“Okay…you’re not pleased,” he says, momentarily sounding so dejected that it makes my heart hurt.
“It’s a lovely gesture,” I say, stopping in the street and turning to face him, vaguely aware of the fact that it has started to rain lightly, a fine mist of drops falling on my face as I look up at him.
“Honestly? It would be such a wonderful opportunity…but it wouldn’t feel right. I would always know that I didn’t really earn it. I know you can probably buy and sell this entire city, but I have to make my own career. My own way. Or it won’t ever really be mine.”
Sebastian stares at me and I’m worried that I’ve hurt his feelings, but then his face splits in a wide grin. He pulls me into him and kisses me hungrily as the rain starts to fall in earnest. We ignore it, along with the beeps of passing cars as we kiss in the street. Finally he pulls away, the same grin still on his handsome face.
“You’re perfect Rose, do you know that?” he tells me, and I feel myself go warm inside at his approval.
We get into a cab for the rest of the journey back to his offices, and I’m still reeling from the kiss as we catch the elevator to the top floor where his office is. And, of course, Mike’s. There was a definite poetic justice to the confrontation with Adrian, but this one I’m not looking forward to. I consider waiting for him outside but discard the thought as soon as I have it. I’m his woman. I should be by his side. After all, he’s stood by me when it would have been understandable if he had never wanted to see me again.
If Adrian’s face when we walked in was a picture, then Mike’s is an entire art gallery. He looks from Sebastian to me and back again as though he is expecting us to turn out to be a mirage.
“Good morning Mike.” Sebastian’s voice is clipped and cold.
“What’s this about?” Mike doesn’t bother with niceties.
Neither does Sebastian.
“You tried to blackmail Rose into having sex with you, you fucking asshole,” Sebastian snarls. Mike looks shocked, and it’s not entirely an act.
“You can’t believe a word she says!” he bursts out. “She’s been conning us all! She isn’t even really a maid. She’s a reporter, undercover, trying to do a story on us…on you. Whatever she’s told you is to try and cover her own ass.”
Sebastian shakes his head and sounds almost exasperated.
“Honestly Mike, I was expecting you to do better than this. Obviously, I know that, or I would hardly know about the rest, would I? And whatever Rose has done, I would say it pales into comparison to your actions, don’t you? What you said to her constitutes sexual harassment. You’re fired.”
Mikes blanks rapidly. “Oh no,” he says. “You’re not doing that. I’ll-”
“Sue me,” Sebastian finishes for him. “I’ve already heard that once today. You can try, but I don’t think you will get very far. It’s blatant gross misconduct.”
“You’ve only got her word for it,” Mike points out, sounding triumphant. “You have to at least open an investigation and suspend me on full pay.”
“Thanks for the masterclass on employment law,” Sebastian says with a mock yawn. “Incredibly helpful. The decision is yours Mike. If you don’t wish to go quietly…well, I’ve just bought the Witness. It would be a shame if the next full page feature was one on you and your conduct with female staff.”
Mike jumps to his feet, glaring at Sebastian with an obvious threat in his eyes. I realize that he is nearly as big and bulky as Sebastian himself, although not so defined. He walks round from behind his desk and jabs his finger in Sebastian’s face.
“Are you for real?” he growls. “You’re firing me over some slut reporter?”
I see Sebastian’s hands clench into fists at his sides.
“What the fuck did you call her?”
“Oh come on,” Mike scoffs. “All this for some girl? She’s not worth it. Let’s go for brunch and talk about this.”
“There’s nothing to talk about. Get your shit and get out.”
Mike’s eyes search Sebastian’s face and I see the realization dawn that his boss is serious. He looks at me with hatred in his eyes.
“You little bitch,” he snarls and starts towards me. The malevolence in his eyes is so palpable that I flinch and take a step backwards, but Sebastian grabs his arm.
“Leave her alone.”
Mike wrenches his arm free and takes a swing at Sebastian, and I scream as I see his fist sailing through the air, on target to connect with Sebastian’s jaw. But in a swift movement that is so fast it becomes a blur, Sebastian sidesteps it and instead punches Mike clean on the nose. I hear the sickening crunch of bone as blood pours out of his nose. He yelps in pain and runs out of the office, clutching his face.