"Go do what you want then," he says huskily as he swings his arm towards the apartment door. "I can't stop you from running to save him."
His words bite. They're the same words he threw at me when the man I lived with right after I graduated from college let me down. Caleb warned me that the relationship would end with my heart broken. He was right then. The difference now is that I know that Asher wants to fight his way through his addictions. He just needs someone to stand by his side and if Caleb won't do it, I will.
"Where have you been?" Clive Parker, my boss, greets me the moment I step off of the elevator on the thirty-seventh floor of the Corteck building. I've worked side-by-side with Clive for the past three years since I graduated with a degree in business. I may have gotten the job initially because of Clive's friendship with my brother, but since then, I've proven over and over again that I am a valuable asset. I've steadily climbed up the ranks in the company and now I proudly wear the distinction of being one of the few twenty-five-year-old Chief Administrators working in the tech field.
"Hey," I say as I step out of the lift. Anyone else working at Corteck may absorb Clive's tone as brusque, but I know him better than that. "I had to go see a friend."
His eyes briefly scan my face before he pushes a file folder into my hands. "I need you to take a look at this before the end of the day."
I know what it is. It's the proposal that Clive had drawn up to purchase an up and coming tech development company that is based in Chicago. The man has an innate ability to recognize potential. I stick as close to him as I can because I want to soak up every bit of knowledge that he tosses in my direction. Instinctively I know that when he's made a decision, there's little I can do to change his mind, but I still feel a silent victory each time he asks for my opinion. "I'll look at it as soon as I'm in my office."
"Rowan," he says my name quietly, forcing me to turn to face him. "What friend did you go to see?"
Clive's interest in my personal life began the day I started working for him. I know that it's based on my older brother's concern for my well being. Miles was here at Corteck on my very first day, telling Clive that he expected him to take care of me. It was touching and misplaced considering the fact that for the past few years, I've been the one lending an ear, and a shoulder, to Miles.
"Was it Caleb Foster?" he pushes before I have a chance to weave an excuse that would pull his attention away from where I was earlier.
"Yes," I admit. "He needed to talk to me about something."
He rubs the fingers of his left hand over his right palm. "You're upset. I saw it when the elevator doors opened. What did he say to you?"
Clive knows about my mottled history with Caleb. He also knows that I stand by my friends, through thick and thin although right now I'm questioning whether my relationship with Caleb will survive this. "It doesn't matter. I should never have gone to see him in the middle of the day."
A small smirk tugs at the corner of his lips. "Caleb is notorious for calling you to his office for no good reason. Is that what happened today?"
I wish that was what had happened. I wish I could rewind my day to the moment when Caleb called me. I would have told him that I was too busy. Hearing him tell me that Asher was arrested has derailed me completely. I may look mildly frustrated to Clive but the truth is that I'm completely unhinged inside. I actually considered taking the subway to my apartment instead of coming back to work. I scrub my hand over the back of my neck, hoping that I'll find something to say that won't give away the fact that right now I can't even form the sounds to say Caleb's name audibly because I'm so completely pissed off at him.
"Look, Rowan, I get that it's not my business," he begins before he nods down the long corridor towards his private offices. "I know that Caleb can get under your skin. If you need to vent, you know where to find me."
I heave a sigh of relief as I manage a weak grin. "I need to work. Work helps me forget everything."
"Life isn't just about work." He taps me on the hand. "I used to think it was too until I met Lilly."
Lilly is Clive's wife. She's a fiery force to be reckoned with and when she briefly worked at Corteck I saw the barrier that Clive Parker had placed around him melt on the spot. He loves that woman with a fierce determination that I've never seen before. I'd never label myself jealous of the happiness that others have found but it's something I crave. I want a man to feel as desperately drawn to me as Clive does to Lilly.
"Rowan." Thankfully, the head of our security team, Jordan, rounds the corner and calls out my name. "I need to see you."