Total, utter suspension.
That’s the only way I can describe this feeling.
Everything suddenly hits pause. My lungs. My limbs. My heart. Even time itself.
A severe, almost animalistic glare fills my entire line of vision, peering down at me. Scrutinizing. Examining. Penetrating.
For seconds without motion or measure, I stare speechlessly into the most exceptional, breathtaking eyes I’ve ever seen…
And the stunning face of the man they belong to.
A solitary, singular thought comes to mind:
A mesmerizing, almost indescribable intensity fills them, infused into a graduated, golden hue.
Like priceless jewels harvested directly from the sun.
Their sharpness feels like a blade; like they could cut right through my soul as they bore into mine, pulling like a magnet because, for the life of me, I can’t seem to look away.
Long, thick lashes frame them, a shade or two darker than the soft, dense waves on his head.
Belatedly, I sense the stronghold on my body, as if I’m trapped in free-fall. That’s when I notice large hands gripping my upper arms, effortlessly holding me up.
And, consequently, breaking my fall.
Before I can react, he helps me up, inadvertently pulling me closer to him as he does. My heart thunders in my chest, now only a whisper away from his, so loudly that I’m afraid he can hear it, too.
Embarrassed, I’m suddenly very aware that I’ve been straight-up ogling him.
But…he’s been staring at me, too.
He still is.
This is, by far, the strangest interaction I’ve ever had. With anyone. Ever.
Neither of us says anything.
We just…stare at each other.
As if it’s the only thing we can do.
But a distant voice and advancing footsteps abruptly puts a stop to that, snapping me out of my trance and ending our brief…exchange.
I step away from him and out of his grip, awkwardness speeding back into every vein in my body, dousing me mercilessly when I realize just how crazy I must look.
“Uh…th-thank you,” is all I can manage when I finally find my voice again, albeit cracked, promptly averting my gaze as heat stings my cheeks.
I turn to my fallen documents splayed on the floor, my skin buzzing as I sheepishly bend over to pick them up, wishing I could ignore the feel of his gaze on me. While I’m glad I didn’t end up joining them, I feel just as embarrassed as I would have if I did. Actually, more.
I’m one hundred percent positive that plummeting flat on my ass would’ve been far less jarring than having this imposing, insanely attractive stranger stop it from happening.
“There you are,” the voice from earlier calls out.
Impulsively, my eyes dart behind him to another man approaching us, going wide with recognition.
The CEO of Earth Capital.
Double. Holy. Shit…
For a split second, I find myself completely star-struck, my brain scattering at the sight of him…until something dawns on me.
I look back at the elevator, a major, virtual face-palm coming down on me like a hammer when I see the number next to it.
Sigh. Of course…
I’m on the wrong floor.
That explains a whole lot.
Before the CEO gets any closer, I mutter an apology and excuse myself, feeling unusually timid as I put much-needed distance between us.
I take off again, glancing at my watch and hoping I can still catch Schapiro in time. I hail the elevator, poking its button incessantly, exhaling in relief when it opens soon after.
Against my better judgment, I look back at him, unable to resist the sheer urge to…and my stomach erupts in a flurry of wild, angry moths.
He’s still watching me, effortlessly securing my sense of sight in its entirety. My heart races as he stares me down, piercing yellow-gold focused on naught else.
It’s unnerving. And strange. And disturbing.
I re-avert my gaze, practically running into the elevator, mortified when my heel wobbles again just before I step inside.
Staggering, both body and mind, I wince, more flustered than I’ve ever been in life. With a trembling finger, I hit ‘5’ repeatedly, my heart thumping, my other hand shaking as it grips my documents…able to feel his eyes on me long after they’re within sight of mine.
I run into Schapiro again and, this time, I get him to sign the form—but long after his meeting is over.
After that point, the day seems to disappear right before me; time dissipating in a monotonous haze despite my new environment, spent entirely on getting sorted and situated within it. It’s well after lunch when my company ID, authenticated Pass and other clearance is finalized. There’s only an hour left till closing when my payroll account is set up. From start to finish, the whole process is convoluted and long-winded. None of it should take nearly as much time as it does—and from reports of previous interns, all the preliminary stuff typically doesn’t—but, glitch or not, I have no option other than to roll with the punches. And, God knows, there are many.
Having said that, the unexpected, substandard quirks of Earth Cap’s registration protocol haven’t bothered me as much as they did earlier in the day. Or should. Not an iota of me can claim it’s because I’ve progressively gotten accustomed to the wonky system, however, I suppose some of my impatience has been buffered by…other things.
I concentrate on why I’m here, getting myself acquainted with this ecosystem as a whole and my department, in particular—doing my damnedest not to think about him.
But, as much as I try, I can’t, for the life of me, get the peculiar individual and his haunting, golden eyes out of my head.
It’s hard to imagine that a total stranger who didn’t utter so much as a word could leave such a deep, lasting impression with just one look.
One unforgettable look.
It’s a little before five when I’m encouraged to leave—along with a pile of binders, each full of files that I need to familiarize myself with by tomorrow.
I’m not assigned to anything or awarded specific tasks yet so I do so with no objections, feeling unusually restless even though my excitement has long worn off. I can only chalk it up to the up-and-down-back-and-forth marathon I’ve unwillingly competed in all day.
Oh…that and actually seeing Sam Covington in person.
I’d hoped it would happen eventually, some time over the course of my three-month stay, but I definitely was not expecting to see the head of my dream company on my very first day.
And certainly not while recovering from almost tripping over myself.
Still, while it was quite brief and accidental—not to mention, less than ideal—the sighting itself had no less impact.
Michaela’s out before I get back, the apartment pin-drop silent when I walk in. Nyxon is asleep in my bed, purring contentedly as he snuggles against my pillow.
I set the binders down in the living area, resisting the urge to brew a pot of coffee in fear that it’ll only make me more agitated than I already am.
With a trusty marker and multi-colored Post-Its, I get to work, going through each binder carefully and making detailed notes for every one so I don’t forget their respective key points.
All the projects seem interesting, but one, in particular, stands out over the rest.
Definitely up my alley, I think to myself, excited by the prospect of assisting on it.
By the time I’m on the last one, my eyelids feel like cinder blocks. All my motivation to do pretty much anything is one hundred percent gone. I can’t even muster the energy for recreational reading when it’s usually the one thing that relaxes me.
I retire to my room, grateful that the feline of the house has decided to relocate to his mother’s chambers.
I lie in bed, beyond exhausted yet unable to sleep, feeling idle as fuck for some reason…trying to ignore the very noticeable, very unusual throbbing between my thighs.
After a prolonged pause, my fingers travel south. I barely even graze my flesh when an intense, heated stare flashes before me. I gasp, taken aback, stunned by the abrupt, vivid imagery, my heart racing.
My own eyes go wide at the strange, novel occurrence. Brows furrow above them as I try to temper my suddenly erratic breathing, pulling my fingers away from my core.
I settle back in under the covers. Another hour passes with no change. And then another, marked by constant tossing and turning and mindless fidgeting despite the fact that I truly don’t have the strength to do any of it.
With no end in sight to this odd, exhausting restlessness, I actually resort to counting sheep.
Committed, I tally imaginary livestock as they jump over a wooden fence, one after the other, until I’m muttering absolute gibberish. Until I lose track of what I’m even doing or why…finally falling asleep at an unknown hour to the golden eyes of a wolf.