I jump awake when I hear my alarm chirping away on the bedside table next to me. I reach over and feel around for my phone; eyes still closed, I managed to find it and snooze the alarm. Ahh silence. Just as I’m about to doze off again, I remember it's my first day at my new job, and I jump out of bed excited. It was seven-forty-five, and I had to be there at nine o’clock. Satisfied I had enough time I drag myself to the bathroom to shower and get ready.
I stare at my reflection in the mirror as I brush my teeth. Eyes bloodshot from lack of sleep and a weekend of heavy drinking had me looking like something out of the night of the living dead. After a steaming hot shower and two mugs of strong coffee, I was feeling a little better. I was trying to convince myself the fluttering around in my stomach wasn’t nerves. Why would I be nervous? I can do this job in my sleep. Ugh, butterflies explode in my stomach again at the thought of work.
I was applying my mascara when my bedroom door bursts open, and Jo walks in with Aimee in tow. I jump at the intrusion and get mascara all over my eyelid ruining my eyeshadow I spent a good ten minutes blending.
“Where in the seven kingdoms of HELL have you been?!” Jo hollers glaring at me, her eyes wide and hair tousled from sleep.
“Shayla we were worried sick! We thought something awful happened to you!” Aimee chastises me.
“Jesus Christ, you scared the bloody shit out of me. And you ruined my mascara!” I grumble annoyed, picking up a cue tip to remove the black blob on my eyelid.
“Stuff the mascara! Where the fuck have you been all weekend? We thought you brought that hot guy you left with back to the apartment, but you weren’t home.” Aimee explains walking over to sit on my bed. “Then we figured maybe you went back to his, and you’d be back Saturday, but you didn’t show up, and your phone was off.”
“Do you have any idea, how scared we were, that you were face down in a ditch somewhere,” Jo adds, placing her hands on her hips to illustrate her annoyance.
“You should have thought about that before you let me go off with a stranger. What the hell were you thinking letting me go off with some rando?”
“You seemed really into each other, and he was hot, so we thought you’d gone to get a little nookie,” Aimee says with a shrug and smirks. “Speaking of, how was the nookie? Must have been good if he didn’t let you leave all weekend.”
“Oh my god!” I pick up a brush and throw it at her which she dodges skilfully, and grins quite pleased with herself. “You know why I wasn’t back Saturday. Let me tell you why— because I was in Vegas.”
“Vegas?” They say in unison, and I nod. “As in Las Vegas…”
“Yes! Vegas, as in Nevada, Las Vegas!” Jo looks over at Aimee, who stares at me, her mouth agape. “I can’t remember a damn thing. I was so drunk I somehow ended up on a private jet flying to the fucking states.”
“With that guy?” Jo questions, a dumbfounded look on her face.
“Yes, with that guy,” I say, pulling my lacy black top on. “That’s not even the worst part, oh no, it gets better. We got married by Elvis. Like legally married.”
They gape at me. “You…you got married?” Jo sputters, shaking her head. I nod and apply my lipstick.
“So, wait, let see if I got this right. You met a hot guy at a club, who flew you in his private jet to Las Vegas and married you?” I nod, and she chuckles in response and scratches her nose. “Tell me you at least putout?”
“Aimee!” I exclaim, rolling my eyes and hurl a bottle of primer at her; she falls on the bed and laughs heartily.
“Shayla. Who is this guy?” Jo asks, and I shrug. I pick up his card from the table and hand it to her.
“I don’t know who he is. All I know is his name, Tristan Cole something.”
Jo stares at the card, and her eyes grow wide. “Oh, my God. Shayla…” Jo gasps, staring at the card in her hand and looks at me. “Tristan Cole Hoult! That’s who you’re married to?”
“No fucking way!” Aimee howls, jumping to her feet and snatches the card from Jo. “I knew I recognised him! Oh my god. Shay, do you have any idea who this guy is?”
I shrug and shake my head, staring at the both of them in bemusement. “No, am I supposed to?”
“Um, yes!” They both shout together startling me.
“You of all people should know, Shayla! He’s a renowned architect and the man is also a billionaire! He’s the hottest and most sought after CEO in the country. Look, this is him, right?” She shows me a photo on her phone, and I nod.
I frown and look between them. My head was starting to hurt again. That’s why he looked familiar to me. I’ve seen him in magazines. Oh shit. “Yes, that’s him.”
“Oh my god, you lucky bitch!” Aimee hops up on my bed. “Not only did you sleep with him, but you’re also married to a billionaire, Shayla!” I roll my eyes and pick up my jacket. “I can’t believe it.”
“Jesus. I can’t deal with you two. I have to go to work. I don’t want to be late on my first day.”
“Don’t go. You’re rich now.” Aimee sings jumping on my bed and dancing.
“Aimee, get the hell off my bed! I just made it up.” I grab her leg; pull it, and she tumbles over and rolls off the bed.
“Ouch. I think you broke my arse.” She pouts, rubbing her behind gingerly.
“I have to go. I’m already running late. Fix my damn bed.” I say throwing my pillow at her head and walking out of the bedroom.
“Yes, Mrs Hoult,” Aimee calls out and giggles when I flip her off as I walk to the front door. I can’t even think about the whole Cole fiasco right now. My head was a scrambled mess, and I’m pretty sure I'm still a little drunk. I need to focus on my career if I ever want to make it as an architect. I can barely remember how to spell my name at the moment. I am never drinking again.
I make it to work with five minutes to spare. Please don’t ask me how fast I was driving to make it on time because I’m expecting a fair few speeding tickets in the post.
“Shayla.” I spin when I hear my name, and see the girl that greeted me the last time I came in. Heather, I think her name was.
“I’m Heather. If you’re ready, let me show you around first and then we can go through Mr Hoult’s schedule for the day.”
“Yes, of course. Sounds good.” I follow her through the glass doors, and we walk through an open plan office with several fancy cubicles, high-tech computers with two monitors that are for drawing your designs.
“So, this is your desk, and you already know where Mr Hoult’s office is.” I nod, smiling, my eyes taking in the office, as she continues to go on and on about his schedule. “He’s very peculiar and likes things a certain way. For example, he has his coffee black, with skimmed milk on the side, ready on his desk at seven-forty-five. He has a sesame bagel with smoked salmon, and fat-free cream cheese at eight o’clock every morning, religiously.”
“Excellent. A little helpful advice, he works a lot, like around the clock. So, he’s often quite grumpy because he’s tired. If you see him loosening his tie, and rub his temples, it means he’s angry steer clear unless he calls for you. If he does— do not speak. I found nodding helps. Do not enter his office without knocking; wait for him to gesture you in. Understand?”
I look over at the empty office and gulp. Oh boy, this man sounds like a real headcase. It sure is going to be a hoot working for him. I follow Heather back to the open office. “Well, I think you’ve pretty much got the gist of the job. I’m sure you two will get along great. He should be out of his meeting shortly, and we can head over and introduce you to him.” Heather explains as we walk over to the kitchen area where the coffee machines and fridges stocked up with drinks and shelves stocked with snacks. At least they look after their employees.
I was enjoying my caramel latte and people watching when Heather came bouncing along. “He is out of his meeting. Let’s go and get you acquainted.” I nod and follow her through the office toward the CEO’s office. I was real baffled every time she said the words ‘introduce you’ like I hadn’t met him at the interview. Maybe she forgot.
We walk into the office I had my interview with the silver fox. The painting on the wall caught my eye, and I was admiring it when I just about noticed Heather say my name. “Mr Hoult, this your new executive assistant, Shayla.” I spin and look at him. Our eyes meet first. I let my gaze wander the length of him, and my heart sinks to the pit of my stomach.
“You?” I shake my head and look over at Heather and back at the six-foot-something man standing in front of me. “No. No, my boss was an older guy, you’re-”Cole nods slowly. “You must have met my Father. Tony Hoult. He was interviewing for me whilst I was out of town on business.”I stare at Cole and curse the fate that keeps screwing with me. “So, you’re my boss?”Cole nods and fiddles with his cufflinks, his brows fused tightly. “It sure looks that way.”“You’ve already met each other-”“Heather, leave us.” He commands, his eyes never leaving mine and Heather scampers out of the office leaving us alone.“This is a joke, right? Because this can’t be happening,” I mutter, pacing back and forth. “It can’t be.”Cole rubs the back of his neck, watching me pace frantically, mumbling incoherently to myse
“Tristan, we’ve had this conversation before. I’ve had it with your philandering ways. If you want me and your grandfather to take you seriously and pass on our shares to you, you need to prove you’re responsible enough to run a multi-million corporation. You’ll be thirty soon, the time for you to settle down has come. I let you have your fun and sow your wild oats so that you’ll get it out of your system before you settle down.” My father scolds me whilst cutting into his fillet mignon steak. “Hollie comes from a respectable family who has been our dearest friends for generations. She’s a beautiful young lady, and she shares the same passion for architecture as you do. What more could you ask for in a life partner?” He adds, lifting his green eyes to look at me.I clench and unclench my fist under the table. I feel my annoyance grow more by the minute. “Well, I would like to be attracted to my future wife for
“You’re married, you idiot!” He shouts, throwing his hands up in the air. “You can’t marry Hollie if you’re already married. Take Shayla to your grandfather, introduce her as your wife, problem solved.”Oh. Why didn’t I think of this? I am married.I frown. “You mean, we stay married?” Josh nods, widening his blue eyes. “She wouldn’t agree, why would she want to stay married?”Josh throws a cushion at me. “Because you’re Tristan Cole Hoult, that’s why. You’re the most sought-after bachelor in the country—after me, of course.” He says in jest, and I throw the cushion back at him.I roll my eyes exasperated. “Fuck you, arsehole.” Josh catches the cushion and rests his elbow on it, grinning. “She doesn’t care about any of that. She’s nothing like the rest; my fame and money didn’t deter her one bit.”
God? What the hell did I do in my past life for you to be punishing me like this?As I stand there looking at Coles father, utterly humiliated—might I add, he’s just staring back at me confused. “Your wife?” He repeats, averting his gaze to his son. “I don’t understand.”I open my mouth to speak but Cole pipes in, “We’re married, what’s not to understand.” I look up at him, and he pulls me closer against him, and I have the sudden urge to punch the kid in his throat.“I should give you both some privacy,” I say and turn to leave the room.“Stay right there, young lady!” He shouts, and I jump startled at his sudden outburst. I nod and hang my head in silence, shrinking back beside Cole. “Tristan, I hired this girl a few days ago to be your assistant. What do you mean you’re married?” He questions, his green eyes, identical to Coles darting between us waiting for an answer. “What? Did it just slip your mind that you’re married to the CEO of the company?” He ask
“Thank you, Shayla. You have no idea how much this means to me. Honestly.” I nod and pull my hand back. “Well, nobody should be forced to marry someone they don’t love. Even entitled rich boys like yourself ought to have a happily ever after.” I tease, and he scoffs and pokes my side. “I am not an entitled rich boy.” He defends feigning annoyance, but I see the corner of his lips curl. “I work really hard okay.” He says and chuckles when I give him a pointed look. “Ok fine, I work hard.” “Whatever you say champ. Can we please discuss what we are going to tell you, parents, because I’m kind of terrified here?” I question, and he nods. “We just need to get our stories straight. My parents know me very well, especially my mother, so if we are going to convince them that we are in love, we have to act the part.” I shake my head and hold my hand up. “Hold up –define ‘in love’ because, if by that you mean you’re going to be shoving your tongue down
I wish I had the option just to hit pause and stay in this moment for a little while longer. I let my eyes roam over Shayla’s face, her eyes closed, lips faintly parted, just pleading to be kissed, but I know that’s not what she needs right now. If I tried, she would probably punch me. When a knock sounds on my door Shayla’s eyes flicker open, and she looks up at me, and as the door opens, she pulls herself away from me, putting a couple of feet between us. Her gaze drops to the floor, and I would give my left nut to be able to read her mind. Was she waiting for me to kiss her? Did she feel as disappointed as I did when she pulled away?“Tristan?” I look over at Lucy— my publicist when she pokes her head through the door, and I wave her in. “I just saw the article. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing.” She says, walking toward us.“How do we fix this?” I ask her, and she sets the tablet in her hand on my des
Her lips part and stares at me before her eyes narrow, “Maybe I’m just good at faking it.” She responds, pulling her face away from my hand.I look over her face and grin, “You’re right,” I tilt her head up, so our lips are perfectly aligned. “You can’t lie for shit,” I whisper and drop a kiss on her cheek, and she pulls away.“What the hell are you doing, Cole?” I pull my head back and grin.“Playing my part,” I say and step away from her. She frowns, and I gesture with my head to the crowd of employees that just watched our entire exchange. “It seems I was too into fondling my wife that I hadn’t noticed I ‘accidentally’ unfrosted the glass.” She looks around and swallows hard before she turns her stony gaze to me.“Oh, you son of a—” I wink at her and walk around my desk.“Ah, ah, ah you love me, remember?” She
“It’s nice to meet you too, Shelly.” I open my mouth to correct her, but Shayla squeezes my hand and shakes her head a little, silently telling me to let it go. “Dinner is served. Let’s eat.” My mother says and walks toward the dining room. We all follow her and take a seat at the dining table.“Your home is beautiful, Mrs Hoult,” Shayla says, laying her napkin in her lap.“I know.” My mother responds curtly, and I bite back the urge to snap at her when I see the saddened look in Shayla’s eyes at the terse remarks my mother keeps throwing at her.My father feeling the tension thicken in the room, clears his throat and sparks up a conversation. “How was the presentation, son?”I take a sip of my water and nod. “It went very well. Mr Turner was incredibly pleased with the design.” I look at Shayla who smiles at me warmly as she did at the office earlier. “We got