On His Terms(9)

By: Jenika Snow

Her stomach protested to the very thought of food, and she felt nauseous when the sound of the ham sizzling on the skillet came through. And then the sound of Timothy using the whisk on the eggs was what sent her over, because all she could think about was the slimy consistency of the eggs.

“Excuse me.” She barely got the words out before she dashed out of the office and into the small, private bathroom in the front lobby. She made it to the toilet just as her stomach heaved and she emptied the water she had drunk this morning. For several seconds she breathed in and out. When she was relatively sure she wouldn’t throw up anymore she stood, walked over to the sink, and braced her hands on the lip of it. She stared at herself in the mirror, saw the beads of perspiration line her forehead, and quickly washed her face. She felt like shit, and of course she had to make an ass out of herself by running out of Mr. Hartford’s office. There was a knock on the door, and before she heard his voice she knew it was her boss.

“Miss Case, are you all right?” Rian asked in that ever-present calm and collected voice of his.

“I’m fine. I’ll be out in a minute.” She looked back at her reflection, watched the trails of water move down her face, and breathed out. “Get your shit together,” she whispered to herself, and grabbed a few paper towels to dry herself off. Her purse was one of the big bulky ones, and she grabbed a small bottle of mouthwash. Cora made fun of her for her “backpack”, but hell, in times like this she was glad she had a little bit of everything. After rinsing out her mouth, making sure she looked semi-decent and not like she had just hurled, she left the bathroom. Sorcha stopped when she saw Rian standing on the opposite side, leaning against the wall with his hands in the front pockets of his pants. He certainly looked different today. But seeing him standing across from her, wearing a pair of dark, most likely designer and very expensive jeans, and a white button down shirt that was tucked in the waistband, was vastly different from his tailored suits. He looked almost … human. She looked like shit, she knew that, but the way he was watching her, as if he was trying to figure her out, made her feel even sicker, if that was possible. Did he know she was hung-over, or maybe he jumped to a different kind of conclusion, like she was having morning sickness or something?

Good grief, Sorcha. Why in the hell would you think that?

“If you’re not feeling well we can always do this another time,” he said with a blank expression, and this whole air around him making her feel even more unstable than she already was. Something was up, that was for sure.

“No, I’m fine. I feel much better actually.” She didn’t want anything to eat, but she also knew getting something in her stomach might help her.

He nodded once, pushed away from the wall, but didn’t say anything for several seconds. He just continued to watch her, and she found herself shifting on her feet. She glanced at the ground, looked at his polished loafers, and then slowly worked her gaze back up his body. She hadn’t meant to seem like she was checking him out, but she supposed he might take it that way. Because you were, Sorcha. He was a big man all around, at least half a foot taller than her five-foot-seven height, and his body was toned, muscular, and she could tell he had restrained power beneath his flesh.

“Well, then let’s get something to eat, get comfortable, and then we can discuss why I’ve asked you here.” He didn’t wait for her to reply, just turned and headed back toward his office. She followed behind, and once inside she realized he was still standing by the door off to the side. She glanced at him, made eye contact, and felt her stomach do this little flip. He shut the door, moved past her, and right before he cleared her path she swore she heard him inhale. Rearing back slightly, she looked at him with her brows furrowed, and glanced over at the cook, who was moving toward them. The table was set for two, with dishes which were probably made of crystal and china..

“Miss Case?” Rian said in that deep voice of his, and held out the chair for her to take a seat. “You can set your,” he glanced down at her purse, “overnight bag,” he looked back at her and the corner of his mouth lifted in a smirk. “You can set it on the couch, if you’d like.”

“It’s a purse, a big purse,” she said with annoyance, but when she turned her back on him and made her way toward the couch she smiled. Once she was over by the table again she sat in the chair he offered. He leaned slightly forward to push the chair in, and she could see in the corner of her eyes that he was close to her face. She swore he inhaled again. “Did you just smell me?” She glanced over at him sideways, saw him straighten, but didn’t miss how he hardened his jaw.

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