“Well all I wanna know is.. just who the hell is he?”
“Good question.. Where did they find him? He doesn’t look like the typical stiff and starched Oracle suit, they aren’t usually so.. debonair or enchanting.”
“I don’t know and dammit, I don’t mind, did you see how fione he is?”
“How could I miss it? He looks like he fell from Heaven yesterday.. he’s positively angelic.”
“My keen intuition tells me that man is too fine.. like he made a pact with the devil at the crossroads honey.”
“You’re right, he’s just too perfect, I wonder what’s wrong with him?”
“Why are we even asking? Only something wrong could look so goddamn right!”
“You can say that again, there are a dozen sinful acts I could see myself doing with him as we speak, and that’s just counting off the top of my head!”
“I wonder if he’s single? A man that looks like that has got to be married and lock down tight.”
“I don’t remember seeing a ring.. that prized stallion is a free ride, if you get my drift, hehe.”
“He walks around like his dick too big for his britches, that ain’t a married man’s strut, he is as eligible a bachelor as any.”
“If he is chyle, he won’t be for long.. everyone has an eye on him, I even saw Yurika give him the once over yesterday.”
“Bitch, that ain’t nuffin, I seen Karishma nearly take a tumble down the stairs this morning, because she was switching her hips so damn hard in his face, I tell you that bitch wags her tail at everything.”
“Hmm, You think he could be gay?”
“Naw, odds are men like that are straight, it’s wishful thinking..”
“He’s too quiet, if you ask me..”
“We didn’t ask you though.”
“Well, all I’m saying is he could be spying on us for Mr Ellison, I don’t trust him..”
“Grayson, you don’t trust any man that gets more attention than you, so hush the hell up.”
“Cyddie Boi, why you so quiet? You’ve been in a funk since the board meeting and you barely been eating, it is so not like you to skip a meal.. could it be you’re worried about the Annual Retreat?” Cedric asked me, changing the subject from the juicy gossip that’s been on everyone’s mind, I didn’t even notice I had sat there shuffling the food around in my plate as he, Pastel, and Grayson gabbed endlessly over lunch.
“I don’t know if that’s it Ced, word on the street is.. dear darling Cydnee had a run in with our mysterious stranger day before yesterday, they said the man couldn’t keep his hands off the merchandise.” Pastel gossiped, his bright blue eyes glistening with delight behind cat framed Gucci spectacles, flicking the bangs of his eccentric, but stylish, neon pink short hair cut to the side.
“Oh hell naw, when was you gonna tell me this? What did he say? What did y’all do? Was his dick big?”
Cedric continued with the invasive (crude) questions, his mouth moving a mile a minute, as Grayson rolled his eyes with jealousy, and Pastel Pinkett frothing from his pouty thin lips waiting for me to spill some fresh hot tea. I couldn’t help but feel the heat rise to my cheeks with them putting me in the spotlight like this, our conversation (well theirs) rarely ever revolved around me.
“Umm, he was polite and very nice..”
“Biiitch.. fuck all that, give us the Lipton, it’s tea time and I want the steam heat!” Cedric demanded loudly and slapped a hand to the table, garnering us looks from the other diners around us, it didn’t help that Pastel lifted his jumbo cup of coke and took an obnoxiously loud slurp through the straw for dramatic effect, both their eyes locked on me for answers, eyebrows curiously arched.
“Well..” I started, looking to Grayson for help, but he seem uncharacteristically interested in my run in with the mysterious Mr McCreed as well, but there really wasn’t much to tell. “We literally bumped into each other when I left early after the meeting, he helped me up off the floor, and was nice enough to dust the dirt off the back of my pants for me..”
“Yeaz miss thing, you Betta work them cakes!” Pastel exclaimed gleefully, him and Ced giving each other a high five over the table, people were starting to stare again which made me sink lower into my seat.
“You know what that means, he playing for the team! I knew it, Matthews, gimmie my money!”
Grayson rolled his eyes and slapped a couple Tubman’s on the table, which Cedric immediately snatched up, and waved down the nearest waiter with it, ordering another round of drinks. We had to get back to work soon but these fools didn’t seem to care, it wouldn’t be the first time these three buzzed their way through a work day.
I stood up and excused myself to the restroom, I noticed it was empty but I hadn’t come in here for the facilities. As an introvert, having such exuberant and boisterous friends was always draining to my psyche, most times I just needed a break after the first five minutes. I washed my hands and splash some cool water to my face, so frazzled I didn’t hear someone come in, nor as he walk up behind me. I jumped in surprise as two muscled arms snaked their way around my waist and a thick, full, and hardening bulge pressed itself into the seat of my pants. I almost screamed as I pushed whomever it was back roughly, nearly sending him to the ground, Grayson laughed as he stumble slightly finding my strength to be a laughable surprise.
“Whoa Cyd, it’s just me, damn.. I was just trying to thank you for not spilling the beans about, you know.”
“You mean, you cheating on my lifelong best friend with one of our most deceitful and callously evil co-workers? Yeah, don’t thank me yet, I’m still debating if, when, or how to break the news.”
“Man c’mon, you know me and Cedric are just homies, he’s my Boy and I care about’m, but look at me bro.. I’m too delicious a man not to give everyone a taste.”
“Oh, is that what it is? Well I’m allergic to the bullshit you’re selling, so I’ll pass on the sample, thanks but no thanks.”
“You really being serious?” He asked looking amused, he followed his question with a mirthful laugh that made me slightly nervous, the guy was right, no one probably ever had nerve to turn down Grayson Matthews. “I know for a fact you’re practically a virgin, Cedric told me so himself, just think of this as a favor for a favor.. let me rock your world.”
His hand came up to my face, his thumb lightly stroking my bottom lip, as he smile at me with impossibly white teeth that seem to enhance an already hypnotically handsome smile.
“Gadtdamn, Cydnee what the fuck yo?” He swore, as I had chomp down on the digit nearly breaking the skin, I may have been insecure around men but one thing I was not, is a backstabber.
“I won’t tell Ced cause he’s surely be crushed, but you stay the hell away from me, I’m not desperate enough to sell my soul for your sorry ass.” I scowled in reply, offended at the foolishness this man was trying to pull.
“Calm down man, it wasn’t my idea exactly.. Karishma said I had to give you something you clearly weren’t getting, she thought some good dick would do you good and give some incentive for you to continue to keep ya mouth shut.”
“She set this up?” I asked surprised, to which he nodded in confirmation, I couldn’t believe it, now she had more reason to harass me for not taking the bait, I was fucked wether I fell for their ploy or not.
“Look, just tell her..” I started, but Cedric and Pastel came bursting into restroom, before I could finish.
“Tell her what? Who is her?” Pastel inquired, never missing a beat, that boy was too observant and nosy for his own good.
“Nothing.. I just need ideas for this Retreat, and Yurika is already asking for details. I haven’t even had time to think about it yet.”
“Well, if I were you, I’d hurry up and pick a destination and worry about the itinerary later.. the boss man is expecting something out of this world, or so I’ve heard.”
That’s another problem about Pastel, his ass heard everything, knew everything, and was always knee deep in everyone’s shit wearing Prada loafers, with no fucks to give. Cedric was looking at Grayson suspiciously, who was looking my way with full blown ‘Fuck me’ eyes, I guess he had a hard time taking no for an answer and I had now become his latest challenge. I nervously headed out the door with them behind me, my mind racing from everything that was going on, I wonder if I could make it through to the end of the day without having another breakdown. My phone started to ring, and I let everyone pass me so I could have a little privacy, noticing an unknown number, it was likely an important business call.
“Hello? This is Cydnee.”
“Hey, um.. this is Shaw, we.. well you, ran into me the other day. I got your number from HR, sorry if that was a little invasive, I just wanted to ask you to come to my office when you returned from your break? I need your input on something important..”
“Sure, we were just finishing up here and will be heading back shortly. What floor are you on?”
“Right now I’m on the thirty first.. Yurika has me set up in her old office.” He replied nonchalantly, I had to swallow hard to hold my tongue, who the hell was this guy? Everyone had been fighting for Yurika’s old office for the last year, it was huge, and had one the most amazing skyline views the building had to offer. “Okay I’ll head on up as soon as I can.”
“Perfect, I really appreciate this, see you soon.”
“Yeah, see you soon.”
As I hung up, I could not wipe the smile off my face, I didn’t even know why I was cheesing hard enough to crack a tooth. Someone cleared their throat, and I finally noticed all the guys had stopped and were staring at me weirdly.
“If I didn’t know better, I would think you a Belle who just got asked to prom.. who were you talking to, was it someone from the office?” Cedric asked, giving me a look that said he dared me to lie to him, I knew not to even try, I was terrible at lying and he could always tell.
“That was Shaw, he needs help with something when we get back.. that’s all, nothing much.”
“Nothing much?! What would he want or need to see you for?”
“Wow, that wasn’t the slightest bit rude, thanks.” I remarked, stung at his tone and the underhanded implication of his words.
“Wait, Cyd.. you know I didn’t mean it like that, aww c’mon Cyd, hold up.. I was just asking!”
I didn’t stop to give him another chance to inadvertently insult me, I sped up my walk and hurried back to Arkham, I wasn’t mad really, that was just the way Cedric was and he had never been one to mince words. When it came to looks and personality, there were levels to the shit, and he always made sure to remind me I wasn’t Top floor material. Sure I was a nice looking guy, I’d heard from enough people I was attractive, that wasn’t the problem.. it was my personality that was lacking. I was as boring as a phone book, I was as bland as boiled chicken, like bread without butter, a mouthful of cornflakes no milk no sugar. If I was the last thing in your cupboard, and you were starving.. you still would say you had nothing left to eat.
I’d come to accept it, but Cedric and the others took it upon themselves to make sure I never forgot, these were the people that were supposed to be my friends, but I guess that was their job.. to keep me rooted in the reality of the God awful truth. Cydnee Tyson was ..
“You basic brand bitch, let’s have a word shall we.” I had just stepped in the door of the building, only to be dragged by the arm into a discreet corner, it was Karishma.. fuck.
“Look Dr Jhedav.. I don’t really have time to talk, I’m needed..”
“I’ll stop you right there, we both know damn well you’ve never been that important in your pathetic excuse for a life, you are as replaceable as they come and you won’t be missed.” She spat rudely to me, cutting deep with the sharp look in her eye, that told me exactly what this was about. “I’m only recognising your irrelevant presence right now to make sure you understand I can make your worthless existence absolute HELL, if what you saw ever leaves your lips and gets around the office, let me even THINK someone is talking about it, and I’ll have your head with curry and beans on the side, do I make myself clear?”
I simply nodded, knowing I’d get myself into further mess by saying what I wanted to say to her, the words I’ve been wanting to say since the day we met and she found it to be her mission to degrade me with all her being. I snatched my arm from her and walked away, determined not to let her see how much she upset me, I skipped the elevator and took the stairs to let off some steam, because I was fuming with anger. It didn’t occur to me how many steps made up thirty one flights of stairs, and I was utterly exhausted by the time I reached my destination. When I stood in front of Shaw’s office, I realized I now looked a mess, thoroughly sweat soaked and breathing hard, I was about to turn around to find a bathroom but at that moment he opened the door.
“Cydnee, glad you could make it, you look absolutely.. ah, overworked.” he paused, looking me up and down curiously. “Are you okay? Something wrong?”
“Something’s always wrong, that’s the story of my life.. can we just get this meeting over with? What did you want to see me for?”
“Wait now.. I can tell you’re upset, and you’re drenched in sweat, you can’t be comfortable..”
I looked at him with a stern gaze, one that quickly melted once he pulled his handkerchief from his lapel and started to dab my forehead with it. I was speechless as he wiped my face down and proceed to help me out of my blazer, motioning for me to remove my shirt. He walked over to his closet, pulling out a cream colored button up and a hunter green suit jacket. He walked back over to me fumbling with my buttons, he must have sensed my apprehension, because he took it upon himself to help me the rest of the way. I shivered slightly, from nerves and the chill from the air conditioning. He was standing close enough to have felt it, but he only smirked at me, as he dropped the new shirt over my shoulders and helped me into it.
“Ah, that’s perfect.. this is one of my favorite shirts, I knew it would look perfect on you, with your complexion. This blazer works too, it makes your eyes pop nicely, much better than how I found you.” He mused, as he dusted some stray debris off my shoulders and started to knot my tie, I couldn’t have been anymore uncomfortable, but that might have been because I was hard as a rock in my slacks.
“Ah.. thank you, you didn’t have to do this.” I replied, but his smirk only broaden into a smile, and his eyes glinted behind the box frame glasses he wore, I cleared my throat and tried to speak clearly. “What is it you needed to see me about? You mentioned you wanted my advice on something, does it have to do with what Dr Granison and Dr Jhedav are working on? If so, I hate to tell you I’m not allowed to..”
“No Cydnee, let’s not worry about right now.. you were clearly upset about something when you got here, so let’s do something different.”
“What do you mean?”
“I know there are still a couple hours left in the work day, but let’s do something out of the ordinary.. maybe something even a little dangerous.”
“Umm, Shaw.. I can’t, I..”
“I won’t hear of it, c’mon, follow me.. I know just the perfect thing.”
He grabbed my hand before I could protest, pulling me out of the room toward the elevator, it immediately opened and he took his card key out of his pocket, swiping it into the panel then pressed the button for the roof. Regular employees like myself never had access to the upper tier floors of Arkham, they were exclusive to upper management. To say I was shocked would be an understatement, I didn’t realize how important this man must be to the company, hell.. I couldn’t even tell you much of anything about him. The sole question on my mind.. who in God’s good name was this man?
The doors opened up to the rooftop, and there were a number of helicopter pads for what I assumed was for evacuations. Only three were present, though I imagine maybe nine or ten could fit up here. He pulled me by the hand again towards one that was already started up, like it was waiting for us this whole time. I looked at him nervously, not knowing if this was the best time to tell him, I might have been afraid of heights.
“I’m only supposed to use this for business purposes.. but I won’t tell if you won’t.”
How could I reply with anything but an affirming nod to that dashing toothy smile of his, he had an effect on me I couldn’t describe with words, he not only left me speechless, but I was breathless as well as we stepped on to the white helicopter. My nerves had manifest themselves, causing me to shake and shiver from the overwhelming excitement, but he squeezed my hand tighter, pulling me closer into the warmth of his arms.
“Where we off to today, Mr McCreed?”
“The usual Michael, give us a few laps around the city, then take us to Zion..”