Echo:A Dark Billionaire Romance

By: A Zavarelli

“Oh, no you don’t.” Nicole shook her head. “You’re going in there Brighton, and you’re going to dazzle him. I promise you.”

“I can’t,” I whispered.

“I know what you’re thinking.” She squeezed my shoulders. “That you don’t have the right experience, and this feels all wrong. You’re going to mess up, or blah blah. Well, sweetie, that’s exactly why I think you’re perfect for this position. You’re a fresh canvas. You don’t have any preconceived notions about what it is you’re supposed to be doing. But you’re willing to learn, and you’re willing to work hard, right?”

“Yes.” I nodded and bit the inside of my cheek.

“Good, then that’s all I can ask of you. Now get in there and flash those pearly whites. He doesn’t like to wait.”

“Oh.” I glanced at the door we were standing in front of. It was solid and heavy, which reflected the way my body felt as I tried to make it cooperate.

“Go on,” Nicole encouraged. “He’ll be right in to greet you.”

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes as I pressed my palm against the smooth wood. Despite the heavy appearance, the door opened easily and without a sound. Nicole gave me a thumbs up and shut the door behind me as I disappeared inside.

The office was huge. Had it not been so barren, it might have bordered on ostentatious. If it was a minimalistic theme the man was going for, he’d nailed it. More sharp lines greeted my eyes everywhere I looked, making me grateful for the soft cocoon of my cardigan as I wrapped it around me.

The place was sparse with only the necessary furnishings and little else to capture the eye. But I didn’t doubt that every one of those strategically placed Jetson’s style chairs still cost more than I made in an entire year.

Not knowing what else to do while I waited for the elusive CEO, I lingered in front of his desk. It felt too presumptuous to sit, and yet it seemed awkward if I just stood there. So I did what I usually did in these situations. I fidgeted.

I tugged on the hem of my dress. Brushed my hair back over my shoulders and pulled it back again. I had a serious mental debate about whether my cardigan should be buttoned or not while I checked my shoes for any scuffs.

Once I’d finished with all that, I started to pace around his office. I didn’t know where this guy was, but I found it rather odd for him to leave me here. I assumed someone in his position would be more concerned with his privacy than to allow a stranger to roam free, but what did I know? I was just another cog in the machine.

A strange looking metal sculpture caught my eye, and I almost reached out to touch it. But then I reminded myself that probably wasn’t appropriate.

Five minutes later, as I sat presumptuously in front of the desk, I decided to forgo that thought. Three round marble paperweights in front of me were too shiny to resist. They weren’t actually holding down any paper but lined up like ducks in a row. That should have been my first clue.

“Miss Valentine.”

I jumped at the voice behind me, instinctively jerking the paperweight and making it clatter to the floor. I retrieved it with a shaky hand and set it back on the desk before swiveling around in my seat.

When my gaze swept across the room, my mouth fell open, and out tumbled what remained of my decorum.

Those eyes.

My fingers flexed and curled in my lap as I stared at the peculiar shade of gunmetal blue. The same shade that had haunted me for the last five years. God, they were even more beautiful than I remembered. But they looked different somehow. Colder. They swept over me without recognition, and I died a little inside. What was he doing here?

I swallowed as I stood on shaky legs and gave him a small smile. Perhaps I looked different… perhaps it would take him a minute to remember. It was dark that night… and yet I could still recall every detail of his face.

Those details hardened over time, making him even more masculine than I remembered. His hair was just a shade shy of black, and it accented his eyes beautifully. He was clean cut and everything about him was perfect. Too perfect, almost. I wanted to run my fingers through his hair while I kissed along his jaw line. I briefly wondered if he still wore the same cologne, and if I were to bury my nose in his neck, if that was the scent I would find there.

There was something seriously wrong with me. But for five long years I’d thought of this man. Of his kiss, his touch, his broken promises. And now that I faced his careless indifference, I questioned if I had somehow imagined it all.

I watched his eyes eagerly, but recognition never sparked. He stalked around to the other side of his desk and gave me a business-like smile.

“Why don’t you have a seat,” he suggested. “I’m sorry I was running behind.”

My heart plummeted into my stomach, and I wasn’t sure why. His voice was warm, professional even. The way an employer should be. But that wasn’t what I wanted.

I took a seat and crossed my legs, not sure what else to do with them. He straightened a few things on his desk before eyeing the marble paperweight I had disrupted earlier. It clearly bothered him that it was no longer in a perfect line, and yet he refrained from straightening it. That was something that hadn’t changed at least. He paid attention to everything. Noticed every detail. So why didn’t he remember me?

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