Managed 2: A Rock Star Romance, page 5
“I don't know, Matthew.” The way his name left her mouth it sounded like it tasted bitter. “Maybe because I'm doing a good job pulling his tarnished reputation out of the gutter all by myself.”
“Hailey, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. You’re a smart girl, of course you would have recognized that Bill and I were right in wanting to take the account from you. These artists are odd and eccentric. So it makes sense he would want to keep you as his rep. I should have known you wouldn't have done that to me.”
“I would do that to you Matthew, because I deserve this.”
“Oh really,” Matthew’s eyes held a certain fire.
“Look, you can be mad if you want to, but Bill never lets me have any of the good clients.” She sat across from him. “I have Missy and she is on me every minute to get her on television or in front of the camera. This is the first time I’ve gotten a break. You should be happy for me.”
“Whatever. I think I’m better suited for this than you are, but if you want to play with the big boys, I’ll sit back and watch.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I thought you were different. I didn’t think you were a chauvinist like Bill. I can’t believe he told Jasper I begged for this job. Yes, I overheard that in case you think I didn’t. You know that’s not true, I was qualified.”
Hailey had tried harder than she ever had with Jasper's account. She wanted to prove to herself this was something she was capable of doing. She had convinced herself that if she did a good job, she would get a promotion, helping her financial situation even more. Now she wasn't so sure a promotion was in her future, or if it ever was. It seemed that Bill still thought of her as an incapable woman, and balancing the Jasper account as well as she was doing, still hadn’t convinced him she was a good asset to the company. Hailey felt useless, and that was a feeling she hated most of all.
She had never been more furious in her life than when Bill suggested that Matthew take over the account. Well, that was until Matthew told her that she was done playing with the big boys, or whatever the hell he said. She couldn't really understand what he was saying as her ears started ringing with anger the more Matthew talked, but she got the idea of what he meant and it wasn't nice. After their date, could she even consider them a couple? They would be an odd couple if they were. One that didn't talk at work and said mean things over the course of dinner. No, she decided, one dinner meant they were talking not dating. Still, he had taken her out so he should respect her more.
He stepped closer to her. Hailey moved back until she ran into the door. His hand touched her shoulder and he cocked his head as if trying to figure something out.
Hailey wanted to be more confident.
The sad thing was, Hailey had started doubting herself in all aspects of her life. What other PR representative would sleep next to their client? Sure he was doped up on pain meds and she slept over the covers. Nobody knew it yet, but what if it came out that the only reason Jasper got hit was because they almost kissed, she ran out of his apartment and he followed her, getting hit by a car. How incompetent could she be? Hailey felt what little self-esteem she had wither and die.
Matthew wasn’t getting this one. She was doing a fantastic job handling Jasper's social media accounts and personal appearances. One of the sponsors that dropped him when Tara released the naked photos of them was rethinking their position, and would most likely take Jasper back by the end of the week.
As she thought this, Matthew had moved even closer, catching her off guard and thrust his tongue into her mouth. Hailey was going to push him off but his strong arms wrapped around her waist bringing her flush with him and his hard muscles. Confusion set in. Her body burst with a bit of energy, but nothing like the romance novels she read. It had more fire in it than their first kiss, but still something felt off. Hailey wondered if she wasn't feeling the chemistry because they were in the middle of a discussion. She wondered if this was the way Matthew would end every argument they had in the future. At least the ones where he was in the wrong.
She tried to enjoy the kiss by putting her hands on his chest to feel the ridged muscles underneath. This was Matthew after all. The man she had been lusting after ever since she started working at Big Deal. While Matthew kissed her and ran his hands up and down her back, Hailey tried to decide which was the lesser of two evils. An office romance with a man that had more seniority over her, or her rock star client? She remembered the contract she signed when she was hired on at Big Deal stating she wouldn't have any affiliation with a client of the company whether she represented them or not. The contract stated with no uncertainty that if she were discovered canoodling with the clients, she would have first-class ticket to unemployment-town. Well, that wasn't the exact wording, but the rule was clear. And although office romances were frowned upon, she wouldn't be fired if she and Matthew were found out.
While Matthew was moaning into her mouth pressing himself into her, she was thinking of the choices she had between the two men. She had a feeling that if it were Jasper sticking his tongue down her throat, any form of reasonable thought would be thrown out the window. Just his lips brushing her hair in the kitchen this morning made her more breathless than what she was feeling now. With that, Hailey moved away from Matthew.
He smiled at her, his breath coming out in short pants. “I know we shouldn't have done that but I couldn't help myself. Do you know how hard it is for me to see you at work every day and not touch you?”
“Really? Because you seem to have no trouble ignoring me while we are here.”
Matthew frowned at her. Hailey had never been so blunt with him before, and he was probably wondering how to respond to her newfound voice. Hailey was trying to find a way to maintain her confidence. She had let people walk all over her for so long. When she was a little girl, her grandma always told her to ignore the people who were putting her down. They didn't mean anything to her in the long run, but Hailey had to admit sticking up for herself felt good. She had paid her dues trying to show that she was a worthy associate and letting people walk over her wasn't helping her get ahead. It was time to change her tactic and see where that got her. This independent Hailey felt good. If she could get rid of the butterflies banging around in her stomach and the constant need to apologize for talking back, she would be set.
Matthew's frown melted away and a smile appeared more dazzling than she had ever seen it. He stroked her cheek with his finger before putting his forehead on hers. “It's for show, Hailey. We can't let anyone know that we are together or they would think it was unprofessional. Or that you were using me to get ahead.”
“Why would they think that? You haven't been here that much longer than I have. You didn't tell me what cup to pick to win Jasper's account.”
“I may not have been here that much longer, but I know what I'm doing, Hailey. And one thing I should tell you is calling him Jasper instead of Mr. Daly is very unprofessional.”
“Matthew, I don't want to fight with you. We obviously are not going to see eye to eye on this. I will have to prove to you and Bill that I am very capable of handling Jasper's account. I'm not against proving myself, but I need you to stop undermining everything I have done. And I'm sure you took the same business classes I had to take in college.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Let me give you a refresher. You treat clients differently according to the way they want to be treated. Jasper is a rock star in case you weren't aware. I have seen his naked body plastered across the internet thanks to his ex-girlfriend. I think calling him Mr. Daly would be ridiculous at this point.”
“Hailey, what has gotten into you?”
“What do you mean?” She knew what he meant but she couldn't think of a proper response. Her independent streak was waning away. Her head was starting to pound, and she seemed to be talking in circles. Maybe turning over Jasper's account would be the right thing to do. Hailey rolled her eyes at herself and her inability
“First of all you're dressed differently.” Matthew's gaze traveled down her body taking in her tight jeans and her off the shoulder shirt.
“What's wrong with this?” Hailey resisted the urge to wrap her arms around herself to shield any criticism against her clothing. It was like high school all over again.
“Nothing. I like it. I always knew you had a sexy body. I felt it when we kissed the first time, but this is hot. But maybe not the most appropriate for the office. Also your attitude is a bit off putting.”
“My attitude? Bill tried to take me off the Jasper account without having any other reason except I haven't had a big account yet. I’m going to have a bit of an attitude.”
Matthew ran his hand over his face, as if he was annoyed with her. “Hailey, what I'm trying to tell you is that you really are not ready for this.”
Hailey opened her mouth wanting to blast him, but he took the wind out of her sails with a smile as he pulled her in for a hug before releasing her.
“I just want to see you succeed. Bill can be a tyrant when it comes to his company and his employees. I worry about you. Especially since you insist on keeping this account.”
“Jasper insisted that I keep the account. Not me. But it doesn't mean I don't agree with his decision.”
Matthew held up his hand to get her to stop. Hailey closed her mouth even though she wanted to say more.
“Ok. Well, I'm not going to argue semantics with you. I care about you and your place in this company. Let me help you. Why don't we discuss Jasper's account later? I will give you some pointers and let you know my opinion on some of the things you have planned.”
“That sounds good,” Hailey said. Maybe Matthew really did want to help her and she was just being paranoid. Matthew had been weird with her when they had dinner the other night, but maybe he didn't know how to tell her he wanted to help her.
“I will call you later and let you know when a good time is. I should get back to Jasper before he goes searching for me.”
Matthew smiled at her and she left his office feeling even more confused than when she entered it. Matthew was so inconsistent with the way he treated her. He may have had an excuse for every one of his actions, but it still made her feel like she wasn't good enough.
The closer she got to her office the more guilt she felt kissing Matthew. As wrong as it was, she and Jasper were connecting, and it wasn't just on a client level. Even though he helped her by giving her advice on Matthew, she couldn't shake the feeling that there was something between the two of them.
When she entered her office Jasper was sitting in her chair behind her desk staring at the door. “How are you feeling? Do you need more pain pills? Do you want Carl to take you home?” The way Jasper continued to stare made dread fill her stomach.
“Did you make up with Matthew?”
“We discussed me staying on your account.” Hailey remembered the kiss in his office and blushed.
Jasper's mouth thinned and his jaw moved. When he spoke, it surprised Hailey. “He's a good guy, Hailey. You should work it out with him.”
“I think we did.” Hailey's heart hurt at his words. She didn't know why she felt betrayed, but she did. She was stupid to expect him to tell her to get rid of Matthew and choose him. She wasn't ready to ruin her career and thinking that way with Jasper was a good way to do that. She pushed her disappointment back and put on her professional hat.
“We’ll go make an appearance at the charity cookout tomorrow. Should be a good opportunity for us.”
The cookout Hailey was talking about was a huge event for a local charity that helped parents of children with Down syndrome. Several of the families were present and there were quite a few celebrities going. Jasper showed up to meet Hailey at the office so they could ride over together.
He found himself wondering if Hailey had taken Matthew home with her the night before. He’d allowed Carl to take care of him after their awkward exchange. It actually made him cringe inside to tell Hailey to go for it with Matthew, but he wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize Hailey’s job when it was so important to her. Watching her stand up for herself proved to him that she truly did value her job.
He walked into Big Deal and waited in the little waiting room. Like a true client. They didn’t have a receptionist so someone would have to come out and see him. Finally, Hailey walked out with her gaze glued to her phone, her forehead creased in worry.
“What’s wrong, Little Bird?” he asked standing and then mentally chastising himself. No more nick names for her. He was going to have to work on that. She looked up and he moved towards her wincing as his ribs protested his quick movements.
She rushed to him. “Are you okay? Did you take your pain medication every four hours?”
“Yeah, Carl gave it to me. No big deal.” That’s right Jasper, he told himself. Just be aloof and keep your distance. He stepped back so there was distance between them and stuffed his hand in his pocket.
“Okay, well let’s go, I’d like to get there a little early and see who is around. We need to figure out our game plan for talking to celebrities and getting some good photo ops. I know the paparazzi will be there and we’re going to be arriving separately.”
Jasper was taken by surprise, “Why would we arrive separately?”
“Because, rock stars don’t hang out with their PR person and we’ve got to keep some distance between us or the gossip mags will get the wrong idea. They always do.” Hailey smiled and walked out the door.
He didn’t have a choice but to follow and do exactly as she wanted. It was her show. He went out and got into the car with Carl who raised a brow but didn’t say anything. They were going to Honeycutt Theater, a nice outdoor venue downtown, which usually featured local bands and threw large charity events for everything under the sun. The place was packed with people and a band he didn’t recognize played on the stage. Hailey waved from the other side of a long line of chairs. The people watching the band didn’t see him, so for the moment he was clear. He started to make his way toward her and accidentally caught the eye of a girl at the back of the crowd.
“Oh my God! It’s Jasper Daly,” she screeched. The reaction was instantaneous. They were up and rushing him before he could move.
“Sign my boobs,” one girl said.
“Sign my stomach,” another yelled.
They were not giving any consideration to the fact that he was injured and bumping into him from all sides. His ribs started to burn and he started to panic. “Back off,” his voice was failing him. “Give me some room.”
Carl was there and he could hear him yelling. The staff of the Honeycutt Theater were there trying to help him, but his breathing was coming in more difficult gasps and he really needed the people to get away from him. They were screaming as Carl pushed them back one by one. The staff was frantic on their radios trying to call for security. He could see Hailey trying to push through to get to him, the look on her face was one of sheer panic. Somehow, he found his voice.
“Hailey, don’t get in here, you’ll get hurt.”
“Ladies, get the hell off of him, can’t you see the cast? He’s hurt!” She was yelling at the women and he saw her push one out of her way. After what seemed like ages, Jasper was running out of air, security arrived. Three men surrounded him on all sides and kept the girls away as they took him up and behind the stage. The girls were following, but they wouldn’t be able to get backstage. Jasper tried to breathe as the men helped him sit down on a couch and Carl brought him a bottle of water.
“I’m so sorry, Jasper,” Hailey was stammering beside him. “We should have come in through the back. Why didn’t I think of that being a problem?”
Jasper finally was able to breathe again and leaned back on the couch. “Listen, Hailey. I can take on multiple women, if you know what I mean, but being injured just took me off guard. Carl, grab the one who wanted her boobs signed and two others and se
Carl kind of glared at him, but went to do what he wanted. He felt bad, as Hailey’s face fell, but this was a good way to get her to see him as just another rock star client she had to put up with and nothing else.
The girls came giggling into the room and Hailey exited. She turned around when she got to the door. “In an hour we have painting in the VIP section. Will you be there? I mean is that enough time?” she said, her cheeks reddening.
“Plenty, Miss Hailey, thank you.”
Hailey shut the door and Jasper tried to turn his attention to the women, the girl in front of him was the boob-signing girl and she had a sharpie in her hand.
“Let’s see what you got.” Jasper smiled and watched as she took off her shirt. The other girls giggled and flanked him on the couch. At least he could kill a little time and not think about Hailey for a bit.
Hailey rushed away from the green room where Jasper was entertaining the three girls. She looked around for cameras trying to make sure no one had snapped Carl escorting them back to where he was.
Jasper was acting different, falling back into the way he’d been when she first met him. It was hard to understand men sometimes. She hoped he’d be done with whatever he was doing in time for the activities she had planned. Her cheeks burned as she thought of him getting naked with the three girls. Carl stood guard outside the door. She assumed that no unsuspecting paparazzi or fan with a cell phone would get a peek of him in the middle of an orgy, so she went to the VIP section to scope it out.
Outside one of the tents, she saw Autumn West. It was a bit surreal since she’d loved her on the show she’d been on. She starred on one of those wholesome teenage witch shows that aired on the kid’s channel, so you knew it was for pre-teens. She was wearing one of the shirts from Honeycutt Theater and a pair of cute cut off shorts. It was the wholesome looking Autumn that Hailey had always imagined when she thought about representing her. In the beginning this was the type of girl she wanted to do PR for. Now that Autumn was eighteen it was refreshing to see that she still maintained her wholesome image. Not many of the girls from the same channel had stayed wholesome at all, including her co-star Lily Daniels, who was also at the event. The two ran to each other and embraced.
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