It’s not until Monday morning that I realize I never got around to making a GlowUp account at the party. Glancing around, I open the app on my phone. Not that I think anyone here would care that I’m using it during work hours. It’s for a client, after all.
Liar. You can think of one person who wouldn’t be happy to see you using it.
Thoughts of Law are the last thing I need when I’m trying to ramp myself up to fill out a dating profile. The whole thing feels so weird. You would think being on the arm of the guest of honor at the party would have given me some confidence. I smile thinking of Seth. After the closet confrontation he’d suggested we get a drink. People approached him constantly but I noticed he would stand closer whenever it was a woman.
If you’d told me ahead of time I’d end up being an anti-wingman for a billionaire, I would have asked what you were smoking.
And whether I could have some.
The fact that it made Law jealous should have been a bonus. Instead I’d gone home feeling slightly sick. I close the app without doing anything. Maybe I should have waited until after work when Ariana could help me.
I send her a text and then my phone lights up. She’s calling me.
“Hey, what’s up?” I keep my voice low so no one outside my office will hear. I could close the door but that would probably draw more attention than anything else.
“Hallelujah! You’re finally ready to get this party started.”
“I guess. I went to the launch party to mess with Law’s head but I didn’t actually think I’d make a profile. All these dating apps seem like such a meat market.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Seriously? It’s just a bunch of dudes looking for a place to stick it.”
“That’s what you want, right? Sex, no strings. Have some fun, get out there and see what you’ve been missing. You might find The One or maybe you’ll just have a bunch of orgasms. Let’s see.”
I can hear her typing but I’m not sure what she’s doing.
“So, about that profile… I already made one for you.”
“You did what? Oh god, I’m almost scared to ask what you put on there.”
Ariana cackle-laughs and despite everything, her exuberance makes me smile.
“I did a great job. I think I really captured your soul.”
“Send me the link to it.”
After a minute, a link pops up in our message chain along with the login details Ariana created. When I click it, the GlowUp app opens again. I log in and then navigate to my new profile. A picture of me with my tongue sticking out and my bra strap showing is the first thing I see.
“Ari, what the hell? What is this picture?”
“It’s great, right? You look cute as hell.”
“I’m not even looking at the camera. And why is my shirt falling off?”
“It’s cute and playful. You look like fun.”
“I look like I’m coming off a five-day bender.”
That’s when I notice the rest of the profile. I was so caught on the horrible photo that I missed the description. The “About Me” section says, New to the scene. Ready for some peen. Show me what I’m missing.
“Ready for some peen? Oh my god, how many people have seen this!”
She makes a shushing sound. “Calm your tits, chica. It’s only been live for a few minutes. I didn’t make it public until just now. I made it at the party so you’d be ready to go whenever you made up your mind.”
“Well, how do I take it down? I don’t want every mouth breather in the DC area sending me dick picks! And I need a better picture.”
Switching to the camera app, I start taking selfies. It would have been nice to have some notice so I could have worn something more exciting than a white button down shirt and tweed skirt. It’s fine. Anything would be better than that busted photo.
The app makes a chiming sound.
Ariana guffaws. “What is that I hear? Sounds like a good time!”
Then she hangs up.
I click the red flags popping up at the bottom of the app. My eyes bug out. Five matches. Five people actually liked that crappy profile? My head drops into my hands. This whole thing is a little overwhelming. For the last few years, I’ve heard from friends nothing but horror stories about dating apps.
A notification pops up on my computer for my next meeting. I close the app and put my phone in my pocket. Now probably isn’t the best time to dive into the waters of lewd pickup lines and gross dick pics. I grab the tablet I use to take notes and head for conference room B.
By the time I get there, Mya, Kevin, Val and Law are already waiting.
What is he doing here? He wasn’t scheduled to be in this meeting.
“Morning.” I make cursory eye contact with the others and then direct my attention to the screen at the front of the room.
“Okay everyone, let’s go over our initial data from the first batch of GlowUp beta testers.” Mya clicks to change the slide in her presentation and the image changes to a pie chart.
Movement across the table grabs my attention. Law holds up his phone and mouths something. Immediately, I turn back to the front. The slide has changed again to something with a bunch of percentages on it.
Law clears his throat. Loudly.
Mya stumbles over her words and glances at him in alarm before continuing. Once she’s not looking, I glare at him.
Stop, I mouth.
He holds up his phone again.
It’s a struggle to pay attention when I can see him moving but I deliberately keep my focus on the presentation. I can only hope that Mya doesn’t ask for my opinions on anything since I have no idea what’s going on.
Just then my phone starts chiming again. Everyone looks at me.
“Sorry. I thought I put it on silent.” I take my phone out and click the volume button on the side furiously.
“That sounds like the GlowUp notification. Are you using the app?” Mya asks excitedly.
Acutely aware of the man sitting right across the table, I nod slightly.
“Excellent! What do you like about it so far? Have you experienced any of these issues?” She clicks back in her presentation and brings up the pie chart slide again.
The table jolts when Law stands suddenly. Mya watches mutely as he walks out. Kevin looks at me and then pointedly turns his attention to the table in front of him.
Right. Because that wasn’t obvious at all.
“Um, I haven’t noticed any issues.” I slide lower in my seat as Mya continues her presentation, desperately hoping she doesn’t ask me anything else.
As soon as we’re done, I grab my tablet and practically run toward my office. Down the hall, I see Law waiting outside the door. Turning to my left, I duck into the ladies bathroom. Hopefully he didn’t see me.
A second later, a text pops up on my phone.
Now you’re hiding in the bathroom to avoid me?
My thumbs hover over the screen. Should I respond or pretend I don’t see this? Before I can answer, a new calendar notification pops up. Law has set up a meeting for us on his work calendar that is marked Urgent.
As annoying as it is, I have to admire his persistence. Before I can accept the meeting request, another text pops up on my phone.
Unless you’re willing to ignore your next payday, I expect to see you in my office.
Ugh. Resigned to my fate, I put my phone in my pocket and leave the bathroom. His office is at the other end of the hall from mine so I take my sweet time getting there, stopping in the employee break room for another cup of coffee. Someone brought in donuts and left them on the counter so I take one for good measure.
By the time I get to Law’s office, I’m halfway through eating it and have white powder all over my fingers.
“Nice of you to show up to do your job today,” Law grumbles as I sit in the chair in front of his desk.
“Just participating in a little office socialization. Donuts do a lot for morale.”
“Noted. Can we work, please? We need to go over the office budget for next year.”
Okay now I feel a little guilty that I wasted time getting here when he’s actually got work that needs to be done. Maybe he’s not the only one having trouble keeping our personal life out of the office.
For the next half hour, he talks and I take notes. After working together for so long, we have a good rhythm and we finish the new budget and a few client pitch drafts for each of the three team leads. We take a break and Law rests his head on the back of his office chair.
“So you’re using GlowUp?” he asks in a deceptively soft voice. “What happened to your new boyfriend?”
“Nothing happened to him. He is a very nice man but I am keeping my options open. I have to evaluate the app to help the marketing team.”
“The marketing team,” he says bitterly.
“And to help myself. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find someone who wants the same things I want.”
“What you want doesn’t exist.” He still isn’t looking at me.
“I think it does. Honesty definitely exists. Loyalty is a little harder to find.”
“If that’s what you want then you’re walking the wrong way.”
“You’ll have to excuse me if I want to investigate that for myself. Men aren’t the best at directions. Besides that’s not all I want.”
His eyes fix on mine, the intensity enough to take my breath away. “You want late night conversations where you feel free to say anything. Evenings wrapped around a man who doesn’t want to be anywhere but where you are. You want adventure and excitement, safety and comfort, and everything in between. Most of all you want to know that you can let go and someone will be there to catch you.”
My heart bangs against my ribs. It feels like a warning.
It’s not just the husky tone of his voice as he spells out the secret wishes of my heart that break me. It’s the look in his eyes, like he’s aware that he’s the only man who has ever come close to giving me that.
“Don’t forget never-ending brunch,” I whisper. “French toast and bacon are a crucial part of my happiness.”
“I haven’t forgotten. Not a single thing.”
Someone walks by in the hallway and the sound of loud voices outside the closed door breaks the spell. I glance down at my lap, not sure why I suddenly feel like I’ve lost something precious all over again.
My phone screen flashes. After my earlier mortification I made sure to turn the sound off but I kept the notifications on. I pick it up and check the screen. The jaunty little GlowUp notification tells me that I have new matches waiting.
Law sits up in his chair, his eyes narrowing when he notices the phone in my hand.
“Good luck finding Prince Charming.”
Even though it’s tempting, I refuse to rise to his bait. Arguing about the merits of dating is useless and doesn’t solve anything.
While he watches, I tap the app to open it. Hmm. Just over the last hour, I’ve gotten three more matches. One catches my eye immediately. The guy is wearing a blue baseball cap and has decent biceps on display in a short-sleeved shirt. I click his profile and look it over.
“I don’t know about Prince Charming but this guy seems promising. A shy guy who likes surfing and rescue dogs sounds perfect for me. And he’s already asking for a date. I like a man who takes initiative.” I type a quick message back to “Shy Clint” telling him that I would love to meet up this weekend.
Law walks around the desk. He stands behind me as I finish typing.
“Are you done?”
Confused, I nod.
Then he leans down and takes the phone out of my hand. He looks at the profile as if he’s evaluating the guy’s potential.
“Checking out the competition?”
I’m going for bravado but it’s making me intensely uncomfortable to see him holding my phone in his large hand. His thumb strokes over the screen as he scrolls down and I shiver. He dips his head and his breath brushes against the side of my neck.
“Do you think our friend Clint here will figure out how much you like having your hair pulled?”
When did he get so close? My fingers clench around the armrests of the chair.
“I’m sure he will eventually. If I decide I like him that much.”
He’s still leaning over me looking at the profile but I’ve forgotten all about poor Clint and his slightly above average biceps. Because all I can focus on is the skin exposed where Law has rolled his sleeves up. He’s not an overly bulky guy but he has always worked out regularly. However, I don’t remember his forearms being this muscular before.
Did I just miss that or is this some sort of sex-withdrawal symptom?
“Let’s hope our friend pays enough attention to notice that your ears are particularly sensitive.”
I moan softly as his lips graze my ear. Involuntarily my eyes close as the sensation travels all the way down my spine. He isn’t exaggerating about how much I love it when he pays attention to that area. Once during sex, he bit my earlobe softly and I came like a rocket. The memory alone has me wet.
When I open my eyes, his gaze is so incendiary that I’m shocked the entire room hasn’t gone up in flames.
I know that look.
“Law, what are you doing?” I whisper, but I already know what’s about to happen.
“Your neck is all I can think about. All day long when I’m supposed to be thinking about clients, payroll or any number of things, all I can remember is how soft your skin is right below your jaw. How it tastes.”
His hands land on the arms of the chair, caging me in. The heat of his body surrounds me and when I take a deep breath, all I can smell is him.
I’m fighting a losing battle and I know it.
Mess with Me / The Mirage Agency
Anti-Dating has never been this much fun! A witty, workplace romp about what happens when no strings attached turns into nothing but tangles!
My girl and I have an understanding.
We date. We have fun. No strings. No labels. We’re adults, after all, and we don’t need juvenile terms like “girlfriend” and “boyfriend”.
It’s not until she tells me that I’m no longer her not-boyfriend that I realize how much I liked it. Cooking dinner together. Nope. Talking about our day? Not anymore.
Just sex. Every guy’s dream, right?
Except for one little problem. If I’m not her boyfriend, then the position is open for someone else.