I Thought I Hated Him Ch. 05

Nis 3, 2024 // By:analsex // No Comment

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When Monday morning came I woke just after Daniel, slipping home to shower and get ready for work. By the time I arrived at the office Daniel’s door was closed and I assumed he was already hard at work. We hadn’t discussed what we were going to say and do at the office; I was too chicken to bring it up, and I assumed Daniel hadn’t considered the consequences of our weekend debauchery on our working relationship.

As I passed my own desk in the bullpen the phone rang. “Good Morning, Clara Kovacs speaking,” I chirruped as brightly as I could considering my lack of sleep and the early hour.

“Clara, thank Gawd. Where the hell have you been all weekend? I must have left you like a million messages.” My best friend Jill Andersen sounded positively panicked on the other end of the line. “You didn’t show up for drinks on Saturday.”

“Ah shit, Jill. I forgot.” I confessed bashfully.

“You forgot? You never forget anything and you always check your messages,” Jill’s voice was edged with apprehension. “What’s going on?”

“Well, I…,” I hesitated.

“Oh my Gawd, you met a guy.” Jill laughed loudly.

I couldn’t help but giggle. “How’d you know?”

“Come on, Clara; we’ve been friends for fifteen years, and it’s only when you meet a new guy that you don’t return my calls. We missed you Saturday night; I hope the sex was worth it.”

“It definitely was,” I laughed, blushing at the memory of Daniel and all the wonderful things he’d done to me all weekend long.

“Alright,” Jill cajoled. “Are you going to cough up the dirty details or what?”

“Not too many details,” I demurred.

“Come on,” she prodded with a laugh. “The sex was…?”

“Amazing,” I answered truthfully.

“On a scale of one-to-ten?”

“Fourteen.”

Jill laughed so loudly I had to hold the telephone receiver away from my ear for a moment. “Who is this wonder man?”

“We work together,” I said as quietly as I could without being overheard.

“Really? I thought you said none of the other junior architects are even worth mentioning? Are you holding out on me?” Jill’s teasing note held a small amount of hurt.

“I’m not and they’re not,” I giggled. “But he’s not a junior.”

“Are you going to make me drag it out of you?” Jill asked. “You stood us up this weekend, the least you can do is tell me with whom.”

“Daniel’s an architect.”

There was a pause on the other line. “Daniel? Daniel? Oh my Gawd, like, the Daniel? The mean one that everybody hates?” Jill’s disbelief was tangible from across the city.

My loud peal of laughter drew curious stares from the rapidly filling workstations around me. “Yes Jill, the mean one that everybody hates; but I can’t talk about it here. Meet me for lunch and we’ll talk.”

“You’re such a tease,” Jill muttered mutinously. “Fine. Same place, same time?”

“As always,” I laughed as she hung up.

I settled back into my chair for a moment and watched the office come alive; there was still no sign of Daniel from behind his closed office door, but there were more than enough voicemails and emails to keep me busy until my lunch date with Jill.

——-

Jill was already stationed at our usual table on the patio at Bellini’s when I pulled up. Clad in a white suit and bright pink blouse, she looked every inch the successful lawyer she was, from her pedicured toes to her perfectly highlighted blond head.

“I ordered for you already,” she beamed as I sat down. “You always get the same thing anyway.”

I laughed; it was hardly my fault Bellini’s had the best spinach salad known to man.

“Alright, spit it out,” Jill demanded. “All of it.”

“I’m not really sure what to tell you,” I admitted bashfully. “I’m a little overwhelmed myself.”

“I thought you hated this Daniel guy.” There was a confused look on Jill’s pretty face.

“I do. I did.” I shrugged. “I don’t know; it’s weird. One minute we’re yelling at each other and the next second we’re…”

“When? Where?” Jill leaned over the table, blatant curiosity evident on every line of her face. Laughing, I filled her in on the intimate details.

“You’re crazy,” Jill giggled once I’d told her as much as I comfortable sharing. “It’s not like you to do something like this.”

I toyed with the straw in my iced tea. “I know, but with Daniel I just can’t help myself.”

“Do you think there’s any future with this guy?” Jill asked earnestly. “I mean, where is this going?”

I buried my head in my hands, ignoring the waitress as she slipped my spinach salad in front of me. “I don’t know. He’s such an ass sometimes I could kick him, or throw something.” I smiled weakly. “But in the bedroom things are…”

“Earth shattering?” Jill supplied as I hesitated.

“To say the least,” I conceded with a sign. “What the hell am I going to do?”

“Well, as I see it you have two options,” Jill smiled brightly as she waved her fork about dramatically. “You can acknowledge there’s no hope of a future with this guy and break it off Short links now and try to salvage some kind of working relationship; or you can throw caution to the wind and expect nothing from him but great sex.”

I sighed heavily, picking at my salad and tasting nothing; uncertainty was not my style and every aspect of my relationship with Daniel was rife with it.

“I haven’t been much help, huh?” Jill asked as I stared unseeingly into my salad.

“What would you do?”

Jill considered for a time before she answered. “Personally? If the sex is that good I’d stick it out. It’s not every man on the planet who can give you the kind of weekend you just had. I’m jealous.” Jill’s laughter was contagious and we both giggled like freshmen. “I say enjoy it while you can.”

I lifted my water glass in a toast, unable to keep the wicked grin off my face. “All right then, to great sex!”

Jill clinked her glass enthusiastically against my own. “Long may it last!”

——–

The first thing I saw when I waltzed back into the office from lunch was Daniel with his arms crossed over his broad chest and a threatening scowl on this handsome face. He was leaning against the receptionist desk and all three of the administrative assistants were cowering behind it, looking frightened.

“Where the fuck have you been?” Daniel asked coldly.

“I spent the morning catching up on my messages and then I had a lunch date with a friend,” I said as blithely as possible in the face of Daniel’s ire.

The answered look on his face stunned me with its coldness and I fought to keep my temper down.

“My office, now,” Daniel snapped before striding away through the bullpen; he didn’t even look over his shoulder to see if I followed.

I chanced a look at the admin assistants, all of whom were smiling weakly but still looking scared. I hoped Daniel hadn’t been nasty to them, but I doubted it.

There was no hope of my matching Daniel’s long, aggressive stride across the room, so he was able to stand at the top of the stairs and watch my approach. Around me every pair of eyes watched with trepidation as I passed; vaguely I wondered if that was how it felt to walk to the gallows. I lifted my chin another notch and tried to remember to breathe.

Daniel held his office door open with a sinisterly expressionless face, and I didn’t look him in the eyes as I entered; I half expected him to slam the door but instead he shut it softly. The quiet was more ominous than I could have thought.

“If this is about the crooked line in my drawing Daniel, I had every intention of fixing it this afternoon; I had some messages to attend to first. I’ve really been neglecting the rest of my work for this project,” I admitted, hoping I sounded braver than I felt.

Daniel sat at his desk, leaving me standing across from him. “It’s not about the drawing, Clara,” he said stonily.

Once again he’d left me wondering what was coming next; I didn’t like the feeling of uncertainty, but nothing in Daniel’s expression gave his thoughts away.

“Is this about the weekend Daniel? Because I don’t feel I have anything to apologize for,” I stammered.

Daniel ran long fingers through his greying hair. “Jesus Clara, this isn’t about the fucking weekend either; it’s not always about you.”

I stood speechless, watching Daniel’s façade crack slightly and a small modicum of apprehension seep through; getting him to open up was akin to pulling teeth. “What’s going on Daniel?”

“I spent the morning on the phone with City Hall. They’re not giving us a building permit for the Kendall project.” Frustration rang off every word.

“Building permit? Daniel, we don’t even have the plans done,” I said with a sigh.

“I submitted with my preliminaries; I hate waiting for the bureaucratic bastards to make up their minds. They know a final set is coming, but still they said no.”

I sat with a thump in one of Daniel’s executive chairs. “I don’t get it, why would they say no? It’s a heritage building, for Chrissake!”

“That’s what I thought, but it’s more complicated than either of us supposed. Mrs. Kendal owns the building, but the city owns the land. Not entirely sure how that works, or why she failed to mention that little fact to either of us, I guess the previous owner deeded the house to her and the property to the city trust. At any rate, we’re not getting our permit for construction; no permit, no renovations.”

I shook my head in disbelief. “This doesn’t make any sense Daniel. Why wouldn’t the city want Mrs. Kendall to improve the building? It’s a freakin’ eyesore and she wants to turn it into a museum! She’s doing this to benefit everyone, not herself! I wouldn’t be surprised if she turns around and donates the building to the city in the end anyway.”

Daniel looked haggard and it aged him. “I don’t think they care about the building, Clara; the property is worth more than the building ever would be.”

“But they can’t just say no without a motive Short link Daniel. There has to be a legitimate reason why they are denying us a building permit; they can’t just say no!” I leaned across the desk in earnest; Daniel had to have the answers, he always did.

“They’re claiming the building is derelict and unsafe; they want to have it condemned.” Daniel sighed heavily and reached for his cup of tea.

“The house needs a lot of work, but it isn’t unsafe!” I cried. “The foundations are astoundingly well preserved; sure, the roof needs some love, but structurally it’s fairly decent. I had Wesley Bruch out there last week, he’s the best damn structural engineer in the city, and he says that with a little work it’ll be fine!” I knew I wasn’t saying anything Daniel didn’t already know, but he listened impassively.

“City Hall could care less about what Bruch says, especially if he’s our man,” Daniel grumbled roughly; the stony, cold expression dropped like a veil again over his face. “They have their own engineer and he says no.”

“This is fucking ridiculous,” I jumped up and began to pace, all the while feeling Daniel’s steel grey eyes follow me. “They can’t do this to us! This is a heritage building, it deserves to be restored. This is the city’s architectural past we’re preserving here. We’re doing them a favour and it’s not costing them a penny!”

Daniel’s voice dropped an octave when he spoke. “I have a friend at City Hall; he can’t do anything to help us with the permit, but he did tell me the city has a land developer all lined up for the property. Clara, they don’t care about the significance of the architecture, all they care about is the money,” Daniel said in a defeated tone.

I stopped my pacing to watch him warily; I’d never heard him sound like that before, like he’d lost. “What are we going to do about it?”

Daniel shrugged. “What can we do about it? It’s Mrs. Kendall’s house so she can do what she pleases. But we can’t renovate without a permit, and if we can’t renovate I don’t know what she’ll decide; probably to sell.”

“And then they’ll tear it down! We can’t let them do that, Daniel! The city wants Mrs, Kendall to give up and hand the house over; it’s a game they’re playing with us.”

Daniel’s eyes looked so tired. “Of course it’s a game, Clara; life is a fucking game.”

I stopped mid-thought and just stared across the desk at him. “Is this really about the project?”

He fairly growled. “Of course it is.”

“Then why did you need me? You’re the project manager, you’re supposed to handle it; why were you angry when you couldn’t find me this morning? I’m just the junior, what does it matter what I think about all of this? What did Maddock say when you told him?”

“I haven’t told Maddock yet, and I haven’t spoken to Mrs. Kendall yet either. I wanted you to know first,” Daniel hesitated and for a moment I caught a glimpse of the man who I’d spent the weekend in bed with. “I thought maybe you could help me.”

My legs gave out from underneath me as I sat down again. “P-pardon?”

“Help me, Clara?” Daniel asked quietly. “I want your help.”

Uncharacteristically I was at a loss for words.

“You have a better rapport with Mrs. Kendall than I ever could,” Daniel said, trying a faint smile on me. “We need to convince her not to sell, no matter how much pressure the land developer might put on her; it’s not like she needs the money.”

“But without a permit we can’t proceed,” I reiterated. “We’d just be running in circles. City Hall has the power to put this project on hold for so long the building will fall down on its own.”

Daniel nodded, his dislike for the ignorant bureaucracy evident on every line of his handsome face. “They can’t tear it down,” he rumbled menacingly. “It’s a fucking crime if they do.”

“Then we need to find a way to prevent it,” I said determinedly; I could feel my mind clear a little and suddenly I was excited. I always relish a challenge. “If we have the building officially designated as historically significant they can’t tear it down.”

“We’d have to go over City Hall’s head, right to the Provincial Architectural Conservancy,” Daniel reminded me. “Without the city’s support it’ll be difficult; it would be much easier to apply for designation after the renovations, but since our hands are tied…”

“Know anyone up there you could call?” I asked hopefully.

“A few, I suppose,” Daniel said thoughtfully. “We’ll have to have one hell of a pile of research for them. They don’t just spend the money and effort to designate any old building.”

“Then we’ll have to convince them!” I cried. “This is a significant building to both the architectural history of this city and this country. Whoever built this place had a unique vision and a great deal of skill; he ingeniously combined multiple architectural genres; hell, for all we know he invented a few! If this building is torn down we’ll never have the answers!”

“And that,” said Daniel with a wry smile, “is why I wanted you working for this firm.”

“You?” My shock was palpable. “But Maddock head-hunted me from my last job.”

Daniel chuckled, “Yeah, but who do you think put him up to it?”

I sat back in my chair in disbelief, my brain wildly trying to process what Daniel was saying. “Are you kidding? You don’t even like me; you said I was a threat to your job.”

Daniel’s smile was slow and sly. “Well, what’s good for me and what’s good for the firm are two different things. I know talent and passion when I see it Clara and this firm has been lacking that for some time.”

I shook my head wryly. “I am never going to understand you,” I admitted with a grin.

The atmosphere in the room had changed so gradually I’d hardly noticed it; gone was the frustration and disappointment; it had been replaced instead by a small sense of hope and determination, both about the project, and although I’d never admit it aloud, about Daniel as well.

He rose from his seat and came to perch on the corner of his desk nearest to me; he had to lean forward slightly to be at my eye level. “Do you think you could get in touch with Mrs. Kendall today? The sooner she knows the better.”

“Sure,” I agreed with a smile. “And when I’ve finished convincing her I’ll start researching the history of our house; I can squeeze in a visit to the city archives this afternoon.”

Daniel leaned forward and kissed me quickly.

“What was that for?” I asked with trepidation; although we hadn’t discussed what working together would be like after the weekend we’d just had I assumed we’d be keeping things separate.

“Thank you,” Daniel said.

“You’re welcome,” I offered back. The spark had returned to Daniel’s blue-grey eyes and it made me smile; I liked knowing there was a human side to the Dragon.

“Use my phone to make your call to Mrs. Kendall if you like; it’ll be quieter up here. I should go inform Maddock of our little road block.”

“Alright,” I nodded, rising from my seat as Daniel stood. I put a hand on his suit-clad arm to stop him from turning and stood on my tiptoes to kiss him. I’d only meant for it to be a quick kiss, but Daniel delved expertly, drawing the moment out and making me moan back into the kiss.

“Good luck,” he whispered gruffly when we parted.

“You too,” I gasped, content for the moment to catch my breath and watch him walk away; the view from the back was pretty good.

Sitting behind Daniel’s desk was weird; the room certainly looked different from his perspective. Everything was neat and tidy and exact, and a huge contrast from the messy corner of the room where I’d been working on my drawings. I couldn’t help but wonder blithely if I’d pushed into Daniel’s entire life as messily as I had his office.

My hand hovered nervously over the phone; Mrs. Kendall was a little odd, but she was a nice lady and I wasn’t looking forward to our conversation. But Daniel expected me to hold up my end of the project, and I didn’t care to let him down.

——-

“Clara? Clara?” There was a warm hand on my arm and crick in my neck; dazed, I raised my head and squinted around. Daniel stood over me and I realized with a jolt what had happened; I’d put my head down on his desk for just a second after my call to Mrs. Kendall, needing a minute to rally my thoughts and formulate the next step of the plan.

“You fell asleep,” Daniel smiled softly.

“Yeah,” I rubbed my heavy eyelids. “Sorry about that. What time is it?”

“Four-thirty-seven,” Daniel chuckled.

I shot instantly to my feet and Daniel grabbed my arm to steady me as I wobbled slightly, waiting for my blood to catch up to my head.

“Don’t worry, I closed the door and told everyone you were working.”

“Jesus, Daniel, I’m sorry.” I tried frantically to tidy my flattened hair and rumpled clothes.

He shrugged nonchalantly and made his own attempt at fixing my hair before running a finger across my cheek. “Sleep wrinkle,” he said with a husky laugh, tracing the line imprinted on my skin from falling asleep with my head against my blouse-clad arm. “It’s cute.”

“Dammit,” I muttered embarrassedly, rubbing roughly at my cheek.

Daniel stilled my hand. “Don’t do that,” he growled. “You’ll only hurt yourself.” He kissed my cheek and each of my fingertips in turn and I could feel my knees tremble. “I love women when they first wake up; all beautiful and sleepy and flushed. You’re gorgeous.”

“You old flirt,” I mumbled, unable to stop my smile. “Are you mad at me?”

“Actually, for once I’m not,” Daniel smiled back. “Obviously you needed to catch up on your sleep.”

“Yes well, I had a particularly wild weekend,” I giggled, helpless to tear my gaze from Daniel’s crooked smile. “Some old guy kept me up all night long.”

Daniel wrapped his arms around me and leaned his chin atop my head; I snuggled into the warmth and solidity of his body and sighed. “Just imagine how the old guy feels,” Daniel quipped dryly.

“Yeah, he’ll probably need a few days to recover,” I teased.

“He will?” I couldn’t see Daniel’s face, but I just knew his eyebrow had risen sharply to the ceiling. “I wouldn’t be so certain about that.”

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