It was just one night. It wasn’t meant to be more than that. Even if neither of them could entirely forget the other. She wasn’t expecting to see those piercing eyes again, especially at the other end of her desk. And he didn’t make a habit of sleeping with colleagues.
Chapter also on AO3.
Monday arrived unceremoniously. The sun still rose, dogs still barked, and she still woke up with a furry companion curled near her face.
Sophia needed to remember to kick the cat out before going to bed.
She did a test trip of her commute yesterday afternoon after she returned from Vincent’s, just to iron out details. She had, of course, showered and changed, before spending the rest of the day grocery shopping, cooking, and shoving her suitcases under her bed, but even that couldn’t get rid of the guilt.
Kat’s eagerness for details didn’t help. Sophia didn’t want to think about the man she left behind, about his remarkable touch, piercing eyes, skilled tongue, and his majestic…
Her best friend only fed the gut-wrenching guilt.
“You didn’t even leave a note?” Kat screeched. “The man gives you like seven orgasms and you ditch him? Don’t even bother to leave your phone number?”
“With what, Kat? I was supposed to dig through the drawers of a multi-millionaire to find a pen and paper? Do you know how rude that would have been?”
“Walking out on him was rude! You didn’t even get his last name!”
“You’re only upset because I went home with someone who clearly has his life together unlike the man-child you insist you’re changing.”
Her commute to the office was initially jarring this morning but unremarkable. Most of it was spent wondering why she wanted to live this far from her family and other friends, live with Kat, endure all of this just for a job.
It wasn’t until she entered the building, took the elevator, and recognized faces from her interviews that her weekend washed away like sidewalk chalk in the rain. She was already up to speed on project schedules (she lost a bit of sleep over it but so what?) and it was great to put names to faces.
The office itself consisted of the entire top floor of a Haussman building, the center of the sloped roof sporting panes of glass and every exterior wall displaying a view of Paris that rivaled the one she saw from her first night. Most of the workspace was an open-floor layout, with a few select offices for senior writers and higher management.
The CEO’s suite was well-defined by a set of glass doors at the end of the hall, leading into a darkened space.
She was, in fact, a senior writer. Which meant an office for her, not a cubicle
Her colleague and fellow writer, Marion Valette, was just as warm and welcoming as she remembered but not without her standard dramatic flair. Sophia expected coolness, a dislike of her presence, and only received it from some of the designers who were just beginning to arrange layouts for a meeting later in the week.
Otherwise, she felt almost at home.
The editor in chief and CEO would give her first assignment, Marion mentioned, before handing her a folder with a copy of the office floor plan with names and extensions, as well as her paperwork for employee programs and other things.
“Our weekly staff meeting for deadlines and updates is before lunch,” Marion said on her way out. “I’ll come get you and we’ll head over together.”
Until then, she could settle in, make a list of supplies she needed, and sort out any IT issues.
The office itself was small but not without a nice window. Sophia set up her laptop and charger, whipped out what few supplies she picked up yesterday, and got started on her human resources papers. A frantic knock on the door jolted her from her thoughts. Marion, juggling her laptop with a cell phone between her ear and shoulder, waved her free hand at Sophia and mouthed ‘Viens, come on.’
Sophia freed her laptop from its charger and grabbed a notebook and pen before following Marion. The conversation was rushed, as frantic as her pace despite her four-inch heels. As soon as the call was over, she muttered something that Sophia didn’t want to translate.
“That was Monsiuer Karm. A major work just went up for auction from a prominent collector to pay for a divorce or a lawsuit or some other…” Marion waved a hand. “He wants it for himself, as is expected, but it’s important that we cover the work for historical posterity.”
As they walked across the office and over to the conference room, Marion knocked on cubes and peered into the kitchen to rally the troops.
“He’s two hours early,” a man—Mathias?—complained before he topped off his coffee cup.
The meeting room was full by the time Sophia and Marion arrived, the blonde snagging them two seats in the middle of the table. Everyone was looking over notes, comparing information, or so it seemed. Hints of the conversation lingered on past weekend plans, ideas for lunch, how an article was coming along. Some, like Marion, were bothered by the sudden shift in schedule; others were less impacted, able to pivot at a moment’s notice.
“Thank you all for setting aside your morning rituals.”
Sophia almost jumped in her seat at the sound of a familiar, deep voice. She looked up from her computer screen to see Vincent stride into the room, as striking a figure as he was the other night.
What the hell was he doing here?
She fought the urge to sink into her chair as she desperately wondered if they ever exchanged last names, ever mentioned in detail what either of them did, where they worked. They kept everything surface level.
Well, everything beyond immediate physicality.
If she knew he was her employer, she wouldn’t have flirted with him at all. Would have avoided the party entirely. No amount of satisfying sex was worth...
What poor research she’d done.
Her thoughts circled the drain that would surely swallow her career too.
“Before I get ahead of myself, we have a new senior writer. Would you care to introduce yourself, Ms. Cousland?”
In her spiral of thoughts, Vincent had made his way across the room to the head of the table and had paused expectantly.
He didn’t know her last name. She’d never told him.
Sophia inhaled and stood, feeling like a new kid at school as she introduced herself in clear, succinct French. She avoided looking at Vincent until she couldn’t any longer only to find his eyes slightly wide, his posture stiff in recognition.
She wished the floor would open into a black hole and swallow her whole. Instead, she settled for sitting back down and hoping no one noticed her trembling hands.
Vincent cleared his throat and continued on with the meeting. He did, however, keep touching his tie every time he looked in her direction. But he also happened to be engrossed in the details he was sharing about the painting in question that was about to go up for sale.
“I’ll make my decision on who gets the story by the end of the day,” Vincent said, his eyes scanning the table. “Now, where do we stand on the upcoming exhibition reviews?”