Authors: Tiffany Snow
No Turning Back
By Tiffany A. Snow
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
No Turning Back
Copyright ©2011 by Tiffany Snow
Cover Design by Tiffany Snow
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means – except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews – without written permission.
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Thank you to Nikki for her encouragement and tireless editing, suggestions and feedback. Your work helped make this a better book in many, many ways. Thanks for sticking with me.
Thank you to Zoi Juvris for her willingness to lend her expertise to help a novice and near stranger. Your kindness was much appreciated.
And lastly, thank you to Rush, who taught me that my only limitations were my own talent and those limits which I placed on myself.
This book is dedicated to Tim,
my husband and best friend.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Planting your face in someone's lap usually isn't considered the best way to begin a new job. Well, maybe some jobs, but not this job. I was a Runner at the prestigious Indianapolis law firm of Gage, Kirk and Trent, a position that occupied a rung right above Mail Girl but below Copy Boy. Unfortunately, that position currently had me face down in the lap of the aforementioned Kirk of said prestigious law firm.
Blane Kirk was a partner and second-in-charge in the firm. In his early to mid-thirties, he was a rich, blue-blooded type and had the looks to match - tall, dirty blond hair, green eyes, perfectly even, perfectly white teeth. A small dimple appeared when he smiled. That dimple was nowhere in evidence at this particular moment.
I remembered with vivid clarity the phone call I’d had with Clarice, Blane’s secretary, not ten minutes ago.
“Can you please get the Kimmerson file off my desk and take it to Blane?” she asked. “I’m trapped in traffic and he texted me that he needed it right away.”
“Sure, no problem.”
I did as she requested, retrieved the file and took it to the conference room on the third floor.
When I walked into the room, everyone immediately turned to look. My hands got sweaty and my face flushed at being the center of attention. There were about a dozen people there, all men, of course. If that wasn't bad enough, Blane was the furthest away from the door at the far end of the conference table. I headed straight for him, the sound of my heels muffled on the carpet, and everyone returned to their discussions which my entrance had interrupted. I breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, that relief was premature.
I was a couple feet from Blane when my heel caught on the carpet. The papers I had in my hand went flying and I landed face first in Blane's lap, like an overeager dog sniffing hello.
His hands gripped my shoulders like a vice as he tried to pry me off. In my scramble to right myself, my hand landed somewhere it shouldn't and Blane grunted.
“Oops.” The words were desperately inadequate for the situation, but fell out of my mouth anyway.
My eyes flew up in a panic to meet his and I saw his jaw clench and his green eyes flash. Could this possibly get any worse?
I winced as his hands tightened on me. He was a strong guy and he quickly picked me up and removed me from his lap, standing and setting me back on my feet as well. I didn't dare look up to see what expression was on his face as I could imagine it just fine, thank you very much.
“So sorry,” I gasped out weakly, like a fish suffocating for air. Dropping abruptly to my knees like a marionette with it’s strings cut, I began crawling around on the floor gathering the mess.
The room was absolutely quiet. It had happened so quickly, I think everyone had been stunned into silence. Then I heard the sound of muffled laughter, quickly covered up by coughing and the clearing of throats. Papers shuffled around above me as I scooted around under the table, avoiding the men’s shoes and frantically grabbing sheets, heedless of how crumpled they were becoming as I shoved them into a pile.
I climbed clumsily to my feet, thrusting the papers, now a disordered and crumpled mess, at Blane. Mumbling another "Sorry," I beat a hasty retreat, watching the floor carefully as I escaped the room. As the door swung shut behind me, I heard one of the men say, "Now they're literally throwing themselves at you, Blane. What will they think of next?" This was followed by laughter and I squeezed my eyes shut in dismay as the door closed.
What a horrific ending to how excited I’d been at the prospect of being face to face with Blane for the first time since I’d started working at the firm. I’d been in silent awe of Blane Kirk since the first moment I’d laid eyes on him.
Lori, one of the paralegals, had showed me around on my first day at the firm. She was introducing me to a few of the other paralegals gathered around the coffee station, all female, when Blane walked by.
“God, I love to watch him move,” one of them sighed.
My eyes followed him down the hall and I silently agreed with her.
“Well, look your fill because that’s all you’re going to be getting,” another one shot back, to a round of laughs and sighs.
“Who was that?” I asked Lori, watching him disappear into the elevator.
“That was Blane Kirk,” Lori said. “He’s one of the partners and a real big shot in this town. Rich, smart, and absolutely divine.”
“And doesn’t he know it,” another girl said. I couldn’t remember her name.
“Maybe when he runs out of rich socialites to date, we’ll get a shot,” one of them offered.
“Right,” guffawed Lori. “He doesn’t date girls at work. Everyone knows that.”
It seemed that quite a majority of the women were enamored to some degree with Blane Kirk. But who could blame them? After all, what wasn’t to like? Blane was clever and well-educated, successful and ambitious, with a face that made women weak in the knees and a body that made their mouths water.
A man like him intimidated mere mortals like me so I avoided him, admiring from afar, and had never spoken to him until today. Ironic that the first words out of my mouth had to be an apology. I groaned quietly in embarrassment, wanting to bang my head on the solid oak paneled door at my back.
Hurrying back to my cube, I huddled with my head in my hands, wallowing temporarily in my misery. My phone rang and I saw it was Clarice calling from upstairs. She and I had gotten to know each other since I’d been at the firm and had hit it off right away even though she was several years older than me.
“Hey, Clarice,” I greeted her with false gaiety.
“Morning, Kathleen,” she replied. “Thanks so much for helping me out. Did you find the files and take them to Blane for me?”
Yes, I certainly had.
“Um, yeah, I guess,” I said weakly.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Did everything go all right?”
“Uh, well,” I hesitated. “I kind of tripped and...landed...on Blane. In a rather...unfortunate position.”
She gasped, then I heard a snort of laughter.
“So not funny, Clarice,” I warned her.
She tried to quell her giggles. “I know, I know! It’s just the image...of you-” Her thought was cut off by laughter and I waited in sour silence for her to finish.
“The look on his face had to have been priceless,” she finally sputtered.
“I tried not to notice,” I said dryly. Although I was still embarrassed, I could see the humor in it and a huff of my own laughter escaped.
I may have been able to laugh with Clarice, but that didn’t mean I wanted to be within ten feet of Blane Kirk at any point in the foreseeable future.
To my horror, later that morning I saw him heading down the hallway to Diane’s office. Diane Greene was the formidable office manager and my direct boss. Had Blane come to get me fired?
I listened intently from my cube as he gave her instructions on something he wanted and files he needed her to prepare, hoping beyond hope he wouldn't tell her what had happened. My heart sank when he asked, "Who’s the new girl?"
"You mean the new runner?" Diane asked. "Her name is Kathleen."
That's me – Kathleen Turner. And no, I’m not THAT Kathleen Turner. Consider it a family joke. My dad's name was Ted Turner, my grandma was Tina Turner. My parents were just carrying on the tradition when I came along.
"Why?" Diane continued. "Is there a problem?"
I held my breath. It had only been a month, but no matter how nice I was to Diane, I couldn’t get on her good side. Somehow I didn’t think it would take much for her to fire me, and I needed this job.
"You could say that,” he replied, and I winced at the irritation in his voice. “Where is she?”
Oh God. I panicked when I heard Diane tell him where my cube was. This could not be happening to me. What was I supposed to say? What if he thought I’d done that on purpose? I'd have to get a new job because I'd be too mortified to work here any longer.
Tossing aside my pride, that ship had sailed, as well as the thought that perhaps I might be acting more like a twelve-year old rather than a mature twenty-four, I dived underneath my desk, and not a moment too soon. I saw Blane’s shoes as he stepped into my cube. I held my breath, waiting. I noticed he wore really nice, leather shoes. They were big. A thought flashed through my mind about something I’d once heard about the size of a man’s feet was in direct proportion to the size of his-
I cut that thought off, squeezing my eyes shut in mortification. That was not an appropriate thought to be having about a partner in the firm, no matter how attractive he was. When I opened my eyes, I saw he had finally turned and walked away. I heaved a sigh of relief before climbing out.
Over the next several months, I stayed true to my word - I didn't let Blane Kirk lay eyes on me more than a handful of times. My job seemed secure and I breathed more easily.
Today as I got ready for work, I was grateful it was Friday. I worked two jobs to help make ends meet, tending bar several nights a week. Not really what I’d envisioned for myself at this point in my life, but I'd much rather be doing this than a lot of other minimum wage jobs.
I didn't have to work tonight, but I did last night and had not gotten to bed until after one. Those nights always made it hard to get up for my day job, where I got to do all the jobs no one else wanted to do. File documents at the court house? Have the runner do it. Get coffee from Starbucks for the staff meeting? Send the runner. Carl in Accounting needs a lift into the office because he totaled his car again? Kathleen can pick him up.
I grabbed my coffee and headed out the door. I lived on the top floor of my two-story apartment building. It wasn't in the greatest part of town, but I hadn't had any problems. It was a gorgeous October morning, the sun shining brightly with a chill in the air. I was glad I'd added a jacket before leaving. I jogged down the stairs, running into my neighbor on the way.
"Morning, Sheila," I said, smiling at her. Sheila often came home in the early morning hours. She was about my age, but her life was drastically different. Sheila worked as a high-priced call girl. Her plan was to work until she had enough money to put herself through medical school and then quit.