The Assistant


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1. V A L L E Y O F S H A D O W S


It was bright and sunny outside as the wind blew with just the right amount of gust, Tom made his delectable and sought after pasty, his signature chocolate cake. As the dough was fluffy to a mere cushion-like finish. He knew it was a matter of time before his best friend would devour the baked goodies in a second.

He smiled to himself. For some unfathomable reason he always found peace in creating his signature chocolate cake, he loved the way the finished product came out of the oven. The smell of dark chocolate blending with the sugar made sumptuous aroma to his nose. And let's not forget about the taste. A balance of sweetness and tartness harmonized in the most fantastic manner in his pallet, and he knew, he wasn't the only one.

For once in his life he was content about something. He knew he was only good in one thing. And that baking. So for the past months, he took in culinary and quickly excelled in the process, having to know more and more techniques to amplify and utilize his skill in baking even more.

At the beginning he was fond of his new found freedom, having to carelessly achieve his dreams which later felt to draining for Tom to even cope with. So, for several days, Tom searched for the best bakeshop that was hiring and that's where he ended up in A Touch of Sicily. A new business ran by Lucia D'elia to whom Tom's has been very well acquainted too.

Placing the freshly baked cake on the table, he quickly arranged and prepared the necessary items to begin there breakfast. He was happy this way, taking in more of the feminine side and doing all the housework while his best friend Kate just leaved him be, trusting him with everything to do with the apartment.

"I knew you would be making cake" Kate's sudden comment startled Tom by the bones.

He then looked over to Kate and watched with amusement in his eyes as she sat down and took her first bite. Her eyes baffled into an encasement as she mourned for the cake that rested on her pallet.

"Cakes as good as always, Tom" She replied in between bites, mourning.

Tom just replied her comment with a chuckle and resumed sitting down with her while indulging himself with his homemade cake. And my, was it delightful.

To the soothing silence that surrounded them, Kate made no attempt in prolonging the question she has been meaning to ask to him.


He looked up and grimaced to Kate's sudden call, arching his eyebrows to her. "Yeah?"

"Isn't your internship starting today?" She wondered, eyeing him calmly while she twisted and turned her fork around her hand.

Tom shrugged. "Yeah, what about it?"

"Well you see... I kinda fixed you up for a blind date later this evening"

"Another one?!" Tom retorted, knowing inside of him that he wasn't always the luckiest one in the dating department. His previous relationship could testify to that.

"It's no big deal. I met the guy and his name is Rob. He's a friend of a friend and he's really really nice with the right amount of witty that suits your style." She explained in a rush as she nervously tried to smile to keep herself away from the glares Tom diverted at her.

Tom thought about it for a split second, He surely did find the name Rob quite attractive. He would always picture someone with that name to be very outspoken and entitled and the fact that Kate met the guy is a bonus. That'll save him from having a date with the less attractive ones. Nice and witty, those two were qualities Tom obsessed about in guys. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to agree to this.

"I'll think about it but right now I have to go" Tom excused himself and stood up from his seat, sighing in the process.

Kate pulled a look at him first of annoyance but then took a quick glance at her wrist watch. "Right, your internship" She looked away, seeing the disappointment in Tom's eyes.

"Hey" Tom voiced out gently.

She turned her head into a slight nod to look at him. Kate was surprise to see Tom's expression had softened. His big, brown eyes smoldering at her and his shoulders drooped, a tender smile, plastered across his lips.

"I said I'll think about it, I never said no" He added, smiling thinly at his overbearing best friend.

The tenderness in his voice assured her moment as a matchmaker for her best friend was now a, possibility.


It rained quietly as Tom drove in his car, carefully reminding himself to breath to ensure stability and composure in his well being. Though the butterflies in his stomach tried to protest about that. Tom hated the first day of everything. School, Job, Interviews, he despised them all.

And this one was no, exception.

"Just breathe, Tom" He would say over and over again on his way to the campaign trail.

He momentarily took a look in his rear-view mirror and found out that not only that the bags under his eyes were getting considerably darker in a few shade of light brown. But his face also drained from all color due to the frigid temperature he solely became accustomed too. And the fact that his nervousness was getting the best of him, making him fidget and uneasy.

"What the hell am I doing?" He thought to himself, stopping the car abruptly, earning him a few horn on the way.

Why was he in front of a campaign site. He clearly knew nothing about politics. Okay maybe he does. But that doesn't change the fact that he should intern for them

You need the money dumbo.

The voices on his head reminded him, cursing, he straightened his posture.

"Man up, you can do this" He ran over his head like some kind of mantra. Once his courage gauze filled up with enough pheromones, he took tentative steps outside his car and dashed of into the outstanding temple style building, away from the harsh rain that confines him.

He quickly made the necessary precaution and checked all of his things. After that he went and entered the so-called building.

Organized was the proper term to what Tom had first witness. Dozens of cubicles scattered out in a form of a honeycomb design and worker bee walked in a calm pace, ensuring cleanliness and peacefulness around. At first Tom felt calm and composed, but as soon as one worker stared at him, followed by another one. He begged on some magical reason that the ground would suddenly swallow him whole, away from the questioning looks of curiosity from the workers.

he hated being looked at, but then again, who ever did?

And just as the first bead of sweat developed in his forehead, a voice called out, saving him from the upcoming embarrassment of not moving.

"Tom Garret?"

He instantaneously turned around and was greeted by a petite woman wearing a formal attire. Her hair was jet black and was pulled back into a tight ponytail. She had a soft look plastered across her face that made it easier for Tom to talk to.

"Yeah, that's me" He responded quickly.

"Come with me" she offered and quickly dug her heels to the cold marble floors and walked away. Tom followed her in seconds.

Once they started walking in a quick pace, Tanya finally made an offer to introduce herself midst the heavy traffic of bodies that seemed to hit there vicinity.

"My names Tanya, head of marketing and everything you see around you is all ran by me" She introduced without having so much as too look at Tom as she spoke.

Tom only did a subtle nod as he tries to keep up at the fast paced woman.

"Since you work for The St.Vincent Administration now, we have one rule"

"And that is?" Tom asked.

Tanya halted then faced Tom dead in the eyes, even though Tom's mere 5ft8 height tried to resend Tanya's tiny frame. It was clear who either of the two was the bitch.

"We have one rule, one rule. And that is don't screw up. Screw up, all bet's are off, you got that?" Tom nodded, feeling the fierceness in her eyes he backed away a safe distance and nodded once more.

"Good, now it's settled." She smiled.

"What is?" Tom questioned. She then took hold of the door's frame and faced him. "You're offically one of us, now"

White lights flashed infront of his eyes as Tanya opened the door with such momentum. Tom blinked several times, trying to escape the roaring white lights of this room. Once his vision cleared, Tom quickly took notice of the room that grew one by one.

"This is Main Office" Tanya introduced.

"I can see that" He blurted out.

Once the bright lights had subsided, Tom roamed his eyes on the vast land of workers. Each busy with there own world, speaking in telephones and computers. From the sheer homelike feelings of Tom's work place in the bakery, he clearly felt alien to this type of particular environment. Modern men with there electronics.

"Don't worry, you're not working like them." Tanya said the second an unfamiliar face crept on Tom's expression.

"Then what?" He asked.

"You're working for him" Tanya replied and pointed her fingers above the cubicles and into the second floor of the room.

His eyes hovered around the glass room and thought to himself. Who was this particular man he was going to end up working with. He clearly saw the faint silhouette of him that he was positive it was infact a man. Though he can't help wonder.

"You'll be his assistant-slash-buddy. You know the usual, just try to level with him in stressful times, stuff like that." She explained.

Tom gave her a questioning look. The job of being an assistant he understands but his buddy? Not so much. "How will you know if I'll be able to level with him? I never met the guy"

"The answer is I don't know, but we'll find out later this evening at the party. Now follow me, I'll introduce you to some very important people" Tanya said and ushered Tom out of the main office before he could ask about the so-called party that was about to start tonight.

And for the rest of the day. Tanya made it her duty to introduce Tom to every head of the department he was going to be frequently aiding with. Do's and Don'ts when working with his boss to whom he still hasn't learned his name yet.

Returning from where they first started. Tanya pulled an invitation out from her bag and handed it to Tom.

"It's a formal party, It's tonight, make sure you attend. Don't want to miss out on anything" Tanya explained, smiling thinly as she grabbed her handbag and waved Tom a goodbye before he could ask another question.

As soon as she left, Tom made no choice but glance at his invitation. The font was surely fancy as well as the paper they used he thought to himself, no wonder it was a formal party. Placing the invitation back on his bag, he took one last view around the main office for some unknown reason even himself doesn't know.

And just like magnet radiating from a metal, his eyes suddenly found them selves at the light-tinted window wall. The same spot where Tanya pointed out to whom he'll be working for. A figure, not more than a six foot frame stood out facing him. Through the grey colored silhouette he was sure that particular someone was watching him from afar. And he couldn't help it but smile as he was sorta excited to meet this particular someone later in the evening.


S O N G : Solomon Burke - Cry to me


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Crystal Cherie

Your cover is really cool! It drew me in to the book. I also like what I'm reading so far. You do a great job playing at the senses with imagery! :) Thanks for writing.

3. P A N I C & A P P E A S E M E N T

     It was a mere nine-thirty until Tom had awoken in his deep and humble abode. As his eyes lay wide open, his body streched to a comfor-ting pace, and so he laid still. For a split-second, He almost felt like he was as carefree as a pidgeon on a plaza, until his thoughts came tracing back to him and the peculiar possibilities that rested upon him.


     From there, Tom toppled out of his bed and into the comfort of his bathroom to splash, or rather crash a bit of water on his face before facing himself in the mirror. He looked... troubled, he thought to himself. Inspecting his face like a paleontologist examining a stegosaurus, before walking off his bathroom and headed downstairs.


     "Good morning, sleeping beauty" Kate teased as she sat on a chair with both of her legs cuddled in front of her and a mug by her lips. "I'm also here to tell you that your date with Rob-" She stopped, eyeing Tom with wide eyes before continuing. "-Has been more two days from now." She finished delivering her news in a smile.


     Tom smiled thinly and resumed sitting down with her, he could worry about what to wear a day from now, right now, he was busy what to eat since he was to drained to whip up something miraculous from the kitchen drawer. Instead, Kate's version of eggs Benedict will have to suffice, for now.


     As Tom took a bite of his food, he couldn't help placing a doubted look on his face, about the food and lastnight, especially of the truth bomb that exploded in his face, last night


     Kate suspected the bewildered look on, Tom's face. "I know It's no where near the breakfast menu you cooked, but hey. I tried my best" she snickered, sipping another gulp of her coffee.


     "It's not that. It's fine, I guess" He replied, followed by a Cheshire smile that made Kate grin.


     "You asshole!" She smiled, punching Tom playfully by his shoulders. "Just because I can't cook like you, doesn't mean you can insult my culinary mastery" She added, with playful eyes on Tom.


     He just laughed halfheartedly and drank himself a mug of coffee, before facing her intently.


     Kate fixed her seating, into a more proper manner. Both hands on the table and legs firmly footed on the ground. "What's wrong?" she asked, her voice soft and tactful.


     Tom debated whether he should open up about last night, particularly, Carlton. And yet, he was still out on a limb opening to her about this.


     But the decision was already made. This was eating him.


    Tom opened his mouth, but no words seemed to fly out. With his lips parted, he thought of other ways of opening to Kate about,him.


     "Does this have to do anything with last night?" She reassured him, because once that face of Tom's kicks in, she knew he was having troubled starting with it.


     He nodded, quite vigorously. Then took another sip of his coffee.


     Kate tilted her head. "Is it bad?"


     Tom thought about his for a second, then answered. "I'm not sure, maybe- I don't know".


     "Do you feel comfortable opening up to me? I can help you." She smiled, eyeing him warmly.


     "More than anyone" He replied, but deep down, he still felt *alien* about this.


     "Then tell me" She replied, arching her eyebrows at him that made her eyes sparkle in the morning light that reflected over the glass table.


     Tom gulped, then stood up abruptly and headed to the kitchen and opened up one of the kitchen cabinets until he found what he searched for, grabbing it, he made his way back at the table and sat down and took a swig of the newly opened bottle of vodka.


     Kate, much to her astonishment, sighed and smiled cheekily at his distraught looking best friend, and took a swig of her own once Tom had his own. Feeling the intense, fiery burn of the liquor, she closed the cap and faced him.


     "Okay, here it goes" Tom started as Kate listened attentively. "So, last night, I met this guy: tall, handsome, and incredibly boyfriend material, you get the picture, right?" She nodded as he preceded.


     "So, basically, he flirted with me, followed by me and we ended up having a really amazing night, until..." Tom halted and grabbed bottle of vodka as he started pacing back and fourth in front of Kate.


     After a swig, he continued, shaking rather faintly. "Until I learned that- oh boy-" he halted, once more and took another swig of the liquor.


     Kate, much to her anticipation leaned more closer as she started to become hooked to whatever his revelation will be. Serial Killer, Mafia, Assassin, to name a few


     "He's my boss" Tom, finally revealing as he sat down on the seat, only to find a dull expression on Kate's face, she was aghast.


     "Okay...I'm going to take a shower" She replied, much to her disappointment. As she stood up, Tom somehow held a grip on her hand. "You said you'd help me?" He panicked, a worried look across his face. Kate just sighed and sat down, again.


     "Fine, what do you want me to do?" She asked, with a rather bored look on her face. Kate still had hoped it was something far greater than his revelation being his boss. It's just his boss, what's the worse that could happen.


     "Tell me what to do!" He panicked, clutching her hand as if he'd repented a sin.


     "I don't even know what you're upset about!" She protested. "You're not even his boyfriend for that matter" She added.


     Tom thought about it for a while, sure he wasn't his boyfriend but still. He felt something for him, and that something is what terrifies him to the core.


     "But he's my boss, and the future running senator of our state" He voiced out slowly, letting it all sink to Kate as her eyes widen in realization.

     Kate went silent, for a moment as she gathered up her thoughts and faced Tom, momentarily.


     "You two flirted, correct?" She asked, Tom nodded.


     "Both of you?" Kate asked again, followed by Tom nodding once more. She sighed, asking another.


     "I'll repeat, this is the first time you guys met?" Tom nodded. "Then, I don't see what the problem is, all you two did was flirt and that's it. I'm sure theirs nothing to worry about" She assured him.


     "Take myself out of the situation and place yourself in my shoes, what would you do?" Tom snapped back, earning him silence from Kate.


     "Honestly, I'd steer clear of him" She answered, then stood up and patted him on the shoulders, uttering reassuring words to him as she left for her shower. Leaving him in a state of pure dissolution.




     At eleven-thirty, Tom finally had the courage to arrive at the St.Vincent administration. Tom felt the tips of his fingertips turn frigid as he took each tentative steps towards his apparent boss' office.


     On the way, Tom met Nico, a loud and overbearing but irresistible office mate Tanya introduced. Nico had dark brown hair, much to his own, with chocolate colored eyes and a bushy brow, and a present dimple on each of his cheeks. It's no secret why Tom found him irresistible but in a totally platonic way.


     Even though his looks granted him Tom's attention, his *totally* playful and dumb witted attitude is enough for him to get  checked out of Tom's list of potential boyfriends.


     "Hello, my sweet and lovely princess" Nico snickered as he gave Tom a playful grin.


      Tom rolled his eyes at the twenty-something man in return. Somehow, word had spread like wildfire that he apparently enjoyed the company of men, much to Tom's dismay of keeping a low profile. He grunted and played the middle finger at Nico, earning him a sad and heartbroken look from Nico as he dispersed in one of the rooms of the venue.


     Jackass Tom murmured to himself as he proceeded into Carlton's office.


     Once Tom entered Carlton's office, he was greeted with warm smile from one of Carlton's secretary. Harper, he thought her name was Harper, he bowed in a mannerly fashion and sat down on his own desk. Sighing as he finally sat down and gazed over the window.


     It was warm and sunny outside, with the sun shinning down on this perfect Saturday morning was perfect for baking or biking, but he had to waste it by sitting down by his desk in the confines of his boss's office,


     "Mr.Garret, Mr.St.Vincent will see you now" Harper voiced out, letting Tom drift back to reality to face his boss for some unknown reason.


     After Tom entered Carlton's office, he closed the door behind him and focused his gaze downward.

     "You know you can look at me, I won't bite" Carlton spoke as he busied himself as he typed nonstop on his laptop. Tom gulped and stared at the man, and he couldn't help it feel emasculated by his appearance. He wore a black suit and darkened chevron patterns everywhere, toppled of with a dark blue vest that brought the color of his eyes. Those eyes...


     He shrugged thinking about his enticing eyes and stood idle beside the door frame, while Carlton just sat and stared across his laptop. Tom stole a few glances of him, it must've reached to number five when Carlton finally caught him red handed, he smiled to himself and focused more on his work.


     A minutes had passed, and Tom lost it. "I give up, what do you want me to do? I just can't stand idle all day." Tom voiced out, staring at Carlton intently.


     Carlton, mused at his assistants sudden outburst and left out a chuckle, before motioning Tom to come closer to him. He hesitated, for a second, but later gave in and followed orders.


     The proximity to which they were close to made memories from last night come flooding back in Tom's mind. His heart raced and his fingers twitched in excitement. Carlton's expensive smelling perfume caught Tom's attention, lulling him deeper than before.


     "Now what?" He asked.


     "I need your advice, which is better?" Carlton replied, quickly showing Tom two pictures of a plush-toy. One that is a medium size teddy bear or another medium size unicorn. Tom was lost for words.


     "Well?" Carlton asked Tom, with one brow raised and a finger on his chin, he waited.


     "Ah...I--uhmm--I..." Tom couldn't quite answer such a simple question. He couldn't believe that was what the man was doing for the last, 30 minutes. 


     "Just pick one." Carlton deadpanned, unembarrassed by the fact he was spent half an hour contemplating on which plush toy he was going to buy.


      "Unicorn, Teddy bears are so mainstream." He answered, eyeing Carlton then back to the laptop, then back to Carlton again.


     Tom couldn't help it but feel awe-stricken at Carlton, the exterior he showed last night was so different from right now. He was tactful last night, yes, much more interesting than right now, that he was sure off.


     After Tom did his choosing, He stepped back safely and watched as Carlton did some other things in his laptop for a moment, then stood up and motioned Tom to follow him, much to Tom's surprise, he tagged along.


     "Grab your coat, were heading somewhere important" Carlton ordered, grabbing a coat for himself.


     Tom hesitated, he then looked outside and saw that it was sunny. "But it's like 95 degrees, outside" He protested, pointing towards the window. Carlton made a face, followed by a scowl.


     "Just grab your damn coat." He murmured, loud enough for Tom to hear. He then stammered out of his office quickly and headed for the stairs, leaving Tom shaken and unknown.




     Carlton had been right, it did rain, rather harshly it did. As the strings of liquid collided with the windows, Tom stayed silent as the weird change in atmosphere became present in the car ride with Carlton to wherever important business he was attending too.


     Carlton sat in the drivers seat while Tom sat in the passengers, feeling embarrassed by not following Carlton's orders: he stayed quiet.


     "I told you to bring a coat" Carlton voiced out, dominantly, eyeing Tom briefly by the mirrors then back on the road again. He saw how agitated Tom is and couldn't help it but feel pitiful for the young man as he blowed up at him like that earlier.


     Tom didn't respond, instead he just shrugged and lowered his gaze, that of what a child would do, thought Carlton.


     Once the vehicle came into a halt. It the was the first of there destination : a toy store. A moment of silence engulfed both men as the rain came down more violently than before.


     "Here" Carlton said, handing Tom his very own coat. "Put it on, and let's go" He added as he made no attempt in making Tom defile his decision. He opened the car door and dashed though the rain without any form of rain gear.  Chivalry, Tom thought as he watched Carlton sprint through the rain and entered the toy store in seconds. He then quickly wore his coat: he could even smell his perfume lingering in it and followed Carlton inside.


     Once inside, he quickly laid eyes on Carlton and followed him like a dog on a bone. Carlton's hair was damp and tiny beads of water still dropped from his hair, not to mention his skin turned from colored to pale in seconds, and Tom couldn't help it but feel sorry for putting him up like this.


     Tom made his way next to Carlton and assured him his coat back, to which he refused and resumed picking out the plush toy and making the necessary payments of having it gift wrap.


     The store clerk who was wrapping the present did a splendid job, the amount of talent in gift wrapping was more than Tom could've ever hope off. There were bows and strings of pink that decorated the box, he then looked over Carlton.


     "For who'm will I address it to?" The clerk asked, gulping. He looked over Carlton with shy-eyes. The clerk fancied him, but then again, everyone would. Tom scoffed and rolled his eyes when it was clear that the clerk sending sighs at Carlton, much to Carlton's deadpanned attitude at the moment.


     "Macey" Carlton muttered. A few seconds later, it was finish. Carlton grabbed it and left without another word.


  After both men went inside the car, Tom couldn't help it anymore but apologize to his boss.


     As the engine started and they were headed off to another destination, Tom made his move and spoke in a soft tone, feeling sorry for Carlton.


     "You didn't have to do that, you know" Tom started. "I could've just ran" making sure his voice was soft and pleasing. Carlton just shrugged and focused his eyes on the road once more.


     "Then you would be wet" Carlton spoke out, his voice cold, a contrary for the reasoning voice he was aiming for. "It's no big deal, really" He added followed by numerous displeased coughs.


     "That was nothing, really" He coughed, once more but instead waved it off nonchalantly. Tom, on the other hand was starting to feel panicked that his boss got sick because of him being a hard ass.


      "That doesn't sound like nothing." He replied, a worried look on his face as Carlton coughed dry air once more, followed by a sniffle. And at that moment, Tom knew it was an opportunity he could get by.


     As Carlton's expression turned into a mere steel-like look, he was taken aghast suddenly at Tom's apology.


     "I'm sorry" Tom said softy, eyeing him. Carlton forced a smile on his lips even though he had trouble not to cough every second. "For what, the coat? I tell you, It's no big deal--"


     "--Not that, well yes but..." Tom came to a stop once his and Carlton's eyes connected with each others' gaze, memories from last night became very vivid to Tom at that moment, flourishing his face. "About fleeing off without telling you...from last night?" Tom lowered his face and gulped down his anxiety.


     It took Carlton a moment to reply, his thoughts came drifting back at the event last night, on and on like a record player. He admits he was hurt after Tom just leaving like that, but he also understands why.


     Carlton stared at Tom for a few second, an unreadable expression across his face before turning it into a smile. "It's alright, you don't have to apologize. I understand." He spoke, turning his attention back on the road while Tom just nodded, able to breath easily now since there on the same page about this, for now.


     After arriving at there destination, Carlton nodded at Tom and vice versa before dashing off into the harsh rain. As they entered the room, Tom wasn't very surprise that it was a children's party they were attending too. A petite woman, gold of hair caught our attention as we walked into the swarm of children with birthday hats on there tiny little heads.


     "Carlton, thank you for coming." She said as she greeted Carlton with a hug, noticing Tom,, she just smiled politely at the him as Tom smiled back.


     "You know I wouldn't miss it for the world." Carlton replied smiling  followed by a short string of cough, that caught both Tom and the woman's attention. And Tom couldn't help it but feel guilty for this. After his cough subsided, the woman took a closer inspection of Carlton and raised a hand over his forehead.


     "My god, you're soaking wet! you're gonna catch a fever being like this." she beckoned at Carlton's damp hair and wet suit. "What happened?" She continued.


     Tom was about to open his mouth and apologize before Carlton spoke first, smiling nonchalantly. "I forgot my coat and well... you get the picture." He lied, hoping she would buy it. She looked at Tom first and noticed he wasn't dripping wet like his brother, her eyes scanned Tom from head to toe before snorting and yelling a girl's name from afar.


     "That's my sister, Carmen." Carlton spoke before sighing briefly. Tom nodded as he noticed that Carlton was beginning to shiver faintly, much to keep it under control, Carlton wasn't very good at hiding that he was beginning to catch a fever.


     As Carmen returned, she brought back her pride and joy, her daughter. "Macey, say hi to your uncle" Carmen said softly, placing a hand at Macey's shoulders who peeked from the back of her legs. "She's a little shy for newcomers" Carmen added, smiling thinly then looked at Tom briefly, hoping he'd get idea.


     Tom, knowingly understood nodded and smiled briefly. "I'll give you guys some family time" He smiled, leaving and headed towards the side of the entrance. Carlton, much to his dismay scowled but later greeted and picked-up Macey with open arms.


     As far as the event went, Carlton issued to his sister that he was needed back to the office, which was a lie. As much as he wanted to spend the rest of the evening with his niece, he noticed how Tom grew wary of his surroundings and started to fidget; he was uncomfortable.


     Carlton met Carmen and spoke to her, watching in awe as Macey skipped and hopped with the plush-toy Tom chose earlier. "Do you have to go? Can't you stay a bit longer?" Carmen asked, arching her eyebrows to her brother who looked later fluxes and agitated.


     "As much as I want to, I can't" Carlton explained. "Business and all that" He smiled to his sister who rolled her eyes playfully at him. "Whatever, whose your new friend by the way?" She asked, nodding over Tom who continued to stand idly.


     "He's uhmm, my assistant" Carlton prolonged, somehow he couldn't pin out the words he was going to say as Tom's eyes connected with Carlton and smile genuinely. Carmen, who caught the rather weird exchange of the men knew exactly where this would be headed. As much as oblivious Carmen is to her surroundings, she fully understands the games and conquest his older brother made.


     "Right, just make sure this one sticks" She commented and left before her brother could utter another word.


     As Tom stood by the entrance, waiting for his boss to leave, that shy little girl from earlier managed to come up to him and look at Tom with her big, brown eyes. Her face was tiny with blonde hair covering it into a neat ponytail. Tom was flabbergasted at why she would just look at him like that so he just smiled nicely.


     "Are you the one who picked my unicorn?" She said, hugging her plush toy against her tiny chest. "Uncle Carl said you did" She smiled, pearly white baby teeth showing.


     Tom couldn't help it but smile at the innocent face in front of him. He lowered down on one knee and nodded. "Nope, It was your uncle Carl's idea" He smiled, even though what he said was half true, he just didn't want to cause any rift between family ties, again. Even though his excuse was harmless, he couldn't take the chance.


     Macey just had a puzzled looking expression over her delicate face then spoke. "No, I think it was you"


     Now, It was Tom's turn to be puzzled. "And why is that?" He asked gently, smiling thinly.


    Macey just smiled cheekily and hugged her unicorn. "Because Uncle Carl told me what you would say" She laughed hardheartedly and left, joining her other friends in a circle. Tom just looked surprised and stood up, until his eyes connected with Carlton and smiled.




     As both men parted ways, Tom returned to his apartment he shared with Kate. As he opened the door and rushed inside, he totally forgot he was still wearing his boss' coat. Cursing in silence, Tom removed the coat from his damp body and hanged it neatly at the back of the door and swore he would return the coat first thing tomorrow. He wouldn't his boss to end with pneumonia at the end of the week.


     Making his way towards the kitchen, he was suddenly taken by surprise at the sight in front of him. Another bouquet of roses was placed neatly at the counter top with yet another letter tucked between the petals. Tom took tentative steps towards the suspicious roses and grabbed the card, slowly, and heartracingy opening it.


S O N G : *Tom Odell - Another Love*









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     The feeling of sheer and utter nervousness shrouded Tom's body like a moth to a flame. It was like his  whole body was warped with excitement and Tom had no idea why.


     Maybe it was because he was finally going to meet his ever mysterious boss who has a weird habit of people watching in the havens of his tinted windows. Or It's probably because he hasn't been in a party in forever. And boy was he excited.


     "Tom?" He heard Kate from downstairs, voice yelling.


     "I'm up stairs" Tom replied while he hastily had trouble fixing his tie right. He cursed himself and thought why didn't he just bought a zip-on tie and not one this- *fancier* piece of cloth.


     "What is this?" He heard Kate question, her voice booming in there apartment.


     "What is what?" Tom questioned, finally giving up on fixing the tie, letting it loose around his neck.  He examined himself for a minute, his skin was fair, for now. Sighing, Tom knew he could've done better with his hair. But he knew if he wasted 30 minutes with his hair, he would be late for the event later on.


     "Tom!" Kate once more yelled from downstairs, finally catching Tom's distracted attention.




    "Would you come down here. What is this?" She retorted.


     Sighning, Tom finaly gave up fixing his hair and huffed downstairs.


     "I swear, If this is another one of your weird-" Tom didn't finish what he intended to say when his eyes met the glorious bouquet of pure red roses by the center table with Kate's eye gleaming with glee.


     "What is that?" Tom asked Kate softly, who nevertheless smiled dreamily at him.


     The rose banquet, not more than a few dozen roses stood out against the room. Both in color and the sheer size of it. A letter was visible tucked along the first roses.


     "I found it outside our door a few minutes ago. Who do you think it's for?" Kate asked, standing idly as she looked at Tom with wide eyes.


     Tom shrugged, walking a bit closer to inspect the massive banquet of flowers. The aroma is radiated was enticing, the way it stood out was breathtaking, and for a very first time. Tom was a lost for words as he watched the roses in awe, thinking who it may be from.  For an instance, he thought it was from a very particular someone that watched him from afar, but later brushing off the idea and how ludicrous it was.


     "Maybe It's from Robert, I mean you do have that date later on..." Kate said and Tom couldn't help it but curse from the inside.


     "What's wrong?" Kate asked, seeing the recent distraught on his face.


     "I forgot about that, about our date." Tom confessed, placing his hands in his pockets.


     "But your in a suit?" She interjected, crossing her arms.


     "Yeah, but not for our date." Tom said. "I have somewhere to be"


     "And where is that? After Robert. gives you the courtesy of sending you roses on the night of your date?" She grunted, arms still crossed from one another.


     "The Plaza Hotel, It's a corporate event and we're not even sure if that came from Robert. It could be for you for all we know." Tom replied, his eyes fluttering back and forth from Kate to the roses.


     "Well, let's find out shall we?"


     She then walked close to the bouquet and grabbed the letter without a second look. She was about to open the card open when Tom forcefully stole it out of her grasp.


     "What the-"


     "You can't read that!" Tom raised his voice, with his hands on the gold color card.


     "And why is that? Afraid you'll stood up a perfectly good guy? The kind that get's you flowers for dates with gold base card?" Kate pressed.


     "No, It's just... I...-"


     "Give me the damn card, Tom." Kate yelled, clearly focused on stealing the card from Tom as he starts to feel a lump on his throat.


     "Okay!!!" Tom shouted, freezing Kate in her tracks with wide eyes.


     "I don't wanna feel guilty about blowing up our date" Tom started. "But it's not like I had a choice?. I totally forgot about out date and I already said yes to Tanya and my invitations right here?!" Tom replied, waving the invitation Tanya gave him in front of Kate.


     Once both of their expressions softened and spirits lifted, Kate spoke as Tom weakly sat on the floor.


     Kate followed Tom and sat beside him, facing the bouquet of roses. "I'm sorry, alright?" She huffed.


     "It's fine..." Tom lingered, not a second longer. "Here" Tom added softly as he placed the card in front of Kate.


     "Can you... I don't know, call him maybe." Tom asked, still staring at the card then the roses. "Ask him if he can re-schedule, but only if he want's too. I totally understand if-"


     "-I'll ask him, yes" Kate smiled followed by a small laugh then finally laid out a plain expression. "I'm sorry if I got a little too overbearing for you. It's just, I met Robert and he's a really nice guy with a big heart." Kate said.


     "I met him earlier this morning and he cannot stop talking about this date with you, he kept blabbing on and on about how he thinks you are the one and all that mushy mushy stuff" Both of them laughed as Tom faced Kate.


     "He talks about me?" Tom asked, looking dazzled but with a ghost smile on his lips.


     "You're pretty much all he talks about, considering he's never met and all" Kate smiled followed by Tom. She then noticed the mess of a tie Tom had on and stood up, along with Tom.


     "Let me fix that" She started, holding Tom by the collar once they were standing. "I just can't look at a tie like that" She giggled, finally finishing his tie in seconds. Kate patted Tom's suit and smiled at him.


     "There, you look good" She complimented.


    "Thanks" Tom smiled, grabbing his keys and wallet by the door frame. "I'll see you later?" He asked.


     Kate shrugged. "I'm just here to take a shower then back to the library" She replied, a stink expression to her face.


     Tom smiled and waved her goodbye and left there apartment, leaving Kate to herself with the bouquet of roses and the letter that sat on the floor. She then walked over to it and picked it up slowly, turning the card back and forth if there's any remarks from the sender but came out empty.


    Since Tom was gone and she was all alone with the card, she bit her lip and opened the card quickly.


     "Hot damn..." She found herself saying as reads the letter again.


     *Dear Tom. I can say I am very excited and thrilled to get acquainted to you, the things Katelyn has described about you is enough for me to think about you all day. And I must say, I am very honored to have a date with you. In honor of our first date, here are some roses to show as a start of our night. :-)  - Robert*


     She then took her phone by her pocket and quickly dialed his number, hoping he's not already in the restaurant waiting for something that's far from happening this time around.




     Tom couldn't pin out what he was supposed to be doing at that exact moment. He arrived a few minutes ago, said warm welcomes to some of the recent people be became acquainted with this morning, but other than that, he was alone.


     He decided to walk around The Plaza Hotel for a few minutes, just to ease of the tension of not doing anything. And also he wanted to find Tanya to finally meet this ever so mysterious boss of his.


      And so he went, with a champagne glass by his hand, he strolled and lurked the building of New York's finest hotel. Unknowingly that someone from afar was already marveled  and captivated by his beauty.


     Carlton St.Vincent was no ordinary man, least that's what the tabloids said. As being one of Forbes most powerful people. It was no concept that people praised Carlton by the click of his black shoes or the snap of his fingers. Nevertheless, he was a man feared but never loved, respected but never adored.


     That so, he waited... for a few second at least until he went on his toes and followed this particular person he was beginning to feel rather fond with. It was an alien feeling to him, he was no man to chase another, much else another man. But my, the way this particular fellow's eyes would flutter slowly is just downright hypnotic to him. And let's not forget about his smile, *God* that smile. He cursed to himself. That smile was enough for him to come crawling in his knees for him and please him.


     And just so he asked himself this question, who was this person he was beginning to get highly or if he's not mistaken *madly* infatuated with. Because here he stands, consumed by the shadows of his image that he hides and examines that boy at a distant.


     He was standing by the very large window plane, viewing the city scopes with a glass of champagne by his hands and my, he never looked so beautiful. Even though his back was against him, hiding his sweet face. He knew for a moment that this was no ordinary feeling, yes. This was much something else.


     The way the dim, yellow lights reflected his image was outstanding. The broad strokes of his body was finely detailed, his shoulders were broad and proportioned, his stance was just artful. And that *ass*.


     A minute longer both men still hadn't move. Carlton took internal debates on whether or not he should go and introduce himself, or wait for a more proper moment. But what can he think is more proper than this? It was clear Tom was alone in this fine evening, so Carlton took the bait and forced himself take tentative steps from across the room.


     With each step he felt more frazzled, the muscles in his body made tingling notions as well as the mere shaking of his fingers. And once, he felt young again.


     By some kind of fortune, a waited happened to pass by with a plate full of champagne. He took one, gulping down a whole glass and followed by keeping another glass by himself. He was in having jitters, and he knew that. Even the waiter was having a ghost smile by his lips but Carlton just brushed it off and finally came close to his new conquest of the heart.


     "Do mind if I join you?" He asked, finally locking down in his beautiful eyes to which he now knows has a light shade of chocolate brown. And he was breathless at the view.


     Tom smiled sheepishly. "No, not at all" He replied, making space for him to be standing next to him.


     There was a glimmer in Tom's eyes that was more said than done, or maybe that's just the lights illuminating from his soft iris's. That maybe, Carlton knew he was beginning to fall rather deeper than expected.


     The proximity they shared was enough for Carlton's heart to beat frantically. He was fully aware that this man was watching him in his peripheral vision, but so was he.


     He saw how his lips would curl the moment he took a sip of his champagne, or how he would scan the city like he was waiting for something miraculous to happen when it already just did.


      The lingering silence made it clear that both men enjoyed each others company without as so much as having a conversation. But Carlton knew he couldn't keep himself from speaking with him.


     So, he drank one gulp of his champagne and smiled sheepishly at him once there eyes connected with each other for a brief but magical moment.


     "How are you enjoying your evening?" Carlton found himself asking, wanting to hear his voice once more.


     Tom blushed a few shade of red at the looks Carlton gave him, thinking to himself who was this man. "Pretty good, I guess." He replied, smiling downward.


     And once, there was another lingering silence. But it wasn't anything spitefullest or unappealing. It had a warm and subtle kind of feeling to it. It wasn't embarrassing or awkward, it was good.


     For a short period of time, both men had stared out into the vast scopes the nightlife has to offer. Both watching in awe as the cities came to like, like a ray of light illuminating from a prism, everything came to life.


     "It's beautiful, Isn't it?" Carlton asked, not diverting his attention to Tom who did the same thing.


     "What is?" He'd ask.


     "This" Carlton replied, he pointed the buildings lit up at night with his half-full glass. Tom didn't reply, he just nodded and took in more of the view until Carlton asked another question.


     "How are you feeling about this?" He asked, smiling thinly at the young man.


     "About what?" He wondered, looking at him briefly before turning his attention back to his glass like it's the most interesting thing in the world.


     "The Party"  Carlton said, nudging him lightly by the shoulders as he laughs faintly. Tom's eyes lit up for a second, the moment this man who's name he still not know touched his shoulders, he felt an incoming sensation of overwhelming happiness and he has no idea why.


     "It's fine, I guess" Tom answered, staring into his eyes. To which he now knows was a failure because he, Tom Garret got lured into this mysterious mans eyes,  those eyes... *God*  They were just, perfect.


     Carlton snickered before smiling attractively at the young man. "Yeah, but fine's not really a feeling though" He teased, cocking his head little which led to Tom laughing rather cutely. And for a moment, no question or comment came out of Carlton's lips. He was too entice with the sound of his laughter, his eyes and his overall charm.


     Once Tom's laughter had died down, he somehow noticed that his recent acquaintance was eyeing him warmly. His cheeks changed in a red hue and his smile was not coming by force, but natural.


    "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to stare" Carlton apologized once Tom diverted his attention from him. Right now, Tom was smiling downward with cheeks blushing.


    Tom didn't reply, instead he just took a sip of his champagne and gave his new found friend a sweet smile before walking away from him and back to the lobby for the party.


    Carlton's expression changed. A minute ago he felt like the happiest man in the world but now that mysterious someone left him without uttering another word, he felt confused.


     "I never got your name" Carlton said, his voice booming in the now empty hallway.


     Tom halted for a second. He was right. "Tom, Tom Garret" He replied as he looked at him by his shoulders.

     Carlton's inner peace quivered. There it is again, another frantic heartbeat. He thought to himself.


     After that brief exchange, Carlton spoke out as Tom had already started walking back to the party.


     "I'm Carlton, by the way" He yelled but Tom didn't stop this time. He only regained his composure and striven on without turning back, leaving Carlton empty but wanting for more.




     The rest of there evenings went on a blur, with Carlton constantly trying to figure out where Tom might be and Tom avoiding him, like a mouse to a cat they ran in circles of each other.


     Until an unfortunate turn of events that Carlton finally locked his view of Tom. He stood warily by the curtains, with eyes constantly searching, he didn't knew he was already found. Little by little, Carlton was even more dazzled by Tom's inner quirkiness. He was astounded by that fact he, a self-proclaimed ruler with nerves of steel was slowly, but *surely* falling for man half his age.


     Atlas, with a few feet separating them from one another, he stopped as the cheerful conversation of the crowed quietly dispersed into nowhere and everything was somehow blocked, with Tom the only thing in his mind and maybe, in his heart.


     "You found me..." Tom voiced out slowly, smiling thinly at Carlton.


     He grimaced, feeling his cheeks burn hot for the very first time in a decade. The way Tom looks at him is enough to space him out into never land. And the hell-he was sure to go there if that meant him.


     Carlton only smiled cheekily before answering to him. "You were hard to find, Tom"


     Tom felt this weird sensation the moment Carlton said his name. It only added more fuel to the flames when Carlton looked at him with his warn and sensual gaze, what more when he finally came closer to him. He could smell the cologne that radiated from him, and oh my. He was enticed.


     "And yet, you found me. Why is that?" Tom replied cheekily.


     "Because I know this place better than I know my own house" Carlton chided, both of them unable to contain the excitement they felt.


     And once they both became content with each others company, midst of the buzzing crowed, they kept quiet, with Carlton sneaking a few glances every now and then while Tom just shaded 50 shades of red.


     As they settled without so much as a conversation, Tom wondered, who was this man who, he didn't want to get his hopes up: was courting him. Tom felt like he knew the man from somewhere, though never really recognizing him entirely. It was more than a hunch.


     "So" Carlton began as he handed a glass of champagne to Tom and for himself. "What's a guy like you doing in a dump like this?" He snickered rather attractively.


      It was clear that Carlton  was trying to cast out his inner-James Bond, with a drink by his hands as he leaned against the wall, which Tom thought was too silly. But silly worked for him.


     Tom raised a brow, chuckling while he took a sip of his sparkling glass. He too, wanted to play the odds as well, perhaps a bond girl.


     "I was a fool. I loved my previous husband with all my might, fought the world for him. And just as we were beginning to settle, he left without uttering another word" Tom replied, trying his best to be a sad broken widow without bursting out in laughter.


     "Is that so?" Carlton cooed, Tom replied him with a look far greater than Carlton expected.


     "Well, whoever he is, I hope he has some hell of an excuse" Carlton retorted, not breaking character.


     Tom just flourished pink and caste his eyes downward at him, like a real widow should. But failing miserably as fit of laughter escaped his mouth, drawing attention to them, both of them.


     Once there frivolous moment dispersed, both men had finally calm down. And the ever so sly- Carlton finally thought about reaching out and telling him who he is, a voice broke out of the speakers, signalling his presence.


     "May we now have a few words from the future running senator of New York, Carlton St.Vincent."


     Tom froze, baffled by the quick turn of events. All this time his hunch was right that infact, he did knew this man. It was his boss. And he had just been playing games with him.


     The second Carlton got on that stage, his eyes quickly fell for Tom as he roamed the room to where they stood, finally realizing that he was gone, away like the wind.




     S O N G : Sea Wolf - You're a Wolf












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