Chapters:

Date 01

All I did was walk into the conference room and present a pitch to a list of producers before an assistant asked me to join them for dinner. My pitching partner and I were stumped, thinking that we had a chance, and then the assistant clarified that it was only me who had been invited to dinner, and it wasn’t with a producer in the room, but one that had been watching from another secure location in the building.

“Creepy, much?” I joked with my pitching partner, but he simply told me to go for it, and so, after ensuring my pitching partner’s unhurt feelings, I went on with the assistant, into a car, and then into a private dining room in a restaurant I’d only seen from the outside.

I followed him and when the last door opened, I walked into a room where one man sat. I knew his name to be Christopher Avery. Not only was he handsome, but one of the most available bachelors in my industry. My producers and financiers had pleaded me to work with him, but I could never bring myself to work with such a man that I desired deeper than I wanted the rewards of my work.

I swallowed and he smiled. He stood and walked over to a side door. “I find that a nice meal deserves nice attire.” He pulled out a dress and offered it to me.

I looked it over and replied, “That’s not my size.”

“Of course it is,” Chris smiled and then he stepped back and teased, “Perhaps you’d prefer we dine in something less?”

I grabbed the hanger and walked into the small bathroom. He shut the door and the lock clicked. I looked around and then changed quickly into the lovely dress. I swallowed, noticing the low back which meant I could not wear a bra. So I took mine off and slid it into my bag. When I opened the door, he stood just on the other side, not having moved, so it seemed.

He placed my bag on the side table and then draped my clothes over it. He led me to my seat, pulled out my chair, and when I sat, he pushed inwards, leaning forward so as to sniff my neck. I became very rigid and he kissed the skin just under my left ear.

He stood and walked over to his seat. He sat down and touched his lips for a moment before he asked, “Jasmine?”

I swallowed and nodded, “Yes. I love that scent.”

“I’ll remember it,” he replied.

I nodded and as each dish was served, I managed to flip around some of the food. “So, what is this about?” I asked, very serious.

Chris swallowed and replied, “I have asked to start dating you. My company as well as your team has agreed to it as long as you do, as well.” I let a few dishes pass after he made that statement. Suddenly, the secret calls, sudden meetings, and the rise of social engagements made sense. So I kept quiet, running through every last conversation I had overheard before those having the conversation ducked away.

Chris gave me that moment. Maybe to process my thoughts or something. But when our dessert came, he licked his lips, “I’m ask you to be my public girlfriend. Also, I don’t do things half-assed. So, I’d also like for you to be my personal girlfriend as well.”

Our coffees came and he sat forward, waiting for my response. And so, I cleared my throat and asked, “What would that entail?”

Chris smiled and replied, “A few dates, a few public sightings, some public displays of affection, and so on and so forth. I’d like to seriously date so, we can do things the normal way.”

I finished my coffee and then looked up to see Chris seemingly wait for me. “Am I good enough?” I asked, very curious of his answer.

Without missing a beat, Chris replied, “Shouldn’t I be the one asking that question?” I looked away, wondering if there were hidden cameras that recorded everything, When the mugs were taken away, Chris swallowed and stated, “We could start with proceedings tonight. Just to get a feel for each other, to see if there’s any chemistry to work with,” Chris smiled.

I frowned and thought about his words before I asked, “Are you asking me to make out with you or something?”

Chris’s gaze never faltered as he corrected, “I’m asking you to come back to my place. Whatever happens, will happens.”

“Aren’t we moving a little too fast?” I asked, very aware of the way his hand rested on the table. It wasn’t the usual at ease I knew him to be at whenever I’d met him in the past, but his middle and fourth fingers were pressed on the table, as his other fingers didn’t even touch the table. Also, he looked very anxious for something to happen.

“Not at all,” Chris replied, quickly. He stood and walked over to the door, knocking twice and then said something to the man on the other side. When he turned back to me, he nodded towards the door, “Shall we go?”

“Safe word.” I blurted out and then his eyes narrowed on me as I added, “We should decide on a safe word that means for you to stop, regardless of what you’re doing.”

Chris smiled, “Safe words are usually used in bondage sex, right”

“I just want a way of getting you to stop completely, for my safety and for yours.” Was it that much to ask? I didn’t think so…

Chris nodded, “Fine. How about a fruit?”

“I like grapefruits.”

Chris smiled, “Then, let’s use that. Now,” he pulled my jacket from the coat rack and held it open to me, “shall we go?”

I smiled and walked to him, “Sure. Let’s go,” I replied and pulled on my coat. When he had his on and I picked up my purse and clothes, he grabbed my hand and pulled me from the safety of the private dining room. We walked down a few halls before turning into the garage. He was a perfect gentleman. He held open the door for me, and then I moved in response.

As I attempted to slide into the passenger seat, he pushed the door gently on me, clamping me in place as he leaned closer. I gasped and that was enough to allow his tongue the briefest entry before he pulled back and the muscles in his jaw tightened. By all measures, he looked aroused.

“You don’t have sex on first dates, do you?” he asked later as he sped towards the hills. We’d been quiet for a moment before he spoke. And when he did, it was calm and clear.

I finally turned from staring out the window to see him clutching the steering wheel. I swallowed before I replied, “Well, I’ve never had sex, but I wouldn’t think to have it on my first date. I mean, shouldn’t it take a few dates?”

Chris glanced from the road to me and then back to the road. Probably, it was a good moment for him to tell me what was going on and why he seemed so eager to bed me, but, instead, he simply forced a shrug and then replied, “If that’s what it takes.”

Thinking back, now, if he had told me at that moment what was really going on, I’d have been appreciative. But because he let it play out like a love story, I think I appreciated him all the more.

***

We got to his place in just under half an hour, and he held my bag and clothes, his hand on my lower back, guiding me into his house, through the garage and kitchen. He placed my bag and clothes on a chair and then asked, “Would you like anything to drink?”

I shook my head, amazed at how pretty his home was. Not at all messy or cluttered, everything was immaculate and, seemingly, carefully positioned. He removed his jacket and hung it before joining me at his back wall that was floor to ceiling glass. He smiled and opened one panel for me, “Oh, wow,” I breathed and walked outside.

Chris followed me down a few steps and I stopped at his pool. He smiled and asked, “Do you swim?”

I nodded, “Yes, I love swimming.”

“How about in the ocean?” he asked.

I smiled, “I like feeling the waves in the ocean.” I moved to walk around the pool and he followed me, keeping very close to me, I guess, just in case something happened. And as I reached the end of his yard, I smiled, “You have a nice view of LA.”

Chris smiled, “This is the second nicest view in the house.”

I turned to him, “What is the nicest view in this house?”

Chris looked as if he contemplated answering for a bit and then extended his hand, “Take my hand, and I’ll show you.”

I looked at his hand, to his eyes, and then shrugged, “Why not?” I slid my hand in his and he turned, pulling me along with him. He took big steps and I had to hurry to keep up with him.

We walked into his house, up the stairs, and into his bedroom. He stopped and, without dropping my hand, he pointed out his window and I saw all of LA, as if it was a part of the darkness in his room. He smiled and stated, “This,” he paused, “is the nicest room in the house.”

If I were paying attention to him, I would have seen his body language change, but I simply stared out the window and smiled, “It IS a nice view.”

Chris stepped closer and dropped my hand, pulling his right arm around my waist. I turned when I felt his breath on my neck and he placed one hand behind my head before he pressed his lips onto mine.

I’m not short. I’m not model-thin. I am quite fit, a bit over weight, and quite strong. I know what I can and cannot do, and I know how to use others to my advantage. I grew up trained in gymnastics and taekwondo. I had taken self defense lessons. I had learned the right ways to behave in a professional setting when physically or sexually harassed. I knew it all.

And yet, in that moment, all I wanted to do was melt against him and check under his clothes to see if everything was as magnificent as I had suspected them to be. I wanted to feel his skin against mine and see whether or not our two heart beats could sync and then speed up, together, due to heavy activity. And… Oh, dear.

In that moment, for the first time that evening, as his tongue flicked playfully at mine, I realized that I was in big trouble.