Violets are not Blue, page 1
Copyright © 2019 by Melissa Toppen
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, establishments, or organizations, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously to give a sense of authenticity. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. This book is intended for 18+ older, and for mature audiences only.
Editing by Amy Gamache @ Rose David Editing
Cover Design by Cassy Roop @ Pink Ink Designs
Table of Contents
“What a motherfucker.” The sound of Hannah’s voice causes me to jump right as her backside plops down on the corner of my desk. “I swear to god he’s such an arrogant prick,” she seethes, running a hand through her auburn hair.
“Uh oh. Patrick again?” I guess, knowing that when it comes to Hannah and Patrick, they’re like oil and water. Last month, when the company we work for went through a re-org, he’s the only person she didn’t want to have end up on her team. Unfortunately for her, that’s exactly what happened.
“Who else.” She rolls her eyes. “I swear that man doesn’t know his mouth from his asshole, because every time he opens it he spews shit.”
“Hannah,” I scold in a hushed voice, lifting up to peer over the short wall of my cubicle.
Hannah and I started here over ten years ago as interns during our senior year of college and have pretty much been inseparable ever since. And as her closest friend, it’s usually my job to reel her back in when she forgets that she’s at work, which happens quite a lot with her. She’s as hot headed as they come. She claims it’s the red hair. While most can hide their inner demon, she wears hers for the world to see.
“What?” She crosses her arms in front of her chest. “I don’t care if he hears me. He’s lucky I’m not saying worse.”
“What did he do this time?” I relax back in my chair, crossing one leg over the other.
“What he always does. Talks to me like I’m some incompetent twit. Never mind the fact that I have a four-year degree or that I’ve been doing this two years longer than he has. I swear, if I didn’t need this job, I’d be packing up my shit and walking out right this second.”
“Why don’t you talk to John? I’m sure if you tell him the problems you’re having he’ll do what he can to help.”
“And give him the satisfaction of knowing he’s gotten to me? Not a chance. Besides, you already know there’s nothing John will do. He’ll probably just tell me to ignore him.”
“Well, maybe you should try that tactic,” I offer.
“Yeah, because that’s possible.” She sighs in defeat. “How’s your day going, anyway? It has to be better than mine.”
“Okay, I guess. I mean, I’m here.” I shrug indifferently.
It’s not that I dislike my job, because I don’t. But there is a certain monotony to it that tends to make the days drag on. Eight hours often feels like fifty and I find myself staring at the clock a hell of a lot more than I should.
When I decided to major in Business, I imagined my future job would be something a lot more glamorous. Being a Business Analyst for a well-known medical technology firm has its benefits; great pay, good hours, and I’m able to manage my schedule and workload without much interference from management. But a lot of times those benefits are outweighed by the constant back and forth between our clients and our IT team, neither of which seem to ever be on the same page. It’s frustrating on a good day. On a bad day? Well, let’s just say I’ve had my fair share of melt downs over the years.
“I’m so glad it’s Friday. Please tell me you’re coming to the team building thing tonight. I don’t think I can stomach hanging out with these people outside of work without you.” She gestures around the large open room lined with cubicles identical to mine.
“Crap, is that tonight?” I ask, having forgotten all about it. Every third Friday of the month, everyone in our department goes out for dinner and drinks. It’s meant to be a team building function, but usually equates to everyone getting drunk and bitching about work.
“Yes, it’s tonight. And your ass better be there.” Hannah crinkles her nose and hits me with a pointed stare.
“I don’t know. I’m supposed to meet up with Bruce tonight.”
“Bruce?” She cocks a brow at me.
“I met him at the gym last week, remember?”
“Oh yes, big muscles, no brains, how could I forget?”
“I never said he didn’t have any brains.”
“You didn’t have to. I know your type.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” I try not to be offended by her comment.
“Oh come on. It’s no secret that you gravitate toward guys who have a lot going on here.” She gestures to her body. “And not a lot going on up here.” She places a finger to her temple.
“I do not,” I argue, even though I know she’s right. “Okay, maybe I do,” I concede. “But what’s wrong with that? What I want from men is only the physical. He doesn’t have to be the brightest crayon in the box to give me what I need.”
“Right. And if you’re constantly hooking up with people you have no chance of falling for then there’s no risk of getting hurt.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”
“If you want to live the rest of your life having meaningless sex then I guess it’s not.”
“There’s nothing wrong with meaningless sex. Besides, when’s the last time you dated anyone with any real potential.”
“Don’t compare my pickiness to your obvious avoidance of actually connecting with another person.”
“I connect with Bruce. In fact, we connected quite a few times Tuesday night.”
“Not what I meant and you know it.”
“Hannah, we’ve been through this. I’m not interested in a relationship.”
“I know. I know. Love is the enemy.”
“I didn’t say it was the enemy, it’s just not for me. I’m happy on my own. I have no one to answer to. No one to clean up after or have to cook for. No one to stay up late fighting over stupid things with.”
“And you don’t have to worry about anyone cheating on you,” she interjects.
“Well that’s a definite perk, too.”
“Not all men are like James.”
“All men are like James. At least in my experience.”
“Just because your high school boyfriend broke your heart and your slime ball ex cheated on you does not mean that all men are bad.”
“You’re impossible.” She sighs.
“Glad we’re in agreement.” I give her a toothy smile.
“You’re lucky I love you.”
“Am I?” I tease.
“Shut up.” She giggles, shoving my shoulder playfully as she stands. “Call Bruce. Tell him he’ll have to wait until tomorrow to flex naked for you. Tonight you’re coming to Putter’s with the rest of us.”
“So bossy.” I try to suppress my smile.
“I’ll come get you at four and we can walk over together,” she advises, not really giving me much of an option.
“Fine.” I roll my eyes as she smiles and quickly saunters away.
It’s four o’clock on the dot when Hannah appears at my desk, her prized Louis Vuitton draped over her shoulder. I enjoy the finer things in life, I won’t deny that, but Hannah’s expensive taste exceeds the budget I set aside for things like clothing and accessories.
And the thing is, she really doesn’t need such expensive things. She’s beautiful, funny, and is as quick witted as they come. She could dress in rags and she’d still be one of the most sought-after women in the room.
Me, on the other hand, not so much. I wouldn’t say I’m ugly per se. I’m average height. Average build. You could say I’m just average. Yet, I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. Although, where Hannah is naturally thin and beautiful, I have to work a hell of a lot harder to be presentable. Which means a minimum of five days a week in the gym to maintain my curvy one-forty frame, and I spend at least an hour every morning fixing my unruly blonde hair and covering my pale skin with makeup so I don’t look like someone who just stepped off the set of a vampire movie.
“You about ready?” She leans against the side of my cubicle and peers down at my computer screen.
“Almost.” I type out a quick conclusion to the email I’ve been working on and hit send. “There.” I push away from my desk and let out a loud sigh of relief, glad to have two days to recuperate before having to do this all over again.
As I stand to gather my things, Hannah says, “You’ll never guess who I caught getting up close and personal with Gwen in the copy room a few minutes ago.”
“Pretty sure I don’t have to guess,” I tell her, knowing full well who she’s referring to. “I swear, that man has no shame.”
“He may have no shame, but damn is he fine.”
“I don’t care what he looks like. He’s a pig. Plain and simple.”
“Who’s a pig?” Hannah and I both turn in unison to see none other than the pig, Harris Avery, standing a couple feet from my cubicle, a manila folder in his hand.
Speak of the devil...
“This guy Blue’s seeing,” Hannah responds, nudging my arm as if to tell me to play along.
A small smile forms on his full lips, and even though I despise everything about him, my stomach twists slightly. I can’t help it. I don’t have to like him to appreciate the fact that he really is probably the most handsome man I’ve ever seen up close. Sandy blonde hair, that’s longer on top and shaved underneath. A short, well-kept beard. And the most incredible gray eyes. And that’s only from the neck up. Don’t even get me started on the rest of him.
I shake off the thought and focus back on the current.
“If he’s such a pig why are you dating him?”
“I’m not dating him,” I blurt.
“Blue doesn’t date, she...” Hannah trails off, a wicked smile on her face.
“Anyway, we were just leaving.” I quickly turn, nudging Hannah toward the elevator.
I hear Harris chuckle behind us as we scurry away. It takes every ounce of will power I have not to turn around and throw him the middle finger.
I don’t know why I dislike the guy so much. Maybe it’s because he’s arrogant and cocky. Maybe it’s because he’s hooked up with half of the women in our department in the six months that he’s been here and has no qualms about it. Maybe it’s because he walks around the office like he owns the place and talks to everyone like he’s the smartest person in the room. Or maybe it’s that he bothers me for other reasons that I simply will not let myself entertain.
Whatever the reason, Harris Avery is not someone I associate with unless absolutely necessary. Luckily for me, he oversees a different team and our interactions are usually limited to emails and the occasional meeting we’re forced into together.
“My god that man is yummy.” Hannah waits until we reach the elevators to voice. Thankfully.
“That man is an arrogant asshole,” I correct, punching the down arrow.
“Oh come on. There’s no way you don’t think he’s hot. Look at him.” She gestures across the room and my eyes shift back to where we just came from, immediately locking on Harris who’s now talking to Patti, a middle-aged woman who sits in the cubicle to the left of mine.
“Hot in appearance, yes. But his personality leaves a lot to be desired.”
“I thought that’s the kind of guy you like.”
“I’m done talking to you.” I swing my gaze back to Hannah right as the elevator doors slide open.
Putter’s is busier than usual. No doubt due to the baseball game taking place downtown tonight. People don’t play around when it comes to their sports in Boston, especially when the season starts to dwindle down. If I’m not mistaken, they only have a couple weeks of games left before the season is over. Thank goodness. I’ve never been a fan of the sport outside of ogling the hot baseball players on television in their tight uniform pants.
Hannah and I join the handful of others that have already made their way across the street to the small bar and grill in the heart of the city. It’s our normal spot, given its close proximity to the office.
“So.” Hannah leans against the bar as we wait for our glasses of wine.
“So,” I add after a long moment of silence passes between us. It’s one of those times when I know Hannah has something she wants to say but she’s unsure if she should say it.
“Was Bruce disappointed that you canceled tonight?”
I know immediately that this wasn’t what she was originally going to say, but deciding not to push my luck, I go with it.
“I didn’t cancel. He’s picking me up here in an hour.” I grin, nodding to the bartender as he sets two glasses of wine on the bar in front of us.
“Tricky, tricky.” She shakes her head at me.
“What? You said I had to come. You didn’t say how long I had to stay.”
“But you’re going to miss all the fun,” she says sarcastically, gesturing around to where several members of our team are scattered, taking up multiple tables in the bar area.
“How will I ever live without all this.” I flatten my palm against my chest and sigh dramatically.
“Hey. The last time you left early you missed Diane and Robert breaking it down on the dance floor.”
“Pretty sure I’m not sorry that I missed that.” I laugh, taking my first sip of wine.
“You should be. It was incredible.” She laughs. “Oh and look.” She gazes past me toward the door. “There’s Robert now. Perhaps we should ask him for a repeat.”
I turn to see the older man with stark white hair enter the room. Robert is the grandpa of the office. He’s one of those people that walks around, making sure everyone is taken care of, and he always brings sweet treats from the bakery down the road, leaving them in the break room for everyone. He says as the honorary grandpa he has to take care of us youngins. I hate to break it to him, but I haven’t been a youngin’ for some time now. And while thirty-two isn’t old by any means, I definitely don’t feel as spry as I did in my
“Oh and look, he brought a friend.” Hannah nudges me when Harris steps into the bar directly behind Robert. Even though outwardly I cringe, because let’s be real—that man is infuriating on a good day, I also can’t ignore the way the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I may not like him, but I can’t overlook how good looking he is. And man, is he ever.
“Oh joy.” I sigh loudly, rolling my eyes to show my visible distaste as I turn back toward my friend. “What’s he doing here? I thought he was too good to be seen with the likes of us outside of work.”
In the six months since Harris started working with us, I can only remember him coming to one of these outings and he’d only stayed for thirty minutes before he left.
“Guess he decided to mingle with the common folk today. You know, sometimes even Kings have to come down from their castle and grace the people with their presence.”
“King?” I snort. “God, don’t let him hear you say that. All he needs is a bigger head.”
“But then his crown won’t fit.” She crinkles her nose playfully. “Don’t look, but I think he’s coming this way,” she adds before taking a long gulp of wine.
“Wait, what?” I whisper hiss, falling silent when I feel someone slide up to the bar directly next to me.
I don’t have to turn around to know who it is. Even if Hannah’s reaction hadn’t given it away, the smell of his cologne certainly would have. He has his own unique smell, and as much as it pisses me off, it’s an incredible smell. I force myself to breathe through my mouth and continue on like I don’t feel him standing entirely too close to me.
“Are you meeting me at the gym tomorrow morning?” I ask Hannah, not wanting to focus another moment on the man next to me.
“I think so.”
“Which means no.” I snort.
“No it doesn’t,” she protests, her hand going to her hip in true Hannah fashion.
“Every time you say you think, you never actually do.”
“Saying every time is a bit of an overstatement.”
“Or maybe you just have selective memory.” Harris chuckles behind me, my body going rigid. Whipping around, I find him angled toward us, an amused smile on his face. “Can I help you with something?” I bite, not hiding my displeasure with him eavesdropping on our conversation, regardless of what we’re discussing.
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