A/N: This is another generic romance from me. I'm experimenting a little more with my plot in this story. Still just straight romance with plenty of Delena moments. I hope you like it.
Dark and Dangerous Desires
"Elena, the boss wants to see you."
Elena looked up to see her assistant standing in her office doorway. Caroline was wearing a large grin on her pretty face.
"This has got to be it, your big break. You'd better not forget about me when you move up to corporate."
She smiled at her assistant. "How could I forget you, Caroline?"
Caroline worked for her, but she'd almost become like a sister to her over the past year that Caroline had worked for the company.
"I'm just saying, that's all. Good luck."
This was it, the big day, she'd absolutely nailed the Lockwood account and now she was about to reap the sweet rewards of that success. She'd worked so hard for this promotion. Moving up to corporate by thirty had been her goal, and she was about to achieve it years earlier than she'd dreamed. She took a deep breath and took out her compact, taking a moment to reapply her lipstick and make sure she looked the part of a junior partner. She was a public relations expert and knew exactly how important the packaging was, how important it was to sell oneself.
As she rode the elevator up to the top floor, she reminded herself that she deserved this. She'd done the hard yards, she's worked her way up, and the Lockwood account had clinched it for her. Her other colleagues had been unable to deal with Tyler Lockwood the football star, but Elena had taken him on and had him eating out of her hand. He was now one of her favorite clients. Yes, she loved a challenge. If anything Tyler was almost too easy. When she won her promotion she would be given one of the firm's high profile cases. She relished the thought.
She walked with confidence out of the elevator and even mustered a smile for Prue, the cranky secretary guarding the corporate offices. Prue didn't return her smile, but Elena was too happy to care.
"He's been waiting for you," Prue told her testily. Normally Elena would have made a face behind the other woman's back, but nothing was going to bring her down today.
She knocked gently on Elijah's door before walking in. Elijah smiled when he saw her.
"Elena, come in, have a seat."
She did as she was told, barely managing to contain the excitement building in her. She'd wanted this for so long. She wished she had champagne chilling in her fridge at home. Not that she had anyone to share it with. There was no time for a relationship when her days were taken up with whipping up the media and nursing her clients.
"Elena, you know we're very happy with the way you handled Tyler Lockwood?'
She smiled and nodded. Here it came.
"We know you like a challenge, and recently the firm has acquired a more difficult client."
That had not been what she'd expected him to say. Disappointment swept through her. She'd been so sure that after she'd managed Tyler so well that she would be promoted. Elijah was still smiling at her, and Elena managed to keep her smile in place, even if it may have been a little dimmer than what it was.
"We were going to hand this one straight to Katherine, but seeing how well you handled Tyler we thought you might want the challenge instead."
Katherine Pierce was a junior partner who was known as a barracuda around here. Two years older than Elena she'd been the only employee to ever be offered position as partner at the firm. Her reputation preceded her. Katherine was simply the best, and if Elena didn't hate her so much she would probably admire the heck out of her. Katherine, however, had made it clear from the first moments Elena had joined the company that she was a threat and Katherine had treated her as pond scum ever since. A chance to handle a client who would normally be given to Katherine was a huge deal. She knew though that if the client was to be assigned to Katherine that they would be tricky, high maintenance and high profile. It was the opportunity to show them she deserved a promotion.
"Of course, I'd love the opportunity to show you exactly what I'm capable of."
"That's what the firm likes about you Elena. Your attitude is exceptional and your willingness to tackle any assignment is something we're all very aware of. I don't think it's any secret you're being considered for promotion. If you do well with this client, you have my word that you'll have it."
There she had it, Elijah's word that she'd be promoted if she did well with this client. Elijah's word was as good as golden. He'd keep his word; all she had to do was not screw it up. Suddenly brimming with confidence again she was excited to find out who this new client was.
"Who's the client?"
It was then that Elijah stopped smiling and began to look quite serious.
Elena's blood pressure and temperature spiked at the name.
"As in the Damon Salvatore. As in the man who wrote the book, Why You Should Sleep with the Bad Boy, and followed it up with Why Pleasing Your Man In Bed should Be Your Top Priority"
Oh-no. Oh-no-no-no. That was one client she did not want. The man needed a full time handler, not a publicist.
"That's the one." Elijah smiled.
Katherine was welcome to him. He was trouble with a capital T. No-one was able to get him to toe the line. He was known as a womanizing alcoholic, who had little respect for the law. Around the office he was simply known as a PR nightmare. His books were filled with smut and chauvinism. She'd never met him and she didn't want to. The guy obviously believed he was God's gift to women and considered himself some kind of Casanova. She'd seen an interview with him once, and turned it off after she'd seen the way he'd had the interviewer falling all over him. Yes, he was ridiculously handsome, but people should still act professionally around him, damn it.
The fact that his latest book was a number one best seller was an embarrassment to all. She knew women who had bought the book simply for the picture on the back. Caroline had been one of them. And yes she could admit it was a good picture, but that was no reason to buy a book! Considering how much he was reputed to drink she was surprised he could even put two sentences together on paper, let alone write a whole book.
"I thought he was with Wylder and Son's PR."
"He was, but recently he's decided to change companies, and we're only too grateful to take him on as a client. He's working on another book that's sure to make the bestsellers list again, and he's being headhunted to do a radio show. He's big business, and we welcome the opportunity to make money here."
She wondered what on earth the next book would be about.
"Of course," Elena said.
She didn't want this; she really didn't want this, but if she told Elijah that Katherine could have him, her promotion would go out the window. She wanted that promotion; she deserved it, and she would take it. No-one would get in her way, not even Damon Salvatore. Besides, she was up for a challenge, wasn't she?
"When do I meet him?" she asked.
"He's here, actually, in the boardroom downstairs. He told me he can't wait to meet you."
Oh, she was sure. If he believed she would be another woman to just fall over him he had another thing coming.
"I'd better not keep him waiting then," she said. The smile in place for was for Elijah's benefit only.
"Before you go, Elena, there's one more thing."
"Damon is going on book tour in a month or so, as his rep you'll be going with him."
Could this get any worse?
"How long for?" she asked as pleasantly as she could manage.
"Great," she said, injecting enthusiasm into her voice that she didn't feel.
She turned towards the door, closing her eyes for a quick moment. This was happening and she would handle it. She could handle it. After all, how hard could it be?
"Good luck, Elena," she heard Elijah say behind her. "You'll need it with this one." She heard him chuckle softly as she closed the door behind her. She had her work cut out for her that was for sure, but she hadn't had a good challenge in a while. She believed that's exactly what Damon Salvatore would be.
When she walked into the boardroom she found it empty. She supposed it was just too difficult a task for the man to stay put. Losing her client already was not the start she wanted to make. She scoured the floor for her him but he clearly wasn't present. She took the elevator down to her floor to search that one.
She could hear Caroline's voice from a mile away. "I love your books so much." Her assistant was gushing, and Elena suspected she had just found her new client.
"I'll just bet you do." Elena heard the smug reply. His voice was like silk, Elena thought.
She heard Caroline giggle. Elena rolled her eyes, before she put a smile on her face. No matter what she thought about her new client, her job demanded that she be courteous and respectful.
She thought she had brilliantly mastered a confident facade but it slipped completely when she laid eyes on him for the first time. To see him on TV was one thing; to be faced with him in the flesh was quite another. Just one look at him reminded her exactly how long it had been since she'd…indulged. Black boots, black jeans, black leather jacket, her body was already screaming that it wanted that. How ridiculous, Elena thought; she was not interested in Damon Salvatore as anything except the key to her big promotion.
He turned his head toward her and her steps faltered slightly as his blue eyes locked with hers. Her stomach dropped down to her toes. He had a penetrating stare that threatened to guess all her secrets. Seconds went by before her training kicked in, and she had her smile back in place. This was her job, she knew exactly what she was doing, and this was a first meeting just like any other first meeting, she told herself.
She expected him to smell like a brewery. He didn't. He smelt wonderfully male with a dash of light aftershave and it made butterflies dance in her stomach.
"You must be Elena," he said to her.
Elena extended her hand and gave him her customary welcome smile, relieved to have a ritual to follow.
"Elena Gilbert," she said as they shook hands. She didn't deliberate on the fact that his touch made her skin tingle or send heat through her.
"You have an excellent assistant, Elena. She's been singing your praises for the past ten minutes."
He'd been talking to Caroline for ten minutes. What had her assistant told him? She shot Caroline a look, but her excellent assistant hadn't taken her eyes off Damon since Elena found the two of them.
"Shall we go back to the boardroom?" Elena asked her new client.
"No need, your office is right here isn't it?" He looked at Caroline for confirmation, who nodded. All Elena could think was that the space was too small for this particular meeting. She preferred to conduct her meetings in the boardroom; it was more professional and far less intimate.
"Thank you Caroline," Damon said with a charming smile, "you've been most helpful."
Caroline blushed and smiled.
Resigned to taking the meeting in her office, Elena led the way. Once they entered the office she sat at her desk and waited for him to join her. He took his time, however, more interested in looking around her office than talking. He took in the diplomas hanging on the wall, the photos on her desk, and when he was done he picked up the Rubik's cube on her desk, plonked himself down in the seat opposite her and put his feet up on her desk.
She could see exactly how their relationship would go if she wasn't careful. He was the type of man who would try and control this meeting and dominate their interactions if she didn't establish herself now. While he was the client, she had no desire to come off as mild or ineffective. It was her job to keep the media interested in him and to clean up his messes; he had to have confidence that she could do that.
"So," she started, "I'm sure Elijah has given you the welcome to Mystic Falls PR speech."
"He has," Damon told her, "and you came highly recommended, despite the fact that I asked for another publicist."
"Oh." She was suddenly getting the distinct impression that he was not happy at all that she was his publicist. She tried not to feel put out by the thought. If he'd wanted another publicist why hadn't Elijah complied? Normally if a publicist was requested there was no problem. Perhaps he'd requested someone new to the firm.
"Who did you request?" she asked him.
"Katherine Pierce," he said simply.
"Oh," she said again.
"Do you know her?" he asked now.
"Yes," Elena told him. The woman had made her life a living hell for the past three years, so yes, she knew Katherine. If he'd asked for Katherine she didn't understand why the request hadn't been granted. Katherine was after all far more qualified to handle Damon Salvatore than she was. There must have been a reason. As if Damon guessed her train of thought, he elaborated.
"Katherine and I have a history," he told her. "We were…involved. Elijah felt it was better that I have another publicist."
He was Katherine's ex-boyfriend. This was just getting better and better. The last thing she wanted was Katherine breathing down her neck on this one. Should she speak to Elijah and try and change this? No, she'd been given Damon as a client for a reason, and now she just had to prove herself. She visualized the corner office she would have once she was promoted.
"Company policy tends to frown upon us dating clients," she told him briefly.
"Well now, that's just too bad," he said with a frown.
She stood up and came around to stand in front of her desk. She gently but firmly moved Damon's feet off her desk and leaned against her desk. She hoped that standing may somehow give her an advantage, and perhaps raise his confidence in her abilities.
"I assure you that I am qualified for this job and I promise you will be happy with my services."
Damon studied the woman in front of him. Well, damn if she wasn't taking it personal. It wasn't personal, not against her anyway. It was Katherine he was here for; it was Katherine he wanted revenge against. His plan; seduce her, make her fall in love with him and then break her heart the way she'd broken his. Elena didn't need to know that though. He put the Rubik's cube back on the desk.
"You see here's the thing, Elena. If you're going to be my publicist, shouldn't you at least be familiar with the product you're selling?"
Elena was thrown by the question; he could tell by the way she fidgeted slightly.
"It's my job to sell you as a package, and I have no doubt that I can do that."
She'd very neatly avoided his question.
"Have you read any of my work?" he asked her now, leaning back in the chair and putting his hands behind his head. He noted the way her cheeks flamed ever so slightly at the question. She probably thought what he wrote was disgusting. The thought amused him. She seemed a little innocent compared to most of the women he knew but he found it a refreshing change.
He was cynical, he knew it, and he didn't particularly care. Elena on the other hand still had her rose colored glasses on. He wasn't going to rip them away from her. It was better that girls like her stayed away from men like him. He'd corrupt her. The thought actually sent a hot wave of lust though him, as he thought about all the things he could do to her, all the positions he could teach her. He shifted in his seat now, not wanting to let his thoughts wander any further down that path, or this first meeting might end up uncomfortable for both of them.
"I haven't read your work, no, but…"
"Well, do you intend to?"
"Does my work offend you?" he asked her.
"No," she said quickly; far too quickly. "I'm not familiar with it, but I intend to familiarize myself with it."
He found himself wondering what exactly she would think of his work once she'd read it. She'd probably learn a few things about men. He wondered how much experience she had with the opposite sex. She looked so neat and perfect now, not a hair out of place, that he wondered what she would look like when she was loved well. He could picture her underneath him, her hair fanned out upon his pillow, her cheeks flushed, her lips swollen from his kisses and again had to pull his thoughts back to the meeting at hand. This time it was too late, she's seen the way he'd looked at her and he was sure she probably didn't even know she was running her tongue along her bottom lip in a way that made his body react immediately. She was a little too tempting to a man like him.
"Listen, Elena, I'm sure you're very good at your job, but I was thinking maybe you could convince Elijah that Katherine would be the better choice to represent me."
He had no idea what he was asking her to do, Elena thought. If Elijah hadn't said yes to Damon he certainly wouldn't say yes to her. Plus she would look incompetent if she asked that Katherine take over.
"How do you even know Katherine would want this job?"
It seemed that nothing about her new client was going her way. Desperate now she stalled for time.
"How about this; you give me a month to prove myself, and if you're still not happy with me as your rep, I'll try and convince the boss that Katherine is the better option."
He studied her, obviously thinking over her proposal. He still didn't look convinced, so she added one final thought. It was crossing the line a little, but she had to try. "Plus, if you have intentions of dating Katherine again, it would be better if I was your rep because of the company policy I explained earlier."
"Are they strict about that?"
Damon didn't bother to tell her he had no regard for rules or regulations. The only rules he played by were his own. His new rep, however, had her own ideas on how he should deal with the situation. He supposed it made sense for now, that he keep Elena as his rep and just pursue Katherine on the side. He hoped he would be able to get past the fact that he was sexually attracted to Elena. An attraction like that could get in the way of his plan, and he didn't want to be distracted right now.
"Well then, I guess you'll have to do."
It wasn't the vote of confidence Elena would have liked but it was a start, and it was better than a no.
"And you will read my work?" he asked her now.
It seemed she would have no choice on this one. "Yes," she said firmly.
"Okay," he said. "A month it is then." He gave her a tight smile.
While she was relieved he would give her the time, it wasn't a very good start to their working relationship. She required co-operation and support from her clients and if he didn't want her to represent him in the first place, he could make things very difficult for her. She pressed on regardless.
"Great," she said, "now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk business."
They ran over his schedule for some upcoming interviews he had on radio and TV. By the time he was getting up to leave, she knew she wanted coffee and aspirin, not necessarily in that order.
"I look forward to working with you," she said to him as they shook hands once more.
"I look forward to seeing what you can do for me, Elena" he told her, his eyes locking with hers.
Heat swept through her at his suggestive words. Electricity crackled between them. She pulled her hand away from his promptly.
"I'll be in touch," she told him.
He nodded before exiting her office.
Once he'd gone, she slumped back in her seat and kicked off her heels, rubbing her temples with her fingers to get some relief from the splitting headache that had started sometime over the past hour.
Damon Salvatore was different than she'd expected. She'd expected some sexually depraved and arrogant jack-ass. He wasn't. In the interview she'd seen on television he'd been sarcastic, witty and charming. In person, however, he felt serious and intense. Obviously he could switch on the charm as he needed to. She would have to watch that. She was attracted to him, had even been aroused by the way he had looked at her several times during their meeting. But there would be no mixing business with pleasure. He was her client, he was Katherine's ex-lover, and she couldn't let herself lose sight of the fact that if she made a mess of this she could kiss her promotion goodbye.
Minutes later the phone rang. "What is it Caroline?" Elena asked, seeing the light next to her assistant's name light up.
"Elena," Caroline whispered, "we have a code red."
A/N: Last part of Locked in a Loveless Marriage up Sunday/Monday. Thanks for reading and please review.