3. breakfast meeting

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Within those twenty minutes Lara had given me to prepare, I showered, put on some deodorant and brushed my teeth. When she called at the front door, I was scrambling through my clothes piles, dressed in nothing but boxers and a black T-shirt. It was certainly not the best presentation of myself, but as the doorbell kept ringing, I had no choice but to answer the door in my charming outfit.

"Sorry that I'm early," she said as she saw my appearance. I could see how she tried to keep a straight face, but at least she had a smile tugging on her lips, rather than a scowl.

I glanced over my shoulder, spotted the clock on the wall and noted that she, in fact, was a couple of minutes early. My tense shoulders sank at the revelation, and I decided that, boxers or no boxers, if she wanted me to have this job, she would have to accept me for who I was.

"I'll go and put on some clothes," I replied, trying to sound unaffected by the fact that I was embarrassed and half naked in front of an attractive woman.

"Nothing formal. We're off to eat breakfast."

I arched an eyebrow. She was dressed in something that could pass off as the epitome of formal. Sure, it wasn't a dress, but the skirt and matching jacket were definitely things businesswomen could wear until it was time to wear said dress.

No matter what I put on, I would feel under-dressed in her company.

Screw this, I almost said and left her to put on some casual clothes. I might as well set the standards early on if anything came out of this strange job interview slash meeting with the wild musician.

Lara didn't bat an eyelash as I returned to the hallway in a pair of jeans and a hoodie. She opened the door, stepped out and waited for me to follow without another word. I wasn't sure if I found it unsettling, or if I in fact enjoyed the lack of pointless verbal exchange. Perhaps she was one of those who spoke when they had a purpose to what they were saying, but not much otherwise. It was a quality I thought most people lacked. Talking for the mere sake of talking wasn't my thing. Words held meaning, so why use them as if they didn't?

"We're going to Dante's hotel," Lara said when the elevator doors slid closed behind us.

Perfect. Sighing, I tried to avoid my reflection—which was next to impossible since all the walls, apart from the door itself, consisted of huge mirrors. I would probably be frowned upon if I stepped inside a hotel, but perhaps I could hide beneath the beanie I'd slipped on before we left. I had to cover my unruly blond hair, since it always refused to behave after a shower if I left it to its own devices.

Despite the early hour, the sun warmed my face as we walked outside. We weren't far from the city center, and the air quivered with the sounds of passing traffic and the smell of exhaust. I knew it would only get worse over the coming summer months.

A black sedan with tinted windows waited at the curb. The driver appeared in a flash, opening the door for Ms. Demalier.

"Thank you, Tom," she greeted. He acknowledged her with a short nod and continued over to the other side. I rushed past him and opened the car door before Tom had the opportunity. He sent me an annoyed glance. I had no idea why—I just saved him some work. Apparently that wasn't welcome.

"Do you have a passport?" Lara asked as I fastened my seatbelt.

"Yes." I silently thanked Ayden and Cal for taking me to Santorini for their post-wedding celebration. Without that, I would have stayed passport-less until this day. Before that journey, I had never traveled beyond the States.

"Great, then we don't have to worry about that. Saves us some time that we didn't have."

"You sound like I've already accepted the job."

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