A/N:

Rated M for language, sex (foreplay - no actual intercourse), and violence. Story is complete and will be updated with one or two chapters a week, depending on how much time I have on my hands. I'll start out by posting four chapters, and I'll be crossposting on other sites as well, but not necessarily on the same day.

Please, let me know what you think by leaving a review. I won't get any better without feedback. Thanks. :) Oh, and English is not my native language. Do tell me about my cringey errors, please! I'd like the chance to erase them. ;)

Summary:

When up-and-coming web designer Mila Camden fled London because of a man over a year ago, all she wanted was some peace and quiet to focus on her career and maybe someday start dating again. She's in no hurry to find Mr. Right, and she spends a great deal of energy fighting off Mr. Wrongs (yes, in plural), until one day she finds herself sneaking around with one of her new co-workers, doing things - all kinds of things - they're not supposed to do. She's not proud of herself, but soon their forbidden relationship is the least of her worries, as a ghost from the past decides to make an appearance, making her question everything she thought she believed in - including her plans for the future.


Chapter 1 - Overthinking

Finally, Mila got to put on her headphones and just zone out. She pushed play on Spotify as the door closed behind Nadia, and the soothing rock music made her relax in a matter of seconds. She sighed and leaned a little forward in her seat to better focus on her computer screen and the web design in front of her. For the next thirty minutes or so, she would be totally undisturbed, which was very much needed to make up for all the time wasted on Photoshop crashing several times today. But just another couple of hours, and she would be able to hand in her design. The deadline was at six, and on top of Photoshop crashing, Nadia had also been unusually chatty today, so Mila had gotten slightly behind schedule. It was no big deal. With thirty minutes to herself she would catch up soon enough and maybe even get to hand in her design a little early. And who wouldn't want to go home early on a Friday?

"Mila!" She heard a male voice and looked up at Ray, who opened the door up wide with an annoyingly cheery smile plastered across his face.

She took off the headphones again. "What?" She didn't mean to snap at him, but the blond IT technician's presence was enough to throw her a bit off. He usually only addressed her to make fun of her.

"Cake. In the canteen."

"No thanks." She put on the headphones again, ignoring Ray when he no doubt rolled his eyes at her. She glanced up to make sure he had left and sighed to herself at the still open door. Oh, well. Everyone else would be in the canteen for at least thirty minutes now.

Another movement by the door made her look up again, but whomever had just passed left her alone, thank God. Except a moment later someone said her name again.

"What is it now?" she exclaimed and took off her headphones with a huge sigh. Why couldn't he just leave her alone? He didn't even like her, so why bother?

"There's cake in the canteen." Oh, it was just Jonathan - one of the marketing consultants. No need to sneer at him. He was always kind. "It's Cindy's birthday. Won't you join us?"

"Thanks." She hesitated. She really didn't want to.

"...But?"

"...But no thanks."

"Okay. But if you change your mind..."

"Thanks." She gave him a small smile and put on her headphones again, and he just shrugged and closed the door when he left.

Only seconds later the door opened again, and Mila looked up before anyone said anything. It was Jonathan again, and he beckoned for her to take off the headphones. She did, but not without giving a loud, deliberate sigh. He obviously tried to hide a smile before he spoke again, but he didn't succeed. "Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why won't you join us?"

"It's a free country, isn't it?"

"It is, but that doesn't answer my question."

Mila looked away for a moment, before she looked back at him with another sigh. "It's just...at this time of the week my energy is running pretty low, and I don't really feel like socialising much. Especially not when people expect me to be social again tomorrow night."

"You're going out?"

"Yeah, you didn't get the memo?"

"Someone may have mentioned it." Jonathan shrugged and gave a small smile.

"So, I like staying in my office on Friday afternoons," Mila continued. "It's not a crime, is it?"

"It most certainly isn't." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "But it is very safe."

What? Did she read too much into it, or was he accusing her of being a coward?

"What's it to you, anyway?" she asked and didn't leave him time to answer. "And let's say I suddenly started attending Friday afternoon cake in the canteen. People would just start talking."

"Talking?"

"Yeah, about why I'm suddenly leaving my office."

"Don't you think you're overthinking it just a little?" he asked, clearly trying to hide a smile, and it didn't make her feel any better. She knew she was being ridiculous. She just didn't really feel at home among her co-workers yet. Even after almost a year in this place, the lot of them together still freaked her out a little.

"Maybe I am, but at least I'm not the one who won't take no for an answer."

"I'm not..." he trailed off and did nothing to hide his amusement. "I can't make you go, but you might be surprised if you did."

"Yeah, whatever." Mila mumbled the last part and reached out for her headphones as Jonathan's clue to leave. He clearly got the message and closed the door behind him with a small smile when he left. Yup. He was definitely amused. He probably found her ridiculous, just as the rest of them would.

It's not that Mila didn't like her co-workers. They were generally sweet enough, and she had her best friend, Jess, right in the next office. But the loud ones like Ray got so much on her nerves. All the young girls kept drooling over him, though he wasn't even that goodlooking. He was average height, a bit too muscular for Mila's taste, and he loved to listen to himself speaking. And so did those girls, apparently. Not that he ever had anything clever to say, but they probably also wouldn't be able to understand if he did. Okay, so maybe she did overthink things. And maybe she did judge her co-workers a bit harshly. She didn't even know those girls. Not really. And it was probably a bit unfair to call them girls, when most of them weren't that much younger than herself, and some even older.

.

"Am I in an alternate universe?" Jess asked with a laugh, when Mila joined them in the canteen. Everyone was there, it seemed, and the noise was louder than usual - probably because it was Friday afternoon. Also, there were beers on the table and in everyone's hand, though closing-time was still a couple of hours away. "And right before the song."

Oh God. They were going to sing Happy Birthday? Well, at least everyone was so noisy that no one would notice if Mila didn't sing along.

"Guess it's my lucky day," she replied in a mumble and rolled her eyes at Jess.

"What made you change your mind?" the latter asked and looked around the room. "Or who made you change your mind?"

Mila glanced at her and saw her looking at Ray, who was, weirdly enough, watching Mila.

"Not Ray, that's for sure!" she exclaimed and looked back at her friend. "Why is he staring at me? Do I have something between my teeth?"

"Hm..." Jess said and reached behind Mila to remove something - no doubt imaginary - from her hair. But instead of pretending that Mila had something in her hair that made Ray stare at her, Jess pulled out her hairclip, making Mila's dark brown hair fall down around her face and shoulders.

"Jess, honestly!" she exclaimed and instinctively looked up at Ray, who was still watching them. Oh God, why did Jess have to be so annoying? And why did the creep keep staring at her? "Give it back!"

"Much better!" Jess said with a laugh and then looked up at Jonathan, who approached them with a small smile. "Don't you agree?"

"On what?" he asked and then gave Mila a smile. "Thanks for joining us."

She just rolled her eyes, wishing that Jess wouldn't continue. But of course she did.

"Mila's hair. Looks better this way, doesn't it?"

"Uh... No comments," he replied trying to hide a smile. Oh God, Jess!

"Why?" Mila asked instead, trying to shift the focus. It was so embarrassing.

"Why what? Why no comments?"

"No, why do you even care if I'm here or not?"

"I just don't want anyone to be left out," he said with a shrug. Then his lips curled into a teasing smile. "Besides, Ray didn't succeed, so I thought I'd give it a shot. And here we are..."

Mila rolled her eyes at him with a small sigh and then looked up and caught Ray's eye for a split second. Then someone started singing and made the rest of them join in on Happy Birthday, and she focused on singing along just loud enough for no one to accuse her of not singing along, but low enough for no one to really hear her.

.

"What's with the beer?" Mila asked, when the singing was over. "They don't usually let us drink during work hours."

"Judy's not here," Jess replied. "You haven't noticed?"

"Uh..." No, she hadn't.

"Kept to your office all day, have you?" Jonathan gave her another teasing smile and then left the two of them to go grab a piece of cake.

"She's in London," Jess continued. "I think she had a meeting with the big bosses."

"Hm." Why was Jonathan so cheerful today? And why did he just exchange glances with Ray like that? "What's with him?"

"Who?" Jess looked up and let her eyes wander in the same direction as Mila's. "Jon? Is something the matter with him?"

"Why's he so cheerful today?"

"Isn't he always?"

"No, not like today."

"Yes, he is. You just never notice because you keep to your office all the time and shut everyone out."

"Nah, that's not why. It's only today."

Jess gave her a skeptical frown. "Mila?" She drew out the ending of her name. "Do you have a crush on him?"

Mila widened her eyes in disbelief. "What?" Oh God, no! "On Jonathan? Jess, he's married! With a kid!"

"Exactly. So don't go and get yourself in trouble!"

"Honestly, Jess! He's not my type, and I don't go for married men."

"Okay. I just had to make sure. You don't always act rationally when there's a guy you like."

"And you do?" Mila rolled her eyes and continued, "But I don't like him like that, so don't worry."

Jess glanced at Jonathan again, and Mila was slightly worried that he would notice they were talking about him.

"I don't think they're married, though," Jess continued. "Just living together."

"Pretty sure they're married."

"Pretty sure they're not."

"Well, but who cares?"

"I do. I'll just go and ask."

"What?" Mila stopped Jess with a hand on her arm. "No, you won't!"

"Why not?" She just gave Mila a teasing smile and made her let go of her.

"Because it's embarrassing!"

"Why? If you don't like him?"

"I don't, but it would look as if I made you go and ask."

"But you did!" Jess said with a laugh and walked up to Jonathan. Oh God! Mila suppressed the urge to hide her face in her hands. It would only make it worse. But she couldn't help but watch, when Jess approached the tall-ish marketing consultant slash project manager with the short, dark blond hair. He was in grey jeans and a light blue shirt with rolled up sleeves. He clearly hadn't had any client meetings today, or he wouldn't have worn jeans to work. He smiled at Jess and leaned a little closer as to better hear what she was saying over the noise from their co-workers chatting away a little louder than usual. Then his smile faded and he brushed a hand through his hair, before he straightened up and glanced at Mila. What? Why? What had Jess said? Oh God, so embarrassing! Mila quickly looked away, pretending not to have been watching, but it was no doubt too late. When she looked back out of the corner of her eye, Jonathan was gone, and Jess was making a round to the cake. She had a few words with Ray, then with Nadia, and in the end she came back with a beer for Mila.

"No thanks," the latter muttered. She had to drive home later. "What did you say to him? You didn't mention me, did you?"

"Of course I didn't," Jess said and took a swig of the beer.

"And you also didn't somehow let him believe that you asked on my behalf without mentioning my name, did you?"

Jess gave a laugh, but she didn't reply.

Mila sighed deeply. "Honestly, Jess!"

"But you weren't right."

"I don't really care."

"He isn't married."

"Don't care."

"But he is engaged."

"Still don't care."

"Ray, on the other hand," she continued, "is neither. He's as available as they get."

"Don't care about that, either." Mila rolled her eyes with a snort. "Why are you suddenly so keen on matching me with someone?"

"I'm not. I just don't want you to pine for the wrong guy for an eternity."

"So you go and suggest Ray?" Mila exclaimed a little louder than she meant to and couldn't help but give a small laugh. It was just ridiculous.

"Why not? He's good-looking, he's got a good job, he's easy to talk to..."

"Not only to talk to..." Mila mumbled and glanced at him. He was looking at her again, but this time it was probably her own fault for saying his name too loud.

"What would you know about that?" Jess asked with a chuckle and took another swig of her beer. "Have you actually..."

"Oh God, no! Of course I haven't!" Mila cut her off and rolled her eyes again. "Besides, I don't need anyone with a good job. I've already got one."

"But it wouldn't hurt to..."

"Besides - again - I don't need anyone at all. And, please, stop trying to set me up with someone."

Jess just gave another laugh and followed Mila back to her office. She shared it with Nadia, the other web designer, and the two of them got along really well. They both liked to keep to themselves, especially when they needed to focus on a project, and there was a reason why the two of them were alone in the smallest of the offices. Jess was in the office next to theirs with a bunch of other people. Graphic designers, programmers, telemarketers, and - at the bottom of that office - the IT technicians. The marketing consultants shared an office with the content writers, but since everyone knew a little of everything, and they usually worked in teams, people rarely kept to their own office for long, anyway. Except Mila and Nadia, whenever they could get away with it, and then of course Judy - their boss.

"When are you done for the day?" Jess asked outside Mila's office. "I wouldn't mind a ride home."

"Don't know. I'll probably be another couple of hours. I have a deadline, and Photoshop keeps crashing."

"Have you told Ray?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I just don't feel like it."

"Why? Because you like him?"

Oh God, here we go again!

"Which one is it? Do I like Jonathan or do I like Ray? You choose!"

"I'd say Ray, then. Can I be your bridesmaid?"

"For fuck's sake, Jess!" Mila sighed and rolled her eyes. She was not in the mood.

"No, but seriously. You have a deadline, Photoshop keeps crashing, and we have tech support in the house. What am I missing?"

"Alright, I'll ask."

"Good. You know, he really isn't that dangerous."

"Who isn't?" a voice said and they both looked up at Jonathan carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and a brown cardboard folder in the other. "I hope you're not talking about me?" He said the last part with a teasing smile, and Mila felt her cheeks turn pink. Whatever Jess had said to him back in the canteen, it would've had to do with her, and, unfortunately, he was not old enough to be likely to suffer from short term memory loss.

"It's just Ray," Mila said, before Jess had a chance to say anything to further embarrass her. "Photoshop keeps crashing, and I have a deadline tonight."

"The golf club?"

"Yeah."

Jonathan looked at his watch and nearly spilled his coffee, before he looked up at her again. "Okay, I'll have a look at it."

"You don't have to. I'll just ask Ray. I mean, if you're in a hurry..."

"I'm not that much in a hurry, and I'm pretty sure Ray's taken the rest of the day off."

"But we just saw him?"

"Yeah, and then he saw beer," Jonathan chuckled and beckoned for Mila to open the door to her office. His own hands were full.

"Oh." She pressed down the doorknob, hoping that Jess would follow, though she wasn't sure why. She might just embarrass her further.

"And you're sure you're not dangerous, either?" Jess asked with a flirtatious smile at Jonathan and made Mila roll her eyes behind his back.

"Positive," he replied with a small smile, and Mila didn't fail to notice the warning glance that Jess sent her, before she entered her office. Wait, did Jess have a crush on Jonathan? It would make sense. She talked about him a lot, and she did try to flirt with him just now. Huh. That wasn't exactly smart, if he was engaged. Oh well, it was none of Mila's business. And most likely Jess would've moved on to someone new within the end of the month, anyway.

.

Jonathan sat down by Mila's computer and tried a few passwords before he got in.

"How did you..." she trailed off. How did he know her password?

"I used to work in IT support." He glanced up at her. "You didn't know?"

"Must've been before I started working here."

"Probably. How long has it been?"

"10 months, more or less."

"Well, it's been a few years since I worked in IT, so I guess you're excused."

He gave her a small smile and then looked at the screen again, typing and opening the command prompt. Mila had no idea what he was doing, except he was typing some sort of code or commands rather fast. "Apparently, they haven't changed the admin passwords since then. You have tried restarting, right?"

Mila chuckled and smiled to herself. Of course she had. "Yeah. At least 20 times."

"Today?" Jonathan looked up. "Why didn't you ask for help sooner?"

"Because..." Yeah, why didn't she? "I guess I just...don't really feel like asking Ray for help. And Cameron isn't here."

Jonathan stopped typing and turned in the chair to face her. "It may be none of my business, but has Ray been bothering you?"

"No, it's not like that," Mila replied and wished he would just get on with fixing her computer.

"Oh." He focused on the screen again and smiled to himself as if something dawned on him. "Sorry, I shouldn't have asked."

Oh God, no! It wasn't like that, either. But she couldn't really tell him that. It would only add to the awkwardness that Jess had already caused.

"Will you be able to fix Photoshop?" she tried instead.

"Already done," he said with a smile and double clicked on the Photoshop icon.

"Just like that?"

"Just like that." He got up and beckoned for her to take a seat.

"Thanks." She sat down, not really sure if she believed him.

"No problem."

Mila opened her current project, and Jonathan kept looking over her shoulder.

"That looks really decent," he said and took Nadia's chair to sit down next to Mila. Then he took his cup of coffee and clearly made himself comfortable. "Talk me through it, please?"

"Ehm... My deadline's at six, so..."

"Yeah, can you keep a secret?"

"Uh..."

"That's just my deadline. And you're officially excused if you don't make it."

"They don't need it tonight?"

"I always spend a couple of days going over everything before pitching it to the client." Jonathan looked at her as if he thought she was being a bit silly. "Besides, I would've asked you about it on Monday, anyway, so..."

"Yeah, but..."

"Just tell me about it."

"Okay, but you know it's just the first draft?"

Jonathan chuckled before he replied. "I know it's just the first draft."

"Alright, then. Colour scheme first?"

She glanced at him, and he just gave her a nod and what seemed to be an amused smile, before he took a sip of his coffee. Then it dawned on her that the colour scheme had no doubt been approved by him before it had reached her in the first place. Well, at least he was kind enough not to make her feel more stupid than she already did.