After deciding on a gray pencil skirt and a soft pink blouse, I move to Paige’s room to dig through her shoes. I grab a pair of tan shoes with a lower heel, not knowing how much I’ll be on my feet tomorrow. Once I’ve got everything set out, I grab my laptop and take it to bed with me. I want to refresh myself a little more with the Osbourne Corp before tomorrow. I already know a ton about the company since they were the ones that gave me my scholarships, but I just want a quick update in case someone asks me something tomorrow about their current numbers.
Pulling back the covers, I climb into bed and grab my phone. I finally do what I’ve been wanting to do for the last hour. I unlock the screen and see three text messages and four missed calls. All from Oz. Holy shit.
Oz: So you think I’m hot?
I roll my eyes at the first text.
Oz: I want you because I know you’re not that type of girl. This might surprise you, but I’m not that type of guy. Like I told you. All I do is work. Give this a chance. I’ll show you.
Oz: Mallory, please answer me.
The calls came shortly after the text messages. I don’t know what to make of all this. He’s coming on strong. Part of me likes it, but another part of me is scared. Oz could probably steamroll right over me and my heart.
The phone vibrates in my hand, making me jump. Oz’s name flashes across the screen, and I debate answering it. After only a millisecond of hesitation, I cave.
“Mallory.” He says my name like he’s utterly relieved.
“Oz.” I seem to only be able to speak in monosyllables. I’m not sure what else to say.
“Don’t do that to me.”
“Do what?” I ask, having no idea what he is talking about.
“Tell me you’re done, and then not respond. You didn’t even give me a chance to explain what I meant.” His voice is desperate.
“I’m sorry, it’s just…”
He cuts me off. “Promise me you’ll never do that again. You’ll give me a chance to explain.”
I laugh. “I didn’t say I was giving you a chance.”
“You answered the phone.”
He’s got me there. I did. I could have just ignored him and then blocked his number.
“Is this just about sex?” I push, wanting to know.
“No, Mallory, this is about so much more.”
Could he be telling the truth?
“Promise me,” he says again, and I give in. I have this need to give him what he wants.
“I promise.” For some reason, it’s like I’m promising more than what is being said.
I hear him sigh with relief into the phone. “Are you in bed?”
My heart does that stupid flutter thing again. Maybe I should get that checked out.
“Yes.” I blush and snuggle down into the blankets.
“My sweet Mallory.”
I should tell him that I’m not his, but I kind of like the way it sounds. It makes me feel nice, which is scary because it should probably make me run.
Wanting to break the silence, I try to come up with something that doesn’t have the potential for innuendo.
“I start a new job tomorrow. It’s my first day working at Osbourne Corp. Have you heard of it?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard of it.”
I expect him to say more, but he doesn’t. Normally when I mention Osbourne to people, they just rattle on and on about it.
“I’ll let you sleep,” he says, not offering up any more conversation. It’s strange. He’s already so familiar, yet he’s a total stranger. “I’ll text you tomorrow.”
“Good night, Oz.”
“Sweet dreams, baby.”
* * *
I wake up before my alarm goes off. I’m excited for the day. I had a weird dream last night about sapphire-blue eyes and being lost in a maze. I don’t think I need a psychologist to translate that for me.
Reaching over to my bedside table, I check my phone and see I have a text message.
Oz: Good luck on your first day. You should wear your hair up.
I raise an eyebrow, wondering what kind of request that is. My hair is kind of short, just coming to my shoulders, but I could pin it up if I wanted to. I don’t text back, unsure of what to say—Thanks, but I’ll do what I want?
I get out of bed, put my phone on my dresser and begin getting ready. I pull on a pale pink lace bra and matching panties. I need some confidence today. Paige gave me an outrageous gift card to Victoria’s Secret for my birthday this year, and I went crazy in the underwear department. It’s weird, but having something sexy on under my clothes gives me the sense of being a superhero.
After I slip on my skirt and blouse, I walk to the vanity in my bathroom and put on some makeup. It’s nothing too heavy, but I want to look polished. I’ve got time, so when I’m done, I decide to pin my hair up. Completely my own decision and nothing to do with Oz’s request. At least, that’s what I keep chanting over and over in my mind.