1. Sleeping With The Enemy
Do you ever get the feeling that you have forgotten something?
Jessica Connors had that feeling from the second she walked out of his house this morning until just five minutes ago when she realized what she had forgotten was her underwear.
She sat at her desk, tangled her fingers in her dark auburn curls, and read the same line of the book five times before it dawned on her that she had already read it. She loved her job as a book editor; always gave one hundred percent, and Goddamn it, this book had to be on his desk by tomorrow morning.
But today her mind was elsewhere. She could not get him out of her head; his big brown eyes, his short cut dark brown hair, his skin rubbing gently against hers. It replayed like a movie repeatedly in her head. He touched her so lovingly and with so much care that she almost believed him. The thought of his kisses trailing down her body made her want to jump ecstatically from her seat and yell at the top of her lungs.
She had to stop with these thoughts. They were ruining her. She never acted like this, and it was time for her to get on with her work. But he was so damn unforgettable. He had not stopped floating around her head since she had woken up this morning and saw his muscular body sprawled out against the bedsheets. Then the guilt came along to crush her. The unbelievably heavy thumps pounding at every inch of her being made her want to throw up, and her head ached with the pain.
The loud, echoing sound of the phone ringing knocked her out of her trance.
“Hello,” she answered, her voice trembling.
“Good morning, Jessica. I have a call for you on line two.” The young receptionist, named Sophie, sang through the phone.
Why was it that everyone sounded so chirpy this morning? First, there was the teenage girl in the coffee shop; there to make some money for her weekly cinema trips with her fellow giggling teeny boppers. She just stood there patiently, like a robot, a never-ending pearly white smile beaming over the counter. And she was still grinning, in her own little world when numerous people continued to change their orders, asking for unbelievably detailed coffee. For the love of all that was holy, coffee was coffee. How hard could it be?
And now, there was Sophie, the pretty redhead receptionist that sounded as if she were on top of the world.
“Jessica?” Sophie’s voice repeated, waiting for a more educated reply than silence.
She could feel her heart pound in double speed, making her pulse race and her palms sweat.
“Oh, yes, of course. Put them through.”
She pressed the number, anxiously waiting to hear the voice she dreaded on the other line. But did she really dread that voice? No, and she hated she could admit that to herself. She dreaded what that voice would say, what it could do to her senses. That voice could take over her entire body if it wanted to, just as it did last night. It could take her to new heights. But those heights were usually three feet off the floor, on a bed with silk sheets, and his hot, male flesh hovering above her.
Sweet lord above, get a grip on yourself.
“Hello?” A low hum came through the speaker of the phone. The husky voice sounded almost lost.
“Thank God,” Jessica let out. That voice may have sounded lost, but she would have known it anywhere. It was her friend, Sharon. Any other time of the day she might have tried to avoid their long conversations because she knew her friend would complain about something. But right now, she embraced the fact that Sharon was calling. She even embraced her complaining like a warm, fuzzy teddy-bear.
“Is that you?” Sharon spoke.
“Yes, it’s me,” she confirmed, not fighting away the smile on her face from the sheer relief.
“What the hell are you doing? I tried to ring your mobile. Where is it?”
Jessica’s eyes narrowed, confused. “It’s in my bag. You know me, I probably have it on silent,” she explained, lifting her black leather handbag from the floor next to her chair.
“Anyway,” Sharon continued, “Melissa is having her baby shower tomorrow. You are coming, right?”
“Yes,” Jessica answered, distracted as she rummaged through her bag, feeling her pulse quicken as each second ticked by and she could not find her phone.
“Good, because you are my victim. Grown people babbling about shit-stained, hungry, crying little humans, makes me want to vomit. Why the hell she went and got herself pregnant baffles me anyway,” Sharon went on.
“Maybe, because she just got married, and she wants to start a family,” Jessica grunted, rolling her eyes. Her friend was never the best for understanding situations she was not involved in.
Again, Sharon baffled on in something rather incoherent to Jessica’s ears.
“What?” Sharon questioned.
“My mobile, it’s not in my bag. Shit. Shit. Shit.”
She remembered seeing it on his bedside locker this morning. She had left in such a rush, doing her best not to wake him, that she left it behind. “I left it on his locker.” She slammed her palm on her wooden table, feeling like a complete idiot. Now she was going to have to face him again. Not that she could avoid him, but she was planning on keeping a low profile for at least a week.
“Excuse me! Did you just say his locker?”
“Shit,” Jessica repeated. She had just given herself away to her best friend. Now she would have to tell her something she had deeply intended on keeping a secret; a dark secret that would give her chills when she thought back on it and dreamed about it in the comfort of her mind. But that is all she wanted it to be. A memory. Now she would have her best friend remind her every time she had too much to drink that she slept with the one man she hated.
“Come on. Spill,” Sharon demanded, her voice rising in pitch from the excitement. That girl could smell gossip. “You can’t just say something like that and expect me to let you get away with it.”
Jessica huffed loudly, feeling defeated. “I slept with someone,” she muttered quickly, trying to avoid mentioning his name.
“Jessica Connors had a one-night stand? You go, girl. Get yours.”
“Ugh!” Jessica grunted. “I’m not proud of myself.”
“Who was it?” Sharon asked bluntly, sounding serious now.
Jessica bit down on her lip, deliberating if she should tell her the truth or lie and make somebody up.
Who was she trying to fool? Sharon could read her like a book, she always could, and Jessica had to face that she would never get away with not telling her; no matter how hard she tried.
“Well?” Sharon prompted.
“I can’t believe I am saying this.” She took a deep breath and swallowed the embarrassment boiling in her throat. “I slept with Jake,” she said in a bear whisper, fearful that if too loud, she would have to admit it to herself.
The phone went silent; she waited for a moment. Then more silence. And more silence.
But she cut her off with the loudest scream she had ever heard in her life. She kept the phone at arm’s length. Far enough to be sure her eardrum would not burst.
“You slept with Jake!”
“It is not funny,” Jessica persisted through gritted teeth.
“I know. I think I am just laughing in shock. It’s a nervous reaction.” Her hysterical behaviour trailed off. “OK, wait a minute. I can’t believe you slept with, Jake,” she said seriously. “Let me recap for a moment, just to make sure we are talking about the same person.”
As if she didn’t know.
“Is this the absolutely gorgeous, Jake Williams, who can, and does, have any woman he wants? The Jake who you do and always have despised? The same Jake that you almost fainted over because you walked into work one day and found out he was your boss?” Jessica felt sick to the pit of her stomach.
“He is not my boss,” she demanded.
“He is a partner in the company. He’s your boss. Get over it! So, it is that Jake, huh?”
“Obviously, what other Jake is there?” Jessica shouted, annoyed at the continuous questions and the reminder of everything Jake was to her. As if it had slipped her mind by some miracle.
“Hey calm down. Don’t get your knickers in a bunch. Is that what happened last night? He got your knickers all bunched up, and you had to rip them off?” Sharon teased.
“You are not helping.”
“Sorry,” Sharon apologized, but her tone did not match the meaning of the word. “So how did all of this happen?”
“Look, can we talk about this later? I have some work to do.”
“Eventually, you have got to come to terms with it. Avoidance will eat at your soul, but for now, I will leave you off the hook because believe it or not, I have work to do myself.”
Jessica doubted it was actual work. She was probably feeding on some poor newbie who wanted to further his career, and Sharon had given him false promises. Jessica swore she was a vampire, thirsting for the blood of those she could take advantage of. She wasn’t being mean about it. Sharon did it plenty of times before, and she wasn’t ashamed to admit it either. If it was for her gain, it was fine.
“I will call around later for all the gossip. I will bring ice-cream.”
“Good. I will need it.”
But, of course, because Jessica had the worst luck in the world, it wasn’t long before the phone buzzed to life again.
“Another call waiting on line two.”
Jessica sighed heavily, feeling annoyed. Sharon always did this; rang back the second time because she thought of a joke she could tease her with.
“Sharon, I told you I will see you later. I have work to do,” she breathed, rubbing the tips of her fingers over her temples.
“You weren’t thinking about work last night.”
Jessica thought her heart had stopped. Her pulse quickened, and she could feel the beads of sweat forming on her skin.
“You OK down there?” he asked, waiting for her to answer. “No. Actually, you were great down there. Sorry, wrong use of words on my part.” And the confidence that boomed through his laugh made her want to vomit. Even so, that single vibration of his voice box also made her want to rip his clothes off.
Vomit or rip his clothes off, make up your mind!
“You’re sick, Jake,” she spat.
“Be in my office in twenty minutes. I have two things belonging to you.” She could hear the sex dripping in his tone, and it scared her because it was his voice and his way with words that made her succumb to him the night before.
“I have your phone and something…” he hesitated for a moment, “rather lacy.”
Then the line went dead.
Sweet divine. Her heart was about to explode from her chest with anxiousness. What the hell was he talking about? Her mouth went dry; suddenly realizing.
Whoops! He had her underwear.
Copyright © 2021 Laura Ashley Gallagher
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