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The individual chapters of the story of Catherine & Thomas are not meant to be read on their own. Please read the preceding three chapters otherwise the events of this chapter won’t make much sense. It’s been more than three years since I wrote chapters 1 to 3 and while I strived to remain consistent in the characterisation and storyline, the style of writing has changed somewhat. The sex scene in this chapter is not as explicit as in the previous chapters and instead concentrates on the emotional rather than the purely physical aspects. Please forgive any inconsistencies…as I said, it’s been three years.

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On Monday morning I woke up an hour earlier than I had to because I was terrified of being late for work. I could have stayed over with Thomas on Sunday night and driven in to work with him but decided against it as I felt I needed to do this on my own. Having to deal with him as well as mentally preparing myself for my first job would have been too much for me. As it was, I was a bundle of nerves. I took one look at the outfit I’d carefully prepared the night before and realised that it was all wrong. I wasted the next half an hour trying on and discarding several outfits. Eventually I took a deep breath and sternly told myself to stop being such a baby. Being nervous was understandable but this was just ridiculous. Nothing irritates me more than people who fuss unnecessarily and here I was, doing just that.

After I calmed down I took a cool, critical look at my clothes and selected an outfit that I thought was professional yet not too stuffy. I set off about half an hour earlier than I needed to, just in case there were any delays with the trains. The 45 minute journey into the city was uneventful and I had forgotten to bring a book so there was plenty of time to brood over how I would deal with Thomas in his working environment. I suspected he would be a very different person at work to the person I knew as a brother and a lover. How would I deal with that? Could I look at him purely as an employee looks at a boss? Would people suspect our relationship ran deeper than that of siblings? These and many more questions raced through my mind. By the time I reached my destination I had worked myself into a fine state of terror. I was so terrified that I crossed over the line into a state of relative calm. I couldn’t get any more scared so the only alternative was to calm down.

I took advantage of the short walk to Thomas’s office to do some deep breathing and prepare myself for the day ahead. I decided that the best way to deal with this was to handle one thing at a time. First manage the entry and greeting at reception, then worry about the elevator ride to Thomas’s office, then…well…you get the point. It helped a little. By the time I arrived I was merely scared, as opposed to being terrified to the point of being a gibbering wreck.

The receptionist was pretty and perky, smiled relentlessly and looked like a Candy.

“Hi!! Welcome to X-Factor!! How are you today?? My name is Cindy!! How may I assist you??”

Cindy…Candy…what’s a vowel between friends? Cindy had, in one sentence, used up the national allotment of exclamation marks. Still, at least she was friendly. I was so mesmerised by the gleaming display of orthodontics on display in Cindy’s beaming mouth that all I could do stare at her stupidly. Cindy was unused to such a reticent response to her perkiness. Her beaming grin wavered uncertainly and I could see her wondering if she should call security to get this weird woman out the building. I snapped out of my trance and managed a weak smile in return.

“Hi. I’m Catherine Rosslyn. I start work today with Thomas Rosslyn?” I said uncertainly.

“Oh hi!” Cindy’s perkiness factor had just shot back up to 10. “That’s so great! Welcome! It’s so nice to meet you! Rosslyn? Are you related to Thomas?”

I faltered a little under the torrent of words but decided that I liked her after all. At least she was happy to see me.

“Thank you. Yes I’m related to Thomas. He’s my brother.” I replied.

“Cool! That’s so cool! I didn’t know he had a sister!” Cindy beamed at me.

“Uh…ok…um…could you tell me where I have to go please?” I asked when nothing other than the blinding smile was forthcoming.

“Oh! Sorry!” Cindy giggled. “You have to go to the sixth floor and speak to Melissa? She’s Thomas’s PA? She can assist you?”

As sweet as she was, this short exchange with Cindy was exhausting and I made a dash for the elevators.

“Wait, Catherine! You have to get a security pass first!” Cindy called after me.

Five minutes later, with my brand new security pass dangling from my lapel, I was on my way up to the sixth floor. Melissa turned out to be a competent-looking middle-aged woman who was all business. She directed me to take a seat, handed me a stack of forms with a crisp instruction to “complete and sign ALL forms please”. I was almost too afraid to ask torbalı escort for a pen, in case she gave me detention.

I was so immersed in the forms that I didn’t hear the doors to the office behind Melissa open.

“Good morning Catherine. I’m glad to see that you’re early.”

Thomas’s deep voice seemed to boom in my ear and I immediately spilled all my forms onto the floor at his feet. He chuckled as I scrambled to gather all the papers and stagger to my feet. My face burned as I looked up at him. So much for making a good impression on my first day.

“Are you done with those?” He asked, pointing at my forms.

“Um…nearly.” I replied nervously. He looked so handsome in his expensive tailor-made suit.

“All right. Finish up and then join me in my office. Melissa, please bring in two coffees once Catherine has joined me.”

Then he turned and disappeared into his office. I finished the forms and handed them nervously to Melissa, who looked at me like she just knew I’d filled them out all wrong. I fairly scuttled into Thomas’s office.

The door had barely shut behind me when I was grabbed and enfolded in a crushing embrace. My gasp of surprise was cut off by Thomas’s warm mouth closing over mine. He kissed me passionately and expertly and when he released me after about a million years later I felt like my feet would never touch the ground again.

“I missed you last night Cat. I woke up wanting you so badly. You look so sweet this morning I could eat you up.”

His wolfish grin told me exactly what he meant by that last comment! I felt a responsive warmth between my legs and was mildly shocked at my easy arousal. If this was how I felt after barely fifteen minutes in this job how would I cope with seeing him every day, all day? Thomas walked to his desk as if nothing had happened and smilingly beckoned me to the chair across from him. I was saved from replying by a discreet knock at the door. Melissa entered at Thomas’s command, carrying a tray bearing a fragrant pot of coffee. She poured our coffee and made a soundless exit. The woman was scary. Thomas took a sip of coffee and suddenly was all business.

“Cat, I’m glad you’re here. I really think this job is right for you and I want you to know I have faith in your abilities. This is a fast-paced ruthless industry and I’m always looking for talented people who have the vision and drive to rise above the average. I work my people hard and I drive myself even harder. Your official hours are 9am to 5pm but I expect you to work whatever hours are required to get the job done. I’ll do you no favours because you’re my sister, so don’t expect special treatment. There are those who’ll resent that you’re my sister and will assume that you got the job for that reason only. I trust that your work will prove them wrong. I’m a hard boss, but a fair one I hope. If you have any problems, talk to me, but first try to sort them out on your own. Use your first day to settle in and tomorrow you’ll be given your first assignment. Any questions?”

I was speechless in the face of his verbal onslaught. The Thomas I knew and loved was gone, replaced by a stern frightening stranger. He saw my obvious terror and his expression softened somewhat.

“I know this is all new and frightening and that you need to adjust to our working relationship but trust me, the sooner you think of me as a boss and not a brother…or anything else…the better.” He said in a kinder tone.

I couldn’t help but flash back to the very un-bosslike kiss he’d given me at the door. The man was a mind-reader because his next words were,

“I know that my good morning kiss contradicts what I just said but I’m only human after all!” he grinned. “Grant me a moment of weakness in the presence of my beautiful sexy lover.”

I blushed deeply and tried unsuccessfully to hide my pleasure at his words. Our little “moment” was interrupted by the buzzing of his intercom. Melissa announced that “the team” was waiting for Thomas in the boardroom.

“I’ll be there in five Melissa.” Thomas told her.

We finished our coffee as Thomas gave me a brief overview of his team. As CEO of the company he had assembled a team of people who represented, to him, the cream of the crop. They were drawn from various departments and from all levels of the company structure. What they all had in common were their high IQ’s, ambition, talent and their uncompromising belief in their own superiority. They were convinced that the next big thing in the industry would stem from one of their brilliant ideas. He liked their hunger and their relentless ambition and used them ruthlessly to his company’s benefit.

“Come with me. You should meet the team.” Thomas said.

I scuttled after him, struggling to keep up and negotiate the deep carpeted hallway in my new high heels. No one told me that the first professional challenge I would encounter was to not fall flat on my face. We entered the boardroom urla escort and the buzz of chatter subsided. The group scattered around the enormous boardroom table rose noisily to their feet and greeted Thomas in an uncoordinated chorus of “morning, hi and how ya’s”. They were an odd looking bunch. I was too shy to stare openly so I glanced briefly at each person as I was introduced.

Kevin was a tall gangly blond man in his mid-twenties. He wore rimless spectacles that he continually pushed up the bridge of his nose. He smiled shyly and mumbled a greeting. Veronica was dark and intense and looked like she was in her early thirties. She radiated a fierce intelligence and barely glanced at me. She seemed impatient to get on with things. Mark was a cheerful redhead, also in his twenties, who flashed a brilliant grin and welcomed me effusively. Lucille, the last member of the team, was a pleasant-looking woman in her late twenties who greeted me with a sweet smile.

After the introductions were over Thomas motioned for us to take our seats and the meeting began. They seemed to have an established routine because Veronica started right off the bat. The rest of the team, and Thomas, listened attentively as she rattled off a stream of technical jargon, not a word of which I understood. I was starting to panic a little when the door burst open and a loud cheerful voice rang out.

“Good morning everyone! I apologise for being late but you know how it goes…fun and games on the weekend and then the battle to get out of bed on a Monday morning!”

Thomas turned to the newcomer with a face like thunder and I felt the tension in the rest of the team. The voice behind me sounded familiar and I turned my chair to see…Kyle?? What on earth was he doing here? Neither he nor Thomas had mentioned that they worked together. What was going on here?

Kyle grinned cheekily at Thomas and sauntered into the room. Glancing around at the people at the table he caught sight of me. It didn’t seem possible but his grin widened further.

“Catherine! What a wonderful surprise! It’s about time we added another rose to this bunch of thorns.”

Those corny words from anyone else would have seemed inane but he was so charming and light-hearted that I couldn’t help but smile shyly in response.

“Late, as usual, Kyle.” Thomas growled. He was not charmed by Kyle. “Sit down please. Veronica was bringing us up-to-date on the results of her latest round of bench-mark tests. He turned away abruptly and motioned to Veronica to continue. She wavered, glancing uncertainly at Kyle and then back to Thomas.

“Continue Veronica.” Thomas said sternly.

Veronica cleared her throat and took up presumably where she’d left off before Kyle’s dramatic entrance.

Kyle slumped into the chair next to mine and squeezed my knee in a friendly greeting. I blushed and clumsily turned slightly away from him. Thomas glared furiously at both of us and I flushed with embarrassment. It wasn’t my fault that Kyle was an outrageous flirt yet I felt guilty under Thomas’s remorseless glare. To his credit, Kyle sensed my discomfort and left me alone throughout the rest of the meeting. As soon as the meeting ended and the others were busy leaving, he immediately turned to me with a smile.

“What are you doing here Catherine? Thomas knows how to keep a secret, I’ll grant him that. He never once mentioned that you would be working here. Probably didn’t want to give me anything to look forward to.” He laughed infectiously.

I responded once again to his warmth and flirtatious manner and smiled shyly in return.

“I’m here to assist with documentation on the new project. I must say, it’s all so intimidating. So far I haven’t understood a word anyone’s said at this meeting.” I confessed.

“Don’t worry about it Catherine. If you’re anything like your brother you’ll soon catch on. Thomas wouldn’t have hired you if he didn’t think you were capable.” He said.

I was taken aback at his obvious sincerity and thoughtful response and felt oddly comforted.

“But what are you doing here Kyle?” I asked. Why didn’t you or Thomas tell me you worked here too?”

“Because it would be hard to define what he does here as actual ‘work'” Thomas said, appearing at my side.

“Kyle bought a large chunk of shares in the company when we listed and unfortunately feels that that entitles him to hang about our offices, bothering the female employees.” Thomas continued snidely, without a trace of humour to soften his sharp words.

Kyle’s light-hearted manner dropped for a moment and I glimpsed a steely undertone to his character.

“Now Thomas, remember that you are talking to a major shareholder. One who, furthermore, has an actual say in the major decision-making in this company. Need I remind you of our deal?” Kyle replied in an equally humourless tone.

The two men glared at each other and I felt small and insignificant, trapped between them. buca escort Thomas grinned suddenly, baring his teeth in a smile devoid of all warmth and humour.

“I could never forget our deal Kyle. Trust me. I think of nothing else whenever I see you.” Thomas replied, his scary smile never wavering.

I cleared my throat and both men suddenly became aware of me again. Kyle slipped on his cloak of charm in an instant and took my hand.

“You must have lunch with me today Catherine. We can have a proper conversation, uninterrupted by dull work matters.” Kyle said, his smiling eyes focused on me once more.

“She has lunch plans already Kyle. You’ll have to ask someone else to lunch.” Thomas interrupted before I could say anything.

I was annoyed and embarrassed. Why did he think it was alright to speak on my behalf? I knew he disliked Kyle intensely but that didn’t give him the right to make decisions on my behalf. He was treating me like a child and I was not happy about that.

Kyle didn’t protest and instead told me that there were many other lunch dates that we could share. He kissed me lightly before I could turn away, flashed a cheeky grin at Thomas and stalked out of the room. I was left alone with Thomas, blushing furiously and not knowing what to say.

“Stay away from him Catherine. I won’t tell you again.” He told me through gritted teeth and walked out, leaving me alone with my mouth hanging open in shock and fury.

How dare he? He treated me like he owned me and I had no say over my own life. I was trembling with fury and thought it best to stay away from Thomas for a while, in case I said something rash and it ended up in a huge fight. Of course, that also meant I couldn’t ask him where I should go now and what was expected of me. I stood there for a moment longer and then ventured outside into the hallway. To my surprise Veronica was waiting outside.

“You can come with me.” She said and abruptly turned away and walked off, obviously expecting me to follow without question. I followed quickly, feeling more and more miserable with each step. This was definitely not what I had imagined my first day would be like. This was awful. I was close to tears.

We wound our way through seemingly endless hallways and offices. Occasionally Veronica paused to introduce me to someone or point out something of significance. I instantly forgot the names of everyone I met and barely glanced where she pointed. We entered her cluttered office and she waved a vague hand around the room and told me to find a chair. I sat down and wished with all my heart that I was somewhere else. My misery must have been written plainly on my face because Veronica’s usually fierce expression softened into one of sympathy.

“First days are always difficult, especially when the bull moose insist on fighting in front of the newbies.” She remarked dryly.

I laughed involuntarily, surprised at her unexpected kindness and sense of humour. I also liked that she hadn’t censored herself because she was talking to the boss’s sister.

“Thank you.” I replied shyly. “It’s all rather confusing. I don’t know what I should be doing or what is expected of me.”

“I know. They do that to all the newbies. They like to see who will sink and who will swim.” Veronica said.

She walked over to a bookshelf groaning under the weight of books and disks and other objects I couldn’t identify. She extracted a stack of documents and CD’s and handed them to me.

“Read through these. They summarise the project and its goals and are a good place to start. Don’t worry about the stuff you don’t understand immediately. Most technical documents are written by geeks who can’t seem to understand that non-geeks have to read their work too. And I say that as a proudly self-confessed geek.” She said with a lopsided smile that brought charming warmth to her normally stern face.

“Thank you. Thank you very much.” I said sincerely.

“Oh I doubt you’ll be thanking me once you’re wading through all of that.” She waved off my gratitude and was once again all business. “There’s a workstation outside that you can use. Laura, the office manager, has set out office supplies and Manny will be along shortly to setup your network access and mail account. The kitchen is to the left and the ladies room is two doors down. Let me know if you need anything.” She said, already turning away to get on with her work.

I thanked her again and made a rapid exit, clutching my stack of papers and disks. I looked around and then spotted my workstation. After grabbing a cup of coffee I settled down to read through what Veronica had given me. I soon realised why she said I shouldn’t thank her. Apart from the subject matter, which was unfamiliar to me, the writing style was verbose and overly laden with jargon. I struggled to grasp the essence of what I was reading but I knew I had to persevere. I couldn’t let Thomas down, and more importantly, I couldn’t let myself down. I was determined to prove to myself that I could do this. I worked steadily throughout the day, pausing only when Manny arrived to setup my access to the company’s network. He was friendly in a remote kind of way and seemed not the least interested in who I was or why I was there.

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