Author's Note: So I'm really liking the story, and despite this being a small chapter, I had a lot of fun writing it.
Chapter 3: Zoe is A Smooth-Talker
Remember when I said Dex was perfect? I take it back. Dexter is FAR from perfect. Because after last night's little 'incident', I expected him to pummel me with questions starting from "Was that THE Bianca Parker?", through "How was it like, growing up with a celebrity?", right down to "Is she dating anyone? Can you put in a good word for me?" Any normal human being (or a red-blooded male) would normally put me through this routine.
Unbelievably, all I got from Dex was a cool "Good Morning!" and "Have a nice day!"
Have a nice day? I'll show you a nice day, alright! I cursed. I sat there in my office, envisaging all kinds of scenarios where I could 'accidentally' bring up Bee and see his reaction. No one remains mum about my sister in front of me, not after they know. I was not going to be toyed with.
(In)conveniently, every time I decided I'd confront him, some important work just crept up. (Don't look at me like that, my desktop wallpaper was a week old and needed to be changed; and yes, I needed to click on every picture to observe it carefully before I declared a winner)
So by the time I looked up, oh, would you look at that, it's nearly lunch time. I ignored the big stack of work staring at me in the face and walked out of my office. I barely shut the door behind me when Josie pounced on me and rattled off her 'Important' list. "I'll get around to it" I mumbled, taking my messages and walking guiltily to the elevator.
Ping! Lucky me, Dex was the only one inside. Not surprising, we often went for lunch around the same time. "Lunch?" he asked me politely. "Yeah" I replied, wondering how to subtly bring up Bianca. "Me too. A quick lunch, lots of work" he said, ever the diligent worker. "Right! Same here!" I hollowly replied, not relenting to the guilt of wasting the day so far. "Shall we head to the usual café?" he asked.
Normally, I'd politely reject him and go off on my own. Now, I needed to get him to talk. "Sure" I smiled. He looked taken aback.
It felt good to be unpredictable sometimes.
"… so the growth is there, but what I'm thinking is, is it as sustainable as they're claiming?" he asked. I absentmindedly stirred my drink. Speaking of growth and sustenance… I had nothing. I had no idea how I'd rope Bianca into that conversation. "Uh… Zo?" he asked and my eyes shot up to meet his. "What's got you so distracted?" he asked.
There was my perfect opening. "Why haven't you said anything about my sister?" I asked, crossing my arms and glaring at him. I am the Queen of Subtlety and Tact a part of my brain mocked, but I didn't see the point of beating around the bush.
He looked taken aback, and then he smile. "Blunt, eh?" "As a butter knife" I replied without missing a beat, continuing my scrutinizing look. "So is she okay?" he asked.
Okay? "Huh?" I asked, confused. "I presume she's not well or something… that is why you're bringing her up, right? Because I didn't enquire about your younger sister's health? This is you being the overprotective elder sister, right?"
Um, awkward. "She's… she's fine" Kill me now. What was I supposed to say, "No, this is the part where you drool over her and I tell you I'm NOT going to help you get her"?
"First of all, I'm the younger one; well actually we're twins but she is older by a whole hour" I evaded, clutching straws in my head for anything remotely useful to get me out of this situation I'd weaseled my way into now. "Twins?" he asked, his eyes wide. "How come you never told me you had a twin?" he demanded. "Well, it's not something you go around publicizing. Hi, I'm Zoe, and I have a twin sister whom you probably fantasize about in your dreams" I deadpanned. He laughed. God, he had a good laugh.
I mean, how dare he laugh at me! "Valid point" he admitted. So he did fantasize about her in his dreams. Shite! What chance did I have with him now?
"I meant, how come I never saw her before today? In college, at work… Have you been hiding her away?" he asked, leaning forward and resting his hands on the table. Maybe a table for two was a bad idea, I could stare right into his beautiful dark blue orbs. "You think I could hide someone like her away?" I retorted. "More like the other way around"
"You think she can hide you away?" he retaliated, imitating my tone. I couldn't help but laugh. "If she tried really hard, I bet she could" I replied with a smile. "A wit like that, it'd be a pity to hide you away" he said, casually reading the menu and sending my heart into overdrive.
He called me witty! Okay, it wasn't up there with 'Beautiful', 'sensual', 'sexy', 'pretty', 'mind-blowing' or 'fantasize about you in my dreams', but it was as good as 'smart', 'nice' and 'sweet'. Yaay me!
I grinned foolishly, before studying my own menu. After we ordered, he asked me again. "So, why didn't I see her before?"
Because I didn't want you to? "Bee and I… we're not particularly close" I admitted. "She didn't even go to college. Her modeling career picked up straight after high school. She's been busy ever since. She flies half way around the globe almost every day" I felt the need to stick up for her.
"Good thing she can't forget your birthday, huh?" he asked. I laughed. "We have this thing where I call her an hour after she calls me to wish her…" I elaborated about our various birthdays over the years. When he told me about his brother Ronald, for the first time since college, I felt genuinely happy.
Why hadn't we spoken like this before? I asked myself. Because I'm cold and distant, because we had an uncomfortable history, because…
"What are the perks of Bianca being your sister?" he interrupted my thoughts, probably sensing I wasn't giving him my full attention. "I mean besides sharing the merch with her…" he trailed off, suddenly quiet.
"Sharing her merchandise? Bee and I don't really share clothes. Besides, she's more of an underwear model…" and then, it finally clicked. The college incident, how we first met. So he'd seen everything.
"Oh, God!" I moaned into my hands, reliving the humiliation of that day. "Zo?!" he quickly asked, reaching his hand out. He sounded confused.
"Look!" I suddenly pulled my face up and gave him my 'listen-to-me-I-have-something-serious-to-say' face. I needed to clarify what happened five years ago (better late than never) "Firstly," I started on my well practiced speech "I was wearing a tee-shirt because it was Luna's birthday and I've known her since like forever, and I wasn't planning on staying. Also, it was my only clean shirt, which brings me to the second point" I continued hastily, seeing that he was going to interrupt and I just wanted to get this out "I only wore that bra because it was the only clean one I had left. That is the only reason, and I only wore it that one day" Did I use 'only' too many times? Who cares! I'd said the words… I was free…
"Pity" he smirked, now that I'd stopped talking. "I enjoy imagining you in all kinds of sexy underwear underneath those sensible clothes"
My jaw hit the floor. Huston, keep that space-shuttle hanging, we have bigger news; I think Dexter Rhodes just flirted with me.
I continued to stare at him with my shocked expression, not knowing how to reply.
Finally, it seemed my silence was making him uncomfortable, so I saw him formulating an apology. NO! I panicked. Don't apologize! I like this shift in our relationship!
"Who says I wear underware anymore?" I blurted out, mentally slapping myself for the most skankiest words that ever left my mouth. This was DEXTER RHODES! He probably thought I moonlighted as at a shady call-center! Way to go, Zoe, showing the man a side of you that doesn't even exist! I belittled myself, managing to catch another glimpse of him amidst my despair.
"Why, Miss Parker, if I didn't hear the words for myself I'd never have believed them" he said in a drawl, and I groaned, sinking my face into my hands, Again. "I'm sorry, that came out wrong" I apologized, but he remained silence. I peeked in his direction to see that he was still smiling.
"Zo, you never cease to amaze me. In or out of the boardroom" Wait till you see me in the bedroom…
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I did NOT just conjure that up as an appropriate response! Gah!
Think professional thoughts... think professional thoughts… I chanted as I nonchalantly replied "Yeah, I'm a friggin' magician". I can't guarantee it, but I'm pretty sure I heard him say "Yeah, I'll just bet you are…"
Lunch, thereafter, was rather normal, and I don't mean boring. I don't.
A/N: So what do you think? R&R please!