And she couldn't be.
Just fucking couldn't, even if she hadn't done anything wrong.
Tahey wasn't surprised when she started trembling the moment she saw her boss stride past the reception doors, and she found herself trembling even harder when his steps stilled into a halt as his golden eyes clashed with hers.
He looked chillingly beautiful as always, austere and elegant in his dark suit, and though he wasn't clean shaven for a change and now sported a day-old stubble that added a roguish edge to his looks...
Tahey's heart sped up.
Something's different about him.
But there was no time to ponder what exactly this was, with her boss now inside his office and standing right in front of her.
Dmitry's jaw clenched as he took in her appearance. Still curvy, pretty, and fuckable, but even though there was nothing physically different, he could somehow feel how so much frailer she was. So much more breakable, and of course he knew why that was so.
Tahey tried her best not to fidget under Dmitry's brooding gaze. He usually couldn't bear the sight of her, usually acted like having his eyes rest on her for more than a few seconds were enough to give him visual ulcers. It was an unexpected change, and it worried her. What if this meant he had come up with more ways to hurt her over the weekend?
The thought made her feel sick, and it had her gulping several times before she could make her voice work. "G-Good morning, Mr. Adrianov."
She waited for him to sail past her after this, like he always did, but instead...
The billionaire gave her a curt nod, and she almost had a heart attack in her shock. Did he just...actually...acknowledge her existence?
Tahey felt close to fainting now, and she could only dazedly follow behind her boss. He had actually said 'good morning' back. She had obviously made a mistake earlier. It wasn't that something had changed. Rather, something was clearly and patently wrong with her boss, for him to be so...nice.
Dmitry took his seat and reached for today's set of financial statements just as Tahey placed his cup of coffee on the side of his desk. His hand accidentally bumped into hers, and a drop of coffee spilled over her hand. He cursed in his mind at this, expecting her to cry out in pain at any moment...but she never did.
His gaze sharply swung up towards her, and while an expression of pain briefly crossed her face, having a drop of hot liquid burn her skin didn't seem to shock her. It was almost as if she was used to this...
Comprehension struck, and Dmitry's teeth gnashed.
This probably did happen once in a while in the past, but she had probably kept her pain to herself, not wanting to further draw his ire.
After carefully positioning her boss's cup on the desk, Tahey was about to step back when she saw the billionaire take out a pack of wet tissues from one of his drawers. She heard a tearing sound after, and the next thing she knew Dmitry's long fingers had already curled around her wrist...
A gasp escaped her, and Tahey could only blink in confusion as her boss pressed the cold sheet on the bright red spot on her skin.
"It should take the sting out in a bit," Dmitry said roughly.
Tahey finally realized what had changed about her boss, and it made her feel quite ill.
Dmitry was caught off guard when Tahey suddenly yanked her hand out of his hold. He was about to ask her what the fuck was wrong when he saw the glisten of tears in her big, dark eyes. Fuck.
"I don't need your pity, Mr. Adrianov," Tahey managed to say in a steady voice. "You've made your point last night, and in my defense, I only...I was...I mean, I didn't know you already had a girlfriend—-"
"She was my mistress," Dmitry heard himself say.
Tahey's eyes widened. Mistress? That woman was his mistress? Like a woman paid to warm a man's bed? But...wait...did he just say—-
"Was," she blurted out, "as in past tense?"
He nodded curtly.
She swallowed hard.
She had promised herself this morning that she would continue working for Dmitry to prove to herself that she could do so, and that she was able to do so because she wasn't...that.
But after what Dmitry said—-
"I wish you hadn't said that," she whispered.
"Then just pretend you never heard them," he couldn't help snapping.
"But I can't—-"
"The fuck you—-"
"Because now it's made me realize I've been lying to myself."
Dmitry's gaze narrowed.
Tahey breathed deep. "Mr. Adrianov..."
Shit. Something about the tone of her voice immediately made him feel wary and cornered, and he actually found himself taking a step back from his secretary. "Don't say another word—-"
"I'm in love with you."
For some reason, rather than feeling hurt, Tahey actually found herself biting back a smile. It was probably because of the way her boss looked right now. He actually looked seriously ill, almost as if those five words had given him indigestion. Not a fairytale reaction obviously, but it was still a lot better than having Dmitry still acting like she was invisible.