More Than Crave You(2)

By: Shayla Black

“I’m socially awkward, not naive. Of course I do. That’s why I’m lucky to have a savvy woman like you.”

Nia sits stiffly. “Fine. I’ll get it done. But really, have you at least thought about trying to date someone in your social circle? Someone you know isn’t crazy?”

“Who would that be? You’re the only single female I know who meets my list of qualifications. And you’re dating”—I snap my fingers, trying to remember the name of her latest boyfriend—“Brett?”

“Brick,” she corrects.

As in dumber than? I haven’t met him; she didn’t bring him to the company picnic this summer. But he sounds like a douchebag.

“Him. Sorry. I can never remember who you’re seeing.” It changes so quickly.

“I broke up with him in June.”

That explains why she didn’t mind working more hours over the summer. “I’m surprised. You said he was smart, ambitious, and well-employed.”

“He is. But he was a lot of talk and not much action.”

I frown. “He didn’t follow through on his promises?”

“Do I have to spell it out?” She sighs. “Brick sucked in bed.”

“Oh.” I clear my throat, trying to imagine Nia naked with this guy. I can’t. She’s pretty, I guess. Exotic. Her skin is a pleasing cocoa shade. She’s got the kind of curves often photographed for the purpose of rousing a man’s libido. I’ve simply never thought about my assistant like that. It’s unprofessional. I won’t start now. “Next time, remind me not to ask about things that are none of my business.”

Workplace harassment is such a hot-button topic. I’d rather not be sued for discussing inappropriate things in the office. But I also value Nia as an assistant and a human being, too. I don’t want her to think I’m not listening if she has something to say.

“No.” She waves my words away. “I got too personal. Sorry. I haven’t had anyone to talk to and…” She sighs. “I wish I understood men. Since I never had one to figure out growing up, I feel like I’m forever confused.”

Nia doesn’t like to talk about her father. He wasn’t a part of her childhood. He impregnated her mother, who worked for him, then bought the woman off when she broke the news of his impending fatherhood. Her mother raised Nia alone, not marrying or even dating seriously before tragically succumbing to a case of the flu two years ago.

“I doubt I’ll be much help.” I’m aware that I function differently than most men. They thrive on competitive sports, beer chugging, and dirty jokes. I much prefer a good mental challenge, fine scotch, and video games. “You don’t date my type. I was called a brainiac and a computer nerd growing up. But I drew the line at Dungeons and Dragons.”

My quip somehow makes her laugh. “Good to know you have boundaries. It’s just…some guys really seem to forget there’s another person in the bed. Hell, in the relationship. I’ve done some soul searching since I ditched Brick, and I’ve decided I’m not dating guys I barely know anymore. We have to be friends first.” Surprisingly, she wraps her fingers around my shoulder. “Which is something you should consider, rather than placing an ad. Don’t marry just anyone. You’ll be miserable. Why don’t you let me help with your disorganization? It will give you some time to find a more permanent solution. You know I love whipping a good mess into shape.”

“That’s generous, but I don’t expect you to cook or clean for me after you’ve worked all day, too. Grocery shopping and running errands aren’t in your job description, either.”

Plus, there’s the sex issue. I glance at Nia again. She’s actually more than pretty, now that I’m actually looking. She’s beautiful. Striking. Taking her to bed wouldn’t be a hardship.

And I really need to get off this train of thought.

“It’s not a big deal. I need to cook for myself anyhow. It’s actually easier to toss dinner together for two. I can show you how to grocery shop online. Cleaning up…I’ll tackle what I can, teach you how to manage some yourself, and help you hire out the rest. We’ll figure out the other errands. The dry cleaning should be simple since we use the same one, right?” When I nod, she goes on. “See? We got this.”

“I appreciate you trying to—”

“Save you from getting into a rebound relationship with someone who will probably make you miserable.” She squeezes my shoulder one more time before letting go. “That’s what I’m doing because you deserve more. Don’t you want to spend the rest of your life with someone who will actually care about you?”