L'Affaire C. 02bysharkandpen©
Jack couldn't help smiling the rest of the evening. He had done it. He had her. And it was a relief to know that her resistance to letting their status as couple be known was not because she didn't want a relationship, but because she thought she was some kind of diversion for him. The woman was anything but a diversion; he couldn't keep his mind away from her.
He closed his laptop with a click, resigned to the fact that he wasn't going to get any more work done tonight. Instead he made his way into the cramped little kitchen—he had to find a way to get her to move in with him, he felt claustrophobic in this place—and made himself a gin and tonic. He tried not to concentrate on the way she looked as he held her head in place and bucked into her mouth. What had he been thinking? But the images flooded his mind and his groin tightened in response. It had felt so damn good. And watching her had felt so damn good. A thick mass of red hair cascading down her back and falling into her face against that smooth pale skin and, God help him, those freckles. The pert little nose struggling for breath. Had he hurt her? She was probably never going to let him in her mouth again.
Jack groaned. He could almost feel the hotness of her breath; feel the fullness of those pink lips brushing against his dick. His erection was in full force again and she hadn't even left with Nicki half an hour ago to go prance around in that soft pink sweater that luxuriously hugged her curves. The swell of her bust, the accentuation of her waist, and those hips. The capped sleeves of the sweater accentuated those long, slender arms that ended in the most beautiful hands he'd ever seen. Every day she sat down and over-charged women to put acrylic nails on their hands, and all the while Ally sported her natural nails, well groomed but free from polish. Perfect without trying. And she had no idea. She and Nicki were perfect for each other. A package of truly lovely women, wandering about with shields of sarcasm and disinterest to hide insecurities that made absolutely no sense.
He wondered absently how Nicki was doing, lately, with her quest to keep every man at bay by letting that absolute loser ex-boyfriend of hers hang around. He'd never met the guy but was still disgusted by him.
Ally had told Nicki that she loved him. She loved him. That was probably the best part. He'd been so surprised he'd forgotten to say anything in response before Nicki shuttled her out the door. But say what? That he loved her? Loving her was one thing, but actually telling her? It was so much easier for women.
The shrill ring of his cell phone pulled Jack away from his thoughts. One glance at the caller ID had him rolling his eyes. Liam had been back in the states for a week now but insisted the entire office had changed in the 6 months he spent in Hong Kong and called Jack about thirty times a day to demand explanations for imaginary changes. It was too good to have him back in town for Jack to complain. He flipped open the cell phone, "Let me guess, 'they' moved the coffee filters."
"No, I was going to talk to you about your assistant, the law student."
"I bet we could get her enrolled in a good charm school. She's a nasty little thing."
Jack smiled. "What do you want, Liam?"
"Ah, I'm bored. Are you at home? I was thinking about dropping buy. I can bring pizza."
"It's eleven o'clock!"
"It's never too late for pizza. Come on—my treat."
"Nah, man, I'm not at home."
"It's eleven o'clock!"
Jack laughed. "See you at the office tomorrow?"
"Like I said. See you at the office tomorrow."
"Yeah yeah. Hey, where are you? You're not sleeping at your desk tonight, are you?"
Jack scoffed. He'd never slept at his desk-- his office had a couch. "I'm at my girlfriend's place."
"Figures. So when do I get to meet the woman who stole my drinking partner?"
"I asked her, but she says she'd rather be strung up by her toenails than sit in a room with more than one lawyer in it."
It was Liam's turn to scoff. "That's a figure of speech, I'm sure."
After saying goodnight Jack snapped the phone shut, but opened it again almost immediately and dialed Ally's cell phone.
"Don't look now but there's a cool glass of water looking this way, and he ain't looking at me. Behind your right shoulder." Nicki turned to look over her shoulder as Ally hissed, "I said don't look!"
"Remember I told you about my on-again-off-again guy-person?"
"That's Adam? But—he doesn't look like a loser."
"No, that's not Adam. That's Adam's friend Matt."
"Matt as in dog park guy?"
"When did I tell you about dog park guy?"
"When you were complaining that the one guy you were really crushing on turned out to be a friend of your crackpot ex. He keeps glancing over here. His with some girl and she's starting to get annoyed."
Nicki sipped her Diet Coke. The girl probably had no reason to get her nose out of joint; he was probably just compiling a list of things to report back to Adam about. She noticed Ally studying her quizzically and sat up straight, making an effort to look neutral. So Adam had a cute friend. So what? It would be so tacky to go after him. Plus, he was with someone.
"Maybe they aren't together. Another guy just joined him and the girl went off."
Nicki's spine stiffened. Ally had never met Adam. She didn't know what he looked like. Was Adam here, behind her? Inexplicably, her heart started pounding. He called every once in awhile; usually late in the evening after he'd had a few, and she'd stopped answering his calls. It was easy enough to do with caller ID because the man didn't seem to know how to leave a voicemail. "You do realize you're openly staring, right?"
"I'm allowed. He's not exactly the most discreet man on earth. I can totally tell his attention is only superficially on whatever new guy is saying. Oh, shit, he's coming over."
"New guy is coming over?"
Ally looked puzzled. "No, old guy. The Matt guy. Why would new guy come over?"
Nicki turned in her seat and looked up at the man beside her. Ally was right. He was a cool glass of water. Even worse, he smelled delicious.
"Matt. Hi." Nicki said, giving a small wave.
Matt leaned down so his head was in between the women and gestured to one of the empty chairs at the table, "Do you mind if I join you?"
Nicki was speechless. He wanted to sit with them? Why did he smell so good? Is he on a reconnaissance mission of some sort? Was Adam in the bar somewhere?
"Not at all," Ally grinned, pushing a chair out with her foot. Matt smiled at her and took a seat as Ally worked to make eye contact with her friend, to no avail. Nicki seemed to be frozen in place, unable to move even her eyes. Before pulling her foot back in Ally gave Nicki a nudge under the table.
"I have to go to the little girl's room," Ally announced, rising. Once she had left Matt turned his full attention on Nicki.
"So Adam's been bitching because you haven't been answering his calls for close to three months now. I haven't seen you out walking that funny looking dog of yours, either. What is it you called her? A vespa?"
"She's a vizla. A Vespa is a motorized scooter. We go to the park in the mornings now."
"I thought maybe you'd moved."
"Nope. Still here. How are you?"
"I was happy to run into you. Your friend seems nice."
"She's not. Right now she's hiding out in the bathroom so that I get to sit here alone with you."
"And you resent being alone with me?"
Nicki finally looked into his eyes, a blue so light she could sometimes swear they were gray. His dark brown hair was mussed but had been recently cut. "No, I'm just not sure why you're here?"
Matt shrugged. "Well, they have good music—" Matt pointed to the stage where a jazz vocalist and her piano entertained the patrons who seemed to be paying little attention. "And the drinks aren't too expensive."
"At my table. Why you're here at my table."
After a moment he said, "I guess I'm curious to know if you're done with Adam."
"Ah." Nicki nodded. "So you are a spy."
Matt leaned into her conspiratorially, a wide grin on his face. He had perfect teeth. Who had teeth that perfect? They had to be caps. No, one was chipped slightly. Could caps get chips? She didn't know. "I come in peace. I'm afraid I'm not coming here as a friend of Adam."
"You aren't friends anymore? That's too bad."
"No, we are. I'm just here for some very unfriendly reasons."
Nicki shook her head. "Are you always this obtuse?"
"I want to know if you're done with him—really done with him this time?"
"You just said you weren't here for Ad—"
Matt cut her off. "I'm here for me. I'm here because I like sitting next to you."
Nicki opened her mouth to respond but, having nothing to say, closed it again.
"Go ahead," Matt prompted.
"You looked like you were about to ask me something."
Nicki looked at him appraisingly and took a sip of her soft drink before asking, "So, and correct me if I'm wrong because lord knows you're not being clear, you're here trying to be my friend?"
Matt laughed softly, a warm musical sound. The warmth carried into his gaze as he looked at her. "Well, if you're accepting new friends, then yes, I miss our chats at the park."
Nicki started to relax and found herself leaning toward him, as well. "I see. I suppose we can all use more friends. But what does that have to do with Adam? You can't be friends with me unless I'm not through with him?"
Matt seemed to consider this a moment. "Not really. More like it'd be easier to be friends with you if I knew it was over between you two. "
"How so?" This was one of the strangest conversations Nicki had ever been apart of but she had to admit she was enthralled. What was wrong with him? Had he had too much to drink? He really wasn't making any sense at all.
"Well, what if you seduce me?" he asked, completely straight-faced. "It would put strain on my relationship with Adam if his girlfriend put the moves on me."
Nicki didn't reply for a moment. She couldn't. Suddenly Ally reappeared but stood next to the table rather than sitting. Nicki tore her eyes away from Matt and looked up at Ally. "What's up?"
"That was Jack. He wants me to come home."
Nicki looked unimpressed. "So?"
Ally blushed. "Well, I'd kind of like to. It was a big night for us, I mean, telling you... Anyway, you guys both live near the same dog park. Could you give her a ride home?" Ally looked at Matt with an innocent expression that didn't fool Nicki for a second. The bitch. Jack probably hadn't even called.
Matt spoke before Nicki had a chance to form a reply fit for an audience. "Not at all, I'd love to. Don't worry, I'll make sure she gets home safe."
"Great!" Ally said, deftly avoiding Nicki's hand, which had reached out to grab her arm. "Gotta go. Talk to you later, Nicki."
They both watched Ally leave and their gazes stayed on the entrance long after she left. Finally, Matt spoke. "She called you Nicki. I like that, do a lot of people call you Nicki?"
"Yeah...my family...my friends."
"Really? Adam always called you Nicole when he was talking about you."
Nicki looked him in the eyes. "Like I said. My friends call me Nicki."
Matt was quiet for a moment, contemplating where the conversation was headed. "So what should I call you? Nicki or Nicole?"
"Probably not Nicole. It's not my name."
Matt looked taken aback. "Adam calls you by the wrong name? How did that happen?"
Nicki smiled, actually recalling the story with good humor. She'd introduced herself to Adam as Nicki but on their first date they ran into one of her newer clients who mistakenly called her Nicole. Adam had picked it up and called her Nicole ever since.
Matt listened to the story with a look of wonderment on his face. "And you never corrected him? What's your name? Nikita?"
Nicki laughed out loud. "No, not Nicki. Honestly, I didn't correct him because it wasn't far off from my name. My full name is Nicolette, so I'm either Nicki or Nicolette, but never really Nicole."
"Until Adam absentmindedly changed your name."
Nicky was still smiling. "Yes, yes. Until Adam changed my name."
"I like Nicolette. It sounds so—" His voice trailed off as he searched for an appropriate adjective.
"So like a chewing gum designer for nicotine addicts?"
Matt turned to look at her, grinning mischievously. "I plead the fifth."
To the surprise of them both, Nicki kissed him. Startled at first, Matt quickly regained his senses and deepened the kiss, bringing his hand up to cup her cheek. When they finally pulled apart Nicki's cheeks were flushed. Matt moved his hand from her cheek and rested it on her arm. She was wearing a long-sleeved plum-colored button-down knit shirt with a large enough scoop at the neck to reveal a tantalizing swell of breasts, and despite the fabric between them Matt's body reacted as if he'd been touching bare skin.
"I'm sorry, that was tacky of me."
This pulled Matt back into the present. "Tacky?"
"Ex-girlfriend hits on guy's best friend. It's such a cliché."
Matt gazed at her, dark hair flowing down her back in tantalizing curls, toffee colored eyes framed by lush, dark lashes. "And what about guy wants friend's ex?"
Nicki blinked and smiled, oddly comfortable in both his presence and their flirting. She found she liked sitting next to him, too. "Even worse."