“You’re early.”

Sandra spun around at the sound of AJ’s voice, startled.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” she admitted, nodding toward the large glass doors.

“No one here ever does,” he grinned. “So, are you ready?”

Sandra nodded affirmitively as she answered with a rotound, “No.”

AJ burst into laughter as he closed the space between them significantly and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “You’ll be fine, San. As long as you can answer phones and deal with annoying people, you’ll be fine.”

There was a loud ‘thud’ behind them, and when they turned around, AJ chuckled and waved at the person who had not been watching where he was going, and ran smack into the door.

“Speaking of dealing with annoying people,” AJ laughed. “Hey Nick.”

Sandra watched as the young man entered through the doors, grinning sheepishly at AJ, whose chuckles had now developed into full blown laughter. He was tall - several inches taller than herself and AJ, and, she noted as he came closer to them, his eyes were a deep shade of blue.

‘All that’s left is the blond hair,’ she thought smugly.

At that moment, the man AJ referred to ask Nick removed his baseball cap to reveal a silken head of blonde hair.

‘Great,’ Sandra stifled a groan. ‘Another pretty boy.’

“Nicky,” AJ grinned. “Have a bit of trouble at the door?”

“Shut up,” Nick grumbled good-naturedly. “I got a little distracted coming in... that’s all.”

“Distracted?” AJ laughed harder. “I’m afraid to ask.”

Sandra shifted uncomfortably in her place, and AJ soon caught on to her vibes. ‘Time for some fun,’ he thought to himself, smothering the laughter inside him before it errupted.

- - - - - - -

Nick was grateful AJ didn’t ask about the ‘distraction’ that made him run right into the glass door.

How the hell would he get away without explaining that the girl he was with was the damn distraction? Everything dissolved into thin air the second he saw her; even the big, heavy door.

AJ would never let him live that down.

That girl, though. Nick had never been so.. intrigued. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was about her - the big, brown eyes, the curls that cascaded down her back, the smile on her face that was nothing short of beautiful; he just couldn’t decide. All he knew was that she threw him completely off guard, and the next thing he knew, he was tasting the cold glass of the office doors.

He didn’t know how he’d made it through the door, didn’t know how he tolerated AJ laughing at him in front of her. All he knew was once she looked at him - right into his eyes - he was hooked.

Completely, utterly hooked.

“Nick,” AJ began then, “This is who I told you about yesterday; Sandra. San, this is Nick.”

Nick grinned at her, holding his hand out for a handshake. He had to keep his cool at all costs here.

“Hi Sandra,” he said casually. AJ snickered.

“Nick,” she acknowledged, accepting the handshake firmly. She offered a smile of her own in return to his. “Hi.”

The trio stood in an awkward silence then; Nick looking at Sandra, who was growing more and more uncomfortable as the seconds ticked away mercilessy slow.

She glanced over at AJ and, to her surprise, saw the amusement in his eyes. So that’s how it was, she fumed. He thought he was gonna have some fun with her pet peeves. ‘If he thinks this is hilarious, he’s got another thing coming,’ she thought, frowning suddenly.

“Are you all right, Sandra?”

She turned toward Nick then, still frowning. “I’m not, actually. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head upstairs.” To AJ, she whispered, “Your ass is grass, McLean.”

“Oh, I’m SO scared,” AJ laughed. “San, wait up; we’re all going to the same place...”

“I can handle it alone, thank you,” she called over her shoulder as she stormed off, not wanting to turn back and face either of them.

One she couldn’t stand because of those penetrating blue eyes and blond hair that embodied everything she found annoying and intolerable in life.

And the other? She grumbled a colorful string of words as she heard his laughter behind her. If she turned to face him, her hands would be around his neck in record time.

[chapter list | chapter five]