I’ll be working over the weekend on the story despite the fact that I have a workshop this weekend.
I hope to be done with Chapter 7 by Monday morning or maybe you’ll get an early treat Sunday night.
Please let me know what you really think of Tyler.
I’ve gotten comments like
“He’s a monster.”
“He hates himself.”
“Why does he have to hate her so much?”
I think in this chapter this will give you a little about him. Just a little.
The bus dropped her off at 6:55am a block from the offices of Black & Knight. Lauren arrived at the security desk in the lobby and was shocked her name was on the list of expected guest for the day. A temporary badge for the building was given to her with her name on a label.
“It’s for the bathroom and to take the elevator to floors you’re allowed to go on,” the security guard explained.
She took the elevator to the third floor which opened to Black & Knight offices. The lights were dimmed and no one looked like they were working today.
There was a balcony above Deborah’s desk with some curved stairs that was hidden behind a panel. She had been too mentally occupied to notice there were offices above the main floor when she initially visited and there were double doors opened and a light coming from there.
A speaker on Deborah’s desk chimed and Tyler’s voice came across. “If that’s you, Lauren, please come up the stairs and through the double doors.”
She followed his instructions and walked into the largest office she had ever seen. There were glass windows that had an unobstructed view of the east side of Detroit and part of the Detroit River where she could make out factory buildings on the Canadian side and even see a little part of Belle Isle. His large desk was more like a huge conference table in the corner with stacks of folders, boxes and papers on one end and then a large seat where a phone and laptop docking was stationed.
A little bit wondered if his office looked like this, Dylan’s office must be as big. Her ex-fiance was this man’s partner and that meant equal, right?
Once Dylan came back to her, she would love to bring him lunch and fulfill one of her fantasies by making love in his office with the city as a backdrop…
Tyler cleared his throat impatiently and she slowly turned to him.
He was sitting there with his feet up and a huge hot breakfast in front of him. The platter of food looked like enough for three people.
Lauren tried not to sniff anything because all she had was a piece of bread this morning and tea.
“I see you take time seriously, Lauren,” he said a little bit impressed. “I’m sure your other male clientele appreciate your timeliness.”
“Other male clientele?” she questioned. “What do you mean by that?”
He chuckled. “Your other clients. Your other boyfriends. Don’t play dumb with me. I know what homeless women do in desperation.”
She had to remember Tyler took pleasure in rustling feathers and he knew what to say to get her riled up. “I don’t have boyfriends.”
“Oh,” he said innocently. “Then just one dick at a time for you?”
“I don’t sleep with random men. Dylan was the only man I’ve ever had sex with in my whole life.”
He only raised a doubtful dark brow. “The only man since then?”
“I don’t just willy-nilly have sex with people. He’s the only man ever and whether you believe I was a virgin or not, I don’t have to prove anything to you, only to Dylan.”
“And you have proof about your virginity?”
She knew she was being grilled like she was on the stand and knew whatever came out of her mouth had to have solid proof. Tyler said he was the best and she had a feeling everything she spoke he would look for a way to find out if she had lied so he could run back to Dylan and show what a liar she was, but this time she had the upper hand. She really did have proof.
“Yes, I do, Tyler.”
His voice dripped with doubt. “Why didn’t you show this proof when you were accused of not being a virgin?”
Her anger came to a head and she pounded her fist on the desk. “Because I shouldn’t have had to prove anything when I’ve always been honest.”
His eyes narrowed and Tyler handed her a time sheet. “When you take lunch, please have Deborah sign this and note the time.” His abrupt disinterest in her anger caught her off guard. “At the end of the day, you’ll return this and get a copy for your records. I’ll cut your check immediately,” he explained and then turn a huge mouthful of buttery eggs and stuffed some bacon in his mouth.
The change in his personality was disarming and she quickly calmed down from her moment of upset. “Where do I work?” she asked, needed to get busy to get her mind off talking with him.
Tyler simply answered sounding as if he was very tired of talking to her. “Deborah doesn’t get in for another hour, but those files at the end need to be put in those boxes by date order. Once you’re done, she should be here and take you to your work area.” He took another big mouthful of food.
Lauren turned away from him glad the table was long enough she could get some length away, but unfortunately, it seemed the food filled the room with delicious smells, along with his powerful presence. She started to develop a hungry headache from smelling the delicious food, which constantly reminded her Tyler was there!
She could feel every inch of him sitting in that chair and constantly wondered if he was staring at her backside or wondering about her?
Did he even think about her when she wasn’t around? Did he wonder about her background? How much did he know about her?
Tyler didn’t speak a word to her. If he wasn’t on his phone, he was on his computer. Throughout the time, he ate every last bit of food on the platter as if he hadn’t eaten for days.
She watched him from the corner of her eyes and she had a feeling he was watching her, but she didn’t let that stop her from working diligently to get out of the office as fast as possible.
Deborah did arrive before the hour was up, and Lauren was just finished filling up two boxes with the files.
The administrative assistant looked very impressed. “Wow, I haven’t seen that much work ethic since I started working for Mr. Black.” She gave Lauren a very playful wink and picked up one of the boxes.
Lauren grabbed the other box and didn’t bother to look around to Tyler, yet she still felt those cold black eyes locked on her.
Deborah took her down to the elevator and pressed the basement button.
“He usually hires three burly men this time of year. Are you sure you can handle this?” the administrative assistant asked worriedly.
“I really don’t know what I’m doing?”
The basement was reached and they walked through a series of hallways, where Deborah’s badge was needed. “This building was chosen just for the basement. It’s fireproof. It used to be one of the largest buildings in Detroit and the basement is nothing but a bank vault. Files down here are very secure and we have to hold them for a minimum of seven years. Mr. Black won this practice in an auction but in return for the help to win the auction he had to keep the first-floor store open.”
Deborah shrugged. “I don’t know, but the store has been a lifesaver for many women. It’s a business resale shop. Wealthy men and women donate second-hand clothes and accessories and annually the store has a scholarship program to help people who can’t afford get certification classes in business and computers.”
“The law practice owns the store?”
“No, like I said, Tyler won this practice in an auction and someone helped him win it, but in return-”
Lauren finished the sentence. “He had to keep the store open.” The whole humanity thing and Tyler didn’t sit well with her. The man acted like he didn’t give a flying fig about anyone but himself. She refused to believe there was anything good inside of him.
“His mother was homeless. Selling herself to make sure her son could do better. Died of AIDS a year before he went off to Chicago University to study law. No one could’ve saved her,”Deborah said sadly as she opened a large gate with a room filled with different colored sections, where boxes were neatly placed. “I think she was the only woman he ever loved.”
“What’s this section?” Lauren questioned.
“These boxes along with everything in the second conference room needs to come down here and put in the color-coded sections.” Deborah put the boxes in the yellow section. “This usually takes about a week with three men. I can print out your labels for you and have them on my desk in a basket with your name on there, but I’ll be busy with other office duties and so will everyone else.”
“I’m not asking for any help. If this is a large job and you’re suggesting I have a deadline then I’ll do my best. That’s really all I can do, right?”
Deborah smiled. “If you can’t get done I’ll call for assistance, but I like your attitude, Lauren. Put your box neatly on top of mine and follow me up to the conference room. And please try to remember how to get down here. It’s like a maze and you’ll get lost if you don’t remember your way. Several times we’ve had to come down here and help those burly lazy men out of this place. Sometimes though I think they used getting lost as a way to take longer and longer breaks.”
Lauren had a feeling Deborah was telling her this as a warning as she set her box neatly down and followed Deborah back to the second conference room which was three times bigger than the first one she had been in and filled to the brim with various boxes with colored stripes on them.
Now Lauren understood why there were three men and why it took so long. The visual enormity of the project was enough to intimidate anyone.
Not including all the heavy lifting and moving those boxes, she was still going to have to sort throughout the boxes as well.
“I’ll be at my desk when you’re ready for lunch,” Deborah said.
“Is Mr. Black going to be here to check on me?” Lauren questioned.
The administrative assistant shook her head. “He left right after we went downstairs. Sent me a text to let me know he was going to his first meeting of the day. He only brings his high profile clients to the office, but most times he’s just expecting us to do our job without little supervision.”
That felt like another warning.
“And Dylan? When is he due back?”
Deborah answered, “Mr. Knight most likely won’t step foot in the Americas until the end of next year. There was a lot of international business that needed to be tended to for Mr. Black.” She moved to the door looking very uncomfortable talking about the subject of Dylan. “I take my break at noon so if you could leave for lunch prior to that, I’d appreciate that.”
When Lauren was left alone, she rolled up her sleeves and concentrated on the task at hand. As she worked she thought about what would Dylan think of her working there at his practice. She was still hopeful all she needed was two minutes of his time and she would be able to convince him they had made a mistake with the annulment.
Dylan would hear her words and want to marry her all over again.
By the end of next year, she could be back on the road to her perfect life.
At 11:45am, she had gotten through almost a corner of the room. Her back hurt like hell, but she didn’t care.
She found Deborah at the front desk and had her time card signed.
“Did you bring anything to eat?” Deborah questioned.
“No, I’m fine,” Lauren said and went back to the large conference room, put a timer on for 25 minutes and then laid out in the corner she had cleaned on top of her jacket as a pillow.
Falling into a deep sleep immediately alleviated her being hungry or sore.
She awoke without hesitation, found Deborah just getting back to her desk and Lauren had her sign the time clock again.
Getting back to work, Lauren ignored the rumble in her belly, the ache in her back and the pinching in her calves. She knew this was going to help her get the items she needed to survive in that tiny room.
Hell, at this point, she needed to eat anything other than the leftover food she found in the garbage the tenants in her building threw out.
Yet, she wasn’t going to tell anyone she had sunk that low.
The early conversation bothered her. Did Tyler think she had sunk low enough to start selling her body?
The fear of going that low terrified her and made her work even harder to get the job done.
By the end of the day, she had cleared about thirty-five percent of the room.Going back down to Deborah’s desk she handed the woman her time clock.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, but make it about eight,” Deborah said.
“Won’t that cut an hour off my time to work?” Lauren asked in disappointment.
“Yes, but I won’t be here until eight and Mr. Black is driving to Chicago tonight.” Deborah cut a check for the work Lauren had done today.
Her shoulders drooped in misery, but there was nothing she could do at this point. “That’s fine.” There was really no time to argue about the matter. The banks closed in thirty minutes and Lauren really needed the money.
She rushed out of there and hurried the seven blocks over to cash the check getting to the bank just in time and then catching the bus home. Her entire body hurt, but she was able to buy some pain reliever from the convenience store near where she stayed. Right before going to bed, she took three of them and when she woke up in the morning her muscles were feeling a lot better.
On the way to work, she made a list of the small items she needed to buy in order to make her living just a little bit easier by being in one room.
The money she was going to make on this assignment would give her enough to break even at least this month on her current living expenses.
As the months became colder and basement living became harder, Lauren knew by December, she needed to prepare to be freezing down there even though the rest of the house received heat. There were no vents down there and if she was to survive, she needed to be prepared.
The fear of Tyler’s words filled her every thought. She would never allow herself to get so low she had to use her body to get ahead.
This author love comments. The more you give the more she writes. Let me know what you think? Don’t forget to get your friends involved. Make this the office fodder. Tell your book group about it.
To read the other Black Family Series, go to the series page. (Each one is a standalone story and it should be a saga and not a series, but I don’t feel like changing the page name).