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Romance – Part three


Entry by J P Shaw (13 Feb 07)

“I entered my boss’s office. The coppery taste of my own blood rested against my tongue. I had bitten my lip, hard, as I stepped up behind the man who remained seated with his back to me in the chair.
“You look awful!” My boss said. If I’d had an anvil, I gladly would have dropped it on his head for the announcement. I should have pinched my cheeks harder on the ride in this morning. But at least I had on matching shoes, now.
“I want to introduce you to a new member of our staff.” My boss pointed to the man sitting with his back to me. It was the moment I had been dreading from the minute I’d peeked through the office window, seeing him sitting in the chair, comfortable and relaxed.
“Hello, Quinn.”
My stomach lurched hearing him speak my name. I wanted to throw up. I would have, too, if there had been anything in my stomach other than a mixture of large quantities of alcohol resting peacefully at the bottomless pit of my mid section, still sleeping off my birthday celebration. I did not want to wake a sleeping giant. So, I bit my lip again to keep control. Besides, how embarrassing would that be? Hello Karl-and then spewing chunks. Nice.
“You two know each other?” Ethan turned to me.
Ethan Morris, my boss, and of course also attached to the list below Jennifer Aniston, and above Grace from Will and Grace, younger than me. A good guy, Ethan looked pleased.
“Quinn and I go back. Don’t we?” Karl said, his eyes focusing upon my face that didn’t need any pinching now. And again I felt like kicking myself for not putting my make-up on properly before leaving this morning. I was certain I was three shades crimson, and perhaps a little violet, too.
It was always that way, thinking back, between Karl and I. No matter where we were, I’d catch him, just staring at me. Karl always had an intent look upon his face as though he were dissecting a small animal caught in a vice. But then-he’d smile. He’d smile, and my entire body would liquefy immediately. Put us together, and I could whip up a margurita in seconds with the way my body reacted toward him. I’d be the hit of every party.
We’d already been-together. And flashes of the past came reeling back to me. Karl and I in Paris, bungee jumping in Rome, skiing in Vancouver, skinny dipping in Mexico, and making love all night long beneath-.
“Quinn?” Ethan called my name. I wasn’t sure how many times he’d said it before I actually registered he was talking to me. Embarrassment flooded my face. “It’s good you two know each other. That makes this easier. .”
Makes what easier? My eyes rounded with each syllable Ethan danced around me. And then he said, “You two are going to be working together on the new column. I’d like you take Karl around. Show him how you work, and spend some time catching up with one another. And since you already know each other. This is going to be great! I want first copy on my desk by Wednesday.”
I stood motionless. My legs floated beneath me like puffy white clouds twirling a waltz in the air. I scanned around the room, hoping Ashton Kutcher would jump from behind Ethan’s desk to tell me I was being punked.
Who was I kidding? I was not a celebrity, in any sense of the word. I had to face reality. This was my life. I was a reporter. I had a column to do. My boss had just introduced to me my writing partner, who happened to be a man I’d shared a bed with for nearly five years.
It was a relatively simple concept to adjust to, and yet somehow my brain felt like Tweedy Bird swallowed by Sylvester behind Granny’s back.
This couldn’t be happening.
I stormed out of the room, quick on the heels of my white-laced Reebok’s, headed straight for my desk. I passed Jules along the way. I could tell by the look on her face she wanted to know why I was reeling with anger, needing to know every gory detail to what just transpired in our boss’s office. Well-I wasn’t going to say anything. Not to anyone.
And then it hit me. I couldn’t work with Karl. We had a history. We’d lived together for crying-out-loud! Wasn’t it unethical or something?
I had no idea what I was going to do. I could storm back into Ethan’s office and spill my beans about my sordid past with Ethan’s new acquisition. No, I thought. That would be worse than standing in the room, before, listening to Ethan tell me the news, and seeing Karl again.
“So-.” The deep voice said from behind me. I was gripping my chair, which was a good thing, because I was ready to claw the roof. Just hearing the slow, sexy tone, caused the temperature of my body to go up faster than an Oak tree caught in an unfortunate summer blaze.
“So, what?” I replied, turning to face him. Karl leaned against the side of my cubicle. It was then I noticed how much older he looked. Not in a bad way, mind you, not even close. He looked more-mature.
Dressed casual, blue jeans and a black cashmere sweater, which did everything to outline his perfect physic, and nothing to squelch the fire I was feeling just looking at him. Silvery strands dusted his charcoal locks slightly. I liked it. It made him look more refined, and sexy. If that were even possible, which judging from the way my foot began to tap nervously. It was.
“Look-Quinn. I know this isn’t easy. .”
I stifled the laughter that bubbled up from my throat, once again biting my tongue, hard. Easy! He had no idea. Easy was when you had to wash your car for the afternoon in the sun. Not an entire parking lot, which is what I’d have to wash the moment I got home, to cleanse myself. Just being this close to him after all this time made me feel grungy with memories from our past. How it ended, and how ugly things had gotten between us.
“We can’t work together,” I said with straightforwardness.
“Why not?”
Karl was amused. The corners of his eyes always turned up whenever he watched me struggle with my words, as I was doing right this very second. He was enjoying this-the bastard!
“Mmmm, let me think,” I said. “Uhh, could it be because I hate you!” I told him. The next sound I heard was laughter. Not my own either. His.
Karl chuckled from deep in his throat, low and husky. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with him, let alone finish this conversation if he kept doing that.
“You don’t hate me, Quinn.”
“Yes, as a matter of fact-I do!”
“No you don’t.”
“I do,” I repeated with frustration.
“No-you-don’t.” Karl paused, his smile deepening. A hint of rebellion twinkled his baby blues, and reaching down, he grabbed me by the hand. “And I’m going to prove it to you.”

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