Authors: Kathleen Long
Tags: #Romantic Comedy, #humor, #contemporary romance, #kathleen long
Moments later, out in the hall, he checked his pant cuff as he headed for his office. Fortunately, the offensive little fur ball hadn’t damaged the fabric.
. He shuddered. He supposed there were worse things one could be called. Now that Kitty Worthington had come on board, he had only to hire an extra planner.
He glanced down at his wristwatch, realizing he was ten minutes late for the interview. He
to be late. Shaking his head, he searched his memory for the name of the interviewee. Ah, yes. Beatrice Love.
All of the firm’s planners had been booked solid with repeat clients. He’d been too late to place an ad in this week’s classifieds for a new coordinator, but previous listings for creative staff had produced Miss Love’s resume. Her work history showed promise, boasting skills that lent themselves to event planning.
Certainly the woman could handle a dog show, even one as large as The Worthington Cup. After all, the major arrangements were in place. She only needed to be competent enough to finesse the details and keep things running smoothly. How difficult could it be?
Bunny’s breath caught as Nathan McNulty entered the room. The man oozed raw, vital energy.
He shook her hand, and she gulped down a calming breath. If she had half a brain, she’d excuse herself now. This man and this firm were way out of her league. What had she been thinking?
Maybe she could ask her parents for money. She’d taken over their apartment when they’d retired to Florida, and even though they’d always predicted she wouldn’t be able to afford the rent, she’d scraped by.
Bunny flinched. There was no way she’d give them the satisfaction of asking for help with a mortgage. She straightened determinedly. The time had come to land a real job and prove just how self-sufficient she was.
“Your resume speaks of varied experience,” Nathan McNulty said as he sank into his chair. “I’d like to discuss the position of event coordinator with you.”
Bunny fought to keep her jaw snapped shut. The man had barely sat down before he’d spoken the words. Sureness sparked from his dark brown eyes. His strong, square jaw sat firm and masculine.
“I responded to your ad for a graphic designer,” she stammered. “Not event planner.”
The leather chair creaked as he settled against its back. “Your resume is impressive and I need an event coordinator. Immediately.” He shrugged one broad shoulder. “Match made in heaven.”
Her heart began a steady rapping against her ribs.
The elegant man drummed his fingers on the desktop. “You’re organized, correct?”
Bunny’s thoughts raced. A vision of her warm, creative apartment flashed through her mind. Perfect colors. Perfect accessories. Perfect aromas. “Yes.” She gazed into his expectant eyes. “I’m very organized.”
“And have you ever planned anything? Anything at all?”
She frantically searched her mind, spewing forth the first thing she managed to pry from her panicked brain. “My nephew’s seventh birthday party.”
“Big, complicated affair? Lots of planning?” One dark, handsome brow arched.
Bunny shook her head.
“Medium sized? Challenging?” The dark brows met in a hopeful peak.
She continued to shake her head, fighting to maintain her composure. Between the line of questioning and the heat emanating from the man’s eyes, she was about to melt into a puddle on the gray carpet.
McNulty leaned forward, steepling his fingers. “What size was it?”
“Immediate family only, sir.”
“And how many is that?”
“Six, Mr. McNulty.”
“Six,” he repeated. He drummed his fingers again then pursed his lips.
Bunny’s breath caught in her throat. She tried to swallow but her parched mouth bore a sudden resemblance to the Sahara. The man exuded some serious cosmic energy. She mentally chastised herself.
Focus on the interview, Bunny
“I’ve brought my portfolio,” she offered. “Would you like to review my work?” She pulled the leather case from where it leaned against her chair, sliding the folder of work across the desk. “As you’ll see, these are samples of the collateral pieces I’ve done.”
“But no event planning.” McNulty’s otherwise full lips pressed into a slim line. Bunny tried not to stare at the small dimple peeking out from one cheek. How could she notice a dimple at a time like this?
Nate met her gaze and sighed.
Bunny steeled herself. Focus.
. “I need this job, Mr. McNulty. I’m a quick learner and I won’t disappoint you. If there were someone who could point me in the right direction with the...event planning, I’m sure I could master the necessary skills.”
. Even she believed what she’d said.
Bunny watched as he flipped through her portfolio, his head bent low, expression serious and intent.
“Perhaps you’d like to review my references? There’s a printed list in the pocket of the portfolio.” She pointed toward the back of the leather case. McNulty slowly raised his dark eyes to meet hers.
Her heart gave a jolt. Hot, sultry fire burned in the man’s gaze, yet he seemed totally unaware of its impact. A woman could lose herself in the depths of those eyes. And how.
“I’ve already checked references based on your resume, Miss Love. They were all excellent.”
“Beatrice,” she said. “If you’d please.”
“Very well, Beatrice.” He closed the portfolio and slid it back to her side of the desktop. “How soon would you be able to start?”
“How soon would the job require me to start?”
“Tomorrow morning at eight.”
“Tomorrow?” Bunny’s mouth gaped open, but she quickly snapped it shut. How in the heck would she ever...“Tomorrow’s perfect, sir.”
“It’s not necessary for you to call me sir.” He stood and shook her hand. “Mr. McNulty is fine.”
Bunny stifled a laugh. How could someone with such a gorgeous life force be so uptight?
“I’m assigning you to our newest event. I’ll work along with you until you get the hang of things.”
Her stomach flip-flopped at the thought. “I’d be honored, Mr. McNulty.”
He turned to push his chair under his desk, but froze when his gaze landed on the rearranged photo frames.
Bunny swallowed down the lump in her throat. Uh oh. Maybe the feng shui could have waited.
McNulty shot a suspicious glance at her over his shoulder.
“Something wrong, sir?”
“Apparently someone rearranged my family photos.” He methodically straightened the frames as he spoke, returning them to the exact positions they’d held previously. “Perhaps that someone didn’t realize they were arranged as I prefer them. Nice and neat.”
Bunny’s heart resumed its steady drumming against her ribs. Oh, please. She couldn’t have blown the job with her love of chi, could she?
Keep your mouth shut. Don’t explain. Just keep...
“It creates positive chi, Mr. McNulty.”
McNulty frowned, his gaze penetrating and deep. “Chi?”
“Positive energy.” She straightened, struggling to sound confident. “The slightest change can shift or create energy in a space.”
He ran a hand carelessly through his hair, leaving the silky chestnut strands standing on end. Uh oh. Hot, cosmic energy
rumpled. What a combination.
“My energy was fine as it was, Miss Love.”
. Bunny nodded, reaching for a soothing sip of tea. Heat flared in places it had no business flaring. It wasn’t possible to spontaneously combust, was it? She fumbled her cup, sending tea flying across the mahogany desk onto the spotless blotter.
“I’m so sorry.” She grabbed her napkin, frantically mopping at the puddle. She looked up in time to meet the deep, dark depths of Nathan McNulty’s gaze.
“No harm done, Miss Love.” His Adam’s apple bobbed in his throat. He winced as though the spill caused him pain. “We all knock things over occasionally.”
His musky aftershave tickled Bunny’s nose, sending her thoughts tumbling right back to the possibility of spontaneous combustion.
She chased the idea out of her mind. Where was her balance? Her focus? She didn’t have time for schoolgirl fantasies about Nathan McNulty. She had to make this job work and save her apartment.
Sheesh. She’d have to use every deep breathing trick in the book to pull off this one.
Nate fought the urge to slap his palm over the top of Beatrice Love’s hand. Her frenzied mopping motion had sent her...well...her entire body into an alluring wiggle. Unfortunately, the vantage point from his side of the desk was doing nothing to help his body’s warm response to the sight.
Instead it afforded a clear and enticing view of the soft swells of her breasts peeking from beneath her creamy jacket.
“Miss Love...er...Beatrice, the desk is quite dry.” He waved his hand in her general direction. “Stop that wiping.”
She raised her chin, exposing the inviting ivory flesh of her throat. He swallowed. Hard. “You’ve done enough.”
“But the wood-”
He closed his hand over hers. “Stop...now.”
Her lips parted and her pale eyes widened, their exotic blue color hypnotizing him momentarily, like the crystal clear waters of a Caribbean sea. Bright red splotches blossomed on her cheeks. Had his touch done that? His gaze dropped to their joined hands. His brain fired off the signal to let go, but his body refused to cooperate.
“Sir?” Beatrice’s voice was nothing more than a whisper.
He met her startled look. How was it that her eyes had grown wider? And brighter? And bluer?
Nate released his grip, stepping away from the desk. “Sorry about that.”
Hold it together, man. Control
The woman straightened, smoothing the front of her jacket and skirt. “No problem.” She shook her reddish brown curls and spread her fingers in the air. “So, eight o’clock tomorrow?”
“Correct.” Nate’s husky voice sounded foreign to his ears.
Beatrice gathered her portfolio and fled, obviously flustered by their exchange. Nate tried to remember another time meeting a woman had affected him so, but couldn’t come up with a single instance.
Between her positive chi mumbo jumbo and the brilliance of her eyes, Beatrice Love had bewitched his senses. Worse yet, starting tomorrow he’d be presenting her to the world as his newest event coordinator.
If there was one thing Nate prided himself on, however, it was control. The thought calmed him.
. Certainly he’d be able to control his reactions to Beatrice Love. He was a McNulty, after all.
He poured a full glass of water from the pitcher on his credenza, yet chugging down the ice-cold liquid did nothing to chill the heat racing through every inch of his body.
Not good. He shook his head. Not good at all.
Bunny rushed into the hall, fighting the desire to unbutton her jacket.
. All that mopping had left her blood boiling. Was it hot in this office, or what? Oh, who was she kidding?
Nathan McNulty’s life force sizzled, whether he knew it or not. Bunny gazed down, shaking her head as she rounded the corner, running smack into Barbie. At least the woman looked like Barbie.
“Oh, my,” the life-sized doll murmured.
“I’m terribly sorry. My fault,” Bunny stammered. “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”
The woman waved a gloved hand dismissively. “It’s all right,” she chirped. “No harm done.”
Bunny flinched from the shine of her smile.
And her clothing
. The woman was a vision in cotton candy pink. Pink shoes. Pink suit. Pink purse. The ensemble complemented the gray surroundings beautifully, Bunny mused. Matter of fact, the woman exuded pink right down to, or rather, right up to her headband. Silky blond hair fell from the velvet accessory to the woman’s shoulders.
“Are you quite all right?” Barbie asked.
Bunny straightened her spine, wondering if all McNulty employees wore suits like the woman’s. It looked to be Chanel. Even if Bunny could find one, she’d never be able to afford the price tag. Was she nuts? She’d never pull off being an event planner. “I’m fine. You?”
Or pink. Bunny excused herself to continue her flight from the office. She had less than twenty-four hours to prepare for her first day at McNulty Events—under the guidance of Nathan McNulty. A shiver rippled up her spine.
What a girl wouldn’t do to save her apartment.
Nate pulled out his handkerchief to wipe his forehead. When had the office grown so warm? Someone needed to correct the thermostat setting. He loosened his tie.
A soft feminine cough jarred him from his fixation on the soaring office temperature.
“Are you quite all right, darling?”
He spun to find Melanie Brittingham standing just inside his office door. Today’s suit boasted a pale pink that corresponded perfectly with her handbag. Melanie’s shoulder-length hair hung like a polished waterfall of honey—so unlike Miss Love’s carefree curls.
“You’re terribly flushed, Nathan. Are you ill?”
? Bedazzled, perhaps, but not ill. He stepped around the desk, extending his arms. “No, I’m fine. Just a bit warm.”
They planted soft kisses on each other’s cheeks.
Melanie touched her gloved hand to his face. The supple leather brushed gently against his cheek.
“Are you sure I shouldn’t call a doctor?”
A doctor. No. A shrink? Maybe
He shook his head. “I’m fine. What time is our reservation?”
“Not until six,” Melanie said. “But I was hoping we could stop at Berman’s on our way to the club.”
. Nate bit down on his lip. Jewelry? Had he missed an anniversary? Highly unlikely.
A slow smile tugged at the corner of Melanie’s pink lips. “You look like a deer caught in the headlights, Nathan. I need to check on Mother’s ring, nothing more. Although we should discuss an engagement ring for the holidays this year.”