It felt like I had just closed my eyes when my phone started ringing.
Half drunk and pretty much still asleep I answered.
The ice cold words from my boss had me bolt up right, wide awake and completely sober in a split second.
“You need to come in. Emergency at Nordene.”
Nordene is our biggest client. A disease control centre that renders the CDC in America to a shameful mess.
Damn, if that place has been hacked, we could all be in some serious shit.
Walking in 20 minutes later my boss, Fareed, was and pardon the cliché, but there really is no other way to explain it… White as a sheet.
This is saying a lot as he has the nicest mocha skin I’ve ever seen. It’s like the perfect combination of coffee and milk. He looks up from his mug, of what I strongly suspect is not coffee, but his secret “I’m under pressure and need a stress release” cognac that he received as a gift last Christmas.
I swear this man is on the verge of crying with relief that I’m here.
As I once again prove that I have no filter, I blurt out, “I know I’m gorgeous boss, but no need to cry.”
He has never been a man that was able to take a joke, and with the added stress of this Nordene incident, he went from white to red in a record amount of time. “Just get your ass over here and fix this stupid idiot’s mistake.”
The stupid idiot in question was the CEO of Nordene, Navid Admas, who had inadvertently released a virus into the computer system which had started deleting files. Thankfully whichever numb nuts created the virus, managed to get through the security but was clearly not intelligent enough to delete the correct info.
But why delete employee info when you have the opportunity to steal so much valuable info? Why only go for the employee records?
Shaking my head to get my thoughts back to the task at hand, I recover the files and upgrade the security on the system in less than 3 hours. Not bad for a zombie. High five to me.
Now that the threat had been neutralised, I attempted to find who sent the virus. It was well disguised in an internal email sent from an outside server.
Well done Hacker.
The email was routed through a million different servers all over the world. This was going to take a while and even then I might not be able to get the original server. Most of the time these hackers are sitting at some anonymous coffee shop that has a decent Wi – Fi line. Making this trace as probable as locating a needle in a field of haystacks.
But what was he looking for? Why the employee records? Was it accidental?
Reminding myself that it was none of my business, I start the trace.
Luckily the trace ran extremely quick as was done in an hour. Just as I thought. The original email came from the server down at the DiGi Bean on the corner of Long and Loop Street. Emailing this information through to Fareed and Navid Adams, I pack up my laptop and leave. Looking at my watch thinking my whole day was gone, I realised that it was only 12pm. Just in time to get a decently oily lunch and a cup of herbal tea.
Deciding I would rather curl up on the couch at home than sit in a noisy restaurant right now, I get myself my favourite burger from McDonald’s, upsize the fries and the Strawberry milkshake and start off home.
As I pull up I see that Daryll has gone home. Silence is much appreciated at this moment, as my head feels like there are construction workers building the foundation to a skyscraper in my brain.
Monday morning dawns all too quickly.
I’ve attempted to change the alarm tone but find myself missing the irritating voice of the overly happy “Good Morning…. Good Morning…”
I walk in and greet the usual early arrivals at work. Tracy, our assistant manager, is clearly on her third cup of way too strong coffee. She looks like she is about to rip the machine apart with her bare hands, and I know her well enough to keep my distance when she is in this kind of mood.
I sneak past quietly.
As I approach my desk, I see the green sticky note on top of my keyboard. *My Office, ASAP*
One of Fareed‘s many ominous messages that he so enjoys leaving on our desks.
“Morning Boss, have a good weekend?”
Yes, I know I shouldn’t wind the guy up, but he is so uptight and therefore becomes such an easy target. Seriously, it’s like he needs to get laid, decently.
Rolling his eyes, he ignores my greeting and hands me a brown A4 envelope, “you will be working off site this week. Navid Adams has requested your presence at Nordene. Inside is your visitors ID and codes for the elevator and parking area.”
He looks nervous.
“He is expecting you there at 10am.”
“Do you know what this is about?” I question Fareed, curiosity and caution charging through my body. This is most usual.
“He was vague, but it has something to do with the attempted hack on Sunday,” he explains. I can see that he is nervous about this too. We don’t get these kinds of requests, as we have access to the systems from here. “I’m sorry. I wish I could tell you more.”
I try to put his mind at ease as I smile, “no worries boss, I gots this.” Winking at him I turn and leave. As soon as I am out of sight I drop the smile and start biting my lip. I’m over come with nervousness and my inner voices are shouting at me to turn back and tell Fareed to send someone… anyone else.
Glancing down at my watch I see that I have plenty of time, as it’s only 07:10am.
Calculating that it will take me about 45mins to get there, I decide that I’ll go for breakfast.
I arrive at his office with 10 minutes to spare. Sitting in the waiting area outside of his office, I think back to the one and only time I have ever met Navid Adams.
Arrogant and self entitled are the best words to describe him.
He is sitting with his pompous attitude exuding out of him as I am shown in. Though I must admit he is quite going looking, which intimidates me even more.
I mean, I’m no ugly duckling with my long blonde hair and green eyes.
But he… He is like a Greek god. Brown hair perfectly styled back, Expensive suit which does not hide his chiselled body. Looking at his suit I feel horribly underdressed in my black skinny jeans and Ramones t – shirt. Never mind the red high – top Vans. Making a mental note to dress better tomorrow I walk deeper into his office.
I would never survive here.
He is on the phone visibly annoyed and eager to end the conversation. He looks me up and down and his annoyance seems to grow.
Closing his hazel eyes he shakes his head. When he opens them and looks back to me, his mood has changed.
Another guy with mood swings like a hormonal woman.
He shows me to the brown leather couches just to the left of his desk. I tenderly place my laptop and bag on the empty seat next to me. This is to avoid him getting to close to me.
A few minutes later he joins me, sitting on the couch to my left. I get a chance to see his face up close. And DAMN! I He is beautiful. Hazel eyes that burn straight through to my soul, but with a hint of mischief dancing around the edges.
Even when he sits he is arrogant. Is it even possible for someone to sit arrogantly? Well he is doing exactly that.
We get to discussing the hack and a gruelling 2 hours later I’m shown to the office that has been reserved for me for the rest of the week.
The resources that would be at my disposal in here, has my head spinning.
I set up my laptop and sync it to the one on loan from Navid. I sit and start navigating through the streams of code to try and locate the origins of the hack. A polite knock on the door breaks my concentration.
It’s Navid. Rolling my eyes I assume it’s for an update.
“Sorry to disturb, was wondering if you would like to join me for lunch?” he asks.
I’m so shocked at his nervous demeanour and request; I just sit and stare.
“If you’re too busy I can have lunch sent up to you?” he attempts to get me to respond.
Pulling myself together I agree to go to lunch with him.
“I was thinking maybe we could go to the diner across the road. The pancakes there are amazing,” he says.
“Pancakes would be perfect right now,” I answer. I swear this guy just read my mind. Either that or Fareed has been giving away my secrets.
I have pancakes every time we working a big case at work. The more stressed out the more pancakes.
We sit down in a booth furtherest from the door and he immediately orders 2 stacks of pancakes and 2 cuppachinos.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to assume. I can call the waitress back if you would prefer something else,” he says in response to my shocked expression.
“No. No it’s fine. It’s perfect actually, thank you.” I give him a shy smile.
I must admit lunch was quite pleasant. We spoke about work for a bit and then moved onto more personal enquiries.
We both Aquarius. Both from small unknown towns and like to swim.
Yes I’m attracted to him. Bad Aria.
As the lunches with Navid continued through the week, it quickly became the highlight of my day.
As Friday and my last day at Nordene arrived, my mood was as dark as the sky outside. I was agitated and irritable, barely greeting anyone as I walked towards my office. Can’t even call it my office. Because it’s his building, so his office... on loan to me. So technically, my office.
Hell, I’m even irritating myself.
But when lunch time finally arrived and I saw him, my mood finally lifted.
Friday’s lunch was a much more formal affair, and I am glad I have been dressing up each day.
We went to The Hills Restaurant. An overly expensive, 5 star restaurant in the D’Urbanville Wineyards.
On the drive back, I sat thinking about how sad and frustrated I was too be leaving.
Frustrated, that for all the hours and resources I had at my disposal, I was no closer to finding the hacker.
Sad because that made me realise that I’m not the best hacker in the world like I always believe. Big ego, I know.
But also sad that my lunch time adventures with Navid would be ending.
I couldn’t stop from wondering if this was to be the last I would see of him.
I had been fidgeting with the hem of dress, and froze when Navid reached across and took hold of my hand.
I looked up at him and then back at my… well our hands, then back to his face. A massive grin and a soft chuckle at my shock was his response.
He held my hand the rest of the way back. Thank goodness for straight roads and no traffic lights, I thought as I sat there contently.
We were back at the office, and he was out the car and at my door in a flash.
He held out his hand to assist me in getting out and I felt like I was in a Jane Austin novel.
As he walks me back to my office, I can’t help but notice the people staring. I mean this guy is an Adonis… me a mere mortal in comparison.
As we reach my office door he quickly opens it in a continuation of gentleman like behaviour, allowing me to walk in first.
He gently grabbed my hand and spun me back towards him; face to face and barley space between us. Well I can’t really say face to face, more face to chest as he was a good head and shoulders taller than me. But you get what I mean…
I have to tilt my head up slightly to look into his eyes.
The next moment, before I could even begin to think of something to say, his lips were on mind. One hand caressing my face, the other on my lower back pulling me closer.
The kiss was passionate and left me breathless. Cliché I know. But so so true.
I look up to see that he is flushed as well.
I smile shyly up at him; my brain had completely stopped functioning.
There was a knock at the door and we jumped apart. His secretary Jamie walked in. A most obnoxious and self entitled woman. Her voice alone makes nails on a chalk board sound like classical music. “Mr Adams, I’ve been looking for you everywhere,” she said flirtingly hitting his arm.
Clearly this was something new because Navid’s look could have frozen over Hell. Much to my very happy surprise Jamie took a step back, before quickly advising that he was late for a meeting with Beijing.
He waited for her to leave before he gave me a quick kiss and excused himself.
I stood there like an idiot for the next 5 minutes before turning and going back to my desk.
Realising that it was already 16:30, I slowly started packing up my laptop and the loan.
I reached Navid’s office just on 17:00. Jamie was thankfully no where in sight. I gently knocked on the door and popped my head inside. He was bent over his desk but looked up as the door slid further open.
A heart - stopping grin split across his face as I entered. Noticing the loan in my arms his grin slowly faded as realisation set in that I’m on my way out.
“Thank you for all that you did for the company,” he said sincerely.
“It’s a pleasure. It’s also kinda my job,” I laughed.
“I know, but expecting you to work here was a slightly unnecessary expectation,” he explained. “And if I’m being truthfully, I only did this to ensure that you would be 100% focus on Nordene. Then I come along and distract you even more.”
“A very welcomed distraction, that’s for sure,” I said, and I’m almost sure he started to blush a little.
“May I call you over the weekend?” he asked
“I would like that very much,” making it my turn to blush. “But for now I have to get going it’s my brother’s birthday and we going out to dinner.”
And trying to be cute I add, “don’t work too hard.” Realising I sounded like a complete retard I scampered out the office. As I closed the door behind me I could hear him chuckling again. It was such a beautiful sound. Ah yeah, you’re in trouble Aria.
Finally getting home well after 6pm thanks to traffic, I rush to change into black jeans and a read and white checked shirt. Touch up on my make up and I’m out and On my way to Hudson’s, Daryll’s favourite burger joint.
Walking to the table he reserved I surprised to see Alaric among his usual friends. But was glad there was someone who I could talk to. Daryll’s friends were strong on the couple - couple thing and you hardly saw one spouse without the other. I know this made it hard for him since loosing Michaela.
Tonight though, I was glad to see that he was his usual boisterous self. Alaric I came to realise was also quite funny and could see how they had become friends. The night was a huge success and eventually came to an end at 4am, with Alaric half carrying Daryll to his bed in my home.
I offered coffee, which if I must admit, was happy that he accepted.
2 cups of coffee, some cold pizza and a pleasant 2 hours later he headed home.
As we reached the gate he stopped, turned back to me and kissed me.
The kiss, which was not as passionate as Navid’s, was warm and safe.
This time I was not so dumbfounded and reacted by weaving my hands through his head.
When we finally pulled apart, I was breathless and quite weak at the knees.
The music that filled my head slowly started dying away. I was a little sad that the kiss had ended.
His lopsided grin was shy and slightly amused.
I think that was when I fell in love with Alaric.