Alone For Christmas(7)

By: Ashley John

“I almost didn’t,” Chip sighed and stretched his hand out over the back of the couch again, his metal cufflink resting even harder against Noah’s neck. “Especially after what happened today. Sasha showing up just got everybody talking about me. I didn’t want an entire night of sympathetic looks and awkward conversation.”

“What made you change your mind?”

“I realised not showing up would probably do more harm than showing up.” Chip stared ahead at the bar, his eyes glazing over slightly. “Christmas isn’t a time for drinking whiskey alone in your office.”

For a moment, Noah wondered if what he had said to Chip had made a difference in him showing up. He shrugged off the thought, knowing his opinion probably didn’t sway his boss one way or another. Chip Harington was a strong man with a will of steel, much like his father, or so people said. By the time Noah had joined the company, Frank Harington had long since died and Chip had taken over.

“I’m sure they’re glad you came,” said Noah. “Despite what you might think, people like you.”

“Doesn’t mean they’re not talking about me, though, does it?”

Noah didn’t answer. For some reason, he couldn’t bring himself to lie. Forgetting Chip’s arm was behind him, he rolled his head back, but he quickly sat back upright when he felt Chip’s palm touching his red hair.

“I looked over your revisions,” said Chip, suddenly changing the gears of the conversation. “You did a really good job.”

“Are you sure that’s not the whiskey talking?” he joked.

“You always do a good job,” said Chip, grabbing the back of Noah’s neck, just like Clark had done, but without making him feel like he wanted to run away. “I know I can always depend on you, Noah.”

Noah couldn’t help but smile. It didn’t matter that he had a crush on his boss, he knew he was a great businessman and being complimented on his work by Chip meant a lot to him. He turned to Chip to thank him, but when he saw Chip smiling back, he couldn’t bring himself to speak.

He parted his lips, but they closed just as quickly. Chip’s dark eyes darted down to Noah’s lips. Noah had never been able to read those eyes, but his wine goggles were trying their best to. Were they telling him that he wanted to kiss Noah?

Not waiting around to figure it out, Noah leaned in and pressed his lips softly against Chip’s. Whether from sheer shock or pity, Chip’s lips met Noah’s with such tenderness, it made Noah snap out of it and realise what he was doing.

As quickly as he had dived in, Noah pulled away and rested his head in his hands.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “It’s the wine, or the concussion, or – I should go.”

Unable to look at his boss, he headed straight for the staircase, wondering what the hell he had done. He hadn’t expected Chip to follow him, so when thick fingers closed around his wrist, he stopped in his tracks and turned around.

“Noah, wait,” said Chip, his lips still glistening from Noah’s attempted kiss. “Let me drive you. There’s Christmas parties all over the city so you’ll never get a taxi.”

“You’ve been drinking.”

“My driver is parked out front,” said Chip with a smile so friendly and soft, it made Noah feel pathetic for trying to kiss the man who would forgive his recklessness so easily.

“It’s okay,” said Noah, pulling away from Chip’s grip. “You’ve only just arrived.”

“I only came to show my face,” he called after Noah. “I told the driver to keep the engine running.”

Standing at the top of the spiralling staircase, Noah looked down into the party. He spotted Amy, back with Steve in the dark corner. He also spotted Clark, who was flirting with a guy he didn’t recognise at the bar. He noticed Clark’s hand on the man’s thigh and he turned back to face Chip.

“Is there a backdoor out of this place?” Noah asked.

Chip smirked and jerked his head along the balcony framing the upper-level of the bar. With no clue what was going on, Noah followed Chip along the balcony, down a second staircase and through an emergency fire exit into the dark alley next to the club.

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