Less Than Nothing
Id say one of the biggest perks of living in the city is how accessible everything is. Especially food. On every corner theres some kind of cafe or restaurant. This one in particular is a small breakfast spot. Theres no particular theme, but the place is very cute.
”Have you been here before? ” I ask Ryan as we walk through the doors.
”Yeah, a couple times. The coffee is not bad. ”
Thankfully theres no line at the register. Ryan orders a large, black coffee for himself.
”What are you getting? ” He turns around and asks me. I request a toasted plain bagel with cream cheese, and an orange juice. My mouth waters at the heavenly smell of food in the cafe. Nevermind the fact that Adriennes company is on the line. Anything for a fresh New York bagel, am I right?
”Go find a seat, Ill wait for the food, ” he says after ordering.
I quickly take out my wallet, and hand him my debit card. Instead of taking it, he glances at it, then looks back up at me.
”For my food. ” I insist, nudging the card towards him. He still doesn take it, he just raises an eyebrow in confusion.
”I got you, don worry about it. Find a table. ”
I swallow my pride, and follow his orders because frankly Im too hungry to care about anything other than food right now. Theres a free table by the door, and I am quick to claim it as ours. In my hands are my two work phones. Im silently praying that Adrienne doesn call, because Im not sure how Id explain to her that Ive stopped for a quick bagel detour with her nephew.
”One toasted bagel… ” Ryan joins me at the table, and places my food down. ”And one freshly squeezed orange juice. ”
”Thank you. ” I immediately grab the plate, and waste no time. My teeth sink into the perfectly toasted bagel, and a sweet groan falls from my lips.
”Shit… ” I say between bites. ”Thats good. ”
As I finish half of the bagel, it dawns on me that Im eating like a slob. Ever since I was a child, Ive had the nasty habit of stuffing my face. My mother always hated that about me. Despite her many efforts, I never grew out of the bad habit. And I usually don care.
But something tells me that at this moment I probably should.
Looking up from my plate, I find Ryan already staring at me. He wears a sly grin.
”You got a little somethin… ” He points to my cheek. I grab a napkin, and wipe my face. He laughs.
”Did I get it? ”
I continue to roam my cheek with a napkin, desperate to find whatevers on my face.
”Here, ” Ryan pulls my wrist down, leans in and ever so slightly slides his thumb against the corner of my face.
”Got it. ” I feel his words fan against my face, and my skin breaks out with goosebumps. Theres a moment of stillness. Neither of us moves.
”Not the biggest fan of cream cheese, ” He grins, gently sucking the piece he smeared off my face from his thumb, ”but it doesn taste too bad from your face. ”
If I wasn chewing, my jaw would surely be on the ground. The goosebumps on my body spread further, and for a second I wonder what else I might like him to taste off of my skin.
No! Bad Alex! Stop this madness.
”We should probably get going now! ” I shoot upwards from my seat, and grab my bag. Im somewhat frantic, and he probably knows that hes to blame.
”Yeah, ” he follows up, calmly. ”We should. ”
After disposing of all the trash from the table, I head out towards Ryans car.
And this time I don let him go first.
e getting a raise. ” Adrienne belts, as she hugs me tightly. ”One big ass raise. ”
”A day off would suffice. ”
”Don be ridiculous, ” She chuckles. ”But seriously, thank you. ”
The fabric situation is completely fixed, and Adrienne has been thanking me for the past ten minutes now. I honestly didn have to do much else than correct a simple misunderstanding, but at least now everything is all set in stone for the launch party.
”Just doing my job, no need to thank me. ”
”But there is a need to thank me, ” Ryan interjects. ”I don even work for you. ”
The three of us are in my office. Adrienne and I stand by the door, while Ryan sits on my desk. Not in it. On top of it.
”Yeah, but I used to change your diapers so this makes us even. ”
”Yeah, I guess you
e right, ” he grimaces playfully.
Its close to five oclock now. We spent most of the day at the warehouse, and the drive both there and back was pretty long. I don feel as tired as I did yesterday though. Adrienne said Im pretty much done for the day.
”I really miss it here, ” Ryan says once Adrienne walks out. ”This office… ”
”Whats so special about this one in particular? ” I ask. Hes still sitting on the desk, and Im slightly confused why. His favor has officially concluded…hes free to go.
But hes here for you, my mind tells me.
Hes not. Shut up.
He shrugs. ”Im just used to it I guess. A creature of habit, if you will. ”
”What was Adriennes last assistant like? ” I ask out of the blue. Ive always been curious about that.
”Not as nice as you, although the attitude could use some work. ” he hops off the desk. Im standing on the other side of the room, trying to keep a safe distance. Not that Im intimidated by him or anything. He just makes my brain so damn cloudy.
”Not as efficient as you, ” he takes several steps towards me. My mind tells me to back away, only because of how badly my body craves to be near him. And my body wins this argument with my better judgement, because my feet stay planted to the ground.
”Definitely not as beautiful. ” Hes now only a breath away, and I feel my heartbeat in my ears. His eyes bore into mine, while he pulls his bottom lip between his teeth. For a second, all I want is to feel them against my own.
Instead, I clear my throat.
”Good to know, ” I end our staring contest and grab my car keys and purse.
”Thank you for helping Adrienne and I out today. Get home safe. ”
Before I know it, Im holding the door to my office wide open, ushering him to leave. I really don want him to go, and thats the exact reason why Im urging him to.
”Kicking me out already? ” He grabs his coat from behind the desk. ”Thought we had something special, Alex? ”
”We do. ” I place my hand over my heart, gripping my shirt dramatically. ”Which is why I want you to beat the traffic home. ”
He slides his coat over his toned biceps, and adjusts the collars.
”Okay, ” he continues to adjust himself, ”Ill take your number on the way out? ”
Im thinking this is all part of the banter, until he hands me his phone unlocked.
e serious? ” I ask, like an idiot. Of course hes serious. ”I probably shouldn … ”
As much as part of me wants to go through with this, I know better. Hes my bosss nephew. I would never cross that line.
”Its just a phone number, ” He tries to sound reassuring. ”I assume you don know anyone in the city. A familiar face is never a bad idea. ”
It is a bad idea. A bad idea Im going to rationalize, and pretend is a good one. Maybe one day Ill get lost on the subway and will need someone to help me find my way back.
Yes, thats a good excuse. The subway can be trusted.
”Okay, ” I tell him and put my number in his phone. This is for the sake of public transportation, I repeat in my mind as I type every number in.
”Sweet. Ill call you. ” He says, and my heart leaps at the idea.
”Get home safe, ” I smile and see him off, hoping I haven made a huge mistake. His eyes don leave mine as he walks out of the door. I hear his footsteps reach the end of the hallway, and suddenly my phone starts to ring, an unfamiliar number sprawled across the screen.
”Hello? ” I answer.
”You got anywhere to be tonight? ” Ryan replies.