An American Cinderella:A Royal Love Story(7)By: Krista Lakes
I had the feeling he wouldn't take no for an answer, so I was going to have to give him something. Even though Henry was cute and seemed nice enough, this was DC. There were some weird people here, not even including the politicians.
However, there was something about Henry that I liked. I liked his easy smile and the way he looked at me with those ocean eyes. He was handsome and charming, so I did something I didn't usually do.
“I'll be working at the Trade Representative Office tomorrow,” I told him. “It's in the Winder building. Just ask for Aria R. at the front.”
He grinned, lighting up his whole face. “Perfect. I'll bring you lunch. What kind of food do you like?”
I chuckled. “Anything. Everything. If it has noodles, I am a fan.”
“I think I can work with that,” Henry said, nodding and already planning.
I had no doubt he was going to forget. Who brings lunch to a random stranger? It was a sweet offer, but I expected absolutely nothing from it.
“I need to get going,” I said, shouldering my bag. “It was nice to meet you, and I'm sorry about your Frisbee.”
“It was my fault,” he repeated. “I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”
I nodded my head and started walking. I glanced back once to see him watching me with a smile and I wondered what I had just gotten myself into.
The rest of the journey to the office was uneventful. No random strangers collided with me and I didn’t fall to the ground. The entire way, I did think of Henry, though. His easy smile seemed to stay with me even after he was gone from sight.
I secretly hoped he would run into me again.
The Winder Building sat regally on the corner of the street. Painted white, the second level wore wrought iron balconies that gave it an almost Southern charm. As much as I disliked the fact that I was unwillingly returning to my roots, I did like the building. It was from the time of the Civil War and radiated history.
I walked up to the heavy wooden door, took a deep breath, and stepped inside. I had been here a million times, yet I felt as nervous as my first time. It felt like stepping back seven years in my life to my very first day. I’d worked as an office assistant here for three years while I got my degree. I thought I would never be back except as a visitor.
“They told me you were coming, but I didn’t believe them,” a deep voice said from the security desk. I knew that voice, and I smiled as my eyes adjusted from the bright sunlight to the artificial lights.
“Gus?” I grinned as I walked over to the security desk. Gus was the biggest, kindest man I’d ever had the pleasure of working with. He had three daughters at home and he considered me his work daughter. He still sent me Christmas cards every year with a can of pepper-spray attached to keep me safe.
The chair groaned as Gus rose, and he hurried around the desk to give me a hug. He enveloped me in his large arms, wrapping me into a hug that was warm and soft. His crisp uniform pressed into my cheek.
“I guess I don’t need to show you my identification,” I said as he released me from his bear hug. The big man chuckled as he ran a hand over his bald head.
“I still can’t believe you’re here. I thought it had to be a mistake. Why are you back here? You’re supposed to be a senator or something by now. I was planning on voting for you for president next election.”
I chuckled, blushing slightly at his faith in me. “I thought so too. Apparently, the universe has other plans.”
“You mean your stepmother,” Gus corrected me, sitting back down in his chair. The rolling chair creaked with his weight as he began typing my information into the computer.
I raised my eyebrows at him.
“There’s no other reason you’d be back here,” Gus said. “She’s the only one with enough strings to pull to get you here and not have her name on it. I can guess who she has in her pocket. There’s not many who could pull this off without questions.”
“Gus, your talents are wasted as a security guard.”
He chuckled. “Nah. I just read too many of those crime mystery novels.” He tapped a couple of things on the computer, hit enter, and looked up. “You’re in the system again. I’ll have your badge ready when you come back down. Jaqui’s upstairs in her office. She’s got all your paperwork.”