“I’d sooner f**k the mailroom guy than Dermott.”
She grimaced at the suggestion.
“I’m not spreading my legs to prove I can do my job, when I can do it well enough.”
She narrowed her eyes. “So that’s how it is.”
Defending myself and insulting her behavior were one in the same, and that fact wasn’t lost on her. I fought the wave of panic that crept over me. I had no idea how this would play out or what she expected me to do from here. I’d let her take the lead, but I couldn’t trust where that took me anymore.
I took a deep breath, trying to recover the tone of the conversation. “All I’m saying is you should have more respect for your body…for yourself, than to let someone like him demean you that way.”
She let out a sharp laugh. “Respect? Plenty of people respect me. Who respects you, Maya? You were nothing but a cubicle drone until I put the spotlight on you. You let people pass you over every day, take advantage of your talents and your mind so they can take all the credit. What’s that if not demeaning?”
I clenched my teeth, hating the absolute truth that spewed from her lips. “You’re right, Jia.” I held her in a hard stare, seeing her clearly for the first time. “And that’s exactly what you did. Or what you would have done, if I’d been stupid enough to let you.”
“You spelled it all out for me, remember? You told me yourself that you weren’t here to make friends, that you were here to get ahead. That it was all about finding out what people wanted and capitalizing on those desires for your benefit.”
“This was for our benefit.”
“Did you really think I’d let you pimp me so you could get a promotion, Jia? This wasn’t about me. This was about you. But what shocks me is that someone as smart as you couldn’t come up with something more original than blowing our boss to get ahead.”
Her eyes grew dark, dangerously so. “You’re going to regret this.”
“Maybe I will. But I’m sure I won’t regret it as much as I would have regretted letting Dermott f**k me.”
I stood and grabbed my purse, throwing a fifty on the table. “This one’s on me.”
“That won’t help you keep your job.”
“I don’t need this job, so do what you want, Jia.”
I walked out, trying to keep my legs steady and fighting the tremble that coursed through me.
CAMERON. Darren called to me on my way in. He said something unintelligible to the pretty blonde he was training and followed me down the hall to the office. Shutting the door behind us, he stood silent while I shoved my things in my locker.
I circled the desk. He stood awkwardly in front of it. Something was up. He didn’t have a smart-a*s grin on his face or anything sarcastic to say. In fact, I’m not sure I’d seen him this serious…ever.
“What’s up? Everything okay?”
“Do you want to talk to me about anything?” he asked calmly.
I frowned. “No?” I dropped down into my chair, pulling up the schedule on the computer.
“Not anything at all?”
My eyes went wide. I had no idea what the hell he was getting at. “Spit it out, Darren. I have an appointment in ten minutes.”
He walked up to the desk, put his hands on the edge, and leaned in close.
“A ring, Cam? You bought her a f*****g ring?”
My eyes shot to the locker where I’d stashed my bags the other day. Nosy b*****d.
“Stay out of my locker.”
“I knew something was up when you came in. You can’t hide that kind of stuff from me.”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Really? I’m your brother and best friend. And you weren’t going to run that by me? When I was giving you s**t about getting her into bed, I wasn’t suggesting you run off and marry her. Have you lost your g*****n mind?”
I reclined back in the chair, gaining some distance from Darren’s decidedly aggressive line of questioning.
“I don’t understand why you care so much. Relationships aren’t exactly your forte.”
“They’re not, but this is insane. Even I can see that.”
“You think calling someone back after you sleep with her is insane. No offense, but you’re out of your depth here.”
“You really think she’s going to marry you now after she’s already shot you down once?” His voice was strained and bordered on hysterical.
I suppressed a smile. He was genuinely concerned.
He’d voiced a valid point though. I’d asked myself the same question roughly every twenty minutes since I’d purchased the ring. I was nowhere close to presenting it to her, but it would only be a matter of time. I’d made up my mind.