when we met. e/elevator.
I hate elevators.
It was all I could think as I stood there, staring at my shoes, waiting for it to arrive. I would have taken the stairs, but my interview was on the thirty-fourth floor. And my beautiful new heels were not meant for stair climbing. Especially not thirty-four flights.
When the elevator doors opened, I sighed and stepped inside along with several others. Too many others. I didn’t like elevators when I was alone, but I liked them even less when they were crowded. I could feel the panic beginning to build.
A couple of people left the elevator. I let out a little sigh. Good.
Three more people got off. Just as I let out a breath, feeling the panic subside a touch, someone new got on. Someone tall. And gorgeous. And… Fuck! I’m staring. The moment I realized my gaze lingered too long, I tried to look away, but then I caught the sexiest little smirk on his face. His perfect face with perfect stubble and perfect lips and a perfect angular jaw. I wanted to reach out and touch him.
Fuck! I’m still staring.
I smiled, thoroughly embarrassed, and turned my eyes down. He took another step closer to me and turned to face the elevator doors. I could feel the heat radiating off him. And I could smell him. Musky and masculine and… Oh God. I need to focus. I have an interview, for fuck’s sake.
The last four people left the elevator. The last four except for me. And Mr. Tall and Sexy.
I could feel my knees shaking. I was nervous for my interview, but that was not the reason for my trembling. It was him. I took a deep breath as subtly as I could and looked up at the numbers changing as the elevator ascended. But out of the corner of my eye, I could see that his eyes were on me.
Oh God. Is my hair okay? Is my skirt too short?
Suddenly, I was too aware of my every move. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I let them hang at my sides. Then I clasped them together in front of me. Then I reached up and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. (It fell again immediately after.) I was overwhelmed by my anxiety over the interview, the elevator, and the beautiful man beside me. This was not good.
And then it got worse.
The elevator came to a stop with a sudden jolt. It was so jarring that I nearly stumbled, but Mr. Perfect reached for me and held me by my upper arms, steadying me. His touch ignited something in me. And I felt anything but steady. I took a few deep breaths trying to stave off a full-blown panic attack.
When he released me, I started hitting buttons, willing the elevator doors to open.
“Oh God.” I whispered. That’s when I felt it. His hand took mine from the buttons and held it.
“Hey, it’s okay.” He spoke softly. His voice was deep and comforting. It felt like velvet.
“I’m sorry.” My voice was a little shaky. “I don’t do well in elevators.”
“Look at me.”
It took me a minute, but I finally turned to him and looked at his face, my eyes meeting his. “Hi.”
He smiled. I think he was holding back a laugh. “Hi. I’m Nick.”
“Stella.” I looked down and realized he was still holding my hand. And I knew he could feel mine trembling in his.
“I’m going to make a call to get us out of here, okay?”
I nodded, but when he started to let go of my hand, I clutched his like it was the only thing keeping me standing.
“Nick?” The panic was taking its toll. “I think I might pass out.”
He let go of my hand and wrapped both of his around my waist. “I won’t let you fall.”
God, he has nice hands. And he smells so good. Not the time, Stella!
Nick cautiously lowered me until we were both sitting, leaning against the elevator wall. I took a few calming breaths, but with Nick’s eyes on me, they weren’t so calming.
“How do you feel now? Better?”
“Yeah.” I closed my eyes and covered my face with my hands. “God, this is so embarrassing.”
“Stella.” He took my hands away from my face. I stared at him, awaiting his next words. “No need to be embarrassed.” He smiled at me. “I like that you’re flustered, though. It’s fucking adorable.”
At that moment, the elevator started moving and promptly stopped again. It was jarring and it completely freaked me out. Without a thought, I grabbed onto his arm. He covered my hand with his and kept it there.
“I think I need to distract you. Why don’t you tell me about yourself?”
I took a deep breath—again—and tried to remember something about myself. Anything. “I…” He made me so nervous. “I have a cat that likes to eat donuts.”
Oh my God. That’s what I thought of? Kill me.
Nick laughed. “Fucking adorable,” he mumbled. “This doesn’t seem to be helping you relax, though.” He smiled again. “I have another idea to distract you.”
“What is it? Please… anything.”
He took my face in his hands, and I nodded.
And then he kissed me.
p.s. — When we finally reached the thirty-fourth floor, I walked out of the elevator and Nick followed. I approached the desk and smiled to the receptionist. “I’m Stella Layne. Here for an interview with Nicholas Hunter.” The moment his name fell from me, I made the connection. Nicholas. Nick. Oh fuck.
Hot guy: model unknown (but I’d be happy to work on him… I mean *for* him)