Dear Ms. Keane,
Before this ridiculous little arrangement commences, I’d like to make myself indubitably clear: I know who you are, I know that my father hired you, I know why my father hired you, and lastly, your services aren’t needed.
In fact, I want no part of my father’s billion-dollar empire, and him “gifting” me with one of the “best concierges in the county” won’t change that. He’s wasting his money. You’re wasting your time.
However, seeing as how you foolishly signed an ironclad contract with an Act of God clause and my father has strong-armed me into taking this position, it appears as though we’re stuck together—at least until your contract is up next month.
That said, our time together at WellesTech should be relatively painless but please don’t fool yourself into thinking I don’t notice when that pretty little stare lingers a little too long or the way your breath catches when our hands graze. You’re fascinated by me and it kills you because you can hardly stand to be in the same room as me.
Think I’m a problem worth solving? An impossible riddle worth figuring out? By all means, go ahead and try. Solve for X. Crack the code. It might even be fun (but only for me, not you).
Calder Welles, II
P.S. I dare you.
That was … interesting.
I have to admit, I expected her to throw herself at me today. I expected tension so ripe, we’d have no choice but to act on it—especially since we went all of Friday without so much as exchanging a single word thanks to my father hijacking my schedule. But what I got was a girl who showed up, did exactly what I told her to do, and kept her hands to herself.
I’m not used to this—girls with self-restraint.
But it’s for the best.
Over the course of the past week, my life has become unrecognizable. Throwing a few more complications into the mix won’t help anything. And besides, if I fuck my assistant, that makes me no better than the man whose shoes I’m being forced to fill.
I’m better than that.
She’s better than that.
And I meant what I said—I don’t fuck girls I have to see every day.
“Closing up?” the security guard asks, looking up from his Spiderman comic.
I nod, heading back to my father’s office to grab summaries and lock the door. Five minutes later, I hit the pavement, opting to take the long way home. I haven’t been able to run all week and my muscles are screaming from too much sitting. My body wasn’t designed to be this sedentary.
Popping into a little Eastern medicine shop off Houston, I grab this miracle balm one of my Olympic skier friends told me about. I don’t know what the hell is in it, I just know it smells like nothing and works like magic the instant I rub it into my skin.
I leave the shop and hook a left, passing a trendy Japanese eatery across the street called Kaio, where their waitlist spans months because apparently pancakes shaped like sushi is the next hot thing. A small outdoor dining area is filled with patrons, and the benches outside hold even more, all of them patiently waiting, noses buried in their phones.
Crossing the street, I glance back at the restaurant once more when something catches my eye. Seated at a table for two on the patio is Aerin Keane and an exceptionally handsome gentleman in green scrubs.
I watch them long enough to see him smile, her laugh.
She reaches across the table and bats at his hand.
He rolls his eyes.
They look like they’ve known each other forever, completely comfortable in each other’s presence. Her shoulders are relaxed, his legs crossed.
So that’s why she was so adamant about us not sleeping together again—she has a boyfriend.
I smirk, rounding the corner and getting the hell away before I start to care again, only ten steps later, I’m in the presence of an overly excitable blonde with flailing arms running in my direction.
“Oh my God! Calder? Calder Welles, is that you?” Thessaly Thomas, a socialite-turned-reality-TV-star I foolishly stuck my dick into in my early twenties, practically wraps her entire body around me, nearly letting her mint green Birkin fall to the ground in the process. “I can’t believe it’s you! How are you? Ugh. You look so good. It isn’t fair. I swear you look even better than when we were dating and that’s saying a lot because …”
We went on five dates.
I’d hardly call that dating.
And the only reason I knew it was five was because she went all out for our “one-month anniversary,” hiring some C-list band to give us a private concert on the rooftop of her father’s pool club in the Meatpacking District.
“What are you up to these days?” she asks, hand on her hip and smile on her face. Her forehead is smooth, glass-like. And her lips are much larger than I remember. “What’s new?”
She asks like it’s any of her business, like she cares. But I see that thirsty look in her eyes. Rejection does something to you. It makes you want the things you shouldn’t have, the things you can’t have.
“You’re looking good. CrossFit?” She smooths a palm down my arm.
Thessaly knows she can’t have me, and God, does she still want me even after all these years.
“I was just telling Raya—you remember Raya, right? About how you took me skiing in Vermont for our third date. Do you still have your plane?” she asks. “A Cessna, was it?”
Her phone chimes twice, and she lifts a finger before reading a quick text and typing back an even quicker response.
“Sorry about that.” She peers up at me through fake lashes the color of midnight, and she’s still wearing that same dopey grin. “I can’t believe I ran into you on Houston of all places. Do you live around here now? I’m still on Lexington.”
She rolls her eyes, like she’s ashamed to live in a two-thousand-square foot classic six bought and paid for by her parents the day she graduated from NYU.
Thessaly is still talking, though I’ve tuned her out. Something about a mutual friend who thought they saw me in Paris over the summer. It’s kind of crazy, but all my mind can think about in this moment is Aerin smiling with that fucking Dr. McDreamy-looking tool. Her hand on his. Her eyes lit. Her body at ease.
God, she’s so easy to be around—even if she hates me with every fiber of her classy little being.
She isn’t like Thessaly or the other women that tend to hurl themselves at me. Those women have desperation in their eyes, insecurity in their smiles, and diffidence in their demeanors.
They just want me to like them.
And I’d be lying to myself if I said that didn’t make me feel some kind of way.
“We should do coffee or something sometime,” Thessaly says, her hand swatting at my arm. It’s like she needs every excuse she can get to touch me. “What are you doing right now? You have plans?”
“Yeah, today’s not good for me.”
She pouts her Kylie Jenner lips. “Your number still the same?”
Her pout transforms and she rises on her toes. “Great. I’ll text you and we can figure something out. It was great running into you, Calder. Glad you’re doing well.”
How would she know? I couldn’t get a word in.
Thessaly runs her hand along my arm one more time before readjusting her Birkin over her left forearm and giving me one of those cutesy girl waves complete with a shoulder shrug.
I wave back before continuing on my way.
Good lord, that was painful.
Almost as painful as seeing Aerin on a date.