Oui(The French Connection Book 1)(3)

By: Brooklyn Knight

“Laila, wait.”

“There’s nothing to wait for,” I said. “We’re about to be late.”

I stomped my way to the reception desk, fitting a composed and professional smile on my face. It was barely eight o’clock, yet the woman behind the desk was busy. Her auburn hair was arranged into an up-do and her red lips formed a bow as she looked up. The more I regarded her, the more I realized the smile was not for me.

Ryder walked up and assumed his pompous position next to me and I watched, disgusted, as she eyed him, intrigue and infatuation dancing across her tanned face.

His voice rose before mine. “Good morning Miss – ”

“Yes, good morning,” I interrupted. “My name is Laila Renaud. I’m from the university and I’m here for the shadow.”

“Well, good morning to the two of you.” She sounded like a bird. “Welcome to Hamilton Associates. Please, follow me this way. The other students have just arrived and Mr. Carter, the vice president, will be with you shortly.”

I shot a disgusted look at Ryder and followed the receptionist as she sashayed her way across the room to a gallery filled with expensive art and artifacts. In the distance, I saw my good friend, Ashely Tatem and Gus Brewer. A relieved smile crossed my lips and I hurried towards them. Another second alone with Ryder and something bad was bound to happen. He required too much emotional energy.

Ryder shook Gus’s hand and they began to talk, but I noticed when he turned to look at me, trying to catch my eye one last time. I turned until all he could see was my back.

Ashley shook her head. A grin was plastered over her thin lips.

“What’s so funny?” I demanded.

“You and Ryder, that’s what. You guys are so cute.”

“There’s nothing funny or cute about us,” I said. “I can’t stand him and you of all people know that. Being here for this experience is the next best thing to being an intern, but to be here with the likes of him...” I let the sentence trail off.

She could fill in the blanks.

Ashley hissed between her teeth. “Why don’t you two just have sex and get it out of your systems? It’s what you both want. Once you release that erotic tension, maybe you’ll be able to be somewhat cordial to each other.”

“Have you lost your mind?” I scoffed.

She ignored my question and flicked her brown locks over her shoulder. “Look,” she instructed, pointing somewhere in the distance. “I think that’s a broom closet over there. The two of you should slip in and -”

“Ashley Tatem,” I whispered. “You’re the closest thing I have to a best friend. We hit if off the first day we met. I found you to be extremely rational and levelheaded, intelligent even; but today, you’re totally off the mark and I’m disappointed in you.” I grunted. “The mere thought of Ryder and I having sex is -”

“A fantasy that I’m sure has not been erased from your mind.” She tapped her finger against my temple. Suddenly, thoughts of the times Ryder and I had been intimate bombarded me. His strong hands, his hard body; the length and strength of his manhood...

I shook my head to get the images out. “I can assure you, I wasn’t going to say that,” I replied. “But it doesn’t matter. There is no way I’d make the same mistake twice. Ryder is cocky and pompous. Someone must tame him. After what he did to me I wouldn’t even consider giving him a second chance.” I glanced in his direction again, disgusted to find him peering at me.

Ashley shrugged. “He may be cocky, and he may be pompous,” she agreed, “but you cannot tell me you haven’t considered what it would be like to ride Ryder like a cowgirl again.”

“That’s disgusting,” I lied.

“How long are you going to let your anger ride?”

“Please stop with the ride innuendos,” I begged. “They’re graphic.”

“I’m just saying,” she countered, “he may be all of those things, but Ryder Hanson is about the sexiest man I have ever seen. God, those blue eyes Laila; bluer than a preschooler’s crayon.” She groaned. “And let’s not even talk about his body. He works out six days a week, you know? Girl, if I had half the opportunity to touch it the way you have...”