Authors: Elle Casey
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #Contemporary Women, #Humorous, #Sagas
I follow behind her as she approaches a reception desk. Surprisingly, there’s someone working, even though it’s almost six in the evening. Talk about dedication. Or does this mean William is a hard ass? The sweating has started again. Deodorant, don’t fail me now.
“Is William in?” Ingrid says.
I was about to ask the same thing, but instead I shut my mouth and back up. I’ll just let Miss Bossypants have her turn first. I’m a little too early, anyway.
“Do you have an appointment?” the young girl asks sweetly. I think it’s genuine niceness not saccharine flavoring her voice.
“I don’t need one. Tell him I’m here and I need to see him. Privately.”
“Can I get your name, please?” Some of the sugar is missing this time.
It’s very difficult not to laugh. Ingrid’s acting like she’s all that, but this girl doesn’t even know who she is. And I don’t think it’s because this girl is new. Ingrid’s posture is too ramrod straight for that to be the case. She’s pissed. I decide to leave my buttons alone.
“Just one moment please.”
I find a seat while the receptionist makes her call. Pretending to flip through a magazine, I try not to let Ingrid catch me looking up at her. She’s still standing in the same place, glaring at the receptionist.
My spying routine is interrupted when a redhead comes out through a door separating the waiting area from the offices. “Ms. Moorehouse?”
I stand. “Yes, that’s me.”
“Follow me, please.”
“Excuse me, but I’m waiting for William as well.” Ingrid steps over and blocks my path.
The redhead glares at her. “Ingrid, I believe I mentioned before that in order to see Mr. Stratford, you must have an appointment. You didn’t call to get one, so I’m afraid that he has no time for you right now. He’s busy.”
My mouth forms into a big O as I stare from one woman to the other. I quickly push my lips together when I realize I look like a total nut job. But, man … I am so glad I’m not Ingrid.
goes the insult. She sure put Ingrid in her place. And from the look on the redhead’s face, I think she really enjoyed it.
Ingrid’s tone is low and dangerous. “Remind William, please, of our dinner date this evening. I expect to see him at Max’s no later than eight p.m.”
Dinner date? Crap! I knew I should have done up those buttons when I had a chance.
The redhead gives her a courtesy smile. “I’ll be sure to do that.” She holds out a hand in my direction, intended to prompt me forward. “Ms. Moorehouse? You can follow me this way.”
I walk up and turn sideways to get past Ingrid. “Excuse me,” I say, making sure I’m not gloating. I don’t know this woman at all, really, but I can see why people enjoy pissing her off. She’s begging for it.
As soon as the door shuts behind us, the redhead blows out a loud gust of air. “Can you believe that woman? Nervy bitch.”
I bark out a laugh before I can stop myself.
“I probably shouldn’t have said that, but I couldn’t help it. She just gets on my very last nerve and then she wears it out.” Her pantyhose swish as she walks between some cubicles.
“I can see that. I’m sorry I kind of got in the middle there.”
“You weren’t in the middle.
was in the middle. And I’ll bet you a bag of Red Vines she doesn’t have a dinner date with him either.” She lowers her voice and turns to look at me over her shoulder. “He despises her.”
Unfortunately, William’s assistant or whoever she is has a small problem with walking, talking, and not looking where she’s going. Before I can call out for her to watch out, she’s run into the side of a cubicle and knocked over a stack of paper trays that were stuck to the side on hangers. She tries to rescue them but ends up getting tangled instead.
I start talking before I can think straight. “Oh my … holy shi … p … can I help you?” I hold my free hand out, trying to stop the cascade of awful from completing its cycle, but it’s not going to help. She’s doomed. The clatter she’s making is embarrassingly loud.
“Dammit! This is the third time this has happened!” She has a handful of hair in her grip and is trying to free it from a piece of metal that was sticking out of the top of the cubicle. There’s a metal basket hanging on the other side of the clip.
I stand there watching in silence. I’ve never seen anything like it before. What a catastrophe. I’m not even sure how it happened, she’s so completely stuck.
His voice catches me by surprise and I jump a little at the sound of it.
William is standing across the room, looking at me. He’s wearing a suit and as trim and gorgeous as I’ve ever seen him. My heartbeat goes into overdrive and my flight or fight instinct flicks on.
Run far and fast before you make a fool of yourself! The most eligible bachelor in the city is staring at you!
No one else is around, just him, me, and the woman wrestling with the paper trays, but I feel like the world is watching.
“Won’t you follow me?” he says, turning and going in the opposite direction. He’s so completely cool and unaffected it nearly blows my mind. I am such a weirdo, falling apart over nothing. I really need to get a grip on myself.
I’m torn. I want to go, but I can’t leave this poor girl on her own. I’m almost grateful that she’s in such a mess. At least I can take a few seconds to help her and get my head on straight in the meantime. When I reach out to assist, she waves me off.
“Go, go, don’t worry about me. I’ve dealt with this before. These are attack-trays. They get me every time.”
“Um. Okay. Are you sure?” I glance over at William. His back is rapidly disappearing down a hall on the far side of the open space. I still have the instinct to run, but now it’s in his direction instead of out of the office. I don’t want to lose this opportunity for anything. So what if he’s gorgeous? I’ve seen him naked. I can handle him. I’m either on the edge of greatness or doom, and at this point I just want to find out which one it is and get it over with. No more acting like a dork. No more being a wienie.
“Yes, yes, go. I’ll be fine. Just hand me those scissors over there.”
I look at her mass of gorgeous hair and know that I cannot let her do what I think she’s going to do, even if it does mean William will think I’m an idiot. Putting my briefcase down on the floor, I step over to the other side of the cubicle. “Let me help you.”
“Oh my god, no, just go!” She’s embarrassed.
“Shush, I can help you in two seconds. Just sit still. You’re tangling it worse.”
“I’ll just cut it out, it’s no big deal.” She’s laughing nervously.
“No way can I let you cut your beautiful hair. Just … one … more … second.” I untwist the hunk that was holding her captive and only have to break a couple of pieces in the process. At least it’s not a whole chunk of hair missing. “There. That’s better.” I pat her jutting-out fluff of hair awkwardly, trying to push it back in to be with the mass of curls it escaped from.
She slowly stands and touches her head all over. “You saved me.” Then she smiles really big, her hair still sticking out. I don’t think she could be any cuter if she tried. “And you said my hair is beautiful, too.”
I smile back. “Of course I did. Because it is. Don’t you ever cut yourself out of a mess again. Just find a friend.”
She stares at me strangely and then without warning, leaps to cover the distance between us and hugs me. “You’re going to make him so happy.”
I stand there stock still, waiting for the embrace to be over and wondering what the hell she’s talking about. “Thank you. I think.” She’s the strangest assistant I’ve ever encountered, and I cannot figure out how it is that she and William are even working in the same building. They’re a totally odd boss-employee couple. Either that or he’s way goofier than I imagined.
“Miss Meechum, if you could release your captive, I would be most appreciative.” William is speaking from across the room, waiting in the hallway with an irritated expression.
She steps away and picks up my bag, handing it to me. “Good luck.”
“Thank you.” I leave quickly, afraid I’m about to be hugged again. It’s not that I mind a hug or couldn’t use one, but I need to get this over with. My nerves were already frazzled before I got here, and then with Ingrid out there ready to raise hell, it just got worse. Now that the hair emergency is over, I’m back to being freaked out. So much for being a powerful, assertive woman.
The carpet on the floor muffles the sound of my heels, which is no small thing. I decided to go with the highest ones in my closet, not too proud to use my calves to help me close this deal. I burn with the idea that I’ve also unbuttoned my top an extra inch and didn’t have time to button back up again. It’s a big gamble. Will he think I’m a ho, trying to seduce him into working with me? I guess I kind of am in a way. But hey, I’m desperate. And I’ve had crazy awesome sex with him twice, so covering up too conservatively would be silly.
, I have no idea what I’m doing. And now I’m walking right behind him as he enters the conference room. Too late to turn back now.
NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU sweat. My father taught me that delightful American expression when I left home for university, and it’s never failed me yet. I remove my jacket as soon as we’re in the conference room so as to make that particular goal easier to attain. I was growing quite warm just imagining Jennifer coming into my world here at the office, but now that she is present I find myself nearly ablaze with unspent desire.
Why did I think she was beautiful before? I was ever so wrong about that. Compared to how she looks right now in her figure-clinging skirt and those extremely high heels, she was but passably fine then. I can see her curves and her cleavage from across the room. I want to suffocate myself in her breasts. Is that wrong of me to think that? Would she despise me if she knew?
“Where would you like me?” she asks.
I nearly choke on my answer.
Well, Jennifer, if you really must know, I’d like you under me … or perhaps, in front of me bent over … no, wait … how about down on your knees in front of my rock-hard cock.
Those are my silent answers, the callous, heartless, souless answers John Thomas thrusts to the fore of my mind. It’s not all I have to say on the matter, but it’s the most primal and strongest urge I have at the particular moment that is ruling my senses.
The answer she hears, however, is much more civilized. Thankfully, my brain is still in control of my mouth. “Anywhere you like. Wherever you’re most comfortable. I can move the projector to suit you.”
I’m trying not to sear her skin with my stares, but it’s nearly impossible to look anywhere but at her. She moves with a certain grace, a careless elegance that women around the world try to feign but most never get quite right. Her hair, thickly draped over her shoulder in soft waves, shifts to slide towards her chest. A curl nestles between her breasts for a moment before she flicks it away. A few pieces of hair stick to her skin, remaining there because her neck is moist. Could it be that she’s as nervous as I am?
I walk over to the door and close it, turning the air temperature down while I'm there. Loosening my tie does very little to help my situation. Taking a seat across the table from her, I wait as she busies herself with whatever it is she’s brought in her attaché case.
“I have a thumb drive in here somewhere.” She presses some hair behind her ear, but it falls right back down again to hang below her face as she leans over to stare farther into her belongings. I can see right down into her blouse from where I’m sitting.
I close my eyes and breathe in slowly and carefully.
Easy, man. Control yourself.
“Is everything okay?” she asks.
I open my lids to find her staring at me. “Quite all right, thank you for asking.”
She continues to look in her bag and then grimaces as her movements cease. “I can’t believe I actually did that.”
“Did what?” Could she be speaking of our tryst? I certainly hope not. She most definitely regrets the thing to which she’s referring, I can tell by her pained expression.
“Left my thumb drive in my computer at home.”
I blink a few times in relief. “Right. Well. You can do it from memory, I suppose.”
“It’s too late for me to go get it and come back.” She looks as if she’s about to cry.
I stand, suddenly nervous for her. All thoughts of her nakedness go out of my mind as I picture her dissolving in tears. Call rescue 911! Lady-tears on the horizon!
“It’s perfectly fine,” I say in the most soothing voice I know. Then I shift into casual dismissal. “I hate those bloody Powerpoints, anyway. I consider it a blessing in disguise, really, that you’ve had the forethought to abandon your project at home. Just proceed without it.” I wave her on. “Go on, then. Let’s hear it.”
She just stares at me.
I fiddle with my tie. “What is it?” I look down at my chest, praying I don’t have a bit of chicken salad left there from my late lunch. With all the hacking and cracking Rachel and I were doing, I ended up eating in. Too bad her results were less than what I had hoped for. Still, all is not lost. Rachel, or rather, Miss Meechum, assures me she has a plan.
“Nothing,” Jennifer says. “I just … you’re making me feel a lot less nervous.”
I leave the tie and lower my hands to the table. “You’re nervous?”
She smiles, and it’s as if the sun has come out for me to bask in its glory. She really is the most stunning creature.
“Of course I’m nervous,” she says. “Wouldn’t you be?”
I can see that she regrets the words the moment they leave her mouth. It’s a loaded question, there’s no doubt about that, but I’m not going to let her escape it. Now that I know she’s as affected as I am by the energy between us, I’m not going to allow the opportunity to connect with her again slip away.
“Well, perhaps I would be, yes. Tell me, though, what exactly are
Her face turns a delightful shade of pink. And then it shifts to a deep red. Even her chest favors the color of a very ripe peach.