Off Limits(6)By: Lola Darling
“My thoughts exactly.” Paul nods. “But I’m confident that the two of you can handle this one. After all, two heads are better than one, no?” He flashes me a wide, friendly smile. It’s weird—I’m used to seeing him act all aggressive and temperamental in meetings. Chloe must bring out his softer side.
“I’ve managed dozens of big name clients,” I reply, grinning, even as I can sense Chloe’s eyes rolling once more. “Suzie Steel is in safe hands with me.”
“With us,” Chloe interjects.
“Right. That’s what I meant.” I wink at her, and her cheeks flush. Angry, blushing librarian, even better.
“Great.” Paul claps his hands. “Well, I’ve got to be off to my next meeting—I’ll leave you two to get acquainted with the case for now. And each other, of course.”
The moment the door to Paul’s office clicks shut behind him, Chloe levels her gaze on me again. Ouch. If looks could maim. “So you had time to watch those videos first,” she says, her voice low and sarcastic. “It’s good to know you come prepared.”
Ah, I see. She’s irritated that I’ve got a head start on her already. “Don’t worry. I always come prepared for anything.”
“I’m sure you do when it comes to, say, avoiding contracting gonorrhea. But this case is huge for me, so you’re going to let me do the preparation from here on out, got it?”
Fat chance, sweetheart. “That’s not really how I roll, Chloe. I’m very hands on.”
“Yes, well I’d prefer that you keep your hands off, in this case.” She glances down at my hands where they’re resting on the table, as if they’ve personally offended her.
I fold my hands in an exaggerated move, drawing them back off the table as though to say, See, don’t worry, I won’t touch you. Even though there’s nothing in the world I want to do more right now.
“Look, we’re going to have to work together whether you like it or not, Chloe. You might as well enjoy it.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Is that what you tell all the ladies?”
“Only the shy ones. I’d promise you I’ll be gentle, but you don’t seem like the shy type, to be honest . . . .”
Chloe’s gaze narrows even farther, accentuated by the sharp, dark frames of her glasses. “Thanks, but I prefer to drive rather than riding the company bike.”
I smirk. “You know, I hear slut-shaming is out of style these days.”
“Funny, I heard the same thing about hooking up with your secretary.”
It takes an effort not to crack a grin at that one. Touché. I shake my head a little. “Rumors are like cockroaches. Where you see one, there’s at least a thousand more lurking right behind it.”
“So what you’re saying is, for every one I’ve heard, there’s thousands more I haven’t? Good to know.” She peers over the top of her glasses at me almost thoughtfully. “Let me just mentally do the math on how much worse you look right now, hang on . . .”
“If you’re done discussing my personal life, could we get back to work here? I thought I was meant to be the bad influence, y’know?”
Her eyes dart to the clock on the wall. “I have a meeting with a previous client in ten minutes. I’ll need to meet with them, then find Rich to brief him on us swapping projects, and go through handover notes with him this afternoon . . .” She trails off and snatches up her Blackberry to swipe through it. I try not to focus too much on the way she gets this little pout of concentration on her lower lip as she’s reading, or the way that piece of hair falls across her face again.
Pull your shit together, Davis. For all the rumors about me, I’m really not an STD-riddled pickup artist. I just happen to be very popular around the office, that’s all. Mostly with my female colleagues. It’s not like I encourage the attention.
Besides, it’s harmless fun.
But Chloe . . . I’m not sure if it’s the way she so obviously, openly despises me, or the fact that I’ve seen her speak in court and I know how smart she is, or if it’s just those fucking librarian glasses. For some reason, she affects me differently.