He shook his head. “You’re such a p***y, man.”
I laughed. “Get to work before I fire you.”
“Hey, you can’t fire me until you start paying me.”
“I thought you got paid in dates?”
He shrugged and stood. “Yeah. You’re right. All right, but do me a favor.”
“Can you not keep me in the dark completely on things like this? I want to be supportive, but I can’t do that if you don’t talk to me.”
I nodded. I hadn’t needed anyone’s blessing to ask her the first time, and I sure as hell didn’t need his approval the second time around.
“Support isn’t necessary, but I appreciate it. I’ll try not to blindside you with any big news though.”
MAYA. I walked to the gym, hating how drained I was. One day back at work and I felt as if my life force had been sucked from me. I didn’t see Cameron in the weight room. I briefly considered changing and getting on with the workout I’d promised him and myself I’d do tonight. Part of my whole not-drinking-a-bottle-of-wine-a-night initiative, which so far had been working well. Except now I wanted to wash away the weight of the day—Dermott’s decidedly cold attitude toward me and Jia’s threats—with a stiff drink.
Instead, I knocked quietly on the office door, entering when I heard Cameron’s voice. He was sitting at his desk, his brow knitted as he stared at the screen intensely.
He looked up, brightening when he saw me. “Hey, baby.”
“What are you working on?”
“End of the year financial stuff. It’s giving me a headache. Come here.”
I dropped my bag and came to him, curling up on his lap without reservation. He hugged me close. I nuzzled into his neck. I breathed him in, tension releasing immediately.
I shook my head.
“Do I need to hurt someone?” His voice held only the smallest hint of humor.
“No. But I’m not sure if I’m going to have a job much longer.”
“I called Jia out on being a manipulative b***h, and she threatened me.” I leaned against his strong chest, resting my head on his shoulder. “I called her bluff. Told her that I didn’t need the job, which of course is a complete lie. I’ve done well and saved, but I need that job. I can’t afford to keep Eli and me in that apartment without a decent paycheck.”
“Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get an apartment with a bedroom that size? I had to jump around for a few years to find that place.”
“Move in with me. I’ve got three floors to choose from. And f**k the job. You hate it anyway. We’ll find you something else. Maybe you could help me around here for awhile.”
I laughed. “You are seriously living in a dream world. My place is not in this gym except when you force me or guilt me into coming here.”
“I meant on a business level. I’m up to my ears in paperwork. I had the vision for the gym, and I have a vision for more. I got the investors I needed and made it happen. But the rest of this s**t is driving me crazy. It’s going to catch up to me one day.”
I sighed. A little part of me leaped at the portrait he painted of how things could be. Another part of me brushed it off as completely unrealistic. I couldn’t ditch Eli, and I couldn’t give up on the career that I’d worked so hard for. As much as I wanted to run away, I was trying to do less of that lately.
“I’m happy to help, but I need to make this work. There are lots of banks I can work for if things don’t work out.”
“What if they make it difficult for you to switch companies? Aren’t they all sort of incestuously connected?”
I stared down at my fingers, noting the few nails I’d lost to today’s anxiety. I’d briefly considered that Jia or Dermott could blacken my name, blocking attempts to make at least a lateral move, but even that seemed too low for Jia. Had all of our interactions been a farce, or could I count on anything from our friendship?
I closed my eyes. “I don’t want to think about it. What’s the point in worrying when it’s all out of my hands now? She and Dermott will do whatever they decide to do because I won’t play their game.”
“Sure you don’t want me to talk to them? I could give them some powerful insights.”
I smiled, looking up at him again. His lips lifted into a grin, but I knew he was serious too. “Thank you for wanting to go to bat for me, but I promise I can handle this one myself.”