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Forbidden Surrender

Forbidden Surrender

Forbidden Surrender/10

Page 10
Author: Priscilla West

Still, at the end of each day, I was disappointed not to have heard his voice. It seemed like Vincent was going to pursue me harder but maybe he had already found a new distraction. Of course, that would be a stress relief from a professional perspective—and should have been one I welcomed wholeheartedly—but I had to admit his pursuit of me was the most exciting thing that had happened to me in a while. Maybe ever.

Finally, Friday rolled around. When I got home, Riley told me she scored some tickets at work for the Knicks game and asked me to join.

I quickly pulled on a nice shirt and skinny jeans but took longer on the makeup and hair. I was applying the final touches in the bathroom next to Riley who was finishing her makeup.

“So have you seen Vincent since Monday?” she said, touching up her mascara in the mirror.

“Nope,” I said. “Our next meeting isn’t until next Tuesday. ”

“Is he still into you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on. The question isn’t whether he’s into you, it’s how aggressive he’s being about it. You get all flustered every time I mention him, so spill. I know you’re hiding something. ”

“I’m not. You saw him. He’s hot. Lots of girls find him hot, and I’m sure he does really well with plenty of them. But we have a professional relationship. ”

She blinked her eyes a few times and put her mascara away. “Okay, if you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. But he’s into you and I know you know. ”

“Whatever. Who are we meeting again?”

She’d moved onto lip gloss and smacked her lips a few times. “Jen and Steph. They started at the same time I did. I think you’ve met Jen. ”

Riley had a lot of friends from work and I’d probably met this girl before even if I didn’t remember. I was just happy to be off the subject of Vincent. “I think so. Are we meeting them there?”

“Yeah, and they texted that they left a minute ago. You ready?”

“You know I’m always faster than you. Let’s go. ”

“After you doll. ”

The seats weren’t great, but they were cheap, and more importantly it was a low stress, girls’ night out, which was exactly what I needed. We got popcorn and sodas and settled in, flirting lightheartedly with the guys in the row in front of us. Jen and Steph were both fun and inclusive, filling me in when the conversation referenced inside jokes stemming from work.

The three of them had a better rapport than anyone I worked with at Waterbridge-Howser. The work sounded less interesting from what Riley had told me, but at least the environment sounded fun.

Ten minutes into the first quarter, we spotted ourselves on the Jumbotron. The camera lingered long enough for us to wave and cheer enthusiastically. It was funny how excited I was about something so trivial; for the tenth time that night I reflected on how good Riley was being to me. This kind of evening was absolutely perfect. She often knew when I was upset and steered things to my comfort zone when I needed it—and I needed it as much as ever after such a crazy couple weeks. Even though she didn’t know all the details, she had a good idea of how I was feeling and wouldn’t push the subject further than my comfort level.

During the break between the first and second quarter, we were approached by a balding man in a suit with a nametag that indicated he was a member of the hospitality staff at Madison Square Garden. “DAVE” touched his hand to his earpiece, then looked between me and Riley.

“Excuse me, miss,” he said to me, “are you Riley Hewitt?”

Startled, I pointed to my friend. “No, that’s her,” I said. Riley turned to face Dave.

“Ms. Hewitt, you and your group have been upgraded to box seats, compliments of the house. If you’ll follow me. ”

We all looked at each other in shock. Did we win some kind of random drawing? When Dave indicated he didn’t know the details, only that he was the messenger, we briefly discussed it among ourselves. “Why not?” was the verdict. I’d never been in the box seats at MSG—they were super expensive—but it sounded like a blast. After the craziness of the situation with Vincent, my luck was looking up; this night was somehow getting better by the minute.

After a short walk, Dave led us through a private hallway to a double-doored suite. Passing through the threshold, we stepped onto lush carpeting and marveled at the leather couches surrounding a wall-sized TV displaying the game. In the back laid out buffet-style was enough snack food and drinks to stock a grocery store. Our mouths beginning to water, Dave continued the tour by ushering us through a sliding glass entrance to a balcony. He gestured to the rows of seats indicating we could watch the action live if we preferred but we were mainly interested in returning to the food.

He brought us back inside and clapped his hands together. “That concludes the tour. Any questions?”

“Are you sure this is all free?” Riley asked. “Like you’re not going to charge my credit card after we leave right?”

Dave smiled. “Somebody’s getting charged but it isn’t you fine ladies, I assure you. ” After we indicated we had no further questions, he turned to leave but said, “I almost forgot. You’ll be joined later by some Knicks shareholders. I promise, they’re wonderful company. ” He winked then left with a sordid grin on his face.

Oh great. The mystery behind a group of girls receiving too-good-to-be-true box seats became clearer.

Jen huffed. “If this ‘upgrade’ means getting hit on by a bunch of old guys all night, I’m going to be pissed. ”

“I don’t know,” Steph said. “If they’re shareholders, they’re probably really rich. Let’s just take advantage of the free goodies, have fun, then go home. ”

Jen went to the suite door and checked to make sure it wasn’t locked, which thankfully it wasn’t. After some discussion and some longing glances at the food, we decided to stay and enjoy ourselves.

We stuffed our plates with nachos, cookies, and other hip-friendly treats and brought them out to the balcony seats. By the time we settled in, the second quarter had already started. The Knicks were losing, but that didn’t bother me. I was more of a football girl but crowd energy made watching any live sport enjoyable. Plus, the delicious nachos kept my tummy happy.

A Knicks player threw yet another terrible pass and the other team stole it for a breakaway dunk. The Knicks coach called timeout and slammed his clipboard down, venting his frustration in the form of passionate words and wild gesticulations.

“Reminds me of my boss,” Riley remarked.

“Totally,” said Jen. Steph nodded in agreement.

“I thought you said he wasn’t bad,” I offered.

Riley rolled her eyes. “Compared to others, he’s not. But he has a habit of always walking by, making sure no one’s playing solitaire or checking Facebook. He’s a stickler for rules and blows his top when people don’t follow them. If I had to describe him with one word, I’d say ‘particular’. ”

Her boss sounded similar to Richard on a bad day. “I’d use a stronger word. ‘Anal’ sounds good. ”

A warm hand rested on my shoulder, making my words linger in the air. “Hello Kristen. ”

I twisted my head to see who it was even though the voice was unmistakable. Vincent, in a crisp white shirt that bolded his dark eyes and slate-gray slacks that hid powerful lean muscles, was preparing to take a seat in the row behind us. The impeccable timing combined with being hit by his intense aura made my nacho-filled stomach drop to the floor.

“Vincent, what are you doing here?” I asked anxiously, unsure which parts he caught of our private girls conversation. Besides stalking me.

“You remembered to call me Vincent. I’m touched. ” He smiled then squeezed my shoulder gently. “I was enjoying the game from the front row when I saw you and your friends on screen. I figured I’d send my regards to my new account manager. ”

“You’re his account manager, Kristen?” Jen asked, surprised.

I looked at her, then Steph, then Riley. Their eyes trained on Vincent were as wide as their mouths, like they’d just seen a god. “Umm . . . yeah. Guys, this is Vincent Sorenson, CEO of SandWorks. He’s a new client. ” I introduced Jen and Steph to him and he shook their hands in turn. They looked as if they were going to melt from his touch and I couldn’t help commiserating.

“Although we hadn’t been formally introduced, Kristen’s already told me about you Riley,” he said smoothly, shaking her hand.

She blushed then giggled uncharacteristically. “Kristen’s told me all about you as well. ”

I glared daggers at her, hoping she’d take the cue.

“Good things I hope. ”

“Only the best,” she replied, pointedly ignoring me. “Jen, Steph want to get some more snacks inside?”

I stealthily pinched her hip and she smoothly pulled my hand away without reacting. She was determined to leave me and Vincent alone and I was determined to prevent that. God knows what happened last time Vincent and I were by ourselves in his office. I shuddered to think something similar would happen at this public venue.

“I’ll come with you,” I said, more as a plea than a suggestion.

“Oh no, I’m sure you guys have so much to talk about. ” She smiled at me then turned to Vincent. “Thank you for the box seats Mr. Sorenson. Hopefully Kristen can show you our full appreciation. ” Her obvious wink made me wince. Then she tugged Jen and Steph inside, the two of them stealing glances at Vincent as they left.

When it was clear we were alone, Vincent deftly hopped over the row and took the seat beside me. He reached back and grabbed two drinks he must’ve put there before alerting me to his presence and offered one to me.

“A mojito. I know it’s your favorite. ”

Irritated by the charge I got from being so near him, I accepted the drink and took a gulp to calm my nerves. I wanted to be mad at him but couldn’t think of a good reason. “See what you did? You scared off my friends. ” This was supposed to be girls’ night out, but with the amount of testosterone he exuded I sensed it had just turned into Vincent’s night out.