Sometimes, she swore if she looked at the clock on her arm, she could hear it tick. Tick...tick...tick... Every second counting down until she was supposed to meet her “one true love.” Something she thought was utter bullshit, to be honest. Most everyone who had grown up in the same orphanage she did had. Most of them were children born because people had fooled around in relationships out of soul mate bonds and they were the consequence and...well, no one really wanted pesky little illegitimate children in the way of a true soul mate bond, did they?
No, of course not.
There were some, of course, that were the product of true love bonds, who were victims of the system. They hadn’t stayed in the orphanage long; it was apparent in their faces they were good children. The right children. And so she had studied them, acted like them. She knew with her pedigree she may never get adopted, may never get a halfway decent family of her own, but at least she could slip on a mask. Be proper. But what the world wanted.
And now that she was older, free, that mask did her well. Add in a British accent, good clothing, stylish hair, perfect make-up and Andrea Roosevelt was no longer an unwanted. She had power, she had worth.
And today Andrea Roosevelt was going to ignore the hell out of her soul mate clock if it was the last thing she did.
The damn clock had remained immobile for years and years. Then, the day she arrived in London, it moved. Each day, one tick lower. One tick closer to the line that would show she'd met her soul mate. One day closer until the core of her body would feel it and she would know. One day closer to the moment when she supposedly fell madly in love with a stranger. But love was not in her plans, and would never be in her plans. It was a nuisance.
And now, here it was, the almost microscopic mark so close together it was mere seconds now. Her soul mate was somewhere in this building, in a room nearby. He or she would be there soon, and she couldn’t escape. Well, she could, but what if the escape caused her to meet the person?
Damned if she did, damned if she didn’t.
“Number 72,” a bored male voice said over the intercom. That voice tingled an awareness with her. She couldn’t believe her soul mate, because that was who it had to be, was the secretary. Wonderful. With a sigh, she stood up and went to enter the room…
...only to find one person occupying the office, which looked almost like a dungeon, and it was quite obvious he was not the secretary. He was to be her employer.
This was even worse.
“For fuck’s sake,” she said quietly. Or so she had thought. The man’s head snapped up and then his eyes widened as that bone-deep feeling passed through her and she knew, in turn, it passed through him as well. “Well, this is awkward…”
“I...was not in need of a wife,” he said, looking a tad uncomfortable.
“I needed employment,” she replied, crossing her arms. “Not a soul mate.”
She watched him study her intently for a moment and then turn to a file. “I believe my intelligence on you is sparse, Ms. Roosevelt. If I were to have known you were to be my soul mate, I would have had you barred from applying for the position as my personal assistant.”
“I never would have come within five hundred yards of this place,” she said.
He nodded slowly before leaning back in his seat. “We seem to be at an impasse, then.”
“I suppose so,” she replied.
“Despite the fact that you are my soul mate, your credentials are impeccable, and you fit my specifications perfectly,” he said, steepling his fingers together. “Far better than the seventy-one candidates before you or the two hundred and sixty-three left.”
She raised an eyebrow. “You’re an important person, then.
He shook his head. “I hold a very minor position.”
“Since you aren’t hiring me, I suppose I may speak freely?” she asked.
He nodded. “By all means.”
“I think that’s a lie. You’re quite powerful. This dungeon of an office isn’t anywhere near the other government offices. I suppose you have a proper office, but you had me come here because I’m your strongest candidate. You wanted to see if I’d be scared off. There isn’t a single other person out there so I was probably given a number for intimidation purposes. You like playing games and you don’t like losing. But you lost this match because you think all I want is a husband and frankly, I could care less.”
The man allowed himself a small smile on his face at that. “I quite like you, Anthea.”
She blinked. “Andrea.”
“No personal assistant of mine can go by their real name. I have too many enemies about, as do my siblings. Or rather, one has enemies, and one has...troublesome friends.” He leaned forward and pressed a button on the intercom in front of him. “Disperse the other applicants to other members of Parliament as needed.” Then he looked at her. “As for the matter of our being soulmates.”
“Yes?” she asked, tilting her head.
“I will admit, I do not particularly want or need a romantic attachment,” he said as he stood up from behind his desk. “However, if you were to change your mind, I would make an exception for you. I think it could be...interesting.” He came up to her, his smile a bit wider. “We have much to do and not much time to start. Dinner, upstairs. Your favourite is Persian?”
All Andrea could do was nod. Well, this had been unexpected. She wondered what was next. She supposed she would have to wait and see.