Touched

By: Lilly Wilde

CHAPTER ONE

This day had been another horrendous exploit of my patience and emotions. I had formally accepted the position of CEO of Raine Publishing House yesterday and while that within itself would be cause to celebrate for anyone with aspirations such as mine; it somehow felt like a collar. I felt trapped. Aiden had presented me with a job offer and I had been coerced into acceptance. I couldn’t resign without the risk of stifling my chances to secure a comparable position at any other reputable publishing company. Aiden had made it very clear that he would block any other job opportunities that may have presented themselves and given his immeasurable resources, I knew that he could and would halt all of my efforts to leave RPH.

To say that I was confused would be the understatement of the century. Why was he doing this? Did he think that this was the only way to keep me close? If that was his logic, he would soon discover that it was pointless because proximity didn’t matter; I could’ve been stuck to him like lint on a suit and it wouldn’t change how I feel. I was done. At least that’s what I kept telling myself every hour – and so far, my reminders had proved effective. But I’d be lying to myself if I said that I knew how I would feel once I saw him again.

My new responsibilities at RPH required my dedication and focus, yet each time I saw the RPH building or even the logo, I felt a pang of betrayal. The first few days after Aiden’s departure were hard. I’d struggled to shake off the remnants of his effects, at least as far as work was concerned. As for the personal, I was taking it one hour at a time.

“I’ll see you in the morning Raina,” I said, walking past Raina’s office door. She looked up from the file on her desk with perceptible concern in her beryl blue eyes.

“How are you? I mean – how’s everything with Mr. Raine?” she asked.

“Everything’s fine or as well as can be expected,” I replied, bleakly.

Raina was my executive assistant and I didn’t typically concern her with any matters that weren’t related to Raine Publishing House. However, she was now privy to some personal aspects of my life due to my involvement with her boss, actually my boss too, Aiden Raine.

“I can see the toll this is taking on you. I would like to offer my ear or maybe some advice if you need someone,” she offered.

“I’ve had to digest more than my fair share of changes as of late Raina, but I’ll be fine,” I replied, unsure as to the truth of that statement. “Speaking of which, we need to move some things around on my calendar to prepare for our move to the top floor.”

“Yes ma’am. I actually started revising your schedule this afternoon,” she said.

I smiled at her, hoping it appeared genuine. Although I was very fond of Raina, I had no desire to discuss Aiden with her or with anyone for that matter. I wasn’t in the mood for much more than complete isolation from everything and everyone. I typically relied on work to serve as a distraction but I was unable to effectively make use of that tactic because work was now tainted with thoughts of Aiden.

“Thank you Raina. Don’t work too late,” I said, turning to leave.

I had admitted, at least to myself, that my heart was breaking … a little more with each passing day. Aiden had filled a part of my heart that I hadn’t known was empty. And for that I’d be forever grateful. Beneath the pain was the reality of the end of whatever it was we’d shared. I missed him, and his absence was profound. He was everywhere, yet he was nowhere at all.

I played mind games with myself in an effort to forget him but every morning, he was the first thought. The first part of my day was spent reprogramming … reminding myself that it was over, that he was gone, that it had all been a lie. This morning had been no different.

I didn’t know why, but every day I expected to hear from him but there had been nothing. The first few nights after he left, I cried myself to sleep. Had the tears been just for him? I hadn’t figured that part out. Part of me wanted to think it was less about him and more about what he represented that had caused my despondence. He’d given me something that I’d never wanted, that I’d never dare think of … he’d given me hope.

I sighed as I entered the Boston traffic heading home. I no longer took comfort in running there either because memories of him were there also. I’d broken pretty much every Fuck Rule in the book for that man and now I was paying the price for it.

Things weren’t good, but they were bearable. I knew that if I never saw him again, I would be okay. I could ride the wave until it all evened out. But I would be seeing him again and I knew it would be soon and I was dreading it.

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