Alone For Christmas(6)By: Ashley John
“Sir,” he heard Amy say to one of the men who had helped him up. “You came.”
Noah looked to his side to see Chip Harington, smiling down awkwardly at him. He quickly remembered why he had spun around so quickly on his chair, and his cheeks burned crimson.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” Clark asked, his hand rubbing the back of Noah’s neck. “Maybe you should go and get checked out at the hospital?”
“Honestly, I’m fine.” Noah shrugged away Clark’s hand and blinked hard, unsure if he was concussed, or if the wine was resurfacing. “I just need to sit down.”
“There’s a VIP area upstairs,” said Chip, to his surprise. “It’ll be quieter.”
Chip put his hand in the middle of Noah’s back and led him away from Clark and Amy, and through the busy crowd. He glanced over his shoulder at Clark and Amy, who both looked visibly shocked, but he knew for different reasons.
They broke through the crowd and walked over to a spiralling metal staircase, which was closed off by a red rope. With the confidence only a man like Chip Harington could have, he unhooked the rope and stepped aside for Noah to walk up first. Each step made the embarrassment and shame of falling over in front of his boss grow even heavier.
The VIP area was a small room with its own bar, tucked away from the noise and hustle of the main area. The industrial theme from downstairs was continued throughout, but the bar was empty. When Noah sat down in one of the deep Chesterfield sofas, he was suddenly glad of the silence.
He watched as Chip jumped over the bar and started to look through the brightly lit fridges. He grabbed a glass bottle of water and vaulted back over the bar like a man who was dressed for the gym, and not wearing a full tuxedo. He was a far-cry away from the man Noah had left drinking whiskey in his office a couple of hours earlier.
“I’m so embarrassed,” mumbled Noah as he accepted the water.
“Don’t be,” said Chip with a gentle laugh as he sat down on the Chesterfield dangerously close to Noah. “I was dreading showing my face here, so your timing was perfect.”
“Glad I could help,” said Noah as he sipped his water again. “I bet they’re never going to let me live this one down.”
“I thought you were above idle office gossip,” said Chip, an unexpected strength in his voice. “You’ll be fine.”
Noah nodded as he sipped his water again. Chip stretched out his arm across the back of the leather couch and Noah felt a metal cufflink brush against his neck.
“Clark was right about getting checked out,” said Chip, turning his head to Noah, his breath letting Noah know that he had probably drained a lot of the whiskey left in the Jameson bottle. “You might not realise how bad it is because you’ve been drinking.”
“It’s fine,” he said, lifting his hand to the back of his head again. “It hurts a little, but it’s not cut, I don’t think.”
“Let me see,” said Chip, suddenly twisting in his seat and sitting up straight.
Noah glanced cautiously at Chip before turning around and dropping his head. When Chip’s fingers carefully probed his hair, brushing up against his tender scalp, he inhaled deeply as his stomach writhed. If he was in any pain, he was too distracted to feel it.
“It looks okay to me,” said Chip, slapping Noah on the shoulder. “My diagnosis is that you’ll live.”
“Thanks, Dr. Chip,” Noah joked as he turned back and resumed sipping his water. “That free bar is dangerous.”
“I guess I’ll take the blame for this one.” Chip held up his hands. “I just wanted you guys to have fun.”
“I think the fun is over for me. My bed is calling.”
“Are you sure?” asked Chip, his brow furrowing. “I’d hate to think I’ve ruined your night.”
“Why would you think that?”
“Why else were you spinning around so quickly that you fell?” he said with a knowing smile as he arched a brow. “Nobody expected me to show up tonight.”
“I hoped you might.”
“I didn’t think you would.”