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When I got home after my first day of work that night, Carrie wasn’t home. Miss Kitten was laying on the window sill, obviously asleep. I kicked off my shoes, threw my briefcase on the couch and headed over to the fridge to see what I would have for dinner. That’s when I noticed Carrie’s note on the table.

Off to work already.
Boss called me in early
x Carrie

After throwing away the note, I pulled some lasagna out of the fridge and placed it in the microwave. While I waited for it to heat up, I grabbed my laptop and switched it on. Mr. Jonas had mentioned events to me, so I was curious to find out exactly what kind of events he attended exactly. 

I kept googling my boss during dinner and printed some things out. Carrie would probably be interested in all of this as well. When I had quite an amount of articles and pictures, I switched off my laptop and finished my dinner. 

I let Carrie know that I was coming over to the bar later and then quickly changed into a different outfit. I traded my dress for a pair of grey loose fitting shorts and a basic white top. Just to be sure, I grabbed a black cardigan to throw over the whole thing in case it got chilly tonight. 

Once I’d made sure there was water and food left for Miss Kitten, I slipped my feet into a pair of black ballet flats and headed out the door.. The bar Carrie worked at was about a twenty-minute walk away from our apartment so I decided to go on foot rather than call a taxi. 

Surprisingly enough the bar was already crowded even though it was only nine in the evening on a Monday. “Belle!” Carrie yelled when she spotted me, waving me over to the bar. Smiling, I headed over to her and sat down on one of the stools. “Here. It’s on me.” She placed a bottle of beer in front of me.

“Thanks,” I replied, picking it up to take a sip of the cool liquid. 

“So?” she asked, eyebrows raised, “how was your day?”

“You already know,” I sighed.

“Yeah, but I still wanna hear it.” She chuckled and brought her attention to the two girls who had taken a seat a couple stools down from me. 

“There’s nothing more to tell.” I reached down into my bag and laid some of the articles out on top of the bar. “I fucked him in a club and now I’m his assistant. He even wants me to go to these stupid events with him.”

"I can't believe you didn't know who he was," Carrie said when she finished preparing the girls’ drinks.

Sighing, I stared down at the articles and pictures I'd printed out. Turned out Mr. Jonas made it into magazines frequently due to the amount of charity work he was involved with. And because of the events Jonas Palmer sponsored that he attended and of course the events held at one of the locations Jonas Palmer owned. He seemed to be the face of the company, really. Whenever Jonas Palmer was mentioned in the press, his picture popped up in the article. 

"So you're supposed to be by his side in all this?" She looked at the papers in front of me and turned some towards her so she didn't have to read them upside-down. "Well, for one thing, you'll look better by his side than she ever will." Laughing, she turned the page back towards me and tapped the picture.

She was right. 

The blonde by his side in this particular shot looked completely out of place. She was too tall and too thin next to his muscular frame. He wasn't the tallest man himself but that woman made him look like a midget. And she wasn't even wearing super high heels.  "At least you don't tower over him like that," Carrie laughed. "And I hope you'll be smart enough to wear color-coordinated outfits and not clash like that."

I chuckled and shook my head. Carrie really had a point. Mr. Jonas was wearing a perfectly tailored white suit with a dark red shirt and no tie, while the woman was dressed in an ocean blue dress. The colors didn't match at all. And even though they both looked exquisite in their outfits, together it was one messed up picture. "As one of the biggest sponsors, Joe Jonas, junior executive of Jonas Palmer, attended the benefit with his wife Ellie Clarke by his side as loyal supporter," I read out loud with wide eyes. 

"Holy shit," Carrie gasped, nearly dropping the glass she was holding. "The guy's married?" She snatched the article out of my head to read it for herself. 

"No, no he's not. I- I didn't see a ring on him," I replied quickly. I tried to remember who was in the photographs in his office. I definitely hadn't seen her face anywhere. If he was married he wouldn't have had sex with me. Wedding rings, of course, are easily removed but he didn't seem like a cheater. A sex addict? Maybe. A playboy? Maybe. But if he was really tied down to Ellie... "Maybe, maybe they're divorced. Or maybe they got it wrong. You know, magazines like that get this shit wrong all the time." I flipped through a couple more pictures. She was present in a few more, not always by his side, but always near him and still in the within the shot. 

Oh God, what if he really is married though, I thought in panic.

"This article is from six months ago," Carrie pointed out. "If he asked you to be his escort to these events then maybe she's out of the picture... I mean, he wouldn't ask you to join him if he had a wife to take out with him would he?"

"Unless he's an asshole like that," I sighed as I shook my head. "Why am I always attracted to the wrong men, Care?" I whined, emptying the bottle of beer in front of me. "I mean, they're either totally boring and crappy in bed or total assholes who are fucking gods in bed."

"Look, there's probably a logical explanation for this. Don't go jumping to conclusions. I'm pretty sure he's not married. At least not anymore if he ever was. I don't see how someone like him would ever be able to fall for someone like her anyway." She made a disgusted face at the picture before grabbing me another beer. "She's got nothing on you, Belle." 

"He doesn't even remember me.”

"You don't know that. You said so yourself. You think he doesn't remember your face, but he might just be a pro at hiding it."

"This is so fucked up, Carrie." I dropped my head in my hands and pulled on my hair while I groaned. "I can't, I can't do this. Every time I look at him I just–"

"Belle, don't let this ruin the biggest opportunity you ever got. It's make or break, remember? Don't give up. So what you shagged your boss in a dark corner of a nightclub. Don't let it fuck this up for you." A guy came over to order two beers, interrupting our conversation. Carrie quickly handed them to him and added them to his tab before focusing on me again. "And if you're lucky," she continued once the guy had left, "it might just happen again." She gave me a quick wink before sliding my new beer over to me.

"Are you insane?!" I gasped, nearly knocking over my beer in the process. "Carrie that absolutely can't happen again! Do you know what that could mean?"

"Yeah. You're finally adding some spice to your life."

I glared at my best friend. "This isn't funny! I could lose my job over this!"

"Oh come on, I'm just kidding. But really, you never know."

"I hate when you say that," I groaned when I grabbed my beer and placed it against my mouth to take a sip. "Because most of the time you end up being right." 

“Look, if you really wanna know what’s going on then why don’t you just ask him?” She casually shrugged her shoulders.

“Ask him? Ask him? Carrie, I can’t just walk up to him and be all ‘oh hey yeah do you remember me we fucked in a nightclub Friday night and oh, by the way, tell your wife is said hi.’ Jesus! That’s, I’d be fired on the spot!”

“Obviously you’d go at it more subtly and definitely don’t mention the one-night stand like that but, if you wanna know if he’s married just, ask. He’s not gonna bite–”

“No, don’t go there,” I cut her off before she could finish her sentence with probably a classic Carrie sexual innuendo judging by the smirk on her face. “So what I just, ask him if he’s married?” I still didn’t think it was a good idea, but I really wanted to know if I’d gotten freaky with a married man or not. 

“Not just straight out. Just, find a way to… I don’t know, casually throw it into a conversation.” 

“You know subtlety is not my strongest suit.”

“You’ll figure it out.”

“Yeah.” Sighing, I stared back at the picture of my boss with his so-called wife. I really wanted to know the truth.

 

********************

 

When I arrived at the office the next morning, two fresh cups of coffee in hand, Mr. Jonas wasn’t in yet. The door to his office was open and he wasn’t inside. I set my coffee down on my desk and started up my computer before carrying the extra cup over to my boss’ desk.

While I was in his office, I took the liberty of checking out some more photos from close-by. None of them had Ellie in them. Not even the pictures on his desk had her in them. Sighing, I placed the cup on his desk. 

It’s none of your business, Belle, I told myself. But actually, it kinda was my business. Because he’d fucked me. Willingly. He didn’t even seem drunk. Sure, he tasted like alcohol but I was slightly buzzed myself. He’d still seemed sober enough to make a conscious decision. And he’d obviously chosen to do me. Wonderfully. 

“Morning, Miss Ryan.”

Shrieking in surprise, I nearly knocked the cup of coffee to the ground. Mr. Jonas laughed and walked past me to get to his chair. “I hope spilling coffee is not one of your habits,” he joked as he shrugged off his jacket and draped it over his chair.

“Oh, uh. I just, you startled me,” I answered.

“My apologies, Miss Ryan. I see you brought me coffee.” He grabbed the cup and examined it, trying to decipher the code written down on it in thick black permanent marker.

“I, yeah. I didn’t know what you liked so I just got the same thing I got. If you don’t like it–”

“If it’s caffeinated, I doubt I’ll hate it,” he chuckled before carefully taking a sip of the hot liquid. “Can’t do much wrong with a vanilla latte, can you?”

“No, Mr. Jonas.”

“Is there something you need, Miss Ryan?” he asked. He placed the cup back down on his desk and stuffed his hands in the pockets of his black pants while he stared at me. His stance stretched his shirt out across his chest, his perfectly sculpted abs pressing against the thin fabric.

“Well I, I have a few questions about my job, actually.”

Smiling, he nodded. “Have a seat, Miss Ryan.” He sat down himself and when I wanted to open my mouth and ask him, he held up his hand to silence me. “Before you start though, I have a few things for you.” He reached into his drawer, pulling out some things. “A phone and a credit card.”

“I, I get an iPhone?” I asked, grabbing the white box off the desk and examining it. A brand new one, at that. 

“Yes, Miss Ryan. It’s mostly for me to stay in touch with you outside of the office. The credit card is for business-related purchases only. Nothing personal. You will mostly need it to book hotels and planes. Receipts need to be handed in to me. This is very important, Miss Ryan. We have a strict budget for this and we need to keep track of everything we’ve spent money on.”

“Okay.”

“That said, what did you want to ask?”

I placed the phone back on the desk and folded my hands in my lap. “Well, I was just wondering…. The events and such that I will have to attend with you, is, I mean, not that I don’t want to do them or anything but, I just thought well, wouldn’t your girlfriend want to go with you? Wouldn’t she be a much more logical choice than–”

“Miss Ryan,” he chuckled, cutting me off, “I try to separate my personal life from my business life as much as possible, which isn’t as easy as it may sound when you’re working for your father, and even though I have, in the past, brought people from my private life out to these events with me, I have decided for myself to never do it again. So I have asked you to come along with me.”

“Oh.”

“Once you put yourself out there, Miss Ryan, once you’re photographed together a couple times without a clear explanation about your relation to each other, people will start to speculate. You know how these things go. As a businessman, I try to stay out of that as much as possible. If I have to be photographed and written about, then I only want the truth. Asking my assistant to accompany me will give them a clear idea, and hopefully won’t spark up any rumors.”

“I get it,” I said with a smile. “So, I mean–”

“Miss Ryan,” he started, leaning forward on his desk and smirking at me, “are you trying to ask me if I’m single?”

Oh shit.

I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks as I shifted uncomfortable in my chair. See, subtlety was not my strong suit.  “I didn’t–”

“Because I think you already know the answer to that question.”  Holy crap. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable, Miss Ryan. It’s a perfectly acceptable question.” He smiled sweetly at me as he grabbed his coffee again. “Is this gonna be a regular thing? Because I would very much like it on my desk every morning.” 

 “What?” I asked, blinking at him.

“The coffee,” he laughed. 

“Oh. Well if you want it I can bring it to you every morning, yeah.” 

“Perfect.” He smiled widely, obviously thrilled by the thought. “Of course you will be compensated for that.”

“No, that’s, that’s fine. It’s, what’s five dollars, right?”

“Five dollars every day, Miss Ryan, five days a week. That’s twenty five dollars per week which makes a total of one thousand three hundred a year. That is, if you only bring coffee for me. Add one for yourself and you’re up to around almost three thousand a year.”

“Wow,” I breathed. 

“So I can’t possibly ask you to pay for it yourself. Besides, we own the building the nearest Starbucks is in, I’m sure I can pull some strings and arrange free coffee for the both of us for the rest of the year.”

“It’s gotta be nice to have that much power isn’t it?” I asked, staring at him.

He laughed, leaning back in his chair. “It definitely has its perks.”

I smiled at him and heard the phone go off. “I should get to work now.” I quickly grabbed the phone and the credit card off his desk and hurried over to my own. 

After quickly glancing at the screen, I answered the phone. “Mr. Jonas’ office,” I spoke into the receiver.

“There’s a visitor for Mr. Jonas,” the receptionist told me. “A Mr. Collins.” 

“Right, one second.” I quickly opened up Mr. Jonas’ schedule to check if he had any meetings planned this morning. “I will be right there to pick him up.” I hung up the phone and got up from my chair.

“Mr. Jonas,” I said as I knocked on the door which was left open. He looked up from his screen and smiled at me. “Your eight thirty is here. Shall I go get him?”

“Yes, Miss Ryan. Bring him into my office.” 

Nodding, I left the offices and headed over to the elevator to go pick up his visitor. As I walked into the lobby, I found a man staring out of the window, his back towards me. “Mr. Collins?” I asked. He was the only one waiting, so I was pretty certain it was him. “I’m Mr. Jonas’ assistant.” Smiling, I held out my hand for him as he turned around to face me. “Wayne?”

“Belle?” He pushed his eyebrows together in confusion as he stared at me.

“What, what are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” he chuckled.

“I’m Mr. Jonas’ assistant,” I repeated. 

“And I’m representing Drive Magazine,” he explained. 

“Right. Follow me.” Sighing, I turned around and headed back to the elevators.

Did the universe hate me? Like, really? Did my ex-boyfriend really have to show up at work? 

“You look good, Belle,” he said once we were in the elevator. I looked at him and he was giving me a very obvious once-over. His eyes washed over my body. He didn’t even hide it. “You look very good.”

“Keep it in your pants, Wayne.” I pushed him away when he moved in closer to me. “We’re done, remember.” I was glad the elevator ride didn’t take too long. Once the doors slid open, I hurried outside and lead the way into Mr. Jonas’ office. 

“Ah, Mr. Collins,” Mr. Jonas said when I brought him into his office. “Please, have a seat. Can I offer you anything to drink?”

“No thank you, I’m good,” Wayne replied as he sank down into the same chair I’d sat in only minutes ago. 

“Miss Ryan, please close the door on your way out.”

“Certainly.” With a polite smile, I headed out of the office and closed the door, giving the two men some privacy. I still couldn’t believe my ex-boyfriend was actually in there. I had no idea he even worked for a magazine. We’d broken up a few months ago, but last I knew he was still working as a job consultant. What did he even want with Mr. Jonas anyway?

“Focus, Belle,” I whispered to myself as I got everything ready to start working. I opened my mailboxes and got the list of phone numbers Mr. Jonas had given me last night out of my drawer. When I placed it by the phone, something immediately caught my eye. A name with a very clear instruction.

Ellie Clarke – IGNORE

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