The Hating Game Page 60

It’s better to leave here completely than have to look at him across boardroom tables and glimpse him in the basement parking lot. He’ll find a new woman to torment and fascinate. One day I might see a gold ring on his hand.

“Why would I keep torturing myself like that?”

I think my expression must be stark, because Helene makes an attempt to cheer me.

“Live a little, this weekend. Trust me. It will work out for the best.”

“I’ll put the phones through to my cell and let you know if anything urgent comes in.”

I need to go downstairs to my car. I want to open the trunk, look at my packed bag, and try to dodge the big question a little longer. The how do I feel about Josh question. My car keys glow in my bag. I could get in my car, and drive.

I pat my pockets and realize I’ve got a major problem. My cell phone is gone. I look under my desk, in my bag, in folders, and paperwork. I can’t even remember the last time I saw it.

I find it beside the sink in the ladies room. When I return to my desk, Josh is emerging from his meeting with Mr. Bexley without a hair out of place.

Chapter 19

What was all that about?” I hug the back of my chair.

“Professional disagreement.” He lifts a shoulder carelessly, reminding me of what he’s wearing. When he walked in today, he was wearing a pale green shirt I’ve never seen before. I’ve spent today trying to decide if it’s a harbinger of doom, or if I love it.

“What’s with the green shirt?”

“Green seemed appropriate, given my little scene in Starbucks.”

Mr. Bexley puts his head out of his office, looks at us both, and shakes his head. “Hell in a handbasket. I tell you, hell in a handbasket.”

A witchy Shakespearean crone has nothing on him right now.

Josh laughs. “Richard, please.”

“Shut your mouth, Bexley,” I hear Helene call faintly. He harrumphs and slams his office door. Josh looks at his desk and picks up his tin of mints, pocketing them. He flicks his phone to voice mail and pushes his chair in. It looks exactly like his desk on the first day I met him. Sterile. Impersonal. He walks to the window and looks outside.

It’s that first moment all over again. I’m standing by my desk, nerves shredding me from the inside out. There’s a huge man by the window with glossy dark hair, his hands in pockets. As he turns, I pray he’s not as gorgeous as I think he is. The light catches his jaw and I’m pretty sure.

When those eyes hit me, I know.

He looks at me. Top of my head to the tips of my shoes. Say the words, I think desperately. You’re beautiful. Please, let’s be friends.

“Tell me what the hell is going on.”

“I’m sworn to confidentiality.”

In a clever strategy, he has utilized the one thing he knows I won’t argue against.

“Tell me they just didn’t informally offer you the job.”

“No, they didn’t.”

I lower my voice to a whisper. “Do they know about . . . us?”

“No.”

My two big fears seem unfounded.

“So . . . how are we getting out of here? Do I still have to?”

“Yes. That thing over there”—he points as he unhooks my coat from the hanger—“is an elevator. You’ve been in it before. With me, in fact. I’ll step you through the process.”

“What if someone sees us?”

“You say that now? Lucinda, you’re priceless.”

I slap my keyboard to lock my computer, snatch my handbag and clatter after him. I try to tug my coat from his arm but he shakes his head and tuts. The elevator doors open and he tugs me in, his hand at my waist.

I turn and see Helene, leaning on her doorframe, her posture one of casual amusement. She then throws her head back and laughs in delight, clapping her hands together. He waves to Helene as the doors close.

I use both hands to push him to the other side of the elevator. “Get over there. We look so obvious. She heard us. She saw us. You’re carrying my coat. She knows you’d never do that.” I’m almost hoarse with embarrassment.

“Newsflash, I am doing that.” He circles his finger over the emergency stop button. I grab his hand in a steely grip. I think he suppresses a laugh.

When we get to the basement I creep out ahead. “We’re clear.”

I go to my car and unlock the trunk. My suitcase is lying crooked and upside down and it feels like a sign. I want to leap into my car, screech out, and lose him in a high-speed chase. As quickly as the image forms, his hand materializes, reaches, takes my suitcase, and walks off to his car. I snatch up my garment bag, lock my car, and then realize something.

“If we leave my car here, Helene will know. She’ll see it.”

“Should we hide it under some branches in a forest?”

What an excellent idea. I rub my stomach. “I don’t . . .”

“Don’t even say you don’t want to do this. It’s all over your face. I don’t want to do this either. But we’re going.”

He’s getting a little terse. My belongings are in his trunk, my handbag is on the passenger seat.

“Can I take my car home?”

“Yeah, right. You’ll escape. If anyone asks on Monday, say it broke down again. It’s the perfect alibi, because your car is shit.”

“Josh . . . I’m freaking out.” I have to put my hands on the door of his car to steady myself. If I thought things were going too fast before, it’s all hitting warp speed. He pulls off his tie and undoes two buttons. He’s beautiful, even in this dreadful basement.

“Yes, that’s obvious.” His little brow-crease is deepening. “I am too. You look exhausted.”

“I couldn’t sleep. Why are you freaking out?”

He ignores me. “You can sleep in the car.” He opens the door for me. He tries to fold me in but I dig my heels in.

“The interview. The job.”

“Fuck it. The interview will happen. We will deal with the outcome.” He takes my shoulders in his hands.

“It’s not that easy. I lost someone important to me in the merger, my friend Val. I kept my job, she lost her job, and now we’re no longer friends. Just as an example,” I hastily tack on. I nearly told Joshua Templeman that he is important. I just hinted that we’re friends. He narrows his eyes.

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