“When you ask those kinds of questions, yeah, you do,” I said, almost bolting inside the elevator as soon as the doors opened.
Anton took one giant step inside and stopped in front of me. “Why?”
I found it hard to believe that he needed to ask me why. “Because of the way you’re looking at me right now. And because of the things you say.” I took a couple steps back until I was up against the elevator wall. “You’re my boss. You’re my friend’s brother. You can’t look at me like that, or say those kinds of things to me.”
“Why?” he asked, tilting his head.
His calm, one-word replies were starting to piss me off.
“Because,” the genius inside me answered.
“I’ve been in relationships with women who have worked with me, Lucy,” he said, looking at me too intently. “And I’ve been in relationships with my sister’s friends. Believe me, that’s not what’s stopping me from pursuing you.”
Shit. That look on his face, combined with the tone of his voice, made me wish I could put another five feet of space between us. Thankfully, the elevator jostled to a stop and the doors opened. I was out of those doors faster than I thought I could move.
“So, yeah, there it is,” Anton said, rushing up beside me. I’ll take “Get a Clue” for a thousand, Alex. “I’m attracted to you, Lucy. I want to pursue you, and I want you to want to be pursued by me.”
If I didn’t reply, could I wake up tomorrow and pretend none of this had happened? I shoved through the revolving door and powered toward the Mazda.
“But I won’t act on my attraction out of respect for—”
I spun on him. This was too much, too late in the day. “Out of respect for a guy who would kill you where you stood if he ever found out what you just said?”
He shook his head. “No. Out of respect for you.”
I laughed harshly. “You’ve got one hell of a way of showing respect for me,” I said, fumbling with my keys.
“I respect you enough to tell you the truth,” he said, stepping to the side when I swung the door open. “I want you to know you’ve got options.”
I bit my cheek to keep from nailing him with words I’d regret later. “I don’t want options.”
“Sure you do,” he said. “Every girl does.” And those words, paired with his expression, which was way too condescending for my liking, brought the words I’d been trying to keep under wraps right to the surface.
“Go f**k yourself, Anton,” I fired off before slamming the door and peeling out of the parking lot, never once checking the rearview mirror.
I was quivering. Shaking from the emotions that were spilling out of me. It felt like every emotion possible was present and accounted for, although the loudest ones were anger and confusion. Anger for the obvious reasons. Anton had no right to say those things to me, an engaged woman. Not to mention, an engaged woman who was also his employee. No right at all.
Confusion because I didn’t understand why Anton had said them in the first place. He was intelligent and purposeful to a fault. He didn’t do things on a whim, so I could assume he’d planned this whole spilling-of-the-guts elevator ride. And that confused and pissed me off more.
My life was complicated enough already. I didn’t need some guy I’d just met in person five days ago professing his attraction to me. Anton either had a screw loose or was overconfident. Neither was a recipe for an acceptable “option,” like he’d said.
Not that I wanted options in the first place.
Dammit. Now I was thinking about options, thanks to my lovely boss screwing with my Friday night.
I wanted to call Jude. I wanted to tell him everything that happened and everything I was feeling about it. I wanted to talk to my best friend about all of it. Unfortunately in this case, my best friend also happened to be the guy I loved, and the guy I loved would fly off the handle—and across the country in a heartbeat—if he knew any other man, Anton especially, had said those kinds of things to me.
So I didn’t call him. Instead I glowered at the road and threw a few punches into the steering wheel. By the time I got home, I felt better. And worse. Better because I reminded myself that no matter what any guy said or did, I’d never love anyone but Jude. It felt good to be reminded of this. And worse because I was going to be jobless again come Monday morning. I couldn’t . . . no, I wouldn’t work for a man who confessed to having a thing for me. That was a whole heap of drama I didn’t need in my life right now. Not to mention I’d just told my boss to f**k himself. I might not have a ton of job experience, but I knew I was on my way to getting myself fired on the spot.
As I headed up to my apartment, I forced myself to shelve the Anton issue and forget about it until Sunday night, when I had to call him and tell him to put an ad in the paper for a new admin. I was going to enjoy tonight. It wasn’t often I was able to have some of my best friends in the same place, and I wasn’t going to ruin it by moping.
So Anton was attracted to me. Big deal. It was a free country and he could be attracted to whomever he wanted. As of right now, his attraction was out of my mind.
Heading down the hall, I could already smell dinner and hear laughter streaming from the apartment. I was grinning by the time I opened the door.
“Aunt Luce!” LJ greeted me as soon as I came through the door, like he was standing guard.
“LJ!” I greeted him back, sniffing the air. Chicken enchiladas, one of my faves.