If she did, she knew he was cunning enough to find a way to help her, and if that happened, then what would that make her?
A gold-digger, that’s what.
The urge to cry grew stronger, and speaking coherently became a challenge.
Acheron’s brooding gaze didn’t stray from the monitor even as Charlie came into his office after knocking on his door.
“Whatever it is can wait.”
The younger man didn’t miss a beat, saying, “Of course, sir.”
The door closed behind Charlie, and Acheron didn’t even see the younger man leaving. The only thing he had eyes for was Pippi. The infernal woman looked so damn miserable on the screen, and that he could only think of one reason for it only made his mood worsen.
“You were supposed to be shy, dammit.” It had said so in her fucking file. Subject states shyness as her main concern with regard to her ability to work in a different office.
“I am.” But the words sounded pathetically feeble even to her ears.
“Then tell me why,” Acheron couldn’t help snapping, “you’re willing to work for Evans now.”
Pippi slowly shook her head. “I c-can’t.”
The first time Mr. Collins had informed Pippi of her transfer and its corresponding pay increase, the news had considerably fired her up, and she had told herself she would do her boss proud and make sure Mr. Evans would say she was worth every dollar added to her wages.
And in normal circumstances, everything would be as she planned. But ever since she had gotten involved with Acheron Simonides, so much in her life had changed that she couldn’t even recognize her own face in the mirror.
The old Pippi had been thoroughly self-sufficient, the kind who defined romance in terms of love affairs with food, books, and other inanimate objects. The new Pippi she had somehow turned her into, however, was revoltingly weak, with her growing dependence on Acheron’s presence.
She had never imagined there’d be a day she would find herself checking her phone every minute, waiting with bated breath for a man to remember she was alive.
How pathetic can you get, Pippilotta Jones?
It was seriously mortifying, but even so she found herself caving in and sending the first text.
Pippi: May we please talk?
But her phone remained still and silent, and come lunchtime, Pippi managed to convince herself this was because her message had been too vague. It might even have indicated unwillingness on her part to acknowledge there wasn’t anything wrong with her refusal to explain about her transfer to Gareth Evans’ office.
And while she was still determined not to tell him the truth, perhaps things could still be salvaged if she said something else?
Pippi: If you had truly read HR’s file on me, then you would know that I am not the type of person to like two men at the same time. Nothing could be further from the truth.
After hitting Enter, Pippi stared at her iPhone, willing it to vibrate with a reply. But it didn’t, and her heart sank. With only five minutes left of her break, she’d have no choice but to wait until five o’ clock—
Her iPhone buzzed against her palm just as she was about to drop it back in her bag, and her heart nervously skipped a beat as she answered Acheron’s call. “H-Hello?”
Acheron’s jaw hardened at hearing the tremor in Pippi’s voice. He didn’t like knowing that he was the cause for her to sound this uncertain. It wasn’t like her, wasn’t like the delightfully proud Pippi he knew.
But even so, a part of him refused to bend and just let things go.
When the silence became too much to bear, Pippi asked unevenly, “Do you really think it’s possible for me to cheat on you?”
“Right now, the only thing I know—” Acheron’s voice was flat. “—-is when someone’s hiding something from me.” He didn’t expect her to deny this, but her expected silence gave him no pleasure at all. “At least tell me this, dammit. Whatever it is, at least tell me that Evans doesn’t know either—”
It was too fucking easy to read between the lines, and Acheron struggled with a mixture of disbelief and anger. “The bastard knows then?”
Pippi couldn’t help flinching at Acheron’s tone. “I know it looks bad,” she appealed, “but it’s truly not what you think—”
“How the hell would I know when you won’t say a goddamn thing?”
“I like you.” It took all of Pippi’s courage to say the words. “You, Acheron. Not him. You.”
But Acheron’s silence told her the words weren’t enough, and when he finally spoke, she realized why this was.
“I think it’s better if we give each other some space for now.” He knew how much it had cost her to say the words, but he also knew that with his temper starting to strain perilously past its leash, there was every chance for him to say things that were unnecessarily hurtful.