I was exhilarated after spending the day working, almost high. It was only me and Josh left sitting on Chase’s rooftop deck—and Chase, of course. The other four, including Lindsey, were gone. Josh and I had stayed to have a beer now that work was done.
I was sporting a ridiculously large smile. “At the risk of sounding like a complete goofball, I need to tell you, today was amazing. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed working on anything this much. I’m not sure I ever have.”
Josh tipped his beer in my direction. “It did feel good. Damn good. But I think you have a lot to do with that, Reese. You being new to the group seemed to bring out something in all of us—Chase especially.” He shifted his eyes to Chase. “I haven’t seen you this fired up in years. Today felt more like a new product launch than a rebranding campaign. Everything seemed new again.”
Chase was sitting back in a lounge chair. He wore dark sunglasses, but I could feel his eyes on me nonetheless.
Nodding, he said, “It felt right. Been a long time since anything felt so right.”
After a few more minutes, Josh guzzled back the rest of his beer. “Gotta head out. Elizabeth is making me go to a cake-tasting party tonight. Since when did everything about weddings turn into a damn event? I’ve had to go to a food tasting, a band showcase, and a floral-presentation party. Vegas is sounding better and better.”
“Just wait.” Chase stood. “Anna had a bridal shower, a pregnancy-announcement party, and a gender-reveal party. You’re just getting started, buddy.”
“What the hell is a gender-reveal party?”
“The parents-to-be give a sealed envelope that contains the sex of the baby to a bakery, and the baker puts pink frosting inside the cupcakes if it’s a girl and blue if it’s a boy. Then they have a party, and everyone finds out at the same time, including the parents-to-be. Pure. Fucking. Torture. Whatever happened to the kid popping out and the doctor giving it a smack and yelling it’s a boy over the thing crying?”
“Thanks. More to look forward to.”
Chase slapped Josh on the back as we walked to the stairs. “You’re welcome.”
Arriving on the first floor, I eyed the mess we’d left in the living room and dining room. Chase had dinner brought in, and there were dishes and balled-up papers from our work session all over the place.
“Where you heading, Reese?” Josh asked. “I’m going to grab a cab downtown if you want to split one.”
“I’m cross town. But I’m going to stay for another minute and help Chase pick up a bit.”
Josh looked over my shoulder, seeing the mess for the first time. “Crap. Thanks. I owe you one, Reese. See you Monday.”
Before Chase even returned from walking Josh out, I had the place halfway cleaned. I picked up the garbage, and I was rinsing dishes and loading them into the dishwasher when I felt Chase come up behind me. He gently placed a hand on my face, and I stopped what I was doing.
At first, I thought he meant to continue loading the dishwasher. Then I realized I’d been humming. Smiling, I continued with my tune. Luckily, he was no Owen. I would have been mortified had he guessed the song I was humming.
“’Thinking Out Loud’, Ed Sheeran.”
“Not even close.” I laughed.
“’I Don’t Mind’, Usher.”
I shook my head. “You do realize those two songs sound nothing alike?”
I finished loading the dishwasher while Chase moved the furniture we’d rearranged back. We glanced up at each other as we worked.
“Plans for tonight?” he asked.
“No. I wasn’t sure what time we’d be done. You?”
“Nope. Wanna share another beer with me?”
“Sure. Why not?”
He grabbed two Sam Adams bottles from the fridge, and we sat down on the living room couch. Opening one, he took a sip and handed me the bottle, setting the other unopened one on the end table next to him.
I took the bottle. “I didn’t realize you meant literally share a beer.” I sipped and then offered it back to him. Raising my fingers to my wet lips, my instinct was to wipe away the beer remnants. But then I realized it wasn’t just beer on my lips—it was Chase on my lips. His eyes followed the path of my tongue as I instead licked the wet spot off. The way he looked at me sent tingles of arousal through my body, hitting certain places more than others.
Desire built as we quietly finished one beer, and then he cracked open the other. I never knew something so innocent could seem so much like foreplay. There goes my theory of getting him out of my system this morning.
“We’re off the clock now, aren’t we?” He passed me the bottle.
“Hmmm…not sure how weekends work. It’s technically not a workday, yet we did work today. Still, I’d have to say even if Saturday counts as part of the workweek, we’re off the clock by now.”
“So I’m not your boss right now, then?”
“Suppose not.” I grinned and took a long sip from our beer.
“Well, then…it wouldn’t be inappropriate to tell you that while I was in the shower this morning, I closed my eyes and thought of you as I took care of myself.”
I was mid-swallow when what he’d said registered.
I choked, sputtering and spraying beer all over the place. Coughing, my voice was hoarse. “You what?”
“From your reaction, I’d say you heard me correctly.” He took the beer from my hand.
“Why would you tell me that?”
“Because it’s true. And I figured I’d lay all my cards on the table. You’re not having sex. I’m not having sex. Thought maybe we could work through our problem together.”
“I don’t have a problem.”
“So why aren’t you having sex, then?”
“Why aren’t you?”
“Because I’d like to have it with you, and you haven’t given in to me. Yet.” He brought the beer to his lips and watched me as he drank.
“I can’t believe we’re having this conversation. You know I’m seeing someone.”
“I do. That’s why we’re having this conversation. If you weren’t seeing someone, I’d have you up on that kitchen island showing you what I want to do to you, rather than telling you.”
“Is that so?”
He moved closer. “It is.”
“What if I’m not into you in that way?”
Chase looked down, his eyes lingering on my nipples. My very erect nipples. “Your body says otherwise.”
“Maybe I’m just cold.”
He inched closer. “Is that it? Are you cold, Reese? Because you actually look a little warm. Flushed, even.”
“You’re my boss.”
“Not now. You just said so yourself.”
“But…even if I wasn’t dating Brice—”
“Bryant,” Chase corrected me with a smirk.
Oh my God. “Bryant. Even if I wasn’t dating Bryant. And even if I was attracted to you—”
“Quit interrupting. You’re trying to confuse me. Like I was saying, even without Bryant in the picture and me being slightly attracted to you, it still can’t happen. I really like this job, and I don’t want to screw things up.”
“What if I fired you?”
“That probably wouldn’t be the best way to get into my pants.”
“Tell me what is.”
I chuckled. “You sound pretty desperate.”
Although we’d been teasing, his response was serious. “I feel pretty damn desperate right about now.”
So did I, but I wanted him to truly understand where my head was. “Can I be honest with you?”
“I’d be upset if you weren’t.”
“I sort of…had an office relationship…Well…it wasn’t really a relationship. It was more like a momentary lapse in judgment caused by excessive imbibing in holiday cheer. Anyway, you get the picture.”
“Yes. Unfortunately, I do. You slept with someone from work. Hang on. I should get another beer. I’m taking it this story isn’t going to bode well for me.”
Chase got up and grabbed two more beers. This time, he opened both and handed me one.
“I get my own?”
“Story sounds like you might need it.”
I smiled gratefully. “Thank you. You’re right. I do.” Taking a deep breath, I continued. “Anyway, I loved my old job. It was pretty much my life for the last seven years. I worked my way up from intern to director. I dated, but hadn’t had a serious relationship for the last five years. Make a long story short, I accidentally slept with a co-worker.”
“Peppermint Schnapps martinis at the office Christmas party. Don’t judge.”
Chase looked entertained, his eyes sparkling. He held up his hands. “No judgment here. Tough night and you let loose. Been there.”
“The guy turned out to be a total dirtbag. Two days later he announced he’d gotten engaged over Christmas to his long-time girlfriend. He’d told me he was single.”
“Sounds like an asshole.”
“He was. And that’s not the worst part. I told him what I thought of him and went out of my way to be an asshole to the jerk. A few months later, he was promoted to being my boss.”
“Yeah. And to make it even worse, he knows nothing about marketing.”
“How did he get the job?”
“He’s the owner’s son.”
Chase’s face was glum, but he nodded. “I get it. I’m not gonna lie and say I’m not disappointed, but I get it.”
“Of course. You don’t want to screw up your career for a night of physical gratification.”
“Even though that physical gratification would begin with me starting at your toes and working my way up. Slowly. Over hours.”
“Hours?” My low voice came out with a high pitch.
Chase nodded with a sexy grin. “I’m up for the challenge.”
“Waiting it out. Or breaking you down. One or the other.”
“You’re going to wait until I don’t work here any more? What if I stay for years?”
“It won’t be years.”
I furrowed my brow.
“You’ll break before then.”
Bryant: How was work today?
I’d just gotten off the train at my stop when the text came in. I took a deep breath, dreading what I was about to do, but knowing in my heart it was right.
Reese: It was good. Very productive, actually. I’m almost home, but could go for a drink. You up to join me for one? Maybe at The Pony Pub?
The small bar was quiet and halfway between our apartments. We’d met there for our first date.
Bryant: Absolutely. Meet you there in a half hour?
Reese: Perfect. See you soon.