Chapter 8 - Making a plan

Sydney -

My hand was still in pain. I'd slapped the jerk in the face with all my power. I kept running till I arrived at the art school and slumped on a bench. What was the matter with me? And what was the matter with him?

Even if I tried to ignore it, the man was a walking dreamboat. He was much taller than my 5'8" height. Probably 6”4. His stunning appearance, tanned skin, and dark hair were enough to make any sensible woman want to hurl herself at him. However, if only he had not been such a jerk. He was unlike any other man. At the thought of that lengthy drawn-out kiss, a flush crept up my cheeks. The way his lips brushed against me. I could still detect his scent.

I felt a tremble run up and down my spine just thinking about it. I said to myself, 'No.'

'Why am I thinking this way?' I shouldn't be doing this. He kissed me without my permission. Instead of thinking about those deep blue eyes and muscled arms, I should be pressing charges. He had not followed me; I was sure of that. Despite that, I kept looking everywhere to check if he was still around. Rather, I was hoping he would have followed me.

"What's the deal with you being so silent today?" Leah inquired.

For the previous few minutes, I had been fiddling with my supper.

"Nothing," I said, "I was just distracted." I hadn't told Leah anything about that man.

"Have you ever been kissed, Leah? I mean forcefully?" I asked slowly.

She nearly choked on the water she was drinking. I stroked her back and gave her enormous amounts of tissues after a round of coughing and spluttering. Finally, she inquired.

"Did you get a kiss? Who is he, exactly? What happened and where did it happen?"

"It was just a hypothetical query," she says.

She gave me a dubious look.

"Of course, I've kissed a lot of people.... maybe more than I can recall. But what exactly do you mean by "forceful"? Do you mean an assault?"

"Both yes and no. Have you ever been kissed without your consent and enjoyed it?"

She blinked twice.

"Are you referring to those racy romance novels?"

I couldn't stop myself from laughing.

"In a way."

"Did you happen to run into one of those guys?" Wriggling her brows, she inquired.

I was aware that I was blushing, but I denied it.

"That's not the case. I was reading a magazine when I came across a tale about a girl who meets a wealthy and threatening man in a coffee shop. He forces her to replace his ruined shirt, and then kisses her in an alley. Despite her opposition to him, she enjoyed it."

"Wow! So, what happened next?" Leah inquired.

"After that, nothing occurred; they just went their separate ways."

"Can you tell me what kind of story that is?"

"Forget about the plot; why do you think he kissed her?" I asked.

"That depends; perhaps he likes her, or perhaps he is a psycho creep. He shouldn't have done anything without permission in either situation."

Leah said, her expression solemn. Mike, who frequently joins us for supper, interrupted me before I could respond. He plopped down on the couch, wearing his red cap.

"I had a long and exhausting day. I had to run to three auditions." Mike let out a sigh.

Leah ruffled his hair and said, "Awww, you miserable kid."

"Do you realise how irritating you are?" He spoke.

Her smile faded and she adopted a solemn demeanour. "Now that you've addressed it, I'm aware of it."

Mike and I broke out laughing, and my made-up story faded away.

"Did you hear our theatre has a new owner?" Mike stated this as he stuffed his face with the pavlova I had baked.

"Really? Is it finally sold? Who is he, exactly?" Leah inquired, then turned to face me.

She grinned as she held her fork and said, "This fruit cake is fantastic."

I said, "It's called pavlova, and thank you."

" Yes, pavlova," She continued to eat with a nod.

With a smile and a shake of my head, I continued eating.

"Eric Randall is the person in question. We'll see him at the launch party very shortly," Mike remarked.

"Nice," Leah said, "hey Sydney. Do you want to come to the party next Saturday? It would be entertaining!" She had inquired of me.

"Yes, but may I accompany you? I don't think I'm invited."

"Don't worry, the cast is allowed to bring a guest. You can come with me." She continued.

"That sounds fantastic!" I responded, not that I had any other pals with whom I could hang with.

That night, I didn't get much sleep. I tried to console myself by telling myself that I was unaffected by the stranger, but I couldn't stop rehearsing that scene in my head. I twisted and turned all night, trying to get my senses to quiet down. My body was yearning for the man I'd never see again. At 4 a.m., I gave up on sleeping. I pulled myself out of bed and into a freezing shower. I chided myself, 'I need to calm down!'



My gaze shifted to another member of my team, and I continued working without pausing. "I need the report by this afternoon, and Jeniffer will make sure no one in the press hears about it. This is a crucial transaction. Before the deal is signed, I don't want any exposure."

Jennifer smiled and nodded. And so, my morning went on. I leant on my chair and breathed a sigh of relief after everyone had departed and I had a final minute of peace. I shut my eyes. That hazy appearance, those half-parted lips, erratic breathing, heavy-lidded eyes, and that seductive smell were all there in front of my eyes the instant I did. I was desperate for that girl, but I couldn't forget the ringing sound of her smack. My cheeks were still stinging from the pain. I'd never been slapped before; I'd been in fights and suffered a few injuries, but I'd never been slapped. I was enraged with her.

But as soon as I closed my eyes, I could feel her lips on my lips and her tongue moving across my skin in one of the most passionate kisses I'd ever had. I had my heart set on her. I wanted to be in charge of her, to be in charge of her wilderness. I wished I could tame that woman. Exasperated, I sighed.

The loud ringing of my office phone jolted me back to reality. I answered the phone. "Miss Marilyn is attempting to contact you, Sir."

I sighed. Marilyn and I have a long history together. She hails from a wealthy family and, like me, was educated in Europe, which is where I met her when I was 18 years old and impressionable. We'd dated for a while. Despite the fact that we broke up and drifted apart, we kept in touch because we had common friends. Marilyn was now a well-known actress, and she frequently invited me to accompany her to parties and galas. It provided plenty of fodder for the reporters, but I didn't mind. After all, she was an old buddy.

"Hello there, your phone was unreachable. Were you preoccupied or attempting to evade me?" She cracked a joke.

"I suppose both," I said.

I could almost picture her pouting as she said, "Very funny."

"What do you want, Marilyn?" I inquired.

"Well, I had to go to this extremely important party on Saturday, and I'm looking for a date." She stated.

"Wait a minute, I'm not sure I'll be available on Saturday." I was free, but I had lost interest in all women save Sydney for the time being. It was strange.

"Aiden, please don't dump me like that. My theatre has a new owner, and I need to show off my connections in order for him not to screw with me in the future."

"I doubt anyone would dare to meddle with one of their top actresses; it would be detrimental to the company."

"Please don't annoy me with your business talk. Simply say yes." She expressed her dissatisfaction with the situation.

"All well, I'll accompany you." I gave in, hoping that a lovely distraction like Marilyn would help me forget about that Aussie girl.

"Awesome! You're the most amazing person I've ever met."

After I finished with Marilyn, I called Jennifer and requested that she add Merilyn's party to my calendar, as well as the head of the advertising department.

Larry, the ad man, was a petite, nice young man. He was bright and had an uncanny ability to get things done.

"Larry, you may recall that we talked about employing a 3D digital artist a few days ago. Have we found a replacement for that position?"

"Not yet; we're still looking for someone suitable," he responded.

"Why don't we recruit a couple of interns? They would relish the opportunity to work with the Rainer group and gain exposure. You can teach them and put together a digital artist team. It would also be less expensive."

Larry wore a contemplative expression.

"That's a good concept. We'll be able to get started straight immediately. We have a lot of projects coming in, and we need someone who is skilled in 3D modelling. Everything is going digital these days. We need to be up to date and having a team of interns would be beneficial," Larry remarked.

I smirked cockily "Just let me know when you start collecting resumes. I'd like to conduct my own interviews with the candidates."

Larry was taken aback by the situation. I didn't need to interview interns because I was the CEO.

"Sure." He smiled and nodded.

I had a plan. Hence, I gave him a list of potential art schools to contact. If my strategy was right, I would be seeing Sydney pretty soon.

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