The Play Mate Page 26

Not a feeling I was accustomed to at all. And not a feeling I liked one bit.

What if we gave in? Tonight, even. What if I texted her right now and asked her to meet me at my apartment after work and put an end to our shared misery?

Then what about tomorrow when we go back to being friends?

I swallowed a bitter laugh and raked a hand over my face.

“Here are the numbers you asked for,” a male voice murmured.

Adam, my assistant and an all-around nice guy, waited near my desk with a file folder in hand. I’d been so distracted, I hadn’t even heard him come in.

“Thanks, I appreciate it.” I took the folder without further comment, and then looked up a minute later when I realized that he was still hovering.

He cleared his throat and shifted from foot to foot. “I know it’s none of my business, but are you okay? You’ve been looking sort of weird lately. Not sick, but . . . stressed. Distracted, maybe.” He perched his glasses higher on his nose and shrugged. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but I wanted to make sure you’re not working too hard or if there is something more I should be doing on my end to clear your plate.”

I closed the file folder and blew out a sigh. I’d been dividing my time between the two offices—this one that my family ran like a well-oiled machine whether I was here or not, and of course, the new office for Sophia’s headquarters.

“Yeah, sorry about that. I hope I’m not being too much of an asshole.” I weighed my options and decided on a half truth. “It’s been difficult juggling my work here with the consulting work I’m doing at Sophia’s.”

Adam crinkled his nose. “You sure that’s all it is? It’s not like you to let work bog you down.”

“Okay, the truth is work is going well, so no worries there. I’ve got a woman on the brain. I like her and she likes me, but there’s a raft of shit in the way. I gotta admit, the whole thing is getting to me a little.”

A relieved smile tugged at his lips, and I realized then that my poker face wasn’t as good as I’d thought. Poor Adam had been worried that I was going to fire him or something. Totally my fault, because I probably walked around this place looking like I was about to claw the bark off trees and start roaring.

Not cool.

Plus, with my new gig, I’d been spending very little time in this office lately.

“I hear you there, boss. I’ve got a girlfriend too, and she’s bugging me about not having an engagement ring yet and all that. It can really get to a guy,” Adam said, looking a little shaken at the mention of an engagement ring. “If you ever want to meet for a beer after work and blow off some steam, let me know. I’m always down.”

I nodded and grinned at him. “I might take you up on that. Thanks.”

Adam backed out of my office and closed the door behind him, leaving me alone with my thoughts again. Sure as shit, I almost begged him to come back, because my thoughts were confounding as fuck.

There had to be a logical explanation for this. Working alongside Evie day by day had clouded my brain. Her citrusy scent that was burned into my nostrils, the sound of her laugh when she really let go, her passion for her work—all of it had left an impression that I couldn’t shake.

Shit, I even liked watching the way she contributed at work. She enjoyed pretty things, and took pride in her work making our web presence more visually appealing. I liked that when she needed inspiration, she’d flip through fabric swatches, finger squares of delicate lace, toy with pieces of buttery-soft satin, line up neat rows of tiny pearl buttons until her next wave of brilliance struck. She was young but she was savvy, and it was incredible to watch her use her God-given talents to create something good in the world.

All in all, my work with Sophia’s was certainly far more interesting than the number-crunching I did all day long for my parents’ company.

My cell rang, and I snatched it up without even glancing at the number, happy for another distraction.

“This is Hamilton,” I murmured, thumbing through the file Adam had brought.

“Smith? It’s Arabella Christianson from Château Prive.”

I stiffened and glanced at my desk calendar. Fuck. A knot formed in the pit of my stomach. Arabella’s boutiques were one of Sophia’s newest, most high-profile retailers. I had a call scheduled with her tomorrow to discuss upping our shipments. Not to mention, she and I had a sordid history.

Just be cool.

“Hello, Arabella, good to hear from you. I hope I didn’t mix my days up?” I was pretty sure that wasn’t the case. Adam kept a tight rein on my schedule, but I couldn’t think of any possible good news that would have her calling me a day early, and I definitely wasn’t in the market for any bad news.

“No, we’re still on for tomorrow, but I wasn’t sure whether to call you or Cullen,” she said, her tone chilly. “I’m having an issue with your social media director.”



I cleared my throat and sat up a little straighter, my brain already churning out potential ways to put out whatever fire was smoldering. The good news was Arabella had called me first and not Cullen. The bad news was I didn’t know if I was going to be able to help Evie, and this might have to escalate anyway.

“What’s going on?”

“Well, she was supposed to send me a mock-up for the social media advertising campaign yesterday, and I still haven’t received it. My concern is that if you people can’t meet a simple deadline for some shared advertising, how can I expect you to meet our shipment deadlines once we increase?”

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