Pipe Dreams Ch. 02byCia81©
Lina couldn't believe she was sitting in the outer office of Alerkane Jacy, CEO of Jacy Industries. She smoothed her charcoal skirt down her thighs once again as she wished she'd gone with the pants suit she'd originally picked out. Maggie had vetoed that choice and pulled out a skirt to pair with a deep purple blouse that she said made Lina's skin look like porcelain. Her long black hair was pulled back into a smooth twist and she even wore heels. She felt overdressed when she left the apartment but when she walked into the Jacy building Lina realized that she actually fit right in, at least in the clothing department.
She made a mental note to thank Maggie.
The last applicant before her had just come out of the office when the secretary picked up the phone, the light on it flashing. She listened for a minute before hanging up and looking up at her. Lina swallowed hard, the office was empty besides the two of them and she knew it was time for her interview; the knowledge made her stomach feel like it was full of razor winged butterflies.
"Miss Devers? Mr. Jacy is ready for you." The secretary went back to her computer, her polished nails clacking on the keyboard as she did whatever the secretary of a millionaire CEO did. Lina stood up, unable to stop smoothing her skirt as she headed toward the large wood door. Her knees were shaking just a little so Lina took a brief second to calm herself down. She straightened her spine and her determination, trying in vain to deny the true reason for her anxiety.
She had spent the last week trying to forget the attraction she felt to Alerkane and pretty much convinced herself that she had blown it all out of proportion in the first place. At least until she walked into the office and saw the mid-twenties tall, dark and absolutely gorgeous man that was sitting in a large leather chair behind a big dark wood desk. She paused, caught by the absolute sense of power emanating from him and the confidence in his eyes.
She swallowed hard; he was looking right at her with that same hungry look.
He was wearing a dark black suit but he had his jacket off. The dark blue shirt and his gray silk tie couldn't hide the fact that he was seriously muscled; obviously he didn't let his job behind a desk keep him from staying in shape. She wondered if his chest was smooth or if it had more of that gorgeous brown hair covering it.
Instantly flushing, Lina closed her eyes in shock that the thought even crossed her mind. She fumbled with her simple leather case as she pulled out a fresh copy of her resume. She had faxed one in to the number the secretary gave her but hers was printed on a thick weight paper and she considered it more professional than a fax copy. Getting it out also gave her a second to compose herself before she had to look at him again.
When she looked up Kane was on his feet and coming around the side of his desk toward her. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest and her body lock down but all he did was hold out his hand.
Up close, he towered over her. She glanced up at his eyes quickly before she focused on his large palm. She reached out to shake his hand firmly, holding her breath in anticipation of something she wasn't quite sure of. Her palm tingled and she felt a shudder go from the base of her spine all the way up to her neck and lodge in the base of her skull. The hair on the back of her neck rose and she exhaled noisily and then looked up sharply to see if he noticed.
He wasn't looking at her strangely so maybe he didn't see how the barest skin contact was making her skin warm, as if waves of fire were flowing from him into her. She tried to clear her mind as she cleared her throat.
"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me, Mr. Jacy. I know was a bit rude during class but I appreciate the chance to speak with you about the internship you mentioned." She tried to pull back but Kane's fingers tightened on hers as he stared down at her.
He smiled. "Don't worry about it. You had a legitimate question and you weren't afraid to speak up. I admire that forwardness. Please, call me Kane. Would you mind terribly if I called you Aurelina?" He held her hand captured in both of his, squeezing it with careful pressure as if he was afraid to hurt her. It felt like the room was hot all of a sudden and she had to work to compose herself without fanning a face that had to be bright red.
"I go by Lina, actually," she said quietly. She was trembling but pleasantly surprised that she wasn't trying to pull away in panic. Normally a man touching her was enough to make her have an attack. She was very careful to avoid casual touching but for some reason after he denied her attempts to pull away the first time, she settled and let him hold her.
"Lina it is," he said in a pleased tone. "Won't you sit down?" He still didn't let go of her hand completely, instead he led her to a grouping of chairs to one side of the office next to a large window with a spectacular view of the city, the sun lowering over the western horizon.
He indicated the low chair, it's white cloth cover stained orange from the colors on the setting sun. Only then did he let her hand go, squeezing it one last time.
Smiling nervously, she at last handed him the resume she'd pulled out before smoothing her skirt and sitting down. He took the chair on her right. She made sure to sit upright and cross her legs at the ankle properly, waiting for him to read the resume. He did glance at it, checking the second page but he set it aside well before she was ready for him to.
"To be honest Lina, I was impressed when I read your resume the first time. You have done work very similar to what we would be looking for in an intern for the Okwa'ho program. What exactly are you hoping to gain working with us?"
Lina pushed aside the feeling that he was interested in more than her resume, she could be professional. She would be.
She was also prepared for that question. She knew honesty was her best shot at making Kane understand how much she really wanted to help make his program succeed.
"Well, I was impressed when you described the program to be honest myself. My childhood wasn't the best and I spent a few months in foster care when I was sixteen. There were several other teenagers my age in the group home I was in that weren't bad kids; they just needed someone to teach them that. I want to work with social services in some way when I graduate or maybe some private organizations that do what you are doing with Okwa'ho. My ultimate goal is to start my own."
She took Kane's nodding as encouragement for her to go on. She settled a little in her chair, some of her nervousness fading, if not the light in her eyes. It was a spark she often hid around new people, lack of trust making her hide her true self.
She was passionate in her desire for her chosen career. She didn't know how her eyes would shine when she talked about it but she could sense that Kane believed her dedication to making a change in the lives of teenagers and children who just needed someone who understood them and saw what they were worth.
"I want to make a difference. I have the skills and the drive you need to help make your program succeed." She felt that maybe her last statement was a bit cocky so she tempered it a little.
"If you choose me for the internship, that is."
Kane smiled, seemingly amused at her enthusiasm and Lina felt her cheeks grow hot. She hated how her pale skin showed her feelings with every little blush. His smile sent a little bolt of pleasure through her though.
"Well your classmates who have applied are all clearly good at business but you have something they don't." Kane paused for a minute, his hands resting on the arms of his chair tapped as he seemed to think about what he was saying.
Lina waited breathlessly for him to say what that was. It sounded as if the internship was as good as hers. She was finding it hard to be that close to Kane, his cologne was teasing her and she couldn't stop staring in his eyes. Good eye contact was one thing but she felt like she was drowning in the pale blue irises.
"You have the heart for the job. It's not just numbers and projections, the ratio of success versus failure. You want to help people and while the technical aspects of the job can be taught, the emotional dedication can't."
Lina leaned forward. "So you're going to give me the job?" she asked eagerly, unable to wait any longer.
Kane laughed. "Yes, if you want it, however," he stood up, "there is just a little bit of paperwork to fill out and then we can work on a schedule for you."
"Of course!" Lina jumped up eagerly. "I can do it now!"
Kane glanced at the clock. Lina looked and saw that it was already after six. "Oh." She couldn't believe she didn't realize how late it was.
"You must be done for the day. I can take the paperwork home and then make another appointment with your secretary if you like. I'll primarily be working with her, won't I?"
Lina held her breath. She wasn't sure if she wanted his answer to be yes or no. The butterflies in her stomach were back in full force. Her plan to keep her distance from him, even her desire to do so, was crumbling with every moment she spent in his presence.
There was just something about Kane that drew her to him.
"You'll primarily be working with me, actually. Jacy Industries has a board that pretty much runs it but I have to keep my hand in some aspects, part of the family responsibilities. I can spend a lot of the winter working on furthering Okwa'ho, however." He was looking at the clock again when his stomach suddenly rumbled with a large growl.
"Oh, I beg your pardon. I had an important meeting so I skipped lunch today." He looked away, blushing a little himself.
Lina thought it was sort of cute; it made him seem more human and less intimidating. "How about I just come back tomorrow? That way you can go get dinner and can let your secretary go home."
Kane waved that idea off. "Mrs. Lareux already left. Her hours are over strictly at five thirty PM so that she can get home to her kids." He seemed to think for a moment, and then he smiled. Lina's breath caught at how the smile changed his face, lessening the seriousness of it and making his eyes almost shine. She wasn't even nervous knowing she was in the office with a man who was practically a stranger.
Her therapist would be proud of her.
"How about I grab that paperwork for you first? I have a phone call to make before I can go that should take about twenty minutes. You can use Mrs. Lareux's desk to fill out the papers while I do that and afterward we can go out and get some dinner."
Lina's mouth dropped open as she stared at Kane in shock. He was asking her on a date? Suddenly her mouth snapped shut and she took a deep breath in through her nose, trying to ignore the overwhelming scent of him so close, his cologne really was amazing. She narrowed her eyes at him though, ignoring it. If he thought he could take liberties with her just because he gave her the internship...
She might be insanely attracted to the man but she was not someone who would tolerate that sort of manipulation. No job was worth that.
"I do not believe that it would be appropriate for me to go on a date with a man who would then be my boss," she said icily. She took a step back. "Perhaps this is a bad idea. I'll just..."
He caught her arm when she went to turn away, unable to finish the sentence. She was so angry she tried to jerk out of his gentle grip. She had to leave and yet she didn't want to either. That confusion in her feelings was driving her crazy.
Kane's voice was sharp and commanding, taking her breath away and making her core throb hot and wet. She stopped, still facing away from him, though she wasn't sure why she should listen to anything he had to say, especially if he was going to talk to her like that. She didn't like being spoken to like that, couldn't like it, she told herself.
She took a step but her angry retreat was stopped by his hand rested softly on her shoulder from behind.
"I'm sorry," he said softly when she didn't try to jerk away again, "I didn't think about how that would sound. I didn't mean to imply anything improper."
Lina turned around to face him reluctantly. "Why should I believe you?"
"You have no reason to, I know, but I do apologize. If you want to go home I understand. You probably have people you can celebrate with. I just thought we could get to know each other over a meal since we are going to be working together closely this winter. There are no strings attached and you are free to say no, the internship is yours no matter what."
Lina searched his face, trying to see if he was only going to trick her or try to use her. She became aware that he was still holding her arm, his fingers squeezing it gently, at the same time he apparently did. Kane dropped his hand just as she pulled her arm away.
Lina cleared her throat.
"Just dinner, as friends?"
Kane nodded, held up his hands innocently. "Just friends."
The dinner that night was the first of many they went on, though if they were seriously swamped they had take-out delivered. Lina was swamped with school but most of her free time in the afternoon and early evenings was spent at Jacy Industries. Maggie teased her endlessly about her 'dates' with Kane but Lina assured herself it wasn't anything like what her friend suggested. She had kept her distance, though it was hard.
Her feelings for him and the almost compulsion she felt when she was around him were hard to ignore. Especially when he seemed to touch her all the time.
All innocent touches, of course. It was enough to drive her nuts.
Her therapist thought it was a wonderful improvement. She's been encouraging Lina to start reaching out and speaking to men, perhaps even dating. Granted, going out for meals with her boss wasn't the same thing but the fear Lina had of just being around men had almost completely faded. Of course her fear that her attraction to her boss was all too apparent was replacing it. There were moments when she could almost feel him staring at her, his lips parted like he was about to say something, but he never did.
Lina was getting ready for work one afternoon when Maggie barged in to the bathroom. Lina jumped and knocked over the perfume bottle on the counter. She cursed when the cap fell off and she had to hunt it down under the cabinet.
"Don't do that! You could knock you know."
"I could," Maggie said blithely as she sat sideways on the toilet and looked up at Lina. Lina rolled her eyes.
"I feel like I've barely seen you this term." Maggie began sorting her cosmetics. "What are you doing?"
"I know; I'm sorry. Between work and mid-terms things were nuts. Right now I'm getting ready to go over to the office. Kane has a teleconference with the juvenile corrections, social services, and park preservation offices over in Butte County. We got the program set up in Wyoming easily enough but Idaho is giving us a few fits. We originally wanted to get a ranch property over in Caribou County, the mountains there would be perfect for hiking, but the local government wasn't willing to work with us."
Lina leaned forward, brushing her mascara gently over her eyelashes, the dark color making her dark green eyes seem even darker.
"So then why are you getting all dolled up?" Maggie met her eyes in the mirror and Lina blushed. "You are so teasing the boss man aren't you? Making him want things he can't have?" She raised one eyebrow, grinning in what could only be naughty amusement.
"Darn it!" Her neck and cheeks were bright red as Lina turned to glare at her friend. "Stop making me do that, it's embarrassing."
Maggie laughed. "Are you guys going out for another," she put her fingers up in air quotes, "business dinner?"
Lena bit her lip and then shrugged, reaching into a drawer to pull out her brush as she straightened her hair. "I don't know. If he gets verbal agreements from each of the directors he will probably want to. It's no big deal. We're both there late and we have to eat."
Maggie was laughing so hard tears seeped out of the corners of her eyes. Lina turned and glared down at her friend; she hated being laughed at. "And just what is so damn funny?"
"You are so into him and he is so into you. When are you going to stop lying to yourself?"
Lina swung back to face the mirror, fumbling with her make-up bag. She had to get away from this conversation. "You're wrong. He's never shown any sign that he wanted... more, with me. Besides, he's my boss and the CEO of Jacy Industries for crying out loud. He has to have rich, beautiful girls falling all over him."
She focused on putting on a final coat of lipstick, even though she didn't need to, and ignoring Maggie. She had so many dreams since she started working with Kane about him kissing her or touching her, that she had almost grown used to them. At first embarrassment had made her jumpy around him but since Kane didn't try to overtly hit on her, Lina had slowly relaxed. She still avoided men whenever possible but getting to know Kane had erased some of the fear her father had instilled in her.
She sometimes wondered if she had imagined the interest she'd sensed in his lingering touches during her first interview and the way his fingers pressed into her lower back as he moved her to proceed him through a door. Or the unreadable looks she'd caught him giving her from time to time.
Okay, so maybe she caught every single one and it had become a fantasy she couldn't stop that they meant more than they did.
She stared at herself in the mirror, trying to convince herself as much as Maggie that she didn't feel what she knew she did for her boss. Just the thought of him did things to her body she wasn't used to. She noticed her nipples poking through her blouse and flashed on one vivid moment from the dream she had the night before where Kane sucked the soft tips of her breasts through the silk until they became hard and showed obscenely through the warm wet fabric, his tongue tracing circles around the firm peaks as he held her and caressed her body.
She shuddered and grew wet just from the memory, then glanced at Maggie, hoping she didn't notice.
"Did you have a reason for coming in here other than to bug me?" Lina asked.
"Well yeah. Mom just called. She wanted to double check that you were sure you wouldn't come have Thanksgiving with us in Maui."
Lina snorted, her mind pulling away from her too hot to handle boss. "No. I'd fry into a crisp."
"You could wear sun block." Maggie smiled at her wistfully. "It won't quite be the same after you being there the last three years. Mom and Dad are so boring."
"I would burn right through it and you know it. Remember that one week up in the mountains where I got the snow burn? Plus you know you are going to spend all your time on the beach trolling for hotties. You'll be fine." Lina turned, bending down and giving Maggie a hug. "I know you think I'll be sad or lonely but really, I'll be fine. I've never really cared about celebrating Thanksgiving anyway. Tell your mom thanks again but I'm going to stay here."
Maggie pouted. "Fine. Be that way." She got off the toilet and stood behind Lina. Their eyes met in the mirror and it was Maggie's turn to lean down and hug her. "You look really good," she said mischievously. "Do some flirting already!"
She squeezed Lina. "You know you just want to suck on him like your own personal candy Kane." She burst out laughing when Lina gaped at her, shocked she said that. She left when Lina threw a lipstick at her, still laughing hysterically.
Of course they had gotten the contracts that night and Kane had taken her out to eat at a lovely little Italian place. She loved to watch him eat, covertly peeking at him when he was focused on his food just as intently as most men were. The difference was the absolutely graceful way he used his silverware. Really, his movements were fluid and careful every time he was in motion but it gave her a secret satisfaction to watch him eat, his lips sliding across his fork. Maggie's remark about candy Kane's earlier came back to her and made her blush and drop her eyes.