Miss Callahan, ch. 05

Info ShiaWoods
06 Oct. '20

Chapter 5

I’m so disoriented that it’s not until I’m in the parking garage of Altitude’s building when I remember that I didn’t drive today, and I don’t have any of my stuff from upstairs. I probably should have taken a breath and thought things through, but I just had to get out of the office. 

Not even Jackie’s confused questions stopped me or the handful of texts she’s sent since running out. I can feel my pocket buzzing incessantly, no doubt all from Jackie.

I know I’ll need to go back to the office eventually. I can’t leave my team suddenly without notice or without a real reason to be gone. They did just see me after all. I guess I could pretend to be sick, but I still need to go up and get my bag, which has the keys to my apartment.

I lean back against the wall by the elevator and try to steady my breathing, but I can feel my heartbeat slamming against my chest.

She’s married. Married. I want to believe that it’s not true and Guy was just confusing her with some other EVP. But I know that’s probably just wishful thinking. I saw the look Lauren gave me right before Guy announced her new position. She was scared I was about to find out.

I’m just so stupid. Of course she has a wife. Someone as successful and beautiful as Lauren doesn’t stay on the market for long. 

I’ve always been one to leave others to make their own mistakes. It’s not my responsibility to be faithful to their partner since I didn’t make the commitment. But thinking about some poor wife back in Texas makes my stomach clench. I will myself not to even think about the reality that she might have children as well.

Even after all the moments I reminded myself not to grow feelings for this woman, I did. It’s been so long since I’ve allowed myself to feel anything more than lust for someone and I should have been more careful. 

It’s literally been less than a week that I’ve known her and half of that time we were working or having sex. I shouldn’t be surprised that I know nothing about her when the first real conversation we had was last night. 

But Lauren made me feel things. The gentle way she treated me last night and this morning felt special. Maybe I was reading into things because of who she is. I wanted to believe there was some connection there.

I promised myself after Grace left me a heartbroken mess in New York that I’d focus on my career and leave romance to other people. Casual sex every now and then, plus my trusted vibrator, was enough. Coming back to Seattle was supposed to be a fresh start. 

I just need to re-focus on my goals. That’s been working out well until Lauren came to town with her perfect fucking face and talented hands and mouth. The Interplay win all but guarantees my promotion to Senior Vice President, something I’ve been working towards for two years, spending grueling hours in the office and at events. 

I take one more deep breath with my eyes closed and resolve myself to going back up to the office, making up a lame excuse, and getting out of here. There’s a couch at home with my name on it and I desperately want to get out of this fucking dress. 

A new wave of anger rolls through me. What felt like sweet gesture after sweet gesture this morning is now feeling much different. I still feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but much closer to the sex worker part and less the swept-off-her-feet part. I can’t help but feel like Lauren must do this a lot on busines trips, despite what she said last night.

The ding of the elevator makes me open my eyes and I’m suddenly staring into her haunting green ones. Lauren pauses upon seeing me right outside the elevators, but then steps out tentatively. She doesn’t get close to me, which I appreciate since I don’t know how I’d respond to her touch right now.

“Ems,” she says quietly. “Please talk to me.”

“Don’t call me that,” I say back. I know it’s childish, but she has no right to use such an intimate nickname. 

“Ok,” she says. “But you need to talk to me.”

“I don’t need to do anything,” I snap back angrily. “You’re not my dom and you’re definitely not my girlfriend.”

She doesn’t say anything back, which is infuriating and also telling. If I had something to deny, I wouldn’t be waiting for the other person to start the conversation. 

“Just tell me so I can move on from whatever this was. You’re married?”

“Yes, but it’s so much more complicated than that. Let me explain.”

I feel an instant flash of anger at her words. “Let me explain,” was exactly what Grace said to me when I walked in on her and her now-boyfriend. Not that this situation is in any way similar, but I can’t help the feelings that roll through me.

“Sure. Explain how you forgot to mention to me that little bit about having a wife back in Austin. Maybe there wasn’t time in between fucking me here or having your hand down my pants at the client’s office.

My voice is low, and I can hear the ice seeping into my tone. Perhaps I’m overreacting. It’s not like Lauren owed me anything. But the whole thing just feels tainted and dirty and I can’t believe she didn’t tell me this huge thing. 

I don’t even know if I would have denied her had she told me the truth. But at least I’d have known what I was getting myself into.

Lauren takes a couple steps closer to me, but not close enough to touch. My anger seems to have had the desired effect, and if she was a dog, I think I’d see a tail sticking out from between her legs.

“I am married. But I filed for divorce before I left Austin. She’s not moving here. It’s just me,” she says.

“How soon before you left?”

“Why does that matter?”

“Maybe I’m curious how quick of a rebound I was.”

I suppose it doesn’t really matter how soon she filed for divorce. She has every right to sleep with whoever she wants if what she’s saying is true. But I still can’t shake the anger and hurt, and it overpowers any logical thought. Lauren should have told me everything, so I wasn’t blindsided like this.

Before answering, Lauren takes another small step towards me and studies my face. Her own face looks pained. As if she doesn’t want to answer. Which is answer enough for me.

“Two weeks before. That’s why Guy doesn’t know. It’s a bit of a sensitive situation for Altitude so I haven’t told anybody here yet. Though I’m sure they’ll find out soon. Now that she’s been served.”

There are so many emotions swirling through my mind, creating a fog and I truly just don’t know what she means. I see a door on the other side of the garage and know that it’s another exit out to the street. I consider just leaving, but my curiosity takes over.

“What do you mean it’s sensitive for Altitude?” At this point the anger has left my voice and in its place is just confusion. After getting so little sleep the last two nights and the drama of this morning, I’m suddenly exhausted.

Lauren doesn’t speak for a full minute. She’s looking down and playing with the front button of her blazer. A blazer that only an hour ago, I wanted to rip off her body and leave on the ground of this very garage. But now I just notice how sad she looks.

“Her name is Olivia Ellison,” she says in a low voice.

“Eliison?” I say the name back, knowing full well what that name means to Altitude and our Austin office. “As in Ellison Tech?”

“Her father is Richard Ellison. CEO and President of Ellison Technologies, Ellison Finery, and the Ellison Family Foundation. He’s stepping down. And Olivia is taking over.”

Every new piece of information sends my mind in a different, confused direction. “Your wife is Altitude’s largest client?” 

As I ask the question, the absurdity of the situation hits me. To think I could ever actually have this woman is almost absurd. She’s married to the heir of one of the biggest family dynasties in the country. She must be a billionaire. I’m still paying off my student loans.

“My ex-wife,” Lauren says in response.

I give a short, harsh laugh. “Not yet.”

Something Lauren just said niggles at the back of my mind, and I try to sort out my thoughts.

“You said ‘now that she’s been served.’ You mean you didn’t tell her you filed? What did you do, just jump on the first flight you could find and grab a role in a different office?”

My voice is raised slightly but the anger that had subsided for a moment is back. She may be telling me the truth, but quite frankly, her truth just makes this whole thing worse and worse. Even if she’s leaving her partner, how could she not talk to her about it?

“You don’t understand, Emma.”

“Clearly not,” I snap back.

She looks at me seriously before taking a deep breath and continuing. “Her dad is one of the most connected and powerful men in Austin. He would have ruined my career had I stayed there. I needed to find a way to secure a role in a new office before Olivia and her family found out and did something drastic to me or the account itself. This could have lasting, hugely negative effects on Altitude.” 

I’ve seen Lauren put on her professional face where the stoic businesswoman reigns. But the coolness with which she spoke about her father-in-law and wife was confounding. I feel like we’re suddenly in a meeting with the cut and dry attitude she’s taking.

Before I could say anything, she continues. “I needed to give the Austin office a chance to keep that business. As you said, it’s the largest US client we have. When I decided months ago that I was going to file, I worked with the west coast leads on a plan to move offices so Olivia couldn’t use me as an excuse to fire Altitude. It probably won’t save the account. But that’s why I’m here.”

“I see. How clever. All business then.” I hate myself the second the words leave my mouth. I am hurt, but now I sound like a desperate schoolgirl, waiting for validation from her crush. I push off the wall and start to move to the door on the other side of the garage. I need air.

As I pass her and get closer to the door, Lauren calls out my name.

“Emma. You can’t say anything about us. I’m sorry, but this can’t get out yet.”

Part of me thought she was stopping me for some big reveal as to why this isn’t a shit situation. Like in a romantic comedy. But all she wants to do is tell me to keep quiet.

“There’s nothing to say. There is no us,” I say as I keep walking to the door. I’m at the door when I hear her voice again.

“Emma, wait. It’s just that Guy and others here don’t know. I have no idea what Olivia will do now. But she’s a shark. I promise you, she is. I’m trying to protect you too. I don’t know what she’d do if she found out about this,” she says as she points back and forth between us.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone about our dirty little secret.” I have my hand on the handle when I decide to turn back. I’m done feeling like I can’t be honest because I mighty scare her away. There’s nothing between us now anyway.

“You could have just told me you know. Instead of making me feel like this. I know it was stupid to begin to actually like you. I know I was just a business trip fling. But I’m not some clingy child. I would have understood.”

I don’t give Lauren a chance to respond and am out into the alley way attached to the garage in no time. But I don’t get far before I feel a hand grab my arm and spin me around. 

Lauren moves into my space so much that I have to move backwards and I can suddenly feel the alley wall behind me. Her body is pressing lightly into mine and I’m a sandwich between her and the wall.

“Emma,” she breathes out and stares into my eyes. She looks like she wants to say more, but she just stays there, looking at me with an intense gaze. 

I’m in a sudden war with my mind and body. Part of me wants to push her away and get the hell out of there. The other more insistent part wants to grab her so I can feel her lips on me one last time. 

My body wins out and I feel my hands coming up and cupping her face, bringing her mouth onto mine in a rushed, sloppy kiss. It takes only a second for Lauren to respond as she puts her hands on either side of me on the wall and deepens the kiss.

I move my hands so there pressing into her back and pull her further into me so we’re completely flush together. I can’t tell who lets out the first moan as I feel her tongue slide against mine. She doesn’t tease me at all. She moves her tongue all around my mouth as if tasting every part she can get to.

My brain is screaming at me to stop but I have no power to do that at this point. As I feel Lauren’s right hand leave my face and move down my dress, I help her by hurriedly moving my hands down to the hem of the dress and pulling it up so she has easy access to my bare pussy.

Everything is moving fast and I’m desperate for her touch, but as her hands reach my thighs, she pauses her movements. I know what she’s looking for and despite the emotions whirling around my head, I can’t stop my need for this woman. I take her hand and guide it to my pussy. 

With my consent, she lets out a sound akin to a low growl, drops her head onto my shoulder and dips her fingers into my wet folds. I close my eyes and lean my head back against the walls as I allow the feeling of her fucking me to erase everything else in my mind.

I can’t even be bothered to worry about the fact that we’re in an alleyway right outside my office building. All I want are her fingers filling me up, her breath against my collar bone, coming out stronger with every thrust she makes.

I begin to lightly push my hips up to meet her fingers, trying to chase the release that feels imminent. As she moves her hand so she can flick her thumb over my clit, I know I’m going to come. 

I let go of my dress since her hand is holding it up and I grab on to her shoulders for support. “Faster,” I pant out. 

She moves her hand expertly so she can pump in and out faster and faster. As she fucks me, she moves her mouth up my neck, licking and sucking her way to my ear. When she gets there, she lightly bites down on my lobe.

The sensation sends me over the edge, and I try to stifle my scream by putting my face into her shoulder. She holds still, not removing her hand as my head stays there, both of our breath coming out in ragged spurts.

After I trust my legs to hold me up, I move my hand so I can grab her wrist and I pull her out of me. I straighten up on the wall and bring my dress down my legs, so I look a little more presentable.

Lauren is looking at me with such concern and tenderness that I almost want to reach out and tell her that it’s all ok. But I still don’t feel that and now I’m just angry at myself for giving into her again. 

I lightly push her off me, so I have some space without the temptation that having her close always seems to elicit. I look deep into her eyes, trying to remember this last time that we’ll be more than co-workers. She’ll be more than my boss. 

She reaches out her hand to touch me, but I move back so she’s too far away. Touching only leads to kissing and kissing leads to wall fucking. 

“You were never just a business trip fling, Emma. I like you too,” she says slowly and carefully, as if willing me to understand her words. 

“That’s the last time you’ll ever touch me, Lauren,” I say back.

I can see a flash of hurt cross her face at the harsh way I said her name. She’s probably become so used to her touch, or even a look, making me quiver that she’s not used to the steel I know how to infuse into my voice when I need to.

I just need to get out of this disgusting alley. Away from those green eyes that are only making my heart clench in pain. 

I move past her, careful not to let our shoulders touch. I can feel tears starting to sting in the corner of my eyes, but I take a breath and hold them back. The last thing I’m going to do right now is Let Lauren see me cry. 

“Emma, wait,” she says, but this time I don’t turn back. I keep walking until I’m out onto the bright street and feel at a loss for what to do. I know I need to go get my bag, but the last thing I want to do is see people. Or run into Lauren again.

I take out my phone to see eleven texts from Jackie asking why I left so abruptly and telling me she stole a bottle of champagne from the admin’s desk.

I shoot her a quick text asking her to bring my bag down. I never take sick leave so I’m hoping Jackie will believe I really am sick with the way I’ve been behaving. Even if I wanted to talk to Jackie about all of this, Lauren’s words remind me that I can’t.

I head to a coffee shop near the office so I can wait for her. I sit down at a table without ordering anything. Right now, my stomach couldn’t handle caffeine and sugar anyway.

I can’t stop my mind from replaying what just happened in the alleyway. My body is still tingling from the orgasm and obviously isn’t in the same turmoil that my mind is. I try to sort through the facts. Maybe that will help make all this feel less complicated.

But the facts don’t do anything but make me feel like some supporting character in someone else’s much bigger, much more interesting story.

I rattle off what I just learned in my head. 

Lauren is married to our agency’s biggest client. She’s moving here to avoid losing that client for the company and having her career decimated by her wife and/or her father-in-law. She filed for divorce without even giving her wife a heads-up. And she slept with me because she could.

The truth is, Lauren never promised me any kind of commitment. I didn’t even think I’d see her again until our conversation last night in bed. But that was enough to put a seed of hope in my mind. Learning that I’m just another agency girl hurts, but I may as well learn it now before I make even more of a fool of myself. 

I need to focus back on what’s important and that’s my promotion. Lauren’s presence in this office can’t impact that. We worked well together before anything happened, and we’ll have to just go back to that. 

I can handle looking at her perfect body each day without undressing her with my eyes. I’m a fucking professional.

My thoughts are interrupted by Jackie coming in and sliding into the seat across from me. She puts my work bag down on the ground by my chair.

“How’re you feeling?” she asks.

“Just a headache, but I was feeling a little faint and needed some air. I’ll just work from home.”

I hate lying to Jackie and it’s clear that she’s not buying my little “headache” excuse. She looks at me quietly for a moment before she asks in a low voice, “Did you sleep with her last night?”

I had a feeling she didn’t buy that I’m sick, but I wasn’t expecting her to come out and ask that. I don’t say anything as I try to decide how to answer her.

“I know you, Ems. You’re never sick and if you were, you wouldn’t just run out of the office and make me bring you your bag,” she said. “So, tell me. Was it last night?”

“Yes,” I say back in an almost whisper. 

Lauren’s ask for secrecy is still rolling around in my head. I don’t want to keep lying, but it’s probably less complicated for everyone if she assumes it started last night. Plus, I really don’t want to tell her I fucked Lauren in both our office and her rental car outside of a pitch.

“And I assume she didn’t tell you that she’s married? Based on the way you sprinted out of there after Guy’s announcement.”

“No,” is all I say back.

Jackie looks like she wants to ask more questions, but for now she keeps them to herself. Jackie’s never one to keep opinions inside for too long though, so I know I’ll get them eventually.

“That was pretty fucked up of her,” she says.

“She’s getting a divorce.” I don’t know why I feel like I need to defend Lauren in any way. She did lie to me about a lot of things and now is asking me to just be quiet about all of it.

“You still had to find out during a staff meeting.”

Jackie is right and saying all the things I already feel and have voiced, but I suddenly feel exhausted and want nothing more than to go home, curl up on my couch and zone out in front of the tv. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I step out of the shower and immediately feel a bit better than before. Showers always help me clear my head and restabilize. Instead of wallowing in sadness over a woman I barely know, I’m going to get some much-needed sleep and then get back to what matters—my career.

Whatever Zen I found in the shower immediately dissipates as I look down at my phone on the bathroom counter. Lauren’s name is on the screen. I saved it into my phone this morning after she left for the office, but even if I hadn’t, I only know one number from Austin.

I stare down at the device before picking it up and reading the text.

Lauren: Boarding my flight. There are more things I want to say to you. I’ll be back next week. I hope you’ll let me see you outside of the office. 

I can see three dots move under her text, indicating she was typing something else. But then the dots disappeared. I assume that’s all she’s going to say when the dots reappear. 

The arrogant and articulate Miss Callahan is apparently a little tongue tied. But then she sends another text.

Lauren: I meant what I said. I like you. Much more than I expected to. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you everything, but please see me next week so we can properly talk xo

I stare down at the text and ignore the water dripping down my back. She’s coming back. Which I guess I should get used to considering she’s moving here. But all the resolve I felt a moment before is now replaced with dread.

How can I feel confident about my promotion when the woman who will be the main decider in that happening is someone I let dominate me?

I have one week to figure out how to be in the same office with Lauren without my heart rate going through the roof. As I look at my reflection in the mirror, I half expect to see something different. But I look the same. My blonde hair is darkened from my shower, but my blue eyes are as bright as ever.

And I’m reminded that it’s all about appearances in my field of work. I can see her and not lose my shit. I know I can. I just need to focus. Focus on work and friends and find someone else to satisfy my other needs.

As I slide into bed after brushing my teeth and washing my face, I do my usual, final email check before going to sleep. Clients love to email at the end of the night, and I hate waking up to situations I didn’t know about.

Most of the emails are from my team, giving me updates from the day. But the newest email is what catches my eye. It reads:

Subject: E. Tech Proposal Kick-Off

I stare at the screen without opening it. It’s not even an email, it’s a calendar invite for a meeting tomorrow morning. As I click on the email, I can see the others that are invited to the meeting. It’s with me, Guy, Michelle Lee, Jackie….and Lauren. 

My stomach explodes in butterflies and knots. Why am I suddenly meeting about Ellison Technologies? That’s not even my account. The Seattle office doesn’t have anything to do with that account.

For what feels like the hundredth time today, I can feel my heart rate pick up again.

This can’t be a coincidence. A meeting with Lauren and other leads about Ellison Technologies? My hand itches to text Lauren and ask if she knows anything but she’s on a plane and that feels inappropriate now. 

Did her ex somehow find out about me? I shake my head at that thought. There’s no way anyone knows about what happened between us. 

The part about a proposal is also confusing. What does that have to do with Ellison and our development team? We don’t handle Southwest business growth. 

I know I should go to sleep, but despite how tired my body is, my mind is now a mess of thoughts and questions.

It’s probably a good sign that the meeting isn’t with HR. Guy and Michelle both being there implies this is business related. But there’s just too much confidence for it be anything good. 

I almost want to text Jackie, but I don’t want to get into the whole conversation about Lauren again and Jackie has a no work past 9pm rule. That’s the bright side of not having clients. Jackie is a central resource so her main responsibility is towards out internal team. She probably hasn’t even seen the meeting invite yet. 

Instead I open my phone browser and type in “Olivia Ellison.” More search results come up than I was expecting, and I instantly regret my decision to look. But at this point, I can’t look away. 

Olivia Ellison isn’t just the heir to one of the largest family fortunes in the country, she’s absolutely gorgeous and seems successful in her own right.

One of the top results is a “40 Under 40” article, which features Olivia as the lead-in image. Her eyes are green like Lauren’s, but much darker. Almost like looking into a dense forest. And her striking features are set-off by beautiful raven hair she seems to prefer in a tight ponytail or updo. She has a much fiercer look than Lauren and isn’t my type, but I can see the allure with her incredibly full lips and confident air. This woman screams money, sophistication and elegance. 

I scroll down the article so I can see what’s said about her. Reading that didn’t help matters.

Olivia Ellison (Ellison Family Foundation) has proven that she’s more than a family name. Starting her career at Brooke & Stone in 2003, this PR maven managed to grow the firm’s technology business exponentially while at the helm of some of their most recognizable campaigns. Since then she’s taken the Southwest market by storm, consulting for big agency names including Altitude, Smith Corps, and Donnelly & Schneider, most recently winning the coveted annual PR Person of the Year award through the PRSA. Rumor has it she’ll be at the helm of a much larger organization soon, and we expect to see great things from her. 

I close the article and go back to the browser. But it’s more of the same. There’s article after article about Olivia and her family. 

Having worked in PR and marketing for 15 years, I know how the media can spin a story. But right now, I can’t seem to find any fault in the woman. All I see are posts about her successful consulting business and her charitable work through her family’s foundation.

It would be so much easier to dislike this woman if there was some scandal I could read about or something dirty her family has done. But while Ellison Tech may not be my client at Altitude, I know enough about them to know that they’re generally respected among my co-workers in the Southwest.

In many of the photos I find of her, she’s standing with father, who looks equally imposing, but in just as many, she’s standing next to Lauren. It’s those photos I spend too much time on. I’m still struck by her beauty every time I lay my eyes on her.

They make a gorgeous couple and the Austin media outlets seem to adore them together. There’s picture after picture of the two at fancy events and parties.

But in every photo I look at, I can’t see the tender Lauren I saw last night in bed. Or the one with the glint in her eye outside the client’s office. The two of them look polite with each other, pleasant maybe. But something seemed almost wooden about their poses. 

As I look at the clock, I notice it’s past 1am and I have to be up early for whatever this meeting is about. I set my phone on my nightstand and lay down on my pillows, which seemed much more inviting before I went down that ill-advised internet rabbit hole.

I close my eyes, forcing myself to go to sleep. Whatever tomorrow’s meeting with Lauren brings, I’ll handle it then. 

I just hope to god it’s not a video call.


 

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