Authors: Chloe Kale
I realized I wasn’t keeping up the same girlish façade that Lillian was. Damn it, my face had reverted to its normal look. Maybe that’s why he kept smiling at me – because I was just being myself, and he could somehow tell. Oh wait. Why was he smiling at me so much? I began blushing uncontrollably – and stuttering, all over again.
“Oh, well, whatever you like, Mister – Eric.”
“Mister Eric is a new one, however.” He laughed.
Eric Gambit was laughing at my joke. Okay – so it wasn’t exactly a joke. But still, he was laughing at me because I was funny!
“Or I could just do Eric. Whatever you prefer.” I said, trying to force back the redness blooming in my cheeks.
Did I just say that I could
Eric? My mind instantly jumped to the thought of us tangled up in his giant presidential bed in a mansion on a rolling hillside far away…
“I mean to say, that, I will call you whatever you’d prefer.” I cringed. Things had been going so well, and now I was tanking my first impression.
“It’s okay to be nervous on your first day, Emma.” Eric said with a wink, as he stepped around my gawking body. He placed a comforting hand on my shoulder – oh, it felt like electricity. He had literally shocked me with static electricity.
I stood there for a moment in awkward silence.
“Sorry. Carpets.” He laughed and continued into his office.
Lillian nudged me again, shaking me from my awkward-induced coma.
“Well, first impressions aren’t all that important, I suppose,” she said dismissively.
I looked at her, my eyes pleading;
please tell me that didn’t just happen
“Just kidding, of course. They are crucial.” She tapped my desk. “You might want to have a seat now that our tour’s concluded. I’ll be right down the hall. You can see me from your seat, dear.”
I plopped down as she went over my instructions for the rest of the first day, but my mind raced. I went over my encounter with Eric Gambit over and over again. Emma Faro knew her way around men. I should have had no problem with that. I had looked at his pictures online, in magazines, and I thought I was ready. But nothing could have prepared me for the animalistic power he had over me.
I watched Lillian tiptoe back to her desk. It’s a wonder anybody got anything done in this office, with a man like Eric Gambit just on the other side of a mahogany door.
I took a look at my desk. Totally sparse. I’d have to bring some of my personal effects from my apartment.
Or should I
? I wasn’t sure if that was professional.
Maybe just a picture of my boyfriend?
Ha. Ha. Laughter. Applause.
That was a joke. Since working part time jobs through college, and then the intense months of job hunting, I hadn’t had any time at all for a relationship. Hell, I barely had time for sex.
Well, with this new job, we’ll see how much time off Eric Gambit was going to afford me. Maybe I could even get back out onto the dating scene for the first time since I was a teenager? The thought tickled my fancy, but in every fantasy I conjured in my mind, the role of my ‘boyfriend’ went to Mr. Eric Gambit. I shook my head. I hated the effect he had on me.
I craned my head to peak at the door to his office, just beyond Lillian’s desk. The door was closed. Of course.
Then I met Lillian’s eyes. She caught me leaning over my desk and shook her head. I could tell that she found me amusing.
been charmed by me.
Maybe she was wrong about me, after all.
My first few weeks at the offices of Vay Technologies had passed quickly. As it turned out, I spent a lot of time running errands for just about everyone in the office. By the first month, I had memorized most of the coffee orders. And my friendship with Lillian was going just swimmingly. In fact, I started to consider her a really good friend – and it was from her I got the advice to not pursue Eric Gambit romantically.
“The last junior assistant was fired,” she confided in me. “She tried to seduce Mr. Gambit.”
“Oh my god, who would do such a thing?” I said, a smile forming on my face.
“So, what happened exactly? Do you know?” I asked.
“Well, she stayed late one night, and took off everything but her blouse and a necktie that Mr. Gambit had left in the office. She crept into Mr. Gambit’s office when he left to use the washroom, and then lay on his desk, kicking the papers off with her high heels.” She took a quick look over her shoulder to make sure no one was listening in. “And then when Mr. Gambit got back, she spread her legs open to greet him.”
I felt a twinge of jealousy prick my neck. Ouch, stupid heart.
“And then what happened?” I urged for more.
Lillian touched her nose. “He turned her down. He turned her out. And then we had to hire a new junior secretary.”
“So it’s a bad idea to flash my vagina to the boss?” I said, and Lillian laughed wickedly. “Because that was definitely on my to-do list.”
My relationship with Eric Gambit for the first few weeks could be characterized largely as non-existent, save for the occasion smile, glance, touch on the arm, or wave as he left the evening. I made a point of bringing him his coffee myself every day, and if our hands happened to touch when I gave him his one-cream-no-sugar, then, so be it.
I wasn’t going to do anything crazy after all; I didn’t want to turn out like his last junior assistant. Oh God, what if the position was cursed? I made a mental note: Don’t become a cautionary tale for future employees of this office.
Eric gambit was a very busy man; there was no doubt about that. Anytime he actually was in his office, he was buried with work. It was a wonder he didn’t have any wrinkles, his brow was so often furled at the huge pile of papers on his desk. He really was a hands-on type, as Lillian had said; he didn’t delegate anything he didn’t have to. He bared the weight of company decisions upon his own muscular, broad shoulders.
He spent most of the day out of the building. He was always meeting people, or working at the labs. It had been whispered at the office that he spent most of his time in Europe, out of the country, brokering deals to buy other companies.
Vay Technologies was expanding
was the buzz around the office. We were taking over! Yay for capitalism and the Eric Gambits of the world.
But that was okay; the less I saw of him, the less I had to think about the way he smiled or smelled, or the nice things he had said to me. The less I had to think about Eric Gambit, the better. There was no point getting wrapped up in that shit. It was a dead end, as my predecessor had proved - much to the amusement of the rest of the office.
Other than that, things had settled into a nice groove. I was fitting in well, and to be frank, I was pretty damn good at my job.
Things had settled down into a nice daily pattern which I would characterize as
Well, at least, things were normal – until the day I burned down my apartment.
Okay, so I didn’t burn the entire building down – but I had left the stove on, and things caught aflame, and the fire damage was pretty severe. It didn’t spread past my individual apartment, thankfully. And also thankfully, I was at work when it happened. So there were no casualties from my stupid stove fire. Although, they should really have an auto-off function on every appliance; I wasn’t trying to slow cook my entire apartment while I was gone for work.
Most of my things were destroyed. Luckily, my photo albums were spared. Most of my clothes were ruined from smoke damage, and almost everything else I liked was either burnt or permanently drenched in the noxious fire smog.
Oh well. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d thought to throw all my possessions in a fire and start anew.
I just never thought I’d actually have the guts to do it.
But here I was, my hand forced. I’d have to reinvent myself.
A phoenix rising from the… scratch that, too obvious.
I must have looked frazzled the following day at work, after spending a night in an expensive hotel (why is everything so expensive in New York? Oh yes, because it’s New York) because everyone asked me what had happened.
“Where did you say you’re staying?” Lillian asked, as I recounted the tale of the apartment fire to my co-workers (except I told them it was an electrical fire, in which I had no fault whatsoever).
“Hotel for now. Still trying to figure out a place I can stay for the next little while, calling up a few friends from college that are still in the city.”
The crowd around me murmured their condolences. They were probably hoping for a juicier piece of gossip, but I wasn’t going to let them have it.
“Terribly sorry to hear about your apartment,” Eric Gambit said, standing behind me.
I should have known he was there; I must have been lulled into a dreamlike state by his scent. It was too intoxicating for its own good; if I was driving down the highway, and smelled that, I’d surely cause a ten car pile-up.
I turned around, and tried to smile as naturally as possible. Damn it, he was really good looking.
“Just awful. Emma, would you follow me into my office.” He said, and briskly took off towards his office, opening the door and motioning for me to follow in after him.
My mouth dropped open slightly and I looked to Lillian for help. Her eyes were just as wide as mine, and she shrugged. The rest of the crowd seemed to scatter; maybe they thought they’d found their piece of gossip after all.
As I walked towards the open door (which somehow looked really uninviting all of the sudden) I thought of the junior assistant who had worked here prior to me; sitting on his desk, her legs spread open…
“Emma, are you coming?” Mr. Gambit called out from his office; his voice charmingly unassuming.
“Yes, Eric.” I managed, as I entered through the door.
He motioned for me to have a seat, and handed me a glass of water. I managed to take a spy at his glass – was he drinking scotch? In the morning? Well, he’s a billionaire. He can do what he wants, right? He didn’t appear to be drunk, at least.
“I’m very sorry to hear about your home, Emma. And I’m even sorrier to hear that you’ve had to pay for a hotel out of your own pocket.”
Oh no, he was going to offer to pay for my hotel. He was too kind. I had to refuse.
“Yes, well, it happens, you know. Sometimes life decides that a good fire should slap you down.” I tried to make light of the situation, and he breathed a slight laugh.
“I have an opportunity for you, of sorts.” He started, taking a sip of his scotch. “A place for you to live, free of rent, if you should so choose.”
“Oh. Well, that sounds… good.” I said.
“Am I correct in assuming you take public transportation and own no vehicle of your own?”
It’s New York City.
“I take the bus - or a cab if I’m late.”
That was certainly true; and I was running late more often than not, dashing from my apartment, still swinging my coat over my arms, bag bobbing back and forth as I hailed a taxi.
“This opportunity comes complete with a personal driver. You’ll have a place to stay, and transportation to and from work each day.” He said, swirling his drink. “And they’ll be waiting on you, so don’t worry if you happen to be, ahem, running late.”
I took a moment to process his words; what was he offering me exactly? My mind flashed to my predecessor once more, this time picturing her lazing about Eric Gambit’s bedroom, wearing nothing but his shirt, waiting for her next fuck like some kind of sex slave…
“Eric, I… I don’t know what to say. What are you offering me exactly?” I had to be honest. Even though Eric Gambit was the most gorgeous man I’d ever met and possessed the ability to make me weak in my knees and hot between them, I had to be cautious.
“I like to think that I take care of my own at this place,” Eric said, his hand motioning outwards towards the likely direction of the rest of my coworkers. “And when I look at you today, I see a person in need.”
“I can take care of myself, Eric, but thank you,” I replied. I had to turn him down; imagine the office gossip if I lived in the boss’s backyard.
“You’ll forgive me if I see a damsel in distress, and insist that she accept my help.”
“Are you – Eric, I don’t know if I can accept. In theory, it sounds like it would be extremely helpful, and hell, it sure would be interesting to see what it’s like at your estate, but can you think of what the others would say if they found out?”
Eric Gambit’s eyes shone as they flicked towards the door. He set his drink down and crossed his arms in a bemused fashion.
“Even just inviting me into your office is going to cause rumors. It’s the kiss of death in a place like this. Everyone likes me now, but if they start to think I’m getting special treatment…”
“Staying a few nights at my pool house is no big deal, Emma. I frequently have hosted staff parties there, and it’s not uncommon that an employee might crash there for the night. Not to mention that I let Jamieson stay there for two weeks during the early stages of his separation. Just while he got himself back up onto his feet… That’s what I intended for you.”
“But if you thought I was propositioning you in some way, then I’m sorry if I appeared to be acting inappropriately.” His eyes blinked devilishly, and a small smile appeared to form in the creases of his face. Was this some kind of game?
“Oh.” I said again.
“Is that all you have to say? I mean, feel free to stay for a drink, or leave to your desk, or even go tell the others that I offered you a place to stay. People will say what they will say; they always do. Or you can reconsider my offer, thank me, and then tell them I called you in here to tell you my new intricate coffee preference. Here, I’ve written it down on this piece of paper.”
He slid a small sheet of paper over to me. I checked it quickly, fumbling it about in my hands; sure enough, it was a detailed account of his new preference in coffee cream and sugar ratios.