I never stored his number – Patrick never got round to passing it to me and after handing the project over to him on Friday, I no longer needed it. I wouldn’t be going back, and I meant it. And even so, I wouldn’t have saved his number under his first name. I hold my phone in my hand, scanning the office to see if the continuous ringing has drawn any attention from my colleagues. It hasn’t. I let it ring off. What does he want?
I make for Patrick’s office to ask if he’s notified Mr Ward of the change in arrangements, but then it rings again, halting me in my tracks. I take a steady breath and connect the call.
If Patrick hasn’t advised him yet, then I will. And if it doesn’t suit, it’s bad luck. I make a rubbish job of convincing myself that I’ve passed the contract over because Patrick’s more suitable for the project. I know damn well that’s only half the reason.
‘Hello.’ I say, stamping my foot a little for sounding apprehensive in my greeting. I was aiming for sure and confident.
‘Ava?’ His husky voice has the same impact on my weak senses as it did on Friday. But at least over the phone he can’t see me physically trembling.
‘Who’s speaking?’ There. That sounded better – professional, business-like and steady.
He laughs lightly, and it throws me completely off guard. ‘Now, I know you already know the answer to that question because my name came up on your phone,’ I cringe on the spot. ‘Trying to play it cool?’
Oh, the arrogant arse! How does he know that? But then realisation dawns on me. ‘You added yourself to my contacts list?’ I gasp. When did he do that? I mentally sprint through our meeting, settling on my visit to the toilet when I left my portfolio and phone on the table. I can’t believe he went through my phone!
‘I need to be able to get hold of you.’
Oh, no. Patrick, obviously, hasn’t told him. Nevertheless, you don’t go around snooping through strangers phones. He really is very self-assured. And storing it under Jesse? That’s a bit familiar.
‘Patrick should have contacted you,’ I coolly inform him. ‘I’m afraid I’m unable to assist you, but Patrick will be more than happy to help.’
‘Patrick has been in contact,’ he replies. I sag in relief but then frown. Why is he calling me then? ‘I’m sure he will be happy to help, but I’m less than happy to accept it.’
My mouth gapes. Who does he think he is? He’s called to tell me he’s not happy? Oh, this man is way past arrogant. I close my gaping mouth.
‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ I sound less than sorry; I sound irritated.
And I’m thrown again. No, I’m not sorry. But I’m not about to tell him that. ‘Yes, I am.’ I lie. I want to add that I could never work with an arrogant, good looking swine like him, but I refrain. That wouldn’t be very professional.
I hear him sigh. ‘I don’t think you are, Ava.’ My name sounds like velvet rolling from his lips, causing a familiar shudder to course through me. How does he know I’m not sorry? ‘I think you’re avoiding me.’ he adds.
I’m going to dislocate my jaw at this rate. He’s right. He sparks some very unwelcome feelings in me, and the fact I know he’s involved with someone else has not helped one iota.
‘Why would I do that?’ I ask cockily. That should shut him up.
‘Well, because you’re attracted to me.’
‘Excuse me?’ I splutter. His self-assuredness knows no bounds. Has he no shame? The fact that he’s bang on the money is way beside the point. You would have to be blind, deaf and numb not to be attracted to this man. He’s the epitome of male perfection and, quite clearly, he knows it.
He sighs. ‘I said…’
‘Yes, I heard you,’ I interrupt him. ‘I just can’t believe you said it.’ I slump in my chair.
I’ve never known anything quite like it. I’m completely stunned. The man has a significant other, and he’s flirting on the end of the phone with me? What a player! I need to turn this conversation back around to business and get off of the phone quickly.
‘I apologise for not being available to assist with your work.’ I blurt and hang up, staring down at my phone.
That was really quite rude and extremely unprofessional, but I’m completely staggered by his forwardness. Passing the contract over to Patrick is looking more and more sensible by the minute. A text arrives.
I notice you didn’t deny it. You should know the feeling’s mutual. Jx
Shitting f**king hell! I slap my hand over my lips to stop my mental explicit language from falling out of my mouth. No, I didn’t deny it. And he’s attracted to me? I’m a bit young for him, or is he too old for me? A kiss? What a cocky arse! I don’t reply – I have no idea what to say to that.
Instead, I throw my phone in my bag and go to meet Kate for lunch.
‘Holy Moses!’ Kate exclaims, staring down at my phone. Her red hair is swinging from side to side in its ponytail as she shakes her head. ‘Did you reply?’ She looks up at me expectantly.
‘Christ, no.’ I laugh. What would she recommend I say to that? It’s got me completely stumped.
‘And he’s got a girlfriend?’
‘Yes.’ I nod, raising my eyebrows.
She places my phone back on the table. ‘That’s a shame.’
Is it? It actually makes things a lot easier. It totally trumps the looks and reactions he spikes in me. Kate’s far more daring than me. She would have replied with something shocking and suggestive, and probably made his jaw drop. That girl would give any bona-fide man-eater a run for their money. Not slow in coming forward, she mostly scared men off on the first date – only the strongest survive. Kate’s long, red hair is as vibrant as her personality. She’s confident, strong minded and determined.