A Festive Affair Ch. 17-20
"Wear something pretty," Dean had requested, and on the surface that seemed like an easy thing to do.
The trouble was 'pretty' like 'beauty' was in the eye of the beholder.
In the end she selected a knee length fit and flare wool dress, in a pale lavender colour. She paired it up with some kitten heeled ankle boots and clipped her hair out of her face with two butterfly slides and allowed the length to hang down her back in soft, golden waves.
She checked her reflection over critically and decided that she would do for work, and hopefully Dean would approve too.
The kitchen smelt of fresh coffee and freshly baked pastries, and she inhaled deeply a couple of times, just to savour her early morning efforts.
Her doorbell peeled -- just the once at this early hour, but she scurried across eager to greet him.
"Good morning... You look lovely, Shelly... you look beautiful... just like the first time I saw you." he seemed to be scrambling for words as he looked her up and down helplessly.
"Oh!" she gasped as she remembered hearing Pete say exactly the same thing to her mum.
She gave him a bright luminous smile that caused him to suck in a breath and grab the door frame as his knees buckled.
This woman was just lethal!
"Come on through -- the coffee is ready and there are..."
He sucked in a couple of breaths and then straightened himself up. Throwing his shoulders back he stepped over the threshold.
His one and only goal for the next half an hour was to keep his hands away from Shelly -- and he knew -- how he knew how hard that was going to be.
As he stepped into the kitchen the aromas of coffee and warm pastries assailed him and he gave a great sigh as he sank onto one of the chairs.
"I think I just died and went to heaven," he said huskily.
"Thank you," she smiled as she sat down. "I wish that I could take all the credit -- but I am afraid that I can't."
She poured out the coffee and set a basket of mixed breads and pastries in the middle.
The plates, cutlery and jams and other condiments were already there.
"The pastries were frozen dough, purchased from the shop at the weekend. All I did was chuck them in the oven to bake whilst I was having a shower and getting dressed, and the breads, I left to warm on top."
"Oh well, it is all delicious, but I am glad that you didn't go to too much trouble though."
She took a small bite of one of the pastries and then sipped her coffee.
"Well, I wouldn't say that exactly. But my biggest trouble was your last request."
"Wear something pretty you said."
"And you do look very pretty."
"But the trouble is I always think pretty as in summer dresses -- flowers and things like that. We are nipping into winter now and summer dresses just did not seem appropriate."
Dean chuckled apologetically. "No, I suppose not... But the truth is I think you always look pretty -- you could wear a sack and you would still look pretty."
"Aww thank you... but there is a big difference in 'looking pretty', and 'wearing something pretty'."
"That is true," he nodded with another of those lazy grins that set her world askew. "Please forgive my poor phrasing."
She batted her lashes provocatively. "I could almost forgive you anything at the moment."
He looked down into his cup and refused to meet her gaze. "Remember what I said about keeping my hands off you when I picked you up for work -- what I said you needed to do?"
"About... oh yes -- no eye contact!"
"That's right, so behave yourself."
She pouted. "What happens if I don't?"
"He looked up briefly and his eyes were blazing. "Oh, baby you are just storing up trouble for yourself -- for later!"
He waited while she locked up, and then helped her into the car before walking around to the driver's side.
"So, what do you think your day will hold for you today?" Dean asked lightly as he started the car.
"Well, it's finishing off the VAT quarter bookkeeping; and then I will probably run the payrolls this afternoon and get those emailed across for wages."
He frowned as he kept his attention on the road. "You seem to be covering an awful lot of the basic stuff; are you on your own with that lot or do you have help?"
"Oh, it's not so bad," she smiled. "As long as the clients get their stuff in promptly then I have plenty of time to complete them; and that is what I am paid to do."
"But what happens when someone is late bringing it in -- are you expected to go at it all night to meet a deadline?"
"Well, fortunately it has never come to that; I do sometimes have to prod some of the clients quite a bit to get them to cough up the goods; but for the most part, they are generally pretty conscientious about it all."
"But the client base isn't a static one is it? I mean a company has to expand to survive; and each new client is a potential difficulty."
"You speak from experience I am guessing," Shelly laughed lightly. "I don't know what difficulties you have come across in your business, Dean, but remember you are the guy in charge, whereas I am just an employee; and if something is troubling me then I can go to someone higher up and dump it on them."
Dean chuckled. "I am glad to know that you realise that; but don't let things creep up on you... tell me what happens when you take a holiday; what happens if you fall sick?"
"I'm not irreplaceable, Dean -- I am at best convenient. My work list is, as with all the accountants, and employees there; it is a public list that everyone can access. If any of us gets ill or goes on holiday, then someone else will pick up the load."
"It's a good supportive workplace then?" he approved.
"Yes, oh yes; they are very serious about all that."
"Will you miss that when you go it alone?" he asked huskily.
"Oh, you remembered our conversation?" her voice caught.
He grinned. "You are not the only one with a good memory."
"I think that I have a way to go yet before I can even think about going it alone, I shan't rush into anything."
"That's very sensible. So, you are working towards your accountancy accreditation now, yes?"
"Yes, that's right." she nodded. "It's a lot more in depth and there are a lot more rules to learn and observe, but I am getting there."
Shelly gave a wide happy smile. She had never realised how nice it was to simply talk to someone about all this. Someone who could understand and be supportive and encouraging. Oh, her mum and Kelly had always been supportive; but they had never really understood it all.
As a businessman though, Dean did seem to truly understand her work duties and commitments -- and her hopes and dreams.
"So, tell me, have you had many difficult clients in your company's rise to power?" she asked lightly.
He shrugged. "A few," he nodded. "Nothing greatly serious. But mostly a nuisance... refusing to pay because the delivery was five minutes after the delivery schedule; or the cargo was damaged, or the driver was rude... Some people just like to try it on -- but you have to take each complaint at face value and treat it accordingly."
"Yes, you would think that dealing with other businesses would make things a little more civil, but sometimes you just can't get the people out of the equation, I guess."
Dean chuckled. "That just about sums it all up."
He dropped her at the usual spot and told her to stay put while he walked around and opened the door for her. He kissed her quick and hard on the lips
"If you are not here waiting this evening, then I will park around the back and walk round to meet you."
"Ok, you have a good day and I'll see you later."
She smiled up at him, and then turned towards the bridge.
"Excuse me sir, you do know that you can't park here!" Dean turned and smiled charmingly at the dumpy little traffic warden.
"I know I keep being told that; I was just dropping off and I am leaving right away."
The woman looked up at him and her short lashes fluttered. "Well just this once then, get along with you now, and I won't give you a ticket."
His smile widened and he half bowed to the poor woman. "You are so kind, thank you."
He was whistling as he set his car in motion and his thoughts were already on this evening and what he had planned for the delectable Shelly. That she would enjoy it -- he was confident. That he would enjoy it -- immensely!
He parked his car in the parking bay and walked through the main doors.
"Good morning Stephanie, how's things?" he greeted his receptionist cheerfully who just blinked her pale blue eyes at him in surprise.
"...Okay, it's not quite time for opening yet and the phone's not rung, but aside from that it's all good?"
"Great! Is Brian in yet?"
The colour came to her cheeks. "Yes, he came in a few minutes before you."
"Good, could you buzz him and ask him to come to my office in say... ten minutes please."
"Certainly... of course, sir."
He went to his large, open plan, glass box office and sat at his desk.
Logging on to his computer he pulled up his schedule for the day, and was busy making notes on a large note pad when Brian knocked on his door and strolled in.
"Good morning, boss -- Steph said you wanted to see me?"
"Ah, Brian come on in and close the door."
"Uh oh, that sounds ominous?" Brian said as he sat down across from him.
Dean laughed. "Nothing of the sort!"
He sat back in his chair and looked at his personal assistant -- to be. "I have been thinking of making some changes." he began thoughtfully.
"I have been travelling quite a lot, in recent months, and I think that I am ready to slow down a little bit."
"I have several meetings booked in for next week... some of them here and a couple that require travelling."
"But once they are done, you can start to wind down -- maybe for Christmas, and the New Year as well."
"Yes, that was my plan originally, but now I find that I am not really in the mood for travelling at this moment in time... so I was thinking of sending you instead."
"Me?" Brian asked in surprise.
"You know the pitch as well as I do, and the Devonshire client is Teddy Mason's and Co, who you have been dealing with, and so you know the needs and the pitch better than me anyway."
"Yes," Brian nodded thoughtfully. "I should like the opportunity to finish that one... but what about the other one, who and where is that and when are these meetings due to be held?"
Dean grinned as he held out the planner.
"The other is near Newcastle, that brewery that hired us last year. Now I know that I have been doing most of the dealings with that one, but you have been involved a lot, and you dealt with that minor emergency last month so they already know and trust you."
"What is it they want now though?" Brian asked absently as he looked at the planner and mentally adjusted his own schedule.
"I will give you the notes and a copy of the quote that I emailed across to him on Friday. The days we are talking about are... the beginning and end of next week, Monday, catch the train in the morning to Devonshire, and then the train back in the evening -- the tickets are already booked, so you can have them instead of me. And Two days -- Thursday and Friday in Newcastle, drive down stop over and then drive back Friday at your leisure. Again, the hotel is booked, and you just need Steph to change the name to you... by the way Steph will be travelling with you to Newcastle, she was going to act as my assistant in your stead, but now she can act as your assistant instead."
"Oh," Brian was all studied casualness, but Dean had a sneaking suspicion about the two of them.
He smiled coolly at his underling. "You are happy to do these two clients?"
"Yes, I feel confident that I can close out the contracts for the two of them, and I appreciate your confidence in me too."
"Good that's sorted then... I'll let you go and sort it all out with Steph."
After Brian had gone, Dean sifted through the rest of his planner for the run up to Christmas. There were lots of appointments dotted through it, but none that required him to travel after this week.
He gave a little smile and sat back in his chair as he thought of Shelly, and along with thoughts of Shelly came thoughts of this evening.
His arousal was fast and hot and he gave a soft groan. The woman was lethal to him and his business mind, he really did need to keep her on the social side and learn to keep her out of his thoughts when working, he suspected that Shelly was not giving him a second thought as she went about her work duties, whereas he was bordering on obsessing over her.
He ran his fingers through his hair a couple of times and then determinedly he began to draw up the driving rotas for the next two weeks.
Christmas was coming up fast and the weather was beginning to grow more unpredictable. He had pledged deliveries right up until the week before Christmas, but after that his firm was closed until the New Year and his staff would all enjoy a well-earned break.
The day seemed to drag on but, in the end, it did finally -- end.
Dean strode across to his car with a keen sense of anticipation.
Tonight, he was seeing Shelly again, and his plans for the naughty girl that she liked to play were bubbling away inside him!
Shelly walked through to her office, after spending the afternoon assisting Cynthia on a rather gruelling in-depth accounting job.
She dropped her bag onto her desk and leaned across to switch off her monitor.
The flashing lights behind her eyes were the first warning.
She gave a low shaky groan and dropped down onto her chair as the hot knife-like pains raced through her head, leaving a heavy throbbing in their wake.
"Shelly, I just wanted to..." Cynthia stopped short in the doorway. "Shelly are you okay? What's wrong?"
She came across and crouched down in front of her, and her brown eyes narrowed with worry at the white face and the shadowed eyes.
"Yes... yes, it's just a migraine... it came on fast but it... it's nothing serious." she smiled wanly trying to reassure her, but the glazed look in her eyes belied the smile.
"Not serious my eye!" Cynthia snapped softly. She straightened up and gently helped Shelly to stand. "What can I do? I can't let you leave on your own like this, so who can I call... or can I get you a lift to somewhere?"
"She smiled stiltedly again. "My... partner is waiting outside for me, to take me home, and the fresh air will help -- if I can just walk outside to meet him."
Cynthia put Shelly's handbag over her own shoulder and put her arm around Shelly's waist.
"Come on then I will help you out to him."
Dean was leaning impatiently against the wall. Making him wait like this -- that was just one more penalty for tonight.
His lustful smiled slowly faded as Shelly and another -- older woman stepped out of the building.
He was upon them in two strides. "Shelly!"
"Ah you must be her partner," Cynthia smiled up at him. "I am afraid that Shelly has suffered a migraine attack... a pretty bad one I am guessing."
Dean put his arm around Shelly and held her to him. "What can I do?" he demanded huskily.
The other woman held out Shelly's bag to him. "I think you should take her home and put her to bed, she needs to be taken care of for a few days, I think..." she looked at the still dazed looking Shelly. "And take tomorrow off, Shelly, have a long weekend and only come in on Monday if your feel totally fit to come in... I will explain it to the others, and we can rearrange your workload for tomorrow -- so don't worry about anything here."
"Thank you, Cynthia," Shelly smiled absently at her, and Cynthia sighed.
"Go on then you take her home."
Dean needed no other urging, as he gently guided her down the street.
As they turned the corner the low sun glared at them, and Shelly gave a low sob and leaned heavily against Dean, as she winced away from it.
Dean looked down at her full of concern as she closed her eyes and a tear slipped from beneath her lid.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes," she nodded slowly, keeping her lids lowered. "It was just the brightness of the sun -- it surprised me."
He sighed then and gently he scooped her off her feet and held her against his chest.
"It's not far, so just you keep your eyes closed until you're in my car."
He carried her easily down the rest of the street, and suddenly Shelly found herself curled up in his car.
He closed the door as quietly as he could and strode quickly around to the driver's side.
"Do you need to go home for anything?" he asked softly.
She frowned and then gave a tiny shake of her head. "No... I don't think so..."
"Good, you can come home with me then... I will take good care of you Shelly -- I promise."
Only once she was safely in his bed, with the curtains drawn, did Dean begin to breathe properly again.
She had looked so pale -- so vulnerable and her pain was visible for all to see.
He held out a glass of water for her, and she shakily took two pain killers, and gulped down some of the cooling fluid.
"Thank you," she whispered huskily as she sunk down into his pillows.
He sat beside the bed as she sank almost immediately into a deep slumber.
He had helped her to undress, and for the first time since meeting her, his first thought had not been how to get her into his bed, as fast as possible. He smiled at the irony of the situation since that was exactly where she was.
He gave a little sigh, and then shook his head, as he walked silently from the room, pulling the door until it was almost closed but not quite -- just in case she needed him.
He sat down on his sofa and scrolled through his phone's contacts, and then tapped on the one that he sought.
"Brian... I'm sorry to disturb you, but I need a favour..."
"Why do you need Kelly's number?" Brian demanded suspiciously after a startled silence following Dean's request.
Dean sighed. "I've got Shelly here at my place... she suffered a migraine attack, so I thought I should keep her with me... but we came straight from her workplace and she had nothing with her."
"Ahh poor Shelly;" Brian's tone warmed sympathetically. "She doesn't get them too often -- thank god, but when she does, they really do floor her for a few days."
"Yes, I guessed that by how fast it crippled her now."
"Kelly's number is..." there was the sound of fumbling and then Brian reeled off a number. "Do you need me to come over -- is there anything I can do to help?"
"No, thanks," Dean murmured absently as he scribbled down the number. "But you can cover for me tomorrow at work, because I don't want to leave her right now."
It was less than an hour after he called Kelly, that his intercom buzzed, and she strode in purposely.
"Where is she?" she demanded in a forced whisper.
He indicated the door. "She is sleeping so try not to disturb her."
Kelly nodded and glided across the room.
Five minutes later she joined him on the sofa.
"When did she take her pills?"
Dean instinctively glanced at his watch. "Almost as soon as we came in, perhaps five -- ish by the time she was undressed and in bed, that was when she took them... she fell asleep almost immediately after."
"Yes, those pills do that, that's why she didn't take them as soon as the attack hit her; she knew she had to be in a safe environment, before she could take the painkillers." Kelly sighed. "She will probably sleep through till morning, and then when she wakes up -- though the migraine should have gone, she will need to take it slow to properly recover -- something that she is always reluctant to do." She finished almost warningly. "She hates to feel incapacitated and her previous partner was not the most sympathetic, so you will have to be firm with her."