I am… so screwed.
I sat in my office trying not to watch him.
But I did.
His office was across from mine. The glass walls provided a daily distraction, because for the fucking life of me, I did not want to watch him.
But I did.
I didn’t like him. In fact, he pissed me off. He was a gorgeous, fucking arrogant, self-righteous sonnova bitch. The boss’ son. Wealthy, smart, impeccably dressed.
The women in the office, no scratch that, in the entire building, fawned over him. It was embarrassing, really. They’d check their make-up before he walked in, they’d bat their eyelashes, giggle and flirt without shame. And he’d just smile that smug fucking smile – that gorgeous, heart-stopping smile – and left them all aflutter in his wake.
I’d been here for six months and as far as I knew, he’d never dated anyone from the office. He must have those professional-boundaries work-ethics I’d read about. Either that, or Boss-Daddy prohibited inter-office relations.
My personal assistant, Rachel, swore he was a nice guy. She was best friends with Simona, who happened to be his personal assistant. He smiled and chatted with both of them, but if I happened to walk past them, he’d glare at me. I acted like it didn’t bother me, give the girls a grin, and a dip of an imaginary hat I obviously wasn’t fucking wearing. And they loved it.
I wasn’t sure if that’s what pissed him off, or maybe he didn’t like Texans. Maybe he didn’t like the fact I was headhunted from one of the most lucrative advertising agencies in Dallas. Maybe it was because I was given an office right across the hall from him, next to his father’s. Maybe it was because I was hand-picked by his Daddy-dearest, and he was threatened I might just be better at this job than him.
Maybe he didn’t like me because I’m gay.
But I didn’t think that was it. He was friendly enough with Marcus, from Accounts. I’d seen them talking plenty of times and Marcus was so damn gay he made my head spin. Surely a creeped out homophobe wouldn’t go anywhere near the poster child of lilac cashmere and lip gloss.
From the day I first met him, he’d been cold toward me. I’d flown up to Chicago for the interview for Senior Advertising Executive with the prestigious Fletcher Advertising, Inc. We met and chatted nicely for two minutes before his father came in and the informal interview started. Yes, it was informal, but still an intense interview. I was a little nervous, but I was me: professional, honest and direct.
See, the thing is, I’m very fucking good at what I do. I don’t mince words, and I don’t waste time. So when I was asked if I had any questions, I said, “Just one.”
The two men looked at me to continue.
So, I did. “I don’t need to tell you how good I am at my job. You have my portfolio, and quite frankly, I doubt I’d be sitting here if you didn’t already know that I alone can increase your account profitability by at least twenty-five percent. Hell, if I haven’t reached that target within the first year, you can either kick my ass or fire it. But what is not written on my CV anywhere is that I’m gay.”
Both men blinked.
“I don’t advertise my sexuality, nor do I hide it. This is the only time I expect to discuss this matter with you, so I need to know before we waste anymore time, if you, or this company, is in anyway uncomfortable or homophobic? If the answer is yes, then I’ll thank you both for the opportunity, but I’ll be back in Texas in time for supper.”
And with that, the boss smiled, stood and shook my hand, while the son looked like he’d just been shit on from a great height. I started two weeks later and Cameron Fletcher had been indifferent to me since.
I wouldn’t say hostile. But I certainly wouldn’t say pleasant, either.
A sharp rap on my door snapped me out of my memories before it opened. My suave and distinguished, Armani-suited boss stepped into my office. “Lucas?”
“Yes, Mr. Fletcher?”
“My office. Ten minutes.”
“Sure.” I smiled at him.
He closed the door, and I looked at Rachel for some kind of explanation. She shrugged, and we both turned back to the glass wall and watched Mr. Fletcher knock on his son’s door.
He stepped inside and we could no longer hear any spoken words, but we watched the silent father and son conversation.
“He doesn’t look happy,” Rachel said beside me.
“Which one?” I asked.
She giggled. “Cameron.”
“Is he ever happy?”
She nudged my shoulder and smiled a twisted pout at me, playfully telling me to leave him alone.
Mr. Fletcher walked out of Cameron’s office, and we watched as Cameron sat at his desk, ran his hands through his hair twenty times and swung his chair around so we could no longer see him.
We watched Simona quickly sort out files and hand them to him, then Rachel said, “Shoot, Lucas! It’s time. Go! Don’t be late.” She all but pushed me out the door, just as Cameron’s door opened directly in front of me.
Ignoring Cameron completely, I tipped my invisible hat and smiled at Simona. “Miss Simona.”
She grinned, and Cameron rolled his eyes and stalked off in front of me. I soon realized, he was also heading to his father’s office.
I followed him, entering through the open double doors at the end of the hall. Mr. Fletcher’s office was huge; open, light and contemporary yet stylish. There was a large archer’s arrow embellishing the wall behind his desk. The archer’s arrow symbol, the Fletcher Advertising icon, was on the Fletcher family crest apparently.
The arrow, that simple, signature piece was on every fucking thing; doors, windows, stationary, furniture; television, internet, magazines, newspapers. That very arrow was synonymous with advertising across the country. It represented excellence in this industry.
Hell, there was even one next to my name on my business cards.
They didn’t need a catch-phrase, or cheesy slogans. The symbol on its own said enough. When you saw the arrow, you thought Fletcher Advertising. Simple and effective.
“Ah, Lucas,” Mr. Fletcher, the man behind the genius, said. “Come, take a seat.”
Cameron was there, though not looking at me. Truthfully, I was a little nervous as to the meaning behind this meeting and why it was just us three. Impromptu and exclusive meetings with the boss always made me tense, so I did the first thing that came naturally. I leaned back in my seat, crossed one ankle over my knee and smiled like we were there to discuss weekend football.
Smug, yeah. Cocky, maybe.
I sold advertising for fuck’s sake.
It was my job to look like I knew the secret to your success.
It was an act. I knew that, but the client, the guy across the table holding the check book didn’t.
“I suppose you’re both wondering why I’ve called you in here,” Mr Fletcher started, though he didn’t give either of us time to speak. “I heard through the grapevine a certain lifestyle product company is in need of new marketing. I made some phone calls and have secured a one-off chance meeting to convince them they need us.”
“Lurex,” Cameron said confidently. “I read an article with the new CEO in Business Review USA. He said then he’d like to broaden horizons.”
Mr. Fletcher nodded at his son and smiled, a little proudly. “Yes. Lurex.”
Holy shit. The biggest lifestyle product company, as Mr. Fletcher so delicately put it, was the biggest manufacturer of condoms, personal lubricant and sex aides in the country.
That account would be… massive. Career-making kind of massive.
I could feel my grin getting wider, and Mr. Fletcher smiled when he looked at me. But it was Cameron who spoke. “Why are you telling both of us?”
That was a good point. I looked at Cameron then, though he still hadn’t looked at me. His eyes were trained on his father.
“The meeting is 10 AM, Monday.”
I blinked. I was sure Cameron blinked. Then I blinked again.
“As in three days away?” my mouth said before my brain could stop it. It was four o’clock on Friday for fuck’s sake.
“Yes,” Mr. Fletcher said slowly, like I was mentally handicapped. “In sixty-five hours I want Fletcher Advertising to walk into that meeting with a new product design, new target market, new campaign.”
I stopped short of asking him if he’d lost his fucking mind and settled for shifting in my seat instead.
Mr. Fletcher looked at me, then at Cameron, and he said, “It’s a twenty million dollar contract, and I want it. You are both exceptionally talented and, given an open schedule, I have no doubt either one of you could secure the deal.”
Oh, fuck… I was pretty sure I knew where he was going with this….
“But we don’t have an open schedule,” Mr. Fletcher said. “We have sixty-five hours. That’s why you will both work together over the weekend to make sure we walk into that meeting and blow them away.”
Work together. Work all weekend.
Yep. That’s what I thought.
Cameron tried to object, but his father stood up. The meeting was apparently over. Mr. Fletcher walked over to the double doors that led through to the conference media room and I looked over at Cameron. He was staring at his father’s now empty chair, and I imagined the look on my face wasn’t much better.
“Boys!” Mr. Fletcher called out.
I was quick to follow, and Cameron wasn’t far behind me. There were two brown paper grocery bags on the conference table, which Mr. Fletcher waved his hand at. “Get to know your product as it is now, what it’s lacking. Turn it into something someone can’t live without. I’ll be in touch.”
And then it was just me and Cameron. And two brown paper bags.
Sighing, I up ended one of the bags, and the contents spilled over the table. Condoms. Boxes of them. Ribbed, studded, colored, thin, long, for her pleasure, for his, you name it, it was there. Lubricants of every flavor, glitter, sparkle, self-heating, tingling….
I smiled when it occurred to me I’d tried most of these.
I peeked into the other bag and, from the corner of my eye, I noticed Cameron move. I shrugged at him. “I’m not happy about this either,” I told him, handing him whatever it was I had in my hands, so I could empty the second bag.
When he looked at what I’d given him, I looked at it too, realizing I’d just handed him a box of strawberry flavored lube. He looked at the box, then at me and exhaled through puffed cheeks. I started pulling boxes out of the second bag when I realized he was re-packing the first bag.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m not doing this here,” he said, a simple matter of fact.
“What?” I said too loudly. “You heard what your-“
He cut me off. “I said I’m not doing this here,” he repeated, clearly flustered. He pulled out a business card and his pen from his pocket, then scribbled down something before handing it to me. “It’s my home address,” he explained before I could ask. “If I’m going to be stuck working all weekend, then I may as well be comfortable. I’ll have Simona drop off everything we need.”
He looked at his watch. “I’ll be home in an hour.”
And just like that, I was being sequestered for the next sixty-five hours with a man who couldn’t stand the sight of me.