Previous – Mr. Grim
A few days ago, the mother of the man I am in love with crashed into my car then put a hole in my front door.
Now, I’m sitting in a gray armchair inside the lobby of Grim Systems, their family company, waiting to start my receptionist job.
Life is strange.
I almost told the rideshare to drive me back home on the way here. But Micah would want me to stay. He’d be so proud of his little sister, all grown up, educated, with a good job, a healthy life, and a boyfriend…
I squeeze my black tourmaline stone in my hand. Leave your problems at the door.
“I am a clean sheet of paper, inside and out. What I think will be written and carried out.”
I look around to distract myself. The lobby is floor to ceiling black stone. There is no artwork on the walls, no plants, no company logo. Other than the hushed chatter of the five receptionists at the stretched main desk busy on their sleek computers, it is eerily quiet, cold, and very grim.
Emilian pops into my head.
Sending a dirty message is the easiest way a girl can tell a guy she’s not upset with him. And vice versa.
He said that the night we hung out. I’m not upset with him, but my sour mood after what his mother did to me made things awkward recently.
I grab my phone. The temptation is killing me.
The banana I slid down my throat this morning made me think of tasting you. So sweet and deep inside me. Tongue slurping, hands sliding, squeezing up and down.
Hoping for the best, I press send and toss my phone in my handbag.
A leggy woman in a clingy, aqua colored sleeveless dress and white pumps waves at me in the distance. Soft black curls cascade down her tan shoulders. She clutches a pink tablet to her busty chest, smiling and giddy.
“Y-yes.” Put your brave face on. Think positive and don’t cry. “That’s me.” I stand up tall and click-clack over.
“Welcome to Grim Systems, Misa. My name is Tehanie.” Her handshake is firm, but her hands feel like silk, and her makeup is natural and pretty. “I’m so pleased to meet you. Love your name too, super adorbs. Your choice or parents?”
“Thank you, it was m-my parents.”
Tehanie stares at me with curious brown eyes. It feels like an intrusion until I feel Micah’s safe presence surround me. Little tingles dance across my skin like sunshine rain. Whether it is Tehanie, or the black tourmaline causing it, I love it.
“Lovely.” She beams. “We’re so happy you’re a part of the Grim family, Misa. Please follow me.”
As we walk, I check my pink blazer and black pencil skirt. I hope I look okay. Tehanie looks like she should be in fashion magazines.
“Um. What do you do here, Tehanie?”
“I greet new hires, do tours and vibe checks.”
“Yes. Weston wants everyone to feel good working here, but he’s a little on the quiet side. So I’m in charge of health and wellness. I listen to and engage with people better. That way, I can determine their desires and deliver. As of this morning, our employee satisfaction rate is one hundred percent.”
“Oh, congratulations. That sounds like a pleasant job.”
“Mm hm. It is. Although, what I really look forward to is Weston’s lunch breaks. That’s when I have him to myself during the workday.” She giggles. “Ugh! He’s so naughty. You’ll enjoy working for him.”
I stop walking in the middle of the lobby. “Weston is Mr. Grim, right?”
Founder and God of Grim Systems, Emilian’s dad…
“Yes, or just West for short. His last secretary reached retirement age, so… You’ll do nicely, though. So beautiful! My gosh, I love this blazer.”
She runs her hands across the gold buttons on the front of my blazer. I blush, breathing in Tehanie’s perfume. It smells good enough to eat, like sugar vanilla cupcakes.
“Um. I thought I applied for the receptionist position?”
“In the lobby?” She giggles. “Those receptionists are synthetic souls, robots with flesh. Didn’t you notice? We designed them for that job, you don’t belong there. You’re going to the Grim floor, Honey, top of the top.”
My mouth drops.
“Weston will love you.”
I twist and pull at my fingers.
“What? Are you scared? Girl, please. It’s just my husband.” My eyes bulge. “You should be used to him after Emilian, of course. The black mountain python doesn’t slither far from the tree.” She nudges against my arm playfully.
I gaze downward, fighting back tears.
“Aw, Emilian is here.” Tehanie whispers. “If you’d like to see him.”
“He is!?” I bite my lip, looking around nervously. Emilian said he wasn’t working here until after graduation.
“Mm hm. You should totally have him take you out right now.”
“But today is my first day… will I get paid?”
“Of course! No one does anything on the first day anyway, and Weston left an hour ago on business. Let’s go see Emilian, and your office!”
Tehanie laughs and holds my hand, bouncing up and down. Happiness sprinkles my heart as I bounce and giggle with her.
“Ah! This is the Grim Floor.” Tehanie says as we exit the elevator. There’s more black stone everywhere, and spacious glass offices. “Weston’s suite is beyond those red double doors. And your office is over here.”
She spins me around to a separate office a few steps from Weston’s suite.
A sleek glass desk with a hologram screen sticking out of it sits in the center of the office with a cream-colored plush executive chair, fancy phone, and rose-gold office supplies. There are built-in shelves in the cream-colored walls, perfect for all my books and trinkets, and floor to ceiling window views of black mountains and clear sky. In the corner is a massive Ficus almost taller than me in a giant glass pot, showing off its dirt and roots.
I stroke the leaves. They’re thick and healthy.
This is amazing.
In another corner, two plushy mauve armchairs sit between a glass coffee table. On top is a black vase filled with dark pink roses beside a note labeled Misa. I open it fast, recognizing Emilian’s elegant cursive handwriting.
I want to lick your honey.
Ohmygosh. A dirty message! He’s not upset either.
I shove it in my pocket as Tehanie approaches.
“You like?” she whispers.
“I do, but…” My heart races. “I don’t know what to say. After ignoring Emilian for a few days, I’m a little nervous.”
“He told me everything. I’d be angry too after what his mother did. Just talk to him. He likes you. A lot. I even saw him crying, and Grim men never cry.”
“Emilian cried over me?”
Tehanie nods. “Our secret. Pinky swear.” She holds up her hand. I link my pinky finger around hers. “He’s in his office, just down the way. He practically begged Weston for one when he found out you’d be working here.”
She snatches my hand, leading me down the quiet hall. I drag my feet until we reach a black door. I stare at it, hesitant to knock. It’s tall, intimidating and the only office with the shades drawn inside.
“Do it, woman. Now.” Tehanie cheers me on.
I take a deep breath and close my eyes.
The door swings open. Emilian looks down at me, surprised, then relieved.
“Misa!” He smiles at Tehanie, then locks eyes with me again.
He’s delicious in his light blue collared shirt and dark slacks.
“Okay, bye!” Tehanie yells, click-clacking down the hall. “See you tomorrow, Misa, same time.”
I leap into Emilian’s arms, sobbing into his chest. “I’m sorry!”
“No, no, no. Don’t apologize. What my mother did wasn’t your fault. Hey…” He holds my head high, gently wiping my tears with his hands. “You did nothing wrong, and you have every right to be upset.”
“Ah! I’m just… I’m so sorry I ignored you. I don’t do well with pain and… then I didn’t have a car and… I just miss my brother so much. He worked hard to get me that car, you know? He was the last family I had left!”
All I can do is cry.
“I’m so sorry, Misa.” He kisses the top of my head. “You have me, always.”
Emilian holds on tight, neither one of us wanting to let go. Darkness slides off my shoulders with every passing second.
“Oh…” I blush and leap back, surprised by the bulge growing against me.
Emilian shakes his head, looking embarrassed. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
We hug again and I press myself against him hard, remembering how amazing he looked naked.
“Hmm.” Emilian mumbles and moans into my hair. His hand wraps around my ponytail. Our eyes lock. He kisses me slow and deep, massaging his tongue against mine. “Mm… Let’s get out of here.” He breathes against my lips, taking me by the hand.