2: in his office

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Callan's POV

"I'm here to buy a bodyguard."

My eyes widened.

Then I gulped.

My fingers immediately latched into the fabric of my sleeve, rubbing the fabric repeatedly to soothe myself.

His pretty eyes flitted down to my hand and I forced my hands to stop their movement.

I swallowed.

Calm down Callie. You're fine.

You're strong. You're here for work. You're fine.

I cleared my throat, preparing to speak with a loud and powerful voice.

"H-Hi," I squeaked like a mouse.

Like a whole rat.

His gaze was too intense. His presence too powerful.

I felt like I should've been cowering away in fear, but I was frozen.

You're a grown woman, stop gawking at him. Get it together.

I plastered a slight smile on my face, and cleared my throat again, "Hi there, Althea sent me to speak with you about an issue that I'm having."

My tone was robotic. Rehearsed. Completely and utterly fake.

Fake it till you make it. Always.

On the inside, I was a stuttering mess; I was terrified of the lack of control I had over my life right now.

A stalker. Who was close by. Who could probably get to me at any time. I didn't have any training to defend myself.

My thoughts drifted back to what Althea said, about the company doing security among other things.

And before my brain could catch up in the race that it was having with my mouth, I blurted out some more absolute comedy.

"Do you have a two-for-one special? Like a bodyguard and some self-defence lessons? I love a good discount."

Why did I make the same joke twice when it didn't even land the first time? I wish I knew.

I chuckled awkwardly and finally, his intense look changed. He swallowed; his jaw clenched and then he tilted his head down slightly, pinning me with a piercing gaze.

"Callan Grant?"

Why was I being punished like this? I had been so good my whole life, and yet, here I was, standing in someone's office, shaking in my darn boots because of their voice.

I tried not to shiver visibly at the deep timbre that resonated in the room. Did this man know how much money he would make if he voiced audiobooks?

Focus.

I dug my nails into my palms, trying to ground myself before I spoke again.

"I-I'm Callan Grant. Y-You can call me C-Cal if you'd like. U-Um...Thea said you w-would be able to help me with a problem?"

My voice was softer; the stress of the day felt like it was closing in on me, and I didn't have it in me to fake anything anymore.

He nodded his head once, "Take a seat."

I immediately plopped down on the plush sofa that was nearest to me.

His face softened for a fraction of a second, before his impasse look returned, and he quirked a single brow up in question.

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