The building probably had more light switches than any other in the city, but with night pushing against its windows, it was nearly pitch black except for the tiny bleak emergency lights spotted along the stark walls. Within the compartmentalized offices, a few computer screens buzzed, with their colorful screensavers bouncing along with dizzying monotony.
Simon could switch the lights on as he crept through the building, but then someone might look up from the street below and wonder what was going on.
The office building emptied at six o’clock sharp every day. One by one the light switches were flicked off, so the entire building went dark as people filed out at the end of their shift. The neighboring condos were bound to contain a few curious souls who would call the cops at the first sign of something out of the ordinary.
Which was something he didn’t wanted to risk when he wasn’t supposed to be in the office in the first place.
There were only a few company rules that he’d discovered since he’d started working in the grand building a few years before. The strictest of them all was that he was never allowed to work late. His boss had called it a perk. He probably hadn’t thought to warn Simon that the deserted halls looked like the inside of a haunted house after dark.
Not that I haven’t broken enough rules today.
The biggest rule should have been that he wasn’t allowed to kiss his boss. It should have been printed in giant gold letters at the top of his orientation papers, which he’d signed for human resources on day one. There had been the salary information, the confidentiality agreement and the listed restrictions to keep employees from stealing clients and going rogue.
There had been nothing about kissing.
Maybe he should have tried harder to pay attention to the sexual harassment video they’d made him watch that had been thirty years out of date? The boredom had been so complete that he had almost passed out in the tiny plastic folding chair.
The kiss hadn’t been his fault!
* * * *
Six hours earlier
Simon let out a tired sigh as he organized a few things on his desk and filed a frustrating contract under ‘G’ as he got ready to wrap up the rest of his paperwork. Six o’clock was looming close, only an hour away according to the digital clock at the corner of his computer screen. Sixty minutes before he would head out of the door and into the swarming hive that was public transportation.
He reached for his bag, the fabric slipping against his fingertips, when he heard a sound coming from his boss’s office—his very quiet and very professional boss, who hadn’t even shouted when he’d stubbed his toe on his desk two days before.
He peeked in the office door, knowing that he didn’t have to knock. Rich, dark wood filled the space that was decorated with expensive art and a bookshelf with a few first edition novels.
Rubric Mayvel, one of the richest and most desired men in the country, was facing his office window that overlooked the bustling city below. His shoulders were heaving, the rumpled fabric of his shirt stretched tight. The shattered remains of a shot glass lay among the carpet fibers, the bitterness of expensive bourbon in the air.
Drops of alcohol flowed down the window, and the tiny shards of glass stranded in the carpet glinted in the afternoon light. Mr. Mayvel didn’t seem to notice the state of the window or the glass, his gaze drawn to the rushing traffic of the city below.
Simon didn’t think twice before he rushed in, grabbing the small broom and dustpan that always hung conveniently by the door. Sweeping up a little bit of glass was nothing worse than having Mr. Mayvel’s morning coffee ready for him when he strolled into the office five minutes early, his suit pressed and perfectly fitted on his tall, sleek body.
Simon copied, signed, faxed, emailed and did every other imaginable thing to the paperwork that went through his boss’s office, so a little bit of glass on the floor wasn’t beneath him. He was there to help, after all.
It was the same reason that Simon shielded his boss from solicitors, usually feeling terrible about hanging up on someone who was just trying to make a living. He even acted as a tiny guard outside Mr. Mayvel’s office, mostly keeping secretaries or other interlopers away and distracting them by asking for details on the latest gossip.
Simon had a face that people liked to tell their secrets to, and he knew exactly who was screwing who in the office because of it—all seventy floors included. Not that he would ever tell anyone about what he learned or look at any of his colleagues differently. So what if Niamo had her boyfriend tie her up? That actually sounded kind of hot.
Kneeling on the office floor, he scraped the glass into the trash bin, leaving the stained window for the cleaners, knowing he would just make the smearing worse. He poured a glass of ice water, setting it on the desk before he prepared to retreat.
Mr. Mayvel hadn’t looked away from the window when Simon had entered the room or when he’d bent over to pick a few stray shards out of the carpet, but that was nothing new.
Simon did his duties with as little inconvenience to Mr. Mayvel as possible, not to mention that Simon had the approximate sex appeal of flat ginger ale, while Mr. Mayvel put models to shame.
But when he started to back out of the room, he looked up to see Mr. Mayvel staring at him, as if he had lost his way while gazing out of the windowpane. His shoulders were slumped, and his suit was crumpled in a way that Simon had never seen before. His hair was limp from him running his hands through it over and over, and there were dark smudges under his eyes that Simon hadn’t noticed earlier in the day.
“Are you okay?” Simon asked as he folded his hands behind his back to keep from fiddling. Mr. Mayvel always commented if Simon clicked his pen too many times or tapped his fingers on his desk while he was thinking.
The sky flamed golden in the afternoon light, shimmering against Mr. Mayvel’s honey-colored hair and turning it almost bronze. The sight pulled at Simon, begging him to step closer.
Mr. Mayvel caught his gaze, dragging his tongue over his lower lip that looked swollen, as if he’d been chewing on it in distress. Simon wanted to speak up and ask Mr. Mayvel what he could do to help, but he was mesmerized by the sight. He would do anything the man needed, if only to take the broken look off his face.
Simon didn’t realize that his anything included moving closer and cupping his boss’s cheek in his palm. Mr. Mayvel leaned into the touch, his long lashes dancing over his cheeks as he closed his eyes. He was so beautiful but so lost.
Lifting up to the tips of his toes, Simon brought their lips together. He’d never imagined kissing Mr. Mayvel before, because he had kept the man squarely in the ‘off-limits’ corner of his mind.
Mr. Mayvel’s lips were soft, yet firm, the lower one a bit swollen and warmer against his own. At the first touch, heat seared between them, building so quickly that Simon’s reservations quickly spiraled beyond his control. Mr. Mayvel let out the smallest gasp, and Simon pushed into his mouth with a groan, tasting bourbon along with the faintest hint of cigarettes.
He wasn’t sure how long they kissed as he took complete control, even with his shorter stature. Mr. Mayvel showed no signs of resisting or fighting for dominance, melting against Simon like smooth chocolate. It was the sweetest kiss Simon could remember from the last year, if not longer, and it was with his boss.
Simon finally pulled back with dawning horror, ripping his hands away from where he had accidentally buried them in Mr. Mayvel’s hair. Mr. Mayvel’s lips were kiss-swollen and red, glistening as the sun peeked through the window. His eyes were half-lidded, with a blush across his cheeks that hid the darkness of the smudges under his eyes.
It was the only thing that Simon managed to say before he turned and fled, pushing his way out of the office. His lips tingled, and he touched them as he rounded the corner, remembering the way Mr. Mayvel’s mouth had felt against his.
How was he going to find a new job? His stomach sank as his heart pounded.
When he reached the elevator, he ran through the doors, pressing his back against the wall as he waited for the gates to close. His breaths came in short gasps, his vision starting to blot as he approached hyperventilation. His stomach twisted into so many knots he wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to eat again.
“You okay, Simon?” Troy asked with a raised brow as he took a sip from his coffee mug. Simon hadn’t noticed his coworker standing in the elevator when he had thrown himself inside.
A flush bloomed on his face. “S-sorry! I just f-forgot I had an appointment t-today and had to leave a f-few minutes early, so I’m running,” Simon stammered, flushing hotter as the lie stuck on his tongue. He couldn’t exactly tell Troy the truth, but the lie lay deep in the pit of his stomach, making him even heavier.
“Hmm-m,” Troy said, tapping his finger to his lip before he pressed the back of his hand to Simon’s forehead. “You might be getting sick, Simon. I’ve never heard of you forgetting anything, least of all an appointment. You are a bit flushed. Make sure you get straight to bed after.” He pulled away, hitting the button for the parking garage and the main floor.
Troy had his own car there—a monstrosity of a Jeep that belonged to one or both of his boyfriends—but he knew that Simon took the bus home.
“Thanks, Troy.” Simon melted against the back of the elevator as he tried to slow his breathing.