tiny paper trees, or at least that’s the effect I’m going for while conducting an intensive inspection of his very large and muscular forearms, which are perfect in every way, right down to his golden skin and the sparse smattering of hair.

Some kind of big and chunky euro car racer watch hugs his right wrist. His hand has that rough-hewn look, but it’s not gnarled or anything, like a woodworking codger. If the world of men’s hands is a three bears cabin, his are the “just right” ones with just enough scuff to them. Hands you can respect. Hands that would feel nice against your cheek.

I swallow and force my gaze away to the built-in shelving, loaded with crafter supplies like modeling clay and paper and squares of balsa wood and cutters of every kind and glue and paint.

“Are you sure this whole business isn’t a front for guys who are closet crafters?” I ask.

He’s pulling down green cardboard squares and craft paper and tubes of glue. “This’ll just take a minute.”

He presses some of the craft cardboard to a cutting surface and starts making tiny cuts with an X-Acto knife.

He pauses and frowns at the thing. The sweet little dent appears between his eyes. I definitely like the dent. Seeming lost in thought, he starts unclasping his watch and pulls it off with rough efficiency, setting it aside.

It’s a hot thing he just did.

I remind myself that he’s just another handsome rich guy with every reason to bring me down. He even told me so.

We will bury you.

You’re supposed to listen when somebody tells you something like that. My ears are listening.

The problem is that my libido is more interested in the competency porn striptease he did with the watch back there.

I swallow. “So, what’s the deal? Why the urgency?”

“The guy who makes our environmental elements, these tiny trees? He’s from my grandfather’s era…shit.” He grabs a new square. “It’s just a long story.”

Just a long story I want to hear. Why the CEO of a powerful company has dropped everything to fix some tiny trees on a model neighborhood. “Quite the perfectionist,” I say.

“Something like that,” he says in his clipped way. Long story. Period.

Fine. Whatever, I think.

He’s got a tree base created. He holds it up to soda-flattened one.

“An earthquake and a hurricane at the same time,” I say. “Not a lot of buildings will withstand that.”

He doesn’t think it’s funny. “See those balsa dowels?” He points to the left of the shelving area. “Can you grab one?”

I get one and bring it over. He takes it and shaves a series of tiny curlicues off, and it comes to me that these are the branch thingys. He attempts to glue a tiny curlicue to the tree trunk by way of tweezers, a toothpick, and a dot of glue.

Man fingers are good for a lot of things. What are they not good for? Tiny gluing work.

He completely smears the trunk with glue, which he tries to get off with a Q-tip; he just ends up leaving fur on the trunk. “Crap.”

“You could pretend it’s Spanish moss,” I say.

He tosses it away.

“You need help?”

“I got it. I used to do a lot of this as a boy. Brett and me both. We’d spend hours doing these models.”

“When was the last time?”

“I got this. It’s like riding a bike.”

“Except you have large hands now,” I say, and not in any way like I think it’s hot.

He just tries to work at it.

“It’s too bad you don’t have somebody with you who has way more recent experience gluing tiny things to tiny surfaces with her slim, womanly hands,” I say. “It’s really a shame that there isn’t anybody like that here.”

He starts on another. Messes it up.

“Dude. Let me help.” I tie Smuckers to a chair.

“You think you’re an expert because of your Etsy dog collar store? This is a little more intricate.”

“I make jewelry of all kinds, not just dog stuff,” I tell him.

“We know,” he says.

“Come on. You make the trunks and shave the branch curlies and I’ll do the gluing. And please, your technique? With the toothpick?”

He looks up finally. “You think you can?”

I consider telling him I’ll only help him if he confesses why it’s so damn important, but it’s getting painful to watch him struggle. “I know I can.”

He cuts another trunk and slides it to me. I shove a toothpick up the trunk, basically reaming out the trunk, and then I make a small pool of glue and dip in the branches with the tweezer, then touch it to the area.

“Oh. That’s more efficient.”

“Was that a compliment?” I brush it off, because the air is humming between us. “Gluing stuff is my jam, baby.” I blow air on it.

He cuts out another trunk. We get up an assembly line. We repair a few buildings. We collaborate on a tiny stop sign.

It’s…nice.

There’s something about making things side-by-side that only crafty girls know about, a kind of sweet, silent bonding that other people don’t experience.

Henry and I are achieving this bond. I like it in spite of myself. Or in spite of himself.

I glue a tiny curlicue to a tiny tree, feeling his eyes on me.

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