Resist First Chapter

Monday, November 20, 2017
 

Chapter One

This is a mistake.

Not pairing the silver stilettos with my brand new blue dress—no, that was genius. The mistake is coming here tonight when I should have stayed in my hotel room. It's not like I couldn't come up with a believable excuse. I'm relatively good under pressure. Not to mention the fact that lounging in nothing but a robe and watching from my window as the sun sets behind the Manhattan skyline sounded exceptionally better.

Why am I here, then? I'm on a mission.

The lobby in the Quartz Hotel is exquisite. Red velvet-cushioned chairs and golden framed early 1900s-style artwork line the walls. You feel like you've traveled back in time, expecting to find a mink stole draped over your shoulder when you peer into one of the vintage mirrors. This whole place is much fancier than I usually am. Tonight, however...

Stepping off the elevator into the lobby should bring a smile to my face. Instead, I'm sighing as the doors close behind me and the nerves creep in. There's still time to push the button and get the hell out of here.

"Allegra!"

Well, there goes that option.

When I turn, an older gentleman is walking in my direction. "Mr. Morris!" I say as I shake his hand, flashing him a huge grin. "It's so great to see you again." Mr. Morris, or Walter as his close friends know him, is the founder of the company I work for, Morris Enterprises. His goal upon finishing college was to start his own business. After a few failed ventures with fellow businessmen, he finally started Morris Enterprises. We dabble in various types of online businesses, including a website that sells quality office supplies. Twenty years later, the company is still running strong, largely thanks to his determination.

When Mr. Morris smiles, his forehead wrinkles, giving away his age. "Oh, Allegra Maxwell, it's always a pleasure to see you. How's Jack been treating you?"
"Very well."

"Wonderful. You look great, by the way." He gestures to my dress.

I glance down, and then back up at him. "Oh, thank you. So do you. So spiffy." I touch his arm lightly. "Tell me, how's your wife? Is she here? I'd love to say hello."

He shakes his head. "Unfortunately, Beverly had to stay home tonight. She's been feeling a little under the weather lately with the temperature changes."
Lucky bitch, I think. I give him a disappointed frown. "Oh, that's too bad. Please send her my love."

"I will definitely do that, Allegra. You enjoy yourself tonight and try not to get into too much trouble." He gives me a wink as he shakes my hand one more time before he walks away.

Now that Mr. Morris has seen me, there's no escaping. Get ready for two hours of forced smiles and sucking up to bosses and executives. The annual company dinner may have the most delectable dishes and desserts, but it's boring as hell. The only thing that saves it is the men who show up. At least half of them are good-looking, handsome, and, dare I say it, sexy. Which brings me back to my mission and why I chose tonight to carry it out.

When I hit my mid-twenties last month, it felt like hitting rock bottom. I spent four years climbing to the top of this company straight out of college. I may have achieved success and a strong foundation for the future complete with a full benefits package, but there's not much to show for it, aside from a padded bank account. Yet, after all that overtime, what's the point of money when you have nobody to spend time with?

It's been years since I had a boyfriend. In fact, my last serious boyfriend was in college, and that's just depressing. I want nothing more than to settle down and have a steady relationship again. However, my job makes that nearly impossible, and the last time I had a relationship... Let's just say it didn't go as expected. Since I can't get serious with anyone, I've settled on the next best thing: a one-night stand with a complete stranger.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to find "The One". Every girl wants to find him. Since I haven't found any suitable contenders for the position, I might as well have some fun while I'm still young. And let's face it, I have needs—needs that haven't been taken care of in a year.

A whole year.

Screw finding The One. I just need one night. That's all I ask, at least for now. A palate cleanser, if you will. I need to feel that desire—the longing—that comes with a roll in the hay. I haven't felt it in a while, and I'm overdue for it. Long overdue. A girl can only take care of herself for so long until she needs someone who has the equipment for the job.

Before I have to go suffer through the dinner, I find a spot off to the side but in full view of anyone walking into our private dining room. I take my phone discreetly out of my clutch and speed-dial my best friend, Sonya. The first thing she says is, "Why are you calling me? Aren't you on a mission?"

"That's why I called. I need moral support."

"There's nothing moral about what you're about to do."

I accidentally let out half a snort, then bite my lip to keep from cracking up entirely. "Stop it, Miss Wallace. Don't make me laugh. If Jack catches me on the phone, I have to look like I'm on an important call."

"Yeah, I don't think our boss would be too pleased to know you're scouting for bedroom talent. Speaking of which, how are the prospects?"

"Haven't really spotted many yet. I just got down here, though." A couple younger men walk out of the elevator toward the dining room. "There we go."

"Score."

They're both probably in their early twenties. The taller of the two has caramel-blond wavy hair, the kind long enough to run your fingers through. The other has darker, shorter hair, and a chiseled jaw. They glance in my direction and I give them a flirtatious smile. I can tell by the look in their eyes that I've already hooked them. I'm extremely thankful for this dress. It has the perfect balance of elegant and sexy with enough professionalism to get away with it. I'm also appreciative of the subtle highlights I had my colorist put in my hair, which I spent the last hour curling in between putting on my makeup. "Just a matter of time before I reel one in."

"Ew." She's pretending to be disgusted, but I know better. Sonya and I may not go way back, but we've bonded since I started working at Morris Enterprises. We're incapable of hiding what we really think from each other.

I sigh. "I know what you're going to say." Ever since she got engaged, Sonya's been having a rough time trying to fulfill the wing-woman role in our friendship. It's not that she doesn't care, she's just been too focused on the wedding and the idea of finally being married. But she is interested in helping me find happiness. She wishes it were with someone special instead of this convoluted plan, though.

"I know you know, that's why I'm not going to say anything."

"Thank you. But I still hate you right about now."

"Why? Because I'm happy with Rodney?"

"Yes."

"That's no reason to hate someone." She sighs, and I can picture her rolling her eyes. "Look, just have one final fling tonight so that you can come home happy. Then we'll start our search for The One for you."

I want to be hopeful of the elusive One but I can't stop being cynical. "Good luck finding a guy that isn't a complete waste of a man."

"I don't even know how to respond to that."

Another younger man comes out of the elevator and stops to talk to Mr. Morris. "Well, hello there."

"Ooh, another one? What does he look like?"

"Something tall, dark, and handsome." I press my lips together to hold back the laugh.

"Something? Don't you mean someone?"

"Probably."

"In all seriousness, though...what does he look like? Face, eyes..."

"Well, unfortunately I can't get a good look at him."

"Why not?"

"He's facing the other way." Squinting my eyes, I try to see if I can make out the details of the handsome something. He's wearing a very expensive suit by the looks of it, navy pinstripe over white button down. He obviously works out based on how perfectly tailored it is. I mean, that ass... Yowza. That's all I can see from this angle though. Come on, show me your face. I need something to boost my spirits.

He finally finishes his conversation with Mr. Morris, and starts walking toward the dining hall. After a few steps, the light hits his face just right so I can make out his features. He seems familiar, very familiar. That's when I gasp. I recognize the well-defined face. The dark brown hair. The smoldering dark emerald eyes.

"Anything?" Sonya says.

"Holy shit," I breathe, nearly dropping my phone. This can't be happening.

"That good, huh?"

I can barely speak, but not for the reason she's thinking. I'm flabbergasted. Floored, even. He looks familiar because I have seen him before—right at this very place—almost exactly a year ago. My heart races and breaks all at once when the memory returns. I thought I had buried it back then.

"Allegra? Are you still there?"

Somehow, I discover my voice again. "I'm gonna have to call you back." I hang up on her before she can respond. I'm not sure what to do with myself. I'm not sure of anything at this moment.

Because the man who stepped off that elevator is Devlin Pierce, and his eyes have landed on mine.


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