Okay, now I was beyond curious and slightly alarmed.
Me: I’m actually having lunch somewhere close to your office. Will you be available to talk, say in an hour? I can drop by.
As expected, my phone received his reply in a flash.
Callum: I’ll make time. See you then.
What was so important that he needed to contact me? If there were any financial troubles when it came to my money, he usually took care of it immediately. Was it about a new business venture to invest in? Quite possibly. The last time he contacted me was to talk about putting twenty-five percent of my inheritance in the technology sector. Or maybe it was more serious? I sure hoped not.
Even though I barely saw Callum, he was the only person that was a connection to my past. With him, I got to be reminded of good memories with my brother. Even if we weren’t close, I cared for him.
So whatever was plaguing him to prompt a visit to his office, I prayed to God that it wasn’t anything serious because the last time someone told me that they had something important to discuss with me, my brother told me he was dying.
My stomach churned as the seconds ticked away. I had better get to Callum’s office around St. Paul’s without puking my way into his polished, swanky building.
“Mr. Kensington is expecting me. My name’s Stella von Berg,” I gave my name to the receptionist. She then gave me directions as to where to find the private lift.
“Peter will be there to greet you,” she added before bidding me a good day.
Murmuring my thanks, I proceeded to follow her directions without a problem. Peter was a bulky Irish man who had big, mean, green eyes. I suppose it was because of the scowl he was wearing, which seemed as though it was there on a permanent basis. Whatever the case, Peter didn’t waste time with chitchats. He simply kept to himself while I nervously dwelled on my thoughts about what the meeting with Callum might pertain to.
Once the lift halted to a stop, the metallic doors quietly opened to the top floor where Peter gave me a quick nod and then pressed the button to return to the lobby.
The floor was bright from the light brought in by the sun. It seemed that the theme on this floor was white and bright because it sure as hell was blinding for the few seconds it took my eyes to adjust.
Moving forward, I noticed there was an older woman coming out of one of the smoked glass doors. She immediately greeted me with a smile. “Miss von Berg, I’m Eleanor. Mr. Kensington is on a call, but he insists that you go ahead and join him in his office whilst on it. I did try to warn him that it’s rather disrespectful, but who am I to say, really? I’m just his assistant.”
I liked this Eleanor. She had spunk. “Thank you, Eleanor. I don’t mind, really. Callum’s an old, family friend, so you shouldn’t worry.”
“Yes, dear. I did meet your brother Richard once. It’s unfortunate that the Lord took him away from us at a very young age.”
She had? I thought Callum took over his maternal grandfather’s business after he died, which was about eight months after Richard’s passing. I didn’t have to wonder at that for long, though, because Eleanor easily supplied me with answers.
“Callum brought his friend here once to meet his grandfather. I’ve been working here since I was eighteen and now I’m in my fifties, therefore I know quite a bit about our little Callum here.” Eleanor proceeded to walk towards Callum’s office as she explained herself. Once we reached it, she reached for my hand and patted it. “I’m sure your brother is glad that you and Callum found each other. Give him time, he’ll eventually grow up. He’ll grow out of his playthings soon, just you wait.” Eleanor didn’t give me chance to correct her. She simply winked and left me to my own devices.
I didn’t know what was more surprising, the thought of her insinuating that something was going on between Callum and I or that she treated the man like a little child. One thing was for sure, though, it was funny to have a serious businessman like Callum paired with his grandfather’s assistant who did not take him seriously.
However, I didn’t have to see the two interact to know that they had a good relationship. Somehow, it warmed me to know that he had someone like Eleanor to brighten up his day.
Since everyone was being all undaunted by normal civilities here, I proceeded to open his door without bothering to knock. His office was the total opposite of the floor that contained it; it was dark and the only light in the room surrounded the boss, who was pretty engrossed in a heated conversation, complete with a deep scowl on his face, too.
I wasn’t sure what to do, or maybe I simply needed a valid excuse to ogle at his dark, sexiness, so I paused and stared at him awhile, hoping that he’d notice I had entered his office.
His roguish handsomeness was one of the main things that attracted people to him. Callum commanded attention whether he was in a suit or in his ripped jeans and leather jacket; a naughty playboy that didn’t do the whole pompous spiel, instead he did his own thing. Scandal rags adored his antics because he didn’t care if the media portrayed him to be a less than angelic man.
Callum Kensington was pure sin. When you were around him, you were bound to be a sinner… his sinner. The rumors of his stud abilities and capabilities were monumental and quite documented. Some of the women would make ghastly confessions of what a night with Callum entailed for a fee. Did he care? No, he simply went on as if nothing had happened. Did that stop him from engaging with models, actresses, hangers-on and climbers? No. In fact, he showed it off more.
For three years, I followed his life through those headlines. For the first year, I had cringed a lot after reading the stories being printed about him. Now, I didn’t even bat an eyelash because, once you read one scandal, you had read them all. Married women? Check. Bar fights? Check, check. Having three girlfriends at a time? Triple check.
None of those things mattered, though, because I knew—deep down—Callum was a good man. Sure, maybe he was going through some rough times, didn’t we all?
In some ways, I did admire his audacious personality. He was the true sinner; unapologetic, charismatic, sharp-minded and he had the deadliest smirk a man could ever sport.
My heart jumped in my throat when his eyes lifted and connected to mine. For a second there, I thought I had been caught gawking at him because his eyes seemed to know too much when they met mine. My lungs finally started functioning again when he gave me a welcoming smile.
Mother hell, this man should be arrested for making me feel guilty… of what exactly? Who the heck knew? All of my hard work in learning how to compose myself whilst he was around, somehow slid off and I was having a tough time garnering it back.
How long had it been since I had seen him last? I thought back and realized that it had been a little over a month ago, when I had been having dinner with Lucia and Mark. He was there, along with two women, enjoying a meal. He didn’t see me, but I found myself glancing his way for most of the evening. I had seen the playboy in action and I wouldn’t admit this to anyone, but I somehow continued to find him mesmerizing. Magnetic.
“Give me a minute. I will be with you shortly,” Callum rushed out, covering the mouthpiece. “My assistant will get you anything you like.”
“I’m fine. Take your time. I’ll just reply to some emails while I wait.” I gave him a reassuring smile before I situated myself on the sofa and pulled out my phone.
Callum groaned, so I looked up and found him with an intense frown as he toyed with his pen, shifting it from finger to finger.
How could such a man look so arrestingly beautiful and still look completely dangerous and provokingly sexy? My mind wandered to the day my brother had brought this British man home and my sixteen-year-old heart had thumped like never before in my life. I had been in awe of that man, to the point where I would literally shake each time our eyes met. Callum was, of course, distant and annoyingly polite, which did little to assuage my fascination no matter how much it should have. Years later, the man was not any different towards me. He continued to not find me engaging enough.
My thoughts wandered around Callum and I was too deep in my daydreaming to notice that the man himself wasn’t on the phone anymore. In fact, he was sitting across from me, possibly wondering if I had early dementia since I was spacing out in the middle of a working day; hell, I couldn’t help myself from zoning off whenever he was concerned.
“Stella?” Callum frowned at me, eyes questioning.
Oh, drat. If he only knew my thoughts, I wondered as I hid a smile. “Excuse me? My mind was elsewhere.”
“You did look it. Can I get you something to drink? Pastry?” Callum leaned against the singular sofa chair with his elbow planted on the armrest, his fingers cradling his shin and his eyes glued to mine.
Yeah, a tranquilizer would help.
Instead, I pushed my mischievous thoughts aside and focused on what I came here for. “I’m good for now. I’m on pins and needles, so please tell me what this is about? Is it bad news? If it is, how bad is it?”