Status: co-write!

In the Company

Surprises and Butterflies

I nearly choked on air when Claude came out with the ‘significant others’ comment, and I could feel Brayden’s bright blue eyes burning into me as Rose put Claude in his place and started talking. I always hated stuff like this; it was long and tedious and even though we knew the guys were all here for a reason, it seemed unnecessary. The boys knew all the answers to our questions and seemed to know the details of everything, and yet here they were, having to spend their summer ‘learning’ all of this.

“Well, I think we need to take a break,” I insisted, and saw all of the guys perk up. “I’m on the brink of death by boredom.”

“Well, we can break for lunch,” Rose allowed, and I did a little victory dance in my chair, being laughed at by Taylor, Tyler, and Max, before standing up and stretching.

“Good, I’m starved. And I definitely want a cheeseburger,” I grinned, and heard some groans.

“Can you want something that isn’t dripping in grease for once?” Pat whined, making Claude laugh even as he nodded.

“Come on, can’t a girl crave a cheeseburger and fries? Ooh… poutine fries,” the thought made my stomach growl lightly, causing some more laughter. The guys always made fun of my eating habits.

“Well, I am eating a cheeseburger and fries, y’all can do what you want,” I told the group as I started heading for our office so I could grab my purse. I turned to exit, purse in hand, and nearly shrieked when I was face to chest with Brayden.

“Shit you scared me,” my words came out breathy, and the smirk that was tugging at the edge of his lip was actually pretty cute.

“Sorry. Just wanted to tell you that I thought a cheeseburger sounded good,” he apologized, in his usual, quiet way. I couldn’t keep a smile off of my face, and shouldered my purse before leaving the office in step with the taller man. It felt natural, and I didn’t miss the fact he shortened his strides ever so slightly to match pace with me, something that had my cheeks starting to heat up even though I didn’t know why. That was something so minor and insignificant, and yet it had me acting like a high school girl.

“All right, we’re going to Molly’s,” I called, and got a garbled response from the rest of the group. I was glad to be unable to hear what they said, knowing the boys would have comments about the two of us leaving together. I nodded to Deena as we passed her in the hall, and after leaving the building – Brayden opening and holding the door for me – he hesitantly and adorably brushed his hand against mine. After the third time I grabbed his hand and laced my fingers with his, letting him know that it really was okay. He relaxed considerably then, and we made our way down the New York City sidewalk in companionable silence, taking in the sights and the gorgeous summer day.

“So, this Molly’s…”

“My favorite restaurant ever,” I sighed, and realized he was waiting for more explanation. “It’s this little kind of mom and pop’s diner, it looks like it came right out of the sixties and the food is incredible!”

“Sounds good,” he replied with a small grin and squeezed my hand. My face heated up and we finished the trek without talking. We walked in and made our way to a back booth, settling in before an older lady – probably in her late forties – made her way over with water glasses and menus. I ordered a milkshake, and after a little internal debate Brayden sheepishly did the same thing. It made my stomach do butterflies to know that he felt like he could let all of his walls down around me. Enough so that the trusted me to not blab about him having a milkshake on top of the burger and fries.

“Jesus… this is the best food I’ve ever eaten,” he sighed through a mouthful of his burger, his bright blue eyes wide and honest. I nodded, choosing to finish chewing and swallow my bite before speaking.

“Told you, didn’t I?”

“You did,” he agreed, taking another bite. “And I’m very happy I came along with you.”

“Thanks Bray, I hate going somewhere to eat by myself,” I chuckled, and he shrugged.

“Just say the word. Unless it’s sushi… I’m not really a fan of sushi,”

“What’s wrong with sushi?” I asked, and he shrugged while making a face. “Not even California rolls?”

“Not even California rolls. No sushi. Just about anything else though,” he insisted, and after a moment I finally relented.

“Fine, fine. Anything except sushi,” I allowed. He gave me an overdone grin before digging back into his food.

When we finished eating we decided to take the long way back to the office. We went down a few side streets, managed to cut through a little corner of Central Park, all the while my hand was tucked into Brayden’s huge one, and the smiles on our faces probably said it all to anyone that we passed. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed just spending time with him like this.

It wasn’t until both of our cells started going off that we realized with a groan that we should head back. Rose, Taylor, and Claude had all started to text me, and Brayden’s teammates began trying to get a hold of him. I rolled my eyes, which made Brayden laugh, before we made our way down the four blocks back to the skyscraper building that held mine and Rose’s office. Rose had been a little tense after Claude said the ‘significant others’ thing, and had promptly ignored Patrick for the rest of the morning. It was easy to see that it was bothering him, and he’d been adamantly trying to get her to so much as look at him for the time we’d been in the office. Of course it hadn’t worked, and I could see the looks that Tyler gave both Patrick and Claude. He’d manage to set things straight between the guys, I knew that much, but that would leave me to try and figure out where Rose was on all of this. Usually it wasn’t a problem, but between Patrick and her Dad and everything else she was thrown for a loop.

The rest of the work day was a little easier to get through – Rose was over Claude’s little comment and so we were able to all slack off a little bit, except when Deena poked her head in to check on us. We were diligently working when that happened, thanks to a tip off from Lydia. She’d been blushing and stumbling over her quiet words to the point that she had just about worked herself into tears. Rose and I had quickly calmed her down, and assured her everything was fine. She was nervous and a little star struck, and I didn’t blame her one bit. I’d made a bit of an idiot out of myself the first time I’d met all the guys.

“Supper? Anybody?” Max asked as soon as we were out the front doors. He’d been the hardest to keep in check for eight hours of boredom – everything from making paper airplanes to doodling, and at one point he started belting out some new Top 40 song, much to the amusement of the rest of the guys. Max struggled with keeping still for extended periods of time.

“Yes!” Claude, Taylor and Tyler all pitched in, turning to us eagerly. I looked to Rose, who shrugged, and then up to Brayden, who didn’t give me any better of an answer.

“Well don’t look at me!” I told them, before quickly putting a finger to the tip of my nose. “Dibs out on picking!”

Everyone’s hands shot up, except for Taylor who’d been on his cell phone. His head shot up and he looked around, seeing all of us with a finger to the tip of our nose before he groaned.

“Come on! That’s not fair!” he whined.

“It is fair – you just never pay attention,” was Pat’s answer, and the guys all voiced an agreement, much to Taylor’s displeasure. After trying to weasel his way out of it for a few minutes he threw his hands up in defeat, before scrambling when he nearly flung his phone in the process. I couldn’t hold in my laughter, and Brayden was even wearing a smile as he softly put a hand on my back in a minute effort to calm me down. Once we’d all got control of ourselves again, Taylor led the way down the street, grumbling to himself as we all followed along behind. Brayden took my hand again, making my face heat up that he would do so in front of everybody, and gave me a smile when I looked up at him.

The sudden jump in my stomach caused my cheeks to heat up and for me to turn my gaze to the ground as we walked, even as I gave his hand a tiny squeeze. The realization was a little shocking, and it hadn’t happened in so long I wasn’t sure what to do.

Brayden gave me butterflies.
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