by Dyna Dee
Duo returned to his office feeling out of sorts from his less than successful racquetball game with Trowa. He noticed straight away that Charise's office door was shut. He double checked her docket for the afternoon, confirming there was nothing scheduled until one thirty. Tapping his pen on the desktop, he wondered what she was doing and if maybe she needed something. Charise hadn't said anything about leaving the office or meeting with any of the staff before he'd left for the gym. Well, he'd just wait for her to summon him, having enough work already without volunteering to do more. With that decided he turned his attention to the stack of work on his desk that he needed to get through before going home that evening.
"Duo?" The intercom on his desk came to life ten minutes later. "Are you back?"
Hitting the button, he answered. "Yes, I'm here."
"Mr. Yuy was able to meet with me earlier than his scheduled appointment this afternoon, and we've both missed lunch. Could you order us each a turkey sandwich from the deli across the street? You know how I like mine and Mr. Yuy likes his with everything, minus mayonnaise."
"Anything to drink?"
There was a pause before Charise replied. "Bottled water for both of us, please. Thank you, dear."
"I'll be back soon."
So Mr. Yuy had finally shown up, and before his scheduled appointment at four that afternoon. He wouldn't be surprised if Charise, being as upset as she was by the lawsuit, had called her lawyer's office and demanded to see the associate newly assigned to her case as soon as he was free. With the outrageous amount of money she paid for retaining that prestigious law firm, it only seemed right that when Charise said jump, the new lawyer would hit his head on the ceiling trying to make her happy.
He made a quick call to the deli Charise liked to order from at least once a week. From past experience he knew that by the time he walked to the small business, his order would be ready to go. All the better for him returning to the office with her food. The hungrier she got, the more Charise's temperament waned. Feeling a bit hungry himself, he added a chef salad to the order.
Fetching the lunches took a little over fifteen minutes. He quickly crossed his office and set the chef salad on his desk then carried the rest of the order to the closed door of Charise's office and knocked before turning the door knob and easing it open. Entering her office, Duo found Charise sitting behind her desk and focused on the papers in her hands. Her new lawyer sat in one of the wingback chairs facing her, dressed in a black suit that was probably appropriate court attire, his face hidden as he bent over in a stack of papers in his hands. Duo really couldn't see much, but he thought the dark mussed hair was really attractive, though he was curious about what the man's face looked like.
Not wanting to interrupt, he quietly made his way to the desk and emptied the contents of the bags, unfolding the paper wrappers to expose the sandwiches and setting the water bottles out. Finishing that task, he decided to satisfy his curiosity by glancing at the lawyer, and the moment he did his world crumbled around him and he experienced the greatest shock of his life. Gasping, he and stumbled back, stunned by seeing someone he never thought he'd meet again. The cowboy from The Light on the Hill. The small sound that had escaped him caught the lawyer's attention and man looked up with a mix of both irritation and curiosity visible on his face. The moment their eyes met and the dark blue eyes widened with recognition. "Laredo?"
Holy shit! That was all that came to his mind, other than, This is bad, really bad. He quickly glanced at Charise for her reaction, just in time to see her gaze go from Mr. Yuy to him, her face expressing her curiosity.
"I think you have me c..c.. confused with someone else," Duo stammered, unable to think of anything else to say. "Eh...excuse me." He turned and literally ran from the room. Bypassing his own desk, he made a bee-line for the men's room down the hall and locked himself in one of the stalls. Thank God the room was empty. He checked to make sure the seat was down and clean before he sat on its edge and buried his head in his hands, feeling utterly mortified. How the hell did Tex come to be Charise's new lawyer? It was pretty damn clear that the man of his dreams wasn't a prostitute employed at The Light on the Hill.
Oh hell, he was beginning to hyperventilate. He concentrated for several moments on catching his breath. It wouldn't do his reputation any good to be found gasping for breath in a bathroom stall, or worse, passed out on the floor from lack of oxygen. What were the odds that he and Tex would ever meet again, and under these circumstances? Double shit. Yes, that seemed to perfectly sum up the situation.
Thankfully, no one came in to use the restroom while he was barricaded in the toilet and asking himself questions for which he had no answers. After his breathing rate returned to normal and he felt some of his panic lessening, he became more aware of the passage of time. There was no way he could hide in the bathroom all day, not with all the work he had on his desk. Besides, Charise would go ballistic if he wasn't available when she needed him.
Resigned to having return to his desk, he reluctantly got up, opened the stall's door and moved to the sink. He washed his hands out of habit and studied his reflection in the mirror. "What the hell are you going to do now?" he asked himself. With no answer coming, he sighed and shook his head. There was nothing to do now but face the music.
His feet felt like they were encased in cement as he trudged his way back to his office, not quite knowing what to expect when he got there. Thankfully, Charise's door was still closed. No doubt she'd expect an explanation for the odd exchange between himself and her new lawyer, not to mentions his rather undignified exit. Playing that scene over in his head, Duo sat in his chair and lay his face on his desk, allowing the surface to cool his flushed face and burning ears. He really needed to calm down, refocus and get back to work. Taking a deep breath, he sat up and set his mind on doing just that.
Having lost his appetite, he picked distractedly at his salad and sipped his drink, worrying about what would happen when Charise's door opened. Thankfully, a phone call came in from one of their fabric suppliers who insisted on speaking to Charise. Duo transferred the call, tossed what remained of his lunch into the garbage, then returned to his usual routine, which helped to put aside his worries.
Half an hour later, he jumped slightly when his boss's door opened. Charise was speaking to the dark haired man as they left her office together. Quickly busying himself, Duo kept his eyes averted away from the two as they stood just outside her office door. As far as he could tell they were exchanging brief goodbyes. And then the room suddenly fell ominously silent. Looking up from beneath his eyelashes he could see someone in a dark suit standing in front of his desk. "Mr. Maxwell?"
Well, he couldn't get away with pretending he hadn't heard the man, seeing that he was standing right in front of him, so out of politeness Duo slowly raised his head and look at the lawyer from above the rim of his glasses. Yes, there stood the man who had dominated his dreams since he'd returned home from the working vacation. "Hello," he said, at a loss for words. The man was as gorgeous as he remembered. His eyes, so blue and surrounded by thick black eyelashes, made his stomach flutter.
Unexpectedly, Tex held his hand out. "I'm sorry if I startled you earlier. It's nice to see you again."
Duo looked at the proffered hand for a moment, dumbfounded. The man was actually wanting to shake his hand. Unable to think of any other response, he placed his hand in the palm of the lawyer's hand and they shook. "H...how are you?" He inwardly winced, thinking that he sounded like an insecure school boy instead of a grown man.
The handshake continued. "I'm good. I didn't know you worked for Ms. DuFrame. She's told me how invaluable you are as her assistant."
Duo glanced around the other man at the mention of his boss's name. Sure enough, Charise was standing by her open door with a look on her face that told him she was slightly worried. He could only guess that look stemmed from his abrupt departure from her office. Seeing that he was all right, she made an excuse about getting back to work then disappeared into her office and closed the door, leaving the two men alone.
Two seconds after the click of the closing door sounded behind him, Tex's pleasant smile had disappeared altogether. With their hands still clasped, the lawyer tightened his grip as he leaned over the desk and asked with a sneer, "How's tricks, Laredo?" He then stepped back and pulled his hand away as if he'd touched something dirty. Duo could have crawled beneath his desk he was so embarrassed. Then a thought came to him that he wasn't the only one who should feel embarrassed.
Forcing a smirk to form on his own lips, he replied, "I guess I could ask the same thing of you, Tex."
"Look," the lawyer began again in a matter-of-fact tone of voice while straightening his expensive tie. "I don't know what game you're playing or why, but I'm Ms. DuFrame's lawyer, at least on the suit that's been filed against her by Huffington. Considering your position as her assistant, I expect you to behave towards me in a business-like manner. Let's just forget about the afternoon we met and treat each other like the strangers we are."
"I don't need to be lectured by you as to how I should behave at work," Duo snapped back. Then collecting himself, he said in a more dignified manner, "But I agree, you treat me with the same respect you expect from me and we'll ignore each other as much as possible."
Yuy nodded, signaling a detente of sorts had been reached. He then turned and strode out of his office. It wasn't until he heard the ding of the elevator, signaling the man's departure, that Duo let out the breath he'd been holding. That hadn't gone as badly as it could have, but neither did it go well. The feeling of dread that sat in the pit of his stomach earlier now eased up. He now felt only slightly queezy.
"What was that all about?" Unaware that she'd come out of her office, Duo was started by the sound of Charise's voice. "I gather the two of you have met before?"
"I'm afraid so," Duo answered, wondering how much he was going to tell his boss, a born meddler.
"Oh, I know," she said, her eyes alight with realization. "Mr. Yuy and several of his colleagues visited the ranch at the same time we were there. You met him then, didn't you?"
"That's right." Duo tried to sound unaffected by that not so inconsequential meeting. No need for his boss to know about his tryst with her lawyer.
"Duo, what's wrong? Did you and Mr. Yuy not hit it off? Did he say anything to offend you?"
If he told Charise that her lawyer had done anything inappropriate, or even said something to upset him, it would cause her protective instincts to flare up and maybe lash out. He didn't doubt that she would call the law firm and have a different lawyer representing her within the hour. He might feel uncomfortable with Mr. Yuy around, but there was no way he was going to do or say anything that might bring unwarranted repercussions against the man. It was his own fault for thinking that the cowboy he'd met was a prostitute, and that he'd basically bent over and let the man screw him. He reluctantly reminded himself that until he'd come face to face with Tex in the room with his boss, he'd been grateful to him for unknowingly helping him overcoming his problem.
"No, he didn't offend me. He's just really attractive and I guess I'm a bit tongue-tied around him."
Charise's face lit with a smile and she winked at him. "He is hot, isn't he? I don't know if he swings your way or not, but I wouldn't mind seeing him out of that suit, if you know what I mean." She waggled her eyebrows, teasing him. He didn't want to tell her that the man in question probably wouldn't be interested in getting naked with her or any other woman, especially if he had to explain how he had come by that kind of personal bit of information about someone he'd only met once. "Well, you saw him first," he said, hoping she let go of the subject soon.
"And he's smart, too. Perry was right, there's something very special about that man. He seems to have it all: good looks, an incredible body, an intelligent mind and a paycheck that could make even me happy. What's not to like about that package, right?"
"Right." Duo cleared his throat and busied himself shuffling the papers on his desk into a neat stack. "So, are you ready for the meeting with Dan Salazar. He's bringing the fabric samples you requested."
Diverted from the subject of Mr. Yuy, Charise turned her attention towards another topic of interest: the following year's fall line of clothing and footwear. Duo could only hope that their regular work routine would soon return to normal and that Mr. Yuy would not have to visit the office often.