You head back to the Core complex, singularly focused. The feeling you get when you step inside your apartment is both novel and familiar. You eventually got used to Michaela’s absence back at your apartment so returning to an empty flat isn’t all that new, but a small, habitual part of you was expecting Nyx to come running to your feet. This new, complete solitude will definitely take some getting used to.

 

You pace around rather aimlessly for a bit, like you need to physically and mentally decompress from being around a certain someone before you can even think of functioning. You exhale, kicking off your heels and changing into more comfortable house clothes before getting started on the task at hand.

 

Over the next several hours, you go over all the Z to A project files and documents multiple times, intent on being as thorough as possible. Each run-through makes it easier to come up with a good, sizable list of questions; some for clarity and others integrated with alternative suggestions for safer, more environmentally friendly options—particularly for the drilling phases.

 

Even though you’re the one who suggested this project briefing, you’d rather have him just abort the damn thing in its entirety. Frankly, that would be your ultimate suggestion.

 

There isn’t a part of you that doesn’t wish you didn’t have to work on this account…but you can’t deny that meeting the man at its center was nothing short of breathtaking.

 

His reputation doesn’t just precede him.

 

It falls short.

 

A combination of self-imposed homework, too much coffee, and your mind going rogue every so often with thoughts of golden wolf eyes ensures you fall asleep at a very late, unknown hour.

 

***

 

A loud vibration jolts you out of a dead slumber, your eyes cracking open suddenly at the invasive sound. You squint impulsively through heavy, swollen eyelids, reaching for its source.

 

You hold your phone up to your ear with all the enthusiasm of a toddler going to the dentist, every muscle in your body aching.

 

You fell asleep on the floor, you realize, project files and documents sprawled about.

 

“Hello?” you say begrudgingly, annoyed at whoever it is on the other end for interrupting your sleep.

 

“Good morning, Miss Myers,” a familiar voice says, and you realize it belongs to Hank, the residential manager. “Your car is waiting downstairs to take you to work.”

 

You bring the phone away from your ear, your eyes darting to the little digital clock…and they almost fall out of your face.

 

“Oh, shit!” you blurt, praying the hushed, panicked curse doesn’t make its way into the receiver, jumping to your feet like you’ve been possessed. “Thank you for letting me know. I’ll be right down,” you add before hanging up, practically flinging the device onto the table as you sprint to the bathroom.

 

Oh, my God…

 

Your briefing with Zane is in twenty minutes!

 

Fuck, I can’t believe I slept through my alarm.

 

You race around the apartment like a ricocheting bullet in a metal cage, somehow managing to give yourself some semblance of presentability in your crazed rush, almost falling flat on your face in the process.

 

Five minutes later, you’re sprinting out of the building and into the familiar town car waiting for you in front of it.

 

“I’m so sorry I’m late, Edgar,” you pant as you as you close the door.

 

“That’s quite alright, ma’am,” he smiles, putting the car in drive.

 

You pull up to HQ ten minutes later, your heart hammering as you glance at your watch for the millionth time.

 

Oh God, this is not a good look; showing up late for your very first meeting with your new boss—the damn CEO, no less.

 

A meeting you proposed.

 

And after Renée stressed so much on punctuality yesterday.

 

You can’t believe you overslept. And of all the times for it to happen!

 

“Mr. Zane has prepared a pass for you to access his office,” Edgar says as the car comes to a stop, handing you a sleek, metallic card.

 

“Thank you so much,” you smile, grateful for his understanding of both your tardiness and scattered disposition, literally running out of the car. You make a dash for the top floor, your lungs on fire as you impatiently watch the metal wall descend. The glass door is wide open when you arrive, and you stagger into Zane’s office, damn near tripping over your own feet in a flustered rush.

 

Seven-thirty on the dot.

 

You take in a deep breath, straightening your spine, hoping you didn’t just sweat through your clothes.

 

“Good morning, sir,” you say, approaching his desk timidly.

 

“Good morning,” he replies measuredly, his eyes latching onto yours from behind it, the intensity of his stare spawning a colony of goosebumps all over your skin, augmenting its already flushed condition.

 

The simple, generic greeting is a complete contrast to the energy he gives off. To the absolute power in his unrelenting gaze. And you have to do your absolute damnedest not to let it throw you off.

 

He puts away the folder in front of him. “Are you ready for the briefing?”

 

“Yes,” you nod, trying to compose yourself as he gestures for you to take the seat opposite him. “I created a questionnaire to streamline the process. I hope that’s okay.”

 

His expression remains fixed. “That’s fine.”

 

You clear your throat nervously, pulling out your file, your heart beating faster. Even with your focus on the documents in front of you, you can feel the heat of his gaze on your body, his feral eyes like flames tasked with the sole purpose of incinerating anything in their line of vision.

 

And right now, that’s you.

 

Silence trickles on, punctuated by the rustling of papers, and you decide to just dive right in, unable to take this heavy, overbearing tension.

 

You lift the questionnaire, keeping your eyes on it as you intentionally avoid his.

 

“All right,” you begin. “First question: When was the last time you had sex?”

 

As soon as the words leave your lips, they resound in your ears…and it takes you a minute to register what you just said.

 

Without thinking, your eyes dart back up to Zane’s, awareness belatedly creeping in through stunned confusion as your brain catches up with your voice.

 

They flit back to the paper in your hands, widening as they land on the words you just read out loud.

 

You realize you’re not looking at your Z to A questionnaire.

 

With a heightened sense of foreboding, your gaze travels to the very top of the page…and your heart literally stops.

 

21 QUESTIONS

 

THE X-RATED EDITION

 

                                ***

Series Navigation<< 21 Questions: Chapter Twenty-Three (Role Play Edition)21 Questions: Chapter Twenty-Five (Role Play Edition) >>
THIS MAKES ME FEEL...
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