Author's Note:

Hi everyone! I know I should be updating Lex's Lessons, but this idea just came to me and I had to get it out.

Please R&R! Thanks!


Office Hours

Summary: I am smart, efficient and intelligent. I'm called The-Girl-Who-Is-Always-Working. I'm also a bit of a recluse. Now I have a new project – by the end of this month, I will tell Dexter that I sort of/kind of… Love him.


Chapter 1: Zoe Is Cool

"… so, in conclusion, I am not in love with Dexter" I patiently explained to my best friend Josie Slate.


Ten Minutes Before

"I need help, Josie… I think I'm in love with Dex!" I said, burying my face in my hands.

"What?!"


Present

Josie raised one of her beautiful shaped eyebrows.

"What? So I panicked when I first saw you. What I meant by the world 'love' was… you know, 'affection towards', as a friend and all…" I tried to recover lamely.

"Right"

"Really!" I said earnestly.

"Okay. So you'll be fine with Dex joining us for lunch, right now?" Josie asked in a mocking tone.

Poor, poor Josie. She was in for it now. You see, Josie is my secretary as well as being my best friend at Frost Inc, the famous consultancy firm. I'm a manager here, (the four years at my Ivy-League college finally paid off) and I happened to know that at that very precise moment, there was a very important meeting taking place on the 17th floor, which Dex was attending.

"I'll be perfectly fine with sharing lunch with him" I bravely called her bluff, arrogantly biting into my sandwich.

"Good. Dex! Over here!" Josie shot an arm into the air and signaled to someone behind me to join us. I froze.

"What?! No!" I spun around to see none other than Mr. Dexter Rhodes, with a smirk on his face, making his way towards our table. I turned back to face Josie again and spat out "He's supposed to be at the review meeting…" "Honey, the meeting was pushed back. Carly told me. We secretaries have our own network, and we always get what we want" this time Josie arrogantly smiled at me, thoroughly enjoying my discomfort. "Real smart" I shot back. "That's why you hired me, love" she replied.

I grunted. Yes, that's why I'd hired Josie Slate, because she was extremely good at what she did, was unbelievably smart, and never took any crap from me. Don't tell her this, but she reminds me of my mom. In a nice way!

"Ladies!" Dex greeted us with his killer smile. Something inside me fluttered. I lowered my lashes and tried to swallow my mouthful before replying.

"Dex! How are you?" Josie greeted him warmly. That was the thing about my best friend; she was one of those people who made friends with just about everyone. And in this corner, we have the socially inept (and I'm not joking about this, as you'll see later on), under confident, bundle of nerves, also known as Zoe Parker (yours truly).

I watched jealously the casual banter across the table, as Josie and Dex exchanged gossip and storied. Well, I think they were discussing gossip; I really wasn't paying much attention to what they were saying, because Dex has this extremely hypnotic way of speaking. I mean he's hypnotic to look at when he speaks. He's got great lips too, but you know, I really wasn't looking and all.

Dexter Rhodes is a lot taller than me, which is something considering I'm five-feet-ten-inches myself. He's more in the six-feet-two-inches zone, with broad shoulders, tapering hips, toned body and a delicious aftershave, whatever it was. He has a sharp face, topped with beautiful dark-blonde hair worthy of worship. His twinkling dark blue eyes sparkled when he grinned, like now, displaying a set of perfect white teeth. He was built lean and lithe, moving fluidly as if motion was an art.

Ahem, uh… I mean he was like, you know, good looking and all. If you're into that kind of stuff. Which I'm not, obviously.

I tried to focus on what they were saying, but honestly, I was too aware of Dexter at the table, sitting so close to me. It wasn't always like this, you know. I'm one of those in the world, the victims of Murphy's Laws and clichés. Dex and I met in college, he was two years my senior, and naturally we hated each other. Alright, I exaggerated, so we didn't "hate" each other, but we didn't have many conversations either.

We met at Luna's birthday-bash (Luna had been a childhood friend of mine so I'd been forced to go). It was the usual 'let's-get-drunk-and-make-out' parties, so I hadn't planned on staying long. I arrived slightly late, went searching for Luna and managed to collide against Dex.

His did not wrap his arms around my waist. He did not grab hold of my hand to keep me from falling. However, he did manage to empty the contents of his entire glass over my tee-shirt (oh, stop looking at me like that; yes I was wearing at tee-shirt, I told you, I hadn't planned on actually 'partying'). Naturally, my shirt was white. Naturally, the day after the party was my laundry day so I was forced to wear my only clean bra (say it with me, the black, lacy one. My one and only indulgence)

I ran out of the party, surprised I hadn't died of mortification, and avoided Dex for the month. Which was rather hard to do, considering we had some classes in common (So I was a nerd and wanted to take some extra classes. Sue me!) But 29 (ish) days after the party (I didn't keep count. Really) he began to date my roommate (which lasted for the two years we were both in the same college) so I was forced to run into him a lot more than I bargained for.

Then again, there was the episode of the one time I came home to find him stepping out of the (our) shower. He nodded at me casually, then walked into Kelly, my then-roommate's room. Before he shut the door behind him, he pulled his towel off. Because he had his back towards me, I have to assume he had no idea that I had a complete view of… ahem… things (Okay, his butt)… for about a split second before I focused on an imaginary spot on the wall until I heard the door click close.

I kind of avoided him after that incident, which he didn't seem to care about. When he graduated, I let out a sigh of relief thinking that was the end.

When I joined Frost Inc, I had the shock of my life to hear I was not only in the same company as Dex, but we'd also be occasionally working together. He vaguely recognized me, and to my relief, we were able to start over.

Did I say relief? I meant to say torment. You see, back in college, I never knew Dex as a person (more like an identity, since Kelly and I weren't very good friends and rarely hung out), and I was able to write him off as pretty much anything I wanted (Arrogant, stubborn, rich jerk *cough cough*with a cute butt*cough cough*).
But now, curse it, I have a first-hand 'getting-to-know-Dex' experience, and let me tell you, he's the devil.

By which I mean, he's perfect.

"So, tell me Zoe, what do you think of the Cartermann Case?" the man himself broke into my thoughts. I've known him for three years now, ever since I graduated from college and joined this company, and all he ever wants to talk to me about is work.
With Josie, Pam-from-the-third-floor, Gina-in-the-meeting-room, and the others, it was all "What kind of music do you like?" or "I like your hair, this look really suits you"; with me it was "What's your projection for this?" and "On what basis did you carry out your analysis?"

Sigh. But that's who I was in the company, the Girl-Who-Is-Always-Working. Since not many people know much about me, I'll have to give you the background myself.

My mother is a psychologist, while dad is an extremely good businessman. You may have of heard of them, Sheila and Quinn Parker, the power couple. My elder sister is the supermodel Bianca Parker (yes, THE Victoria's Secret Model, Bianca). She's the one whose face is on all the buses and billboards. I guess as an offspring of two attractive people, I'm moderately attractive myself, but I kind of wanted to be known for my brains so I worked extra hard at every opportunity I got.

I think somewhere along the line I forgot to do normal things, like have fun, so people simply assumed I didn't know how to. I've had boyfriends and all, don't get me wrong, but I guess what I'm trying to say is, I just took things too seriously and forgot about the big picture. Even at work, I never really associated and mingled with people, I just came, sat down, worked and left. It never occurred to me to just go to someone else's desk… and you know, talk or whatever. (And that's what I mean by socially inept)

Sitting beside Dex now, was a painful reminder of just how bad things had become. I remembered his question and quickly filled him in with the details from my side of things. He nodded encouragingly, but the gesture was lost on me as I divulged further and further into the Cartermann case, something I'd personally worked for a while now.

I broke off when Josie cleared her throat and gave me a look. Dex looked startled when I stopped mid-sentence and prompted me to continue, but I knew better. Josie's look clearly said I was talking more than I should. I quickly summarized and stared at the remaining crumbs of the sandwich on my plate, staring covertly at Josie's salad which was still half-eaten (Don't aske me why, but my hunger never seems satiated, justifying all the extra weight I have on my hips).

"Fascinating, Zoe. I didn't think of it in that way" he said quietly which caused me to blush.

"Are you coming to tonight's party?" Josie asked innocently, picking up her fork and twirling it on her plate. I glared at her, knowing what she was going to do. STOP, I told her telepathically (we're women, we're best friends; we automatically have ESP)

"I guess so. Are you two coming?" he asked politely.

"Well, I am. But Zoe here doesn't have a ride, her car's being serviced. I'd drive her myself, but as it is I'm car-pooling with some friends. Perhaps you can give her a lift?" she asked, her voice simply oozing innocence.

I'm sorry, did I say she was my bestfriend? I meant, Josie Stale is nothing more than a back-stabbing weasel! Did you hear that, Josie?!

Yes, and you're a Scaredy-Cat! You'll thank me for this, later!

Uh-oh. Did we really have ESP?!

"Sure! It'll be my pleasure!" he grinned broadly, setting of masses of butterflies flocking all around my stomach (Okay, so English Literature wasn't one of my favorite subjects back in school, so I'm a bit weak with the comparisons, bear with me). "I'll be working late" I owned up, hoping the disappointment didn't reflect in my voice.

"So will I. We can go together" he dismissed my obstacle with a slight flick of his wrist. I had nothing to say so I mumbled "Thanks".

To clarify, my car actually wasn't being serviced, but I had left it at home because Bianca's visiting and she wanted to borrow it. And what Bianca wanted, Bianca got. Which reminded me, I needed to inform Bianca I wouldn't be home for dinner tonight.

I excused myself and gave her a call. While waiting for her to pick up, I could help but notice that the strained silence that had been there when I was talking, was now gone, and Dex and Josie were rocking back and forth about some joke or the other.

"Speak to me!" A shrill voice picked up on the other end of the line. "Bee, it's me, Zoe" I covered, forgetting momentarily why I had called. "Duh, I know, I have caller id, Zo" I could visualize eyes rolling. "Yes, yes" I interrupted, remembering what I had to say. "Bee, there's this work-party tonight. I may have to attend it, so I'll be late" I said. "Don't fool yourself, hun, you'll be home on time, despite the party" she replied. I sighed, mentally agreeing. "Whatever. I just thought you should know I'll be later than usual" I replied.

"Right" she said and clicked her phone off. I did the same. By the time I turned around, Dex was gone. A kind of sadness came over me, but I shrugged it off and went back to my seat.

"Hello again" I mumbled, reaching for my glass of water and not meeting Josie's eye.

"Pathetic" she said, and I wanted to agree with her.


A/N: So what do you think? Review/comment!

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