This is the first chapter of something I’ve been (re)writing for the past few months, while also working on Cherry Blossom
It’s just the setup of the story. There may be a couple more chapters coming though, if I feel guilty enough for not being around more. Hehe.
It may seem familiar to some of you who’ve read the first draft, but I’m hoping the writing has improved.
Oh, and I’m assuming you’re over 18, if you’re reading this, but to be on the safe side:
This is/will be Adults Only.
(Working Title) Office Magic – Chapter One
Alexandra—call me Lexi—Adams crossed her arms and turned her yawn into a self-satisfied sigh. She had color-coded the department folders, sharpened all her pencils, and reorganized the files on her PC for the tenth time that day and was ready to go home now, please. A sneak peek at the large round clock on the wall opposite her made her slump her shoulders and shrink back in her chair.
It was still eleven forty three in the morning. Only four hours and seventeen minutes to go. She snorted.
She propped her elbows on the desk and rested her face in her palms for only a second, before realizing it looked less than professional. She was supposed to be working hard on the latest translation—the translation which wasn’t due until Friday, but which she’d finished the day before. The translation which was the only thing she had to do for work that week.
And it was still Wednesday.
For the millionth time in the two weeks she’d been there, she wondered why she’d taken that job. The answer was simple: she’d run out of ways to avoid it.
Her stepdad, Edmund Pedelty, had always treated her like she was his own daughter. Lexi adored him but just didn’t want to work for a company where half of the staff had known her since she’d been a six year old pain in the butt. So she’d resisted her mom’s pleas to give it a shot, had gotten her management degree, and studied German and Spanish. She’d thought the world was her oyster. Only, it wasn’t. After spending an entire year looking for a job and failing, Lexi had finally and halfheartedly given in and accepted a job in the sales department of Pedelty’s Electronics.
She hated sales with a fiery passion; she kept saying she could never be a sales person because she had a soul. To his credit, Pedelty accepted that and had her do nothing that included promoting and actual selling. Instead, she stayed at the office and handled translations of user manuals from and to English—which hardly put her true talents to use. Edmund promised that was temporary. He needed her to become part of the team before he gave her more responsibility, he said. Lexi got his reasoning and tried to be patient.
At least she didn’t hate her coworkers, and everyone seemed to like her so far.
Only, she hadn’t yet met everyone.
Since there wasn’t much to do anyway, Lexi decided to go through some paperwork supposed to help her better grasp what their products really were. She was wondering why a high tech company would use the archaic operating system Pedelty’s Electronics did, when she sensed someone watching her. It could really be anyone, since the first floor of the company offices housed the Sales and IT department in an open L-shaped space. The lack of cubicles, while great for enhancing team work, offered no privacy.
Lexi raised her gaze but saw nothing more than the bland face of John, the sales person sitting opposite her.
Now he was a born salesman, Lexi thought. No soul there.
She chuckled to herself and turned to scan the rest of the room.
Desks were placed in two rows—one along the windowed outside wall and one along the inner one. Matt, sitting at John’s right, was munching on chips while typing something one-handed. He caught Lexi’s gaze and threw her a goofy grin. She returned the smile and, aware the rest of her department were out pitching sales, looked to her right. Her position next to the glass pane that established Sales apart from IT offered her an unobstructed view of most of the floor.
Everyone seemed fixed on their computer screens.
The IT Crowd.
She almost chuckled again—boredom made her easily amused—before she spotted the guy at the far end. She hadn’t seen him before. No way would she have forgotten a pair of eyes blue enough to be startling even at that distance and behind a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. He was staring at her, and she chanced an admittedly flirty smile, but the guy’s face seemed set in stone. He didn’t even blink.
With a shrug, Lexi returned to her reading, muttering to herself that every workplace had to have at least one weirdo.
An hour or so later, she decided a coffee refill would be necessary if she wanted to make it through the day. Her mug in hand, she walked the short distance to the fully stocked kitchenette only to find the weirdo there, washing his own mug. He apparently didn’t notice her, which allowed her to fully notice him. A few shoulder-length, honey blond curls had escaped his ponytail and hid part of his face but not enough for her to miss those razor sharp cheekbones. The company policy didn’t insist on formal wear except for the sales force that actually met clients, so his shaggy t-shirt wasn’t against any regulation. His faded blue jeans held a few rips and tears and, although baggy, gave a good enough hint of his rounded butt as he leaned forward to scrub the cup with fervor.
And that brought her eyes to his well-muscled arms and long fingers. Lexi worried her lower lip with her teeth. She knew better than to allow herself to be attracted to a coworker, but she couldn’t help thinking how nice he would probably clean up.
“Do I get the seal of approval?” he asked.
Yeah, too bad the guy was a jerk.
He was looking at her, his eyebrow raised mockingly. She was hard pressed not to reply with a snarky comeback but decided to be a lady instead. She didn’t want anyone to be able to say she was acting like a brat so, ignoring his question, she began to politely introduce herself. “Hi, I’m — ”
“The boss’s daughter. Yeah, I know.” He left his mug on the drying block and grabbed a paper towel before finally turning to her.
He had a British accent that she loved, but she didn’t dwell on that or correct him by saying stepdaughter. “Yeah, that too, but I have a name. It’s Lexi.” She held out her hand.
He reached for it with a smirk. “Whose mother calls her Xandra, and who is apparently brilliant and not just another Californian bird.” Her surprise that he knew her nickname from childhood must have been evident, because his smirk turned into a chuckle. “I told you: I know. Ed has been talking about you like you’re the second coming or something. Make sure you don’t disappoint him.”
The last phrase rang as a warning, and Lexi frowned. “Well, I’m not about to, Mr…” She squinted a little as if trying to remember his name, despite knowing full well he had not mentioned it.
“Ric. I’m Ric. Head of the IT department and not about to make your life easy just because of your relationship to the big man. Got it?”
“Good.” He left the room without a glance backward. There was no indication of whether he heard her mutter, “Got it, jerk.”
Feeling chastised and not knowing what for, Lexi just left her mug in the sink and returned to her desk, coffee refill forgotten.
The clock showed seven minutes past one.
Lexi’d been with the company for seven working days, five hours, and seven minutes, and she was bored to death of only doing translations and typing other people’s business trip reports. She wanted more.
She wanted something that would require her to actually think. Sadly, she wasn’t going to get that, which meant she was facing more than two days of doing nothing and feeling uncomfortable about it. She at least had to pretend to be busy, and she decided surfing the web would accomplish just that. The moment she opened her browser, however, her phone rang.
“Come here for a sec, will you?”
“Huh? Here, where?” She knew it was Ric; his voice and accent were too much of a trademark for the man not to be recognized. Still, it was rude of him not to identify himself, and so she played dumb.
He snorted. “To the desk of the Brit who isn’t your dad,” he said and hung up.
Great. Now she felt dumb. She was bristling when she put the receiver back in its cradle, and was sure her gaze threw daggers at him while she took her time standing up, smoothing her skirt down at the back, and walking to his desk in small steps. By the time she stood in front of him, she’d managed to plaster a fake grin and a disinterested look on her face. “Want something, Richie?”
He clenched his jaw, which she considered a personal victory until he turned the tables on her. “It’s Richard or Ric. If that is too much for your pretty little head, you can call me ‘hey, you.’ Got it, Xandra?”
She just nodded and gave him a glare, which threatened to transform into a swoon when he folded his arms behind his head, stretching the white T against his muscled chest.
“Wanted to pick your brain about something.”
“You mean my pretty little, blonde brain?”
“That one. You never know what you may find among the junk.” He seemed really pleased with himself when she huffed in fury. “Ed wants me to upgrade the PCs’ operating system to the latest fad that came out just three months ago. What do you think?”
She was astonished he’d ask her that. He was the head of the frigging IT department; it was his job to know these things. Still, it wasn’t like she didn’t have an opinion. “If you change all operating systems for the PCs, you’ll have to change them for the servers too. I think it’ll be a waste of money. We could change to an open source system. It’s free and compatible with all other programs.” She shrugged. “It will take a while to get used to the new templates, but I don’t see why we’d pay so much money for something that I hear is harder to operate than the one we’re using now, without offering enough perks to make up for it.”
“That’s what I thought.”
The way he looked at her didn’t let Lexi know whether he meant he had the same opinion as her or that what he’d thought all along was that she didn’t have a valid opinion anyway. When he turned back to his nineteen inch monitor, she saw it as her cue to leave.
“You’re welcome,” she said in as sarcastic a tone as she could muster, and went back to her own desk.
Now what to surf for, she wondered.
Maybe she could find an online romance novel…
She had always been into sultry romances. They had been her secret little indulgence, helped her escape the cynical outlook on life she’d forced on herself ever since the first guy she’d ever slept with had disappeared from her bed and her life the morning after. The few men she’d known since had turned out to be nothing like the Prince Charming whom fairytales had conditioned her to expect.
Romance novels kept her company on long lonely nights. Reading those improbable, happily-ever-after stories was the only time she permitted herself to hope there was someone out there who could be her other half, her soul mate, not that she’d ever admit it to anyone. As far as she was concerned, true love didn’t exist in the real world. The rare exceptions were only for the extremely fortunate, like her mom and stepdad who still swooned at each other.
Lexi took a deep breath, placed the cursor in the browser’s search bar, and typed, ‘Does true love exist?’
She gasped at the hundreds of thousands of pages reported as results, but it was the first entry that made her do a double take.
Exotic Beast—a FREE online Xandra/Rex Erotic Romance novel by Xopi Chilli
Will Xandra allow herself to fall for a vampire, despite the generations of hatred between their species? Is she even capable of true love, and will she fight for it if she finds it?
Maybe it was the fact that her nearly secret nickname was there, or maybe that the second question struck a chord, but she clicked on the link and was directed to a page showing a man and woman in the shadows. The man was the hottest specimen of the male species she’d ever laid eyes on.
Of course it was true love; everything about that man looked loveable!
The jet black hair and leather outfit made him look dangerous, but his blue eyes looked strangely familiar as he stared at the woman in his arms with such emotion it was breathtaking to look at.
A bad boy with a soft side. “Me likey,” Lexi muttered under her breath.
From what little she could see of the woman’s face, Xandra slightly resembled her. More than slightly, Lexi decided after taking a better look. The woman in the picture was practically her spitting image. Except for the nose. Lexi’s was definitely smaller.
Her name and her face on the page were too much of a coincidence, and Lexi’s first thought was that her best friend since preschool, Angi—computer-wiz and self-declared psychic—was playing a practical joke at her expense. Angi couldn’t have known what Lexi would be browsing for, however. Plus, when Lexi started clicking on the ‘Next Chapter’ button, she realized what was on her screen was a real, honest to God paranormal romance novel. Surely Angi wouldn’t have the time to write one just to mess with her.
She read the summary of the story.
Xandra Eves has been brought up to look down at everyone but other shifters. She’s been taught vampires are her natural born enemies, and has no reason to doubt that until she meets Rex and is forced to work with him to uncover a conspiracy that threatens to destroy both their species.
It didn’t seem all that tempting, but a romance novel featuring her doppelganger was too hard to resist.
Xandra Eves. ‘Eves’ was scarily close to ‘Adams.’
Something dawned on Lexi. This apparently wasn’t the only Xandra and Rex romance available. The first link she’d found had read a Xandra/Rex romance. As in one of more. She entered the pairing into the search bar but came up with nothing, which was really odd, given how the novel had supposedly been read by roughly two thousand people according to the webpage’s statistics.
Well, it was free, it was there, and it intrigued her. With a shrug she clicked on the first chapter.
It didn’t take more than a handful of pages for Lexi to become entranced by the characters. Xandra was every bit as messed up as Lexi was, and Rex oscillated between being adorable one moment and smoking hot the next—a perfect mixture of shy and cocky, sure to make any woman drool.
And he was British.
Lexi’s gaze flickered to Richard, who was busy typing. He was hot and British too, but far from adorable.
Lexi felt her temperature rise and moisture pool between her own thighs when Rex and Xandra had their first sexual experience together. Rex really seemed to know what he was doing. And his body was male excellence, according to the author.
Whether to show off or, most probably, out of embarrassment under Xandra’s scrutiny, despite the provocative look he was throwing her way, he seemed to tense every muscle of his body. His chest pushed out, pectorals stretched, and well defined abs ribbed his skin. But what made Xandra’s breath hitch in her throat were the twin arrows of corded muscle that ran at the lower sides of his abdomen, over his hipbones, pointing at his cock…
He could have been carved in marble.
Lexi didn’t know about that Xandra chick, but she craved the guy.
Sparks were flying, the sex was hot and tender at the same time—hotter and more tender than anything Lexi had ever done—and now there would be more, because Rex wanted to know as much about Xandra’s body as possible.
Suddenly Richard was in front of her desk asking her something.
“Huh? I mean…I didn’t catch what you said.” She had the irrational fear he knew what she’d been doing.
“I said I think you should get off now.” He spoke slowly, as if to a child.
“Excuse me?” Her eyes felt wide as saucers.
“It’s four thirty, Blondie. Shouldn’t you be going home?” he asked in a bored tone. “Or is that big, bad translation giving you trouble?”
“Ah.” He meant get off work. She really had to get a grip. “Umm, no. No biggie. Yeah, I’ll go now. Thanks.”
He gave her a weird look, shrugged, and swaggered his way to the stairs, his laptop hanging from one shoulder.
Lexi packed up and left, but not before jotting down the web address of the site and that of the particular page she’d been on before the interruption.
“I’m home.” Not waiting for an answer from her mom, Lexi rushed past the kitchen and up the stairs to her room. She locked the door behind her and hurriedly changed into a t-shirt and a pair of shorts before switching on her PC.
“Come on, come on, come on!” The darned thing took ages to connect to the wireless network, but she was finally online. Ready for more Rex goodness in the privacy of her own room, she typed in the address of the page but only got a white page with an error message for her trouble. She tried the site address again, but to no avail. She typed, ‘does true love exist?’ in the search machine, like she had earlier. Instead of getting the direct link again, as she’d expected, she was directed to a blues band’s myspace page. Searching for the e-book by name also came up with nothing useful.
To say she was annoyed would be an understatement, but what she’d read at work earlier was more than enough to call for a hot shower session.
Now where was Lexi’s little purple helper?
She stuck her hand toward the back of her bottom drawer and pulled out her small purple vibrator. Not the most satisfactory of her toys size-wise, but definitely the most discreet. She stuck it inside her waistband and pulled her T-shirt over it. Then she left her room and entered the bathroom, making sure to lock the door before taking her clothes off.