As the ice cube melted between her fingertips, Melissa thought for the umpteenth time why she’d let her best friend talk her into applying for a job at this business. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with it – quite the opposite, actually. The pay was excellent, the work was challenging, and the advantages were top-notch. But the atmosphere was…tense.
Maybe it was just the fact that she’d only been here for a week, but Melissa couldn’t shake the feeling that something was simmering just below the surface. She’d caught more than one co-worker glancing at her in a way that made her skin prickle, and she’d been witness to a handful of whispered conversations that cut off as soon as she entered a room.
And then, there was him.
Even before she’d officially started at the business, Melissa had heard whispers about the boss. A talented, driven man with a reputation for being ruthless in the boardroom and unyielding in his personal life, he was the stuff of daydreams and nightmares alike. More than one female employee had been rumored to have been seduced – or at least attempted to be – by the enigmatic man, and Melissa had vowed from the begin not to be one of them.
But she’d only been in his presence for a few minutes before she realized that her resolve was shaking. He was magnetic, no other word for it. The way he moved and spoke, the confident tilt of his chin – it was impossible not to be drawn in.
Their first meeting had been brief, fraught with tension. Melissa had felt his gaze on her the entire time, even as she struggled to keep her own eyes focused on her work. But when he’d spoken, it had been in a low, rough tone that made her feel like she was the only person in the room.
She’d barely made it back to her cubicle before she’d had to run to the bathroom and splash cold water on her face. What was wrong with her? She was here to work, not to be distracted by some guy with a reputation.
But that was easier said than done. Every time she saw him after that, it was like an electric shock ran through her. His eyes seemed to linger on her a beat longer than anyone else’s, and the murmurs around the office seemed to pick up as soon as he was in sight.
Melissa tried to keep her head down, to do her work and get out as soon as efficient each day. But it felt like no matter what she did, he was at all times there, watching her with an intensity that was both thrilling and terrifying.
And then, one day, he called her into his office.
Melissa had never been more nervous in her life. She’d rehearsed what she was gonna say a thousand times, but all her words seemed to evaporate as soon as she stepped into the room.
He was behind his desk, looking just as fierce as she remembered. His eyes were hooded, but she could still see the gleam of curiosity in them as he looked her over.
“Melissa,” he said in that low, smooth voice of his. “How are you settling in?”
She swallowed hard, trying to ignore the way her heart was hammering in her chest. “Fine, sir. Thank you for asking.”
He leaned back in his chair, his gaze never leaving her face. “I wanted to talk to you about your work. You’ve been doing exemplary so far, but I think you have the potential to do even better. I was hoping we could discuss some opportunities for you to take on more responsibility.”
Relief flooded through Melissa, and she felt her shoulders slump as she let out a shaky breath. “Yes, of course. I’m more than willing to take on whatever challenge you throw my way.”
He nodded slowly, his eyes still on hers. “I’m glad to hear it. But before we get into specifics, there’s something I need to talk to you about.”
Melissa’s heart started racing again, and she had the distinct feeling that she wasn’t gonna like where this conversation was going. “What is it?”
He stood up, moving around his desk until he was standing toe-to-toe with her. Melissa had to tilt her head back to meet his eyes, and she felt a flutter in her stomach at the proximity.
“Melissa,” he said softly, his eyes darkening. “I know I have a reputation around here. And I know that you’ve heard things about me. But I need you to understand something.”
He reached out and took her hand, his grip firm but not unkind. Melissa felt a bolt of electricity shoot up her arm at the touch, but didn’t pull away.
“I’m not like the other men around here,” he said. “And I’m not going to hurt you. But I can’t help the way I feel. And the way I feel…it’s for you.”
Melissa’s breath caught in her throat, and for a moment she couldn’t think or speak. All she could do was stand there, staring up at the man she’d been trying not to think about for weeks. And then, before she could stop herself, she leaned up and pressed her lips to his.
It was like a dam had burst inside her. All the feelings she’d been trying to ignore came flooding out, and before she knew it she was wrapped up in his arms, his mouth moving over hers furiously. She could feel his hunger, his need, and she knew without a doubt that she felt the same way.
The rest of the world faded away. The only thing that mattered was the way they were touching and kissing, exploring each other’s bodies with a desperate fervor. Melissa had never felt so wild, so lost in her own desire. And when he lifted her up and set her down on his desk, pushing her legs aside and settling between them, she didn’t try to withstand.
They made love there, in that office, with only the echoes of their moans to keep them business. When it was over, they collapsed together in a heap, breathing hard and staring up at the ceiling.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said, his voice heavy with regret.
Melissa sat up, dazed and confused. “What?”
He shook his head. “I shouldn’t have let things go that far. It’s not professional. It’s not right.”
Melissa felt a cold shiver run through her, and she realized with a begin that she was shaking. “What are you saying?”
He stood up, straightening his tie. “I’m saying that this can’t happen again. We can’t let it go any further. It’s not…appropriate. You understand?”
Melissa’s heart felt like it was breaking. “I…yes. I understand.”
He looked at her for a long moment, his expression unreadable. And then he turned and walked out of the room, leaving Melissa alone with the wreckage of what could have been.