Some men reek of trouble. Trey Marks is one of those men. His fingers haven’t stopped moving since I sat down. Right now they are turning the dial of his watch, an expensive piece that peeks out of the edge of his custom suit. I can hear the click of the dial as he gently slides it forward, just one notch at a time, spaced out just enough to drive me mad. Is he even listening to me? I’m barely listening to myself, my ears pricked and tuned to the next click of the timepiece. Click.
“If you look at the last page, you can see some of my ideas for your Isabella line…” Click.
“I have contacts that could lower your costs, especially in the…” Click.
“I’m looking for a position that will allow me to have greater decision-making ability and…” Click.
I tighten my hands around the leather portfolio, fighting the urge to reach over and snatch his hands away from the watch. He removes the distraction, the offending hand moving up to rub over his lips. I look away. He doesn’t just reek of trouble. The damn man is dipped in temptation, the center of it all radiating out of those eyes. I stepped in this office, and those eyes undressed me. I sat down before him and he all but rubbed his hands in glee.
“You seem apprehensive, Ms. Martin.” His hand drops from his mouth and I force myself to meet his eyes.
“I’m sorry. Interview nerves.” I smile and he studies me.
“Is that it?” He doesn’t believe me. One point for Marks, though I’m not entirely surprised by his ability to read women. His business is seduction, designing lingerie pieces that lure women to purchase and men to take off. According to industry rumors, he’s never been married, fucks like an animal, and has a mouth like my shower massager. It doesn’t matter. He needs a Creative Director, and I need a new job. Word on the street is that Marks Lingerie is struggling, and I don’t need a psychology degree to read the stress that frames his cocky stare. Deep lines across his forehead, the tight clench of his jaw, that damn reach of his fingers to his watch. I recognize the signs. Stress, at the moment, is my life.
It could be worse. I could have a sick child, or an abusive husband—something more valid than the simple fact that I hate my job. I hate it in a way that makes my chest hurt when I step off the elevator each morning. I spend my lunch break in my car, tinted windows up, the engine off, hiding from my bitch of a Creative Director, Claudia VanGaur. She’s been threatening to retire for the last decade. For that long, I’ve been stupid enough to believe her. Now, I’m stupid to stay, stupid to continue waiting for her to turn over the reins. She’ll be at Lavern & Lilly ’til she’s dead, and torture every employee until that dying breath.
I need a change; I need the promotion I’ve deserved for a decade. I’ll work anywhere in women’s fashion, but undergarments are my passion, and this is the first Creative Director opportunity that has appeared in the last year. I don’t just want it; I need it.
“Tell me about the guy.”
“I’m sorry?” I watch as his eyes drop to my hands, to the diamond, and suddenly understand. “Oh. Craig. He’s…” My mind blanks. He’s very nice. He’s a chemist. He’s never looked at me the way that you, right now, are. “We’ve been engaged four months,” I finish. It’s a safe answer, one that doesn’t mention Craig’s MIT diploma, or his upper-class upbringing. As much as the industry gossips about Trey Mark’s bedroom skills, they bemoan his upbringing even more. Raised in South Central. The son of a stripper, one killed in a nineties drug raid. College dropout. The rumor is that he slept his way into some rich old lady’s fortune, waited for her to die, then used the ill-gotten inheritance to start Marks.
“Have you set a date?”
With just one question, he exposes everything. “No. Not yet.”
I can feel a scowl forming, the movement of my eyebrows tightening, and I force a smile, letting out a soft exhale as I speak. “We just haven’t. We’re both very busy right now.” I swallow, and hope that I buried the truth. Because I’m scared. Because I’m bored. Because right now, if I am so easily affected by you, then I probably shouldn’t be getting married to begin with.