Jolly Hour by Melissa Williams

3

Run, Run Rudolph!

Nadia

I feelthe slight headache before I’m fully conscious. Slowly, I squint my eyes open, instantly closing them against the harsh morning light. Crap, I must have forgotten to close my bedroom sliding door that leads to the living room of floor-to-ceiling windows. Bringing a hand up to my temple, I try to rub the small pain away.

Those damn jolly hour shots. That’s what done this to me. Those delicious fuckers were my ruin.

Groaning, I throw back the sheets to get some cool air on my overheated body. My hand brushes against the cotton material of the shirt I’m wearing as I—

Wait. Why am I wearing clothes in bed? I never wear anything to bed. Blinking my eyes open and fighting back the tiny pain the movement causes, I glance around my room. Only, it’s not my room.

I fist my hands in the sheets, the night before coming back to me in blinding clarity. Ajay.

I blow out a relieved giggle. My heart starts to pound to the same beat as my headache. I remember everything. The shots. Playing all the holiday bar games with Ajay by my side, laughing my ass off with him. And then coming back here.

As I think his name, movement beside me has me jerking in place. An arm comes up and over me, pulling me closer. His body is warm and hard. A calmness settles over me and I snuggle into him.

“Morning, beautiful,” he murmurs against my temple, giving me a light kiss.

I grumble something unintelligible, making him laugh.

“You feeling okay?”

“I have a headache, but other than that I guess I’m okay.”

Giving me another kiss, this time on the corner of my mouth, Ajay releases me from his hold to roll away. I miss his warmth immediately, my hands already seeking to pull him back. The snap of a bottle being opened can be heard before he comes back to me.

“Here. These will help. You took one last night but I’m guessing it didn’t completely solve the hangover.”

“Not completely,” I agree, reaching for the pills and swallowing them dry. “Thanks.”

“How about you take a shower and I’ll get breakfast started?”

Who was this man? Honestly, he was unbelievably handsome, kind, and generous. He’s too good to be true. Pushing up onto my elbows in a reclined position, I stare at him. I feel a bit like hell, but I need a taste of heaven. I close the distance between us, my lips locking on his. The kiss is hot and deep, and all too brief. Giving me a playful pat, he helps me up and aims me in the direction of the bathroom.

He’s in only a pair of boxers, and I let my eyes wander over him. The ridges of his muscles tempt me, and I can’t tear my eyes away from his defined, bulging thighs. I had those thrusting against me last night. That body covered mine, pushed me to the brink of ecstasy and back. Claimed me. And then he’d held me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a boyfriend—or let’s face it, a week-long fling—hold me through the night. Like they wanted to keep me.

Shit. Now is not the time to have thoughts like that. I need to shower, get caffeinated, and then maybe seduce Ajay again.

His bedroom is beautifully decorated in dark greys and greens with a wide window to the side of the bed. I didn’t notice these details last night, too caught up in Ajay and his care of me. There are no curtains on the window, but the view is just of the sky. Leading me to think I’m high up in a condo apartment. When I walk into the bathroom, I gasp at the beauty before me. How the hell had I missed this? A clawfoot tub sits majestically on the other side of the large room. A glass shower directly to my right. Wow, this isn’t a regular bathroom, it’s like a spa. I can’t wait to test that tub out some other time. Hopefully.

I quickly shower, feeling a million times better as soon as the water hits me and I can wash yesterday’s makeup off my face. Right before I finish, I turn the knob so a blast of cold water hits me. I internally scream at the sudden change of temperature but I’m wide awake now and my headache is almost gone. With a towel wrapped around me, I search under his sink and strike gold when I find a packaged toothbrush. Once I’m finished, I step out of the bathroom and find a pile of clothes folded on the bed. He’s left something out for me to wear. My stomach does somersaults at how thoughtful he is.

For the first time in a long time, I actually want to start a relationship. I don’t feel bored or dejected. I’m hopeful and excited about getting to know Ajay and spending more time with him. If I believed in silly things like fate, I would almost think we were destined to meet. How wild is it that he got invited to a random friend’s work party. Who even accepted awkward invitations like that?

Ajay apparently. I smile to myself. Though with him, nothing would be awkward. He mixed right in with everyone at the party effortlessly.

The athletic shorts he left for me fall right off my hips and I laugh out loud. I don’t think any amount of rolling the waistband will get these suckers to stay on me. Looking around the room, I spot the edge of something dark under the bed. Dancing around in victory at finding my skirt, I put it on and then tuck the men’s large T-shirt in. It’s not the most fashionable look but it will do for breakfast. Not like I’m going anywhere but the kitchen…and then hopefully back to bed.

Making my way down the hall, I slow when I come to an artfully arranged cluster of pictures on the wall and one on the floor. We must have knocked this one down last night on our way to the bedroom. Bending down, I grab the canvas, flipping it over so I can see what’s on the other side. I smile when I see a young Ajay standing with his arm around—

What the fuck. Is that…no, it can’t be. My eyes dart to the wall. I step closer, my gaze roaming the other pictures.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Ajay is related to my boss. They’re brothers.

The canvas dangling in my hand falls to the ground. My palms flatten on my face, covering my mouth. How had I missed this? They had the same dark coloring and jawline but that’s where the similarities stopped. Why hadn’t he said anything?

I’m spiralling, on the verge of hyperventilating, when the ringing of a phone jerks me out of my haze. My legs are shaky as I walk to the kitchen doorway. Ajay doesn’t spot me as I brace myself against the frame, his attention on his phone.

“Hey, Becks, what’s up?”

Becks. Beckett. The CEO of Battlements Inc. My fucking boss.

My shock slowly gets engulfed by anger. He lied to me.

“The board meeting is at one, right? Good. That’s no problem.”

The hits just keep coming. I spin out of the doorway, not wanting to be caught now. Pressing myself against the wall, I try to calm my racing heart. An ache forms in my chest when I realize what I’ve done. He’s on the board. I’ve slept with someone I technically work with. The one thing I promised myself I would never do after watching how it destroyed my parents. Betrayal sits heavy on my shoulders. Biting my lip so I don’t make a sound, I peek around the corner one last time at Ajay before I turn away and head to the front door. I find my jacket and bag easily. I don’t bother putting them on until I’m in the elevator, my escape complete.

With every floor I descend, my hopes fall too. I thought, for once, I had found a little magic. Instead, I fell for an illusion.