“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 myself like a lunatic. “Shayla, why don’t we sit?” He offers, and I shake my head.
“No. I can’t sit.” I reply, brushing my fingers through my hair in frustration. “I feel as though I’m inside a nightmare I can’t seem to wake up from.” I stop pacing and look at him. “Are you like …stalking me?”
He laughs—and I don’t just mean a chuckle, I mean a full-on belly laugh. “Stalking you?” He says in between breaths as I stand there and watch him unimpressed. “I should be asking you that question, sweetheart. You’re the one that keeps showing up everywhere. It can’t be a coincidence.”
I scowl at him and slap the folder in my hand on his desk somewhat hard. “Excuse me? Are you insinuating that I’m some psychotic fan girl or something?” I ask, taking a step toward him and he watches me closely. “I think you will find that it was you who approached me at the club,” I say poking his chest, and he smirks and arches a brow. “And it was also your idea to leave the club together,” I add, poking him again and his smile grows into a grin. “It was also you that kissed me, so please explain how I come off as the stalker here?” I finish, placing my hands at my hips and stare up at him expectantly.
Cole licks his lips and shrugs, “I was just kidding, but it’s nice to see you have a feisty side, sweetheart. I adore that in a wife.” I sigh and roll my eyes. I’m going to kill this boy.
“I’m not your wife.” I grouse heatedly. “Come to think of it; I’m not your assistant either. I quit.” I tell him and turn to leave, but Cole grabs my arm and stops me.
“Shayla, come on. I’m only teasing you. We can work this out, come and sit for a minute, will you, please?” I tug my arm out of his hold, walk over to his desk, and sit on one of the cream chairs opposite. Cole comes and stands in front of me, leaning on his desk, he crosses his arms over his chest and regards me seriously. “You don’t have to quit. We’re both adults. We can still work together.”
“How? How can we possibly work together after everything that has happened? We’re married, remember?” Cole shrugs.
“Yeah, so? Who here knows we’re married beside us? You’re overreacting. Besides, my father hired you for a reason, so you must be good at what you do.” I sigh heavily and shake my head.
“Overreacting? I married my damn boss. I went from being an assistant to the office slut who has slept with the CEO.” Cole straightens from his leaning position and runs his fingers through his hair.
“Shayla, you’re overthinking it. No one will find out what happened between us, I promise you.” He assures me, he seems genuine, but the nagging feeling I have at the pit of my stomach is making me feel uneasy.
“Fine,” I relented with a sigh. I narrow my eyes. “You must have thought I was a right dimwit for not knowing who you were. Why didn’t you say something?”
“I thought no such thing,” He smiles warmly. “If anything, it felt good to be treated like a normal human being rather than a--”
“Notorious playboy billionaire?” I finish, and he chuckles a little lowering his gaze to the black Louboutin leather shoes on his feet. “I go just a touch deeper than that, but yes. I may have liked that you didn’t seem fazed by the fact that I had money.”
“Why would I be? Just because you have money doesn’t make you better than anyone else. When cut, you still bleed red like the rest of us mere mortals.”
Our eyes meet; we stare at one another for a long moment. Cole smiles and shakes his head, seemingly pleased by my response. He walks around his desk and sits in his chair. “It’s almost lunchtime. Would you like to go out for lunch?”
“Lunch?” I intone, and he nods leaning back in his chair.
“Yeah, we can go to the breakfast bar.” I groan and stand up. “We can share some pancakes.”
“I hate you,” I utter and turn to walk to the door. I hear Cole laugh behind me.
“Hey, what happens in Vegas...”
“Shut up.” I walk out of his office and look back to see him watching me with a grin on his face while shaking his head. The girls are going to have a fit when they hear about this.
I walk to the bathroom and dial Aimee’s number. She answers after two rings. “Yo ho, what’s up?”
“What’s up? Let me tell you what’s up. Remember that billionaire I accidentally married?”
“The hot billionaire, yes.”
“Well, that ‘hot billionaire’ is not only my dear husband…he’s also my new boss,” I tell her and hear her coughing and sputtering on the other end, clearly choking on something. “You dead?”
“I’m good. I’m okay. What do you mean he’s your boss?” She questions, clearing her throat.
“He’s my boss. The man that interviewed me was his Dad--Tony Hoult. How did I not connect the dots here Aimes? For fucksake. I’m a smart girl--at least I thought I was. I held his card in my hand, and it didn’t click. He probably thinks I’m a fucking idiot. Jesus, I’m mortified.” I mumble, closing the lid of the toilet and sitting on it.
“A lot has happened in the space of four days. My mind can’t cope with all this; I don’t know how you’re dealing with everything so calmly.” She says in an attempt to make me feel better.
“Calmly? I’m freaking out Aimee. I can’t work here. It’s too awkward working with him side by side day in, day out. I can’t do it. I’m going to quit.”
“Shayla, no. Don’t forget; you need this job. Remember how excited you were to finally be in a job that is in a field you’re interested in. This job will open all sorts of doors for you in the future. Just focus on your work, and I promise you in the end when you’re a kick-arse architect, it will all be worth it.” I nod and sigh. She was right. As much as the situation sucks, I need to stick it out as long as possible. “So what if you slept with him, he’s slept with dozens of girls. He clearly doesn’t care, why should you?”
“Yeah, you’re right. I mean, he did promise what happened will stay between us.” I tell her.
“There you go. Just chill and enjoy your first day, it’s all going to be okay.” I sure hope she was right because I honestly can’t take much more. Knowing my luck, he’ll end up being my long-lost brother or something, on top of everything else. I shudder at the mere thought of it.
“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
“Are you okay?” I blink up at Cole, who cups my face cautiously in his big hands, his green eyes scanning over my face. I wasn’t okay, not one little bit. My cheek was throbbing, and my ear was ringing. I nod despite the rage brewing inside of me to punch the face-off of the snooty bitch for laying a finger on me.“I’m fine,” I assure him, pulling my face away from his hold and hiss when he brushes his thumb over the cheek his mother just bitch slapped. “I’m okay, honestly. I’m fine.”“Stay here.” He demands and storms off, leaving me standing there.“Where are you going? Cole?” I call out after him, but he ignores me and disappears down the stairs. Oh, Christ. How did everything get so damn messed up? I head downstairs, and I can hear Cole’s angry voice echoing through the house.“How dare you lay a finger on her!” He shouts. I follow his voice and stop