Ryan fucking Sterling. The King of Jackasses.
He’d seen Danny, blatantly flirted with her, and, from his wolf’s grin, officially had his sights set on her. Fuck.
He was the last guy I wanted anywhere near her, and by inviting her to lunch, I’d pretty much dropped her in his lap. The extra problem was that he just happened to be the primary source of revenue for my company for the next 3 months. He had a crappy personality, but he was good at his job. He was popular. He was sellable. He looked nice, until he would open his mouth, and I’d be reminded why I hated working with him.
Danny groaned and rolled over, pulling the sheets tighter around her. She was smiling in her sleep, hopefully dreaming about me. I smiled a little as she rubbed her cheek on my pillow. Besides physically sleeping with her, it felt good knowing that I could put her to sleep without the need of any meds. I could tell that she was improving. I was too…besides the minor setback a few minutes ago where I had to take something for my anxiety from being pissed about Sterling.
I also felt a bit guilty for the way I’d just treated Danny. I know she prefers me to be a little rough, but I took out my anger on her. Lucky, and kind of unlucky, for me, she wrote it off as the best sex ever. If only I’d been focused on her instead of him.
He was constantly the source of my annoyance, and he knew it. He sought me out to piss me off. The fucking asshole tested every single nerve I had knowing there was nothing I could do. That was the problem with cocky celebrities. They did shit and expected no one to actually call them out. What I wouldn’t give to beat the crap out of him.
My phone buzzed twice alerting me of a text. I peeked at it, seeing that it was from Lucia. She’d probably seen the look on my face as I stormed out and figured I’d taken Danny somewhere to…get out my aggression. Her message confirmed my thought as it read, Put your pants back on and get here asap.
Feeling the urgency in her tone, I quickly redressed. Since I’d promised Danny lunch, I’d taken the liberty of ordering something from her favorite Chinese food place and left it in my fridge for when she woke up. I adjusted my tie and glanced back at her one last time. This girl was the sweetest for putting up with my crappy work schedule. I leaned over to kiss her head and whispered, “I love you, Danielle.” She mumbled something indistinguishable in her sleep, but her smiled broadened, so I knew she’d heard me.
Being with her couldn’t have made me happier.
Something felt off when I got to the building, but I knew something was wrong when the elevator opened and it was silent.
“Lucia?” I called. I headed toward her office, looking around at the empty desks left in mid-work.
“Ow,” I heard her say from her office. I turned the corner and saw Sterling sitting on her desk leaning over her as she sat in her chair.
“Just relax,” he hummed. “It’s gonna hurt a bit.”
“What the fuck is going on here?” I said flatly.
Lucia peeked out around him, and I saw a small cut along her cheek. “Good, you’re here,” she sighed.
I glared at Sterling’s back. “What did you do?”
Sterling ignored me and moved her face back toward him. “Keep still, sweetheart.”
Lucia sighed. “He didn’t do anything.”
“Then where is everyone?” I asked.
“Anderson lost his shit.” She cringed as Sterling tended her wound. “Could you be a bit gentler?”
“What?” I must have misheard her.
“Old Faithful erupted,” Sterling joked. “Went on a rampage. Started throwing papers, pictures, books, pens, staplers, trashcans. Security escorted him to jail. And, darling, I don’t do gentle.”
My face went blank. “Business Manager Anderson? The nicest guy here?”
Lucia nodded. “He just started shouting and throwing things. Everyone was in such a state of shock, I sent them home for the day.”
I reluctantly nodded. “Yeah. That was for the best.” I looked at her. “Are you okay?”
Sterling smiled. “Of course she is. This little firecracker jumped in and tried to take him down herself. You should have seen how bad he looked when he left.”
Lucia stood and walked to me. “I’m fine. I just got hit with a stray piece of a broken mug.” She looked out into the office. “I couldn’t believe what was going on. One minute there was the usual hum of working, then the next, Anderson was screaming at the top of his lungs.”
I’d known of Anderson for a few years. He’d been loyal to my dad, so when I got the company, I promoted him to Business Manager. He was always such a nice guy, passionate about his work, and I knew he always had my back. He worked just as hard as I did, meaning he worked just as many hours. He had a family–3 kids and a wife–and he tried to devote as much of time off as he could to them. I was alone and found the job stressful enough. Maybe trying to balance work and home finally pushed him to his breaking point.
“So, what are you gonna do, Harper? Deadline’s in 3 days and you’ve got a messy office and no Business Manager. If you miss it, you’re fucked,” Sterling chuckled.
I shot him a dirty look and stole one of Danny’s favorite lines. “Fuck off.”
He shook his head. “Getting angry with me won’t solve your problems.”
As much as I hated to admit it, he was right. I was in an impossible situation. The only way this was going to work out was if I pulled an all-nighter.
I sighed and rubbed my head. “Lucia…,” I started.
She squeezed my hand. “I’ll put on a fresh pot of coffee and order something from the deli.”
“Thanks,” I half-smiled.
“Just be glad I don’t have a date tonight,” she teased.
“You want one?” Sterling asked, walking up behind her.
She looked over her shoulder, unamused by his question. “With you? I’d rather you eat shit and die.” She walked out the room, full of confidence from her retort.
“She’s fun,” he smiled. “But not as fun as that kitten of yours.”
I glared at him and made sure I looked as menacing as possible. “Stay the hell away from her.”
He patted my shoulder and he made his way pass me. “Whatever you say, man. Good luck. You’re gonna need a miracle.”
He walked to the elevator and I went to my office. I removed my tan suit jacket, tossing it on my desk, and fell into my chair with a heavy sigh.
This was going to be a long, lonely night.