Stay with Me Forever. Farrah Rochon
unaware of her vampiric thoughts. “You probably know this area better than anyone in the entire company.”
“Hmm.” Paxton did her best impersonation of Rodin’s The Thinker, dipping her head and fitting her fist strategically underneath her chin. “You know, there’s actually a chance that they chose me because I’m one of the best project managers they have.”
“Come on, Paxton. I apologize, okay?”
“And what are you apologizing for? Assuming I was a guy, or for insinuating that I’m here because it’s convenient instead of my skill to get the job done?”
“For both,” he said. “Can’t you find it in your heart to give me a break?”
“I’ll give you a break when you get out of my spot.”
She set her briefcase on the larger conference table next to his leg. Which, yes, she still wanted to take a bite out of. Dammit.
“How is this your spot?” Sawyer’s voice oozed incredulousness. “I was here first.”
“No, I was here first. I claimed that spot on Friday when Carmen and I set up this conference room.”
He looked over his shoulder at the folding table, then turned back to her, one corner of his mouth tipping upward in a self-satisfied grin. “Maybe you should have left a sign on it,” he said.
Oh, how she wished she didn’t find the smugness on his face attractive as hell. Seriously, who in their right mind was turned on by cockiness?
Anyone who encountered a cocky Sawyer Robertson.
“Just think of how much confusion could have been avoided,” he continued. “I would have known that the P in P. Jones stood for Paxton. I wouldn’t have been surprised with the Queen of the Tardy Slip showing up late on the first day of the job. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to fall in love with this desk and its perfect view of the park.” He leaned forward, as if getting ready to impart a deep, dark secret. “I have to be honest, Pax. It really is the perfect view. You’ll be sorry you didn’t get here early enough to claim it.”
She bit the inside of her mouth to stop herself from smiling. She’d prepared herself for this. She would not allow Sawyer’s teasing to throw her off her game. Because Lord knew if any man could fluster her, it was this one.
“Don’t call me Pax,” she said.
His brow arched. “So, it’s like that?”
“Yes, it’s like that.” she said. She couldn’t handle him calling her by her nickname. It brought up too many memories of the numerous times he’d whispered it throughout that night they’d shared three years ago.
Don’t think about that, Paxton silently chastised herself.
“And bringing up that Queen of the Tardy Slip thing is just wrong,” she said.
She’d earned that title back in high school, when she would routinely show up late for homeroom. Unlike most of her classmates who had the luxury of going to bed at a decent hour on school nights, she was often helping Belinda out at Harlon’s. It made her chances of getting to school before that 7:10 a.m. bell nearly impossible.
Her best friend, Shayla Kirkland, used to joke, saying that the snooze button was Paxton’s real best friend.
“No need to get upset,” Sawyer said. “It’s just nice to see that you’re still living up to your name.”
Paxton let out an aggravated sigh. “Why did Ray Burrell have to quit?”
He slapped a hand to his chest, his dark brown eyes wounded. “I’ll try to pretend that doesn’t hurt.”
She gave him some serious side-eye action before walking over to the other desk, the one that faced a wall. A wall. Why hadn’t she set her alarm?
Sawyer followed her. Great.
He assumed the position he’d taken on the other side of the long conference table, crossing his arms over his chest and perching himself on the edge of it.
“Why didn’t you tell me that you were the project manager?” Sawyer asked.
“When would I have gotten the chance to tell you? I only came into town a few days ago. Besides, I didn’t think I had to. I figured you would have run across it while you were reviewing the information you were given when they transferred you to this project.”
“I haven’t had much time to review the materials. I was out of town this weekend. A family thing.”
“That’s what I was told during the meeting on Friday,” she said.
“It was a party for my aunt Lydia,” he explained. He paused for a moment before continuing in a slightly lower tone. “I’m not sure if you’ve heard or not, but I’m no longer married.”
Paxton put her hand up. “Not my business.”
His head jerked back a bit. “So it really is like that?”
“Look, Sawyer, it’s not my business where you spend your free time or who you spend your time with.” She moved her briefcase to the desk and turned to him. Mimicking his pose, she crossed her arms over her chest and said, “As long as you understand that between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., your time is my time.”
He made a production of looking at his watch. “Is that the case even when you come in at eight forty-five?”
She’d placed the ball squarely on the tee for that one.
Doing her best to maintain a calm, professional air, she said, “I apologize for being late. As project manager I should be the one setting the example.”
“I was only joking, Pax.” She continued to stare at him. Waiting. “I mean Paxton,” he corrected himself with a pinch of annoyance.
The laugh he huffed out was devoid of all humor, but Paxton would not allow it to affect her. The only way she would get through these next four weeks with her sanity intact was if she stayed within the boundaries she’d laid out in her head the minute she had learned Sawyer would be replacing Ray Burrell as the state’s civil engineer on this project. Allowing Sawyer to speak to her in such familiar terms crossed those boundaries.
“I’m just trying to be professional here,” she explained.
“Yeah, I get it,” he said, pushing himself up from the table. The traces of humor that had colored his voice earlier were nowhere to be found. “I would, however, appreciate a call if you know you’re running late. Just, you know, as a professional courtesy.”
Paxton acknowledged the slight sting from his words. She guessed she deserved that.
“I agree,” she said. “But I don’t have your number.”
The moment the words left her mouth the mood in the room shifted. Sawyer’s gaze caught hers and held. Her admission was almost laughable, considering their history. She had knowledge of his body in the most primitive, elemental way, yet she didn’t even know his phone number.
“I guess that’s something we’ll have to rectify,” Sawyer said.
“Yes.” She cleared her throat. Nodded. “I’ll need your number in case I need to get in touch with you about something for the project.”
His gaze remained on her. Probing. Penetrating. It took everything she had within her not to squirm.
One brow peaked over his dark brown eyes. “Is that the only reason?”
“Yes,” Paxton said. “That is the only reason I will need your number.”
He released another of those irritated breaths, running a hand down his face before assaulting her once again with that intense stare.