Authors: Mia Carson
I grinned. “Nope. I’m all yours Saturday morning.”
After lunch, I left Scott’s office so he could finish some graphics for our latest action flick, which featured none other than Keith himself. Following a long meeting with a new director who was about to start shooting a suspenseful, mystery action film on location in Rio, I headed up to my office on the top floor to check on my Lexi-plan.
I swiveled around in my high-backed leather desk chair to gaze out the wall-length window that overlooked the bustle of Hollywood Boulevard. Our office was about fifteen miles from the ocean, which allowed me to also see the glimmer of the Pacific in the distance. I pressed the number for our Human Resources department on my phone and waited.
“Hey, Judith, did you speak with Ms. Montgomery yet?” I paused and listened to her response as my pulse quickened. I sat up straighter as a big smile spread across my face and said, “Really? That’s great, then. Tomorrow at three. Thanks, Judith.”
As soon as I hung up, I pumped my fist and let out a triumphant “Yessss.” My plan was in motion. Time for phase two: Hire Lexi as my personal assistant.
“Here, let’s put it up in a professional bun.” Beth fiddled with my hair Tuesday after we’d finished cleaning. I was about to leave the cleaning job to go straight to the interview at Huntington Productions. The house we’d finished cleaning was on the shore of Santa Monica beach, a fifteen-minute drive to Hollywood Boulevard, where the company was located.
I’d used the downstairs guest bathroom at the huge beach house to change into my interview outfit since the owners wouldn’t be home until the evening. I surveyed my ensemble in the full-length mirror as Beth pinned my dark hair up into a tidy bun. I’d bought this outfit, which was my one and only interview outfit, at a Macy’s sale just before I’d graduated. It consisted of basic black pumps with a two-inch heel, a black, knee-length pencil skirt with a matching suit jacket, and today I paired it with a dark green button-down shirt. To add a little artistic flair, I wore dangling silver earrings in the shape of a peacock feather with little blue and emerald gemstones embedded into the design.
“There; you look perfect.” Beth beamed at me as she stepped back to look at my reflection. She was in her late forties but looked good for her age with long, slightly graying red hair, a sweet round face, and a slightly plump, curvy figure. Her green eyes sparkled at me, full of pride—like a mother.
“Thanks, Beth.” I turned and hugged her. “I’m nervous, but I have a good feeling about this. Don’t worry, though,” I added as we walked out to the driveway, “we’ll still hang out even if I get to quit cleaning, I promise.”
She shook a finger at me and smiled. “I’ll hold you to that, young lady. And good luck. Knock ’em dead.” She grinned as she climbed into the cleaning van.
“Bye, Beth. I’ll text you to let you know how it goes. See you tomorrow afternoon for that Beverly Hills house.” Once she’d driven off, I got into my old sedan and looked at the address again. I didn’t need to put it in my phone’s GPS because it was on Hollywood Boulevard. I could definitely find it on my own.
Twenty minutes later, at ten minutes before three, I pulled into a metered street-parking spot on a side road, one block from the address. After I fed the meter all my spare change, I walked around the corner and down the block to the front door of Huntington Productions. My pulse raced as I paused before the glass doors and wiped my sweaty palms discreetly on my suit jacket.
Okay, Lexi, this is it. You totally got this,
I reassured myself. I clutched the strap of my black shoulder bag, which had a copy of my resume and references just in case, and I strode through the doors with the best confident walk I could manage. The man at the front desk had me sign in and directed me to take the elevators up to the third floor.
As I walked down the long hall on the third floor to Judith’s office, heels clicking with each step, I peeked into several open rooms. There was a conference room with a long table and a projector screen for presentations, a room stacked with what looked like film crew equipment and props, and one room with several people who sat on stools at drawing desks as they beavered away with colored pencils.
I could feel the process of creation filling the air in this building, and a surge of excited tingles shot up and down my spine. People worked together in all kinds of departments—film crew, makeup, set design, casting, and more—and they were all coming together to bring stories and characters to life. I was buzzing with the thought of becoming a part of it.
Moments later, I was at the Human Resources desk, where I asked for Judith Levy. The person I’d work for if I got this job was in an unexpected business meeting he couldn’t get out of, or so the receptionist told me. Judith hurried out, ushered me back to her office, and shut the door. She was a middle-aged woman with brown hair and thick, artsy glasses.
After she gave me a curious once-over, Judith gestured for me to sit in one of the chairs facing her desk as she sat down herself. “So, Ms. Montgomery, tell me about yourself and why you think you’re a good fit for this position.”
Ugh. I hated vague questions, but luckily, I’d been on enough interviews that I had good answers ready. After ten minutes, during which I’d explained my background, my solid organizational skills, and how I loved screenwriting as well as the movie production process, Judith handed me a sheet of paper that detailed the personal assistant position I was interviewing for.
She explained the benefits and everything, but I only half heard her because my eyes stared in shock at the figures on the paper. The salary alone was way beyond anything I’d dreamed of making at an entry-level position—triple what I’d make in a week if I worked all day, every day, at the cleaning company. On top of that were four weeks of paid vacation every year, full medical insurance coverage, quarterly bonuses each year, and fully paid business trips anywhere necessary, world-wide. All I had to do was assist the company’s owner, whose name I still didn’t know, and do anything from fetching him coffee to keeping minutes at board meetings, or even helping to oversee film shoots.
My mind reeled with the prospect of such an incredible position, which was both in the exact field I wanted and had a more amazing salary, benefits, and perks than I could have ever dreamt. This position was the whole package.
“So, does all that sound good? Did you have any questions about the position or the benefits and salary?”
Judith’s voice brought me back into focus.
Questions? How about ‘when can I start?’
“Um, can I put my family on the medical plan—my dad and brother?” I asked hesitantly. A family medical plan was probably just for spouses and children.
She looked over the rim of her glasses at me for a moment. “I think that could be arranged, but let me check first. I think Mr. Huntington will be out of the meeting soon. Is there anything else you’d like me to ask him?”
I blinked in surprise. I could have Dad and Sean under this top-notch medical insurance, and Dad could possibly see a top M.S. neurologist? And she was about to catch this Mr. Huntington at the end of his board meeting just to ask? I was almost speechless, but I managed, “Oh, no more questions. Thanks.”
As I waited for Judith to return, I read and re-read the offer and position details on the page in front of me, disbelief strong in my heart. It was almost too good to be true. My eyes lingered on the company’s name and logo printed at the top of the page.
… Was that the name of someone I knew? I must have seen it somewhere else, maybe in all those online job listings somewhere.
Five minutes passed before the door clicked open again and Judith walked back to sit in her chair. I waited nervously as she clasped her hands in front of her on the desk and leaned forward with a smile. “Well, Ms. Montgomery, I’m happy to say that Mr. Huntington said you can definitely have your dad and brother on our family medical plan.” I opened my mouth to respond, but she continued. “And I’m pleased to say that I told him about our interview, and he wants to extend the offer to you. If you accept, can you start tomorrow?”
I couldn’t help it. My jaw dropped.
What did she just say?
Tingles of excitement and anticipation flooded my system, and I was rendered utterly speechless. Judith looked at me, a smirk on her mouth as she awaited my response. After a moment, I started to nod slowly. “I… um, yeah. I mean… Yes, I’d like to accept the offer, thank you. I need to tell my current employer and finish a few jobs I’ve already committed to. Can I start Friday instead?”
I heard myself speak these words, but my mind raced to catch up. I’d just been offered a job at a huge production company, working directly for the owner. How easy would it be to slip him some screenplays? It was perfect.
“Excellent, Ms. Montgomery. I’ll have your contract drawn up and delivered to your apartment by tomorrow afternoon. Welcome aboard.”
We bid each other goodbye, and I walked back down the hallway towards the elevators in a daze. I pressed the down button and waited for the elevator as my head swam. I tried to grasp what had just happened—that I actually had a job at a big film production company, one with amazing pay, benefits, and extras—but it was hard to process so quickly. A ding sounded as the elevator doors opened, and I saw someone inside coming down from a higher floor.
When I realized who it was, all the blood drained instantly from my face, and a surge of both pleasurable electricity as well as a shocked anger flooded through my body. Braden.
I stood there against the back elevator wall and blinked with surprise as a heated tingle ran from my stomach to my scalp. Lexi stood there and stared at me as if she’d been hit by a freight train. Her intense green eyes—wide and framed by long black lashes—held a mixture of emotions.
I could see the shock and the anger flash across her expression, but there was also a strong physical attraction that caused her to be highly flustered. The blush in her pale cheeks wasn’t just from anger; I could tell. After years of being around and flirting with all kinds of women, I knew the difference. Lexi had an innocence about her, which was one of the things that attracted me to her in the first place. I could sense she wasn’t as experienced, or as jaded, as most women I’d met. Lexi had a pureness about her that was beautiful and alluring.
“Hi,” I said finally as I put my hand out to stop the elevator door from closing. She stood immobile for several long moments, frozen to the spot. “Going down?” I asked simply, not sure what else to say. I hadn’t planned on seeing Lexi until she actually started working as my assistant.
Knowing what to say at a club to the typical Hollywood blonde woman in a slinky dress came easily to me, but knowing what to say to this gorgeous, down-to-earth, and currently very angry young lady was much harder. I felt flustered myself, which was new for me.
Lexi finally woke out of her shocked daze, gave me a death glare, and walked into the elevator to stand against the farthest wall from me. I snuck a brief once-over of her outfit, noting how snugly the black skirt hugged her curvy hips and how the tailored suit clung nicely to the lines of her full chest. A fresh wave of heat washed through my veins, pooling between my hips. The sound of Lexi clearing her throat made my eyes dart back up and lock onto her crystal-green ones. She had a dark eyebrow raised and her arms crossed over her chest.
“So, you’re Braden, if memory serves.”
Shit. Of course she remembered. I’d half-hoped she’d forgotten me so we could start fresh, but that wouldn’t have been a very honest way to start a relationship. Besides, I wanted a chance to apologize for my behavior last winter. The question was, should I get that out in the open right away, or ease into it as we worked together—if she didn’t bolt once she knew Mr. Huntington and I were one and the same, that is, and that she’d be my assistant. I decided to jump right in.
I held out a hand, smiled, and said, “Good memory. I’m Braden—Braden Huntington. And you’re Alexandra Montgomery, or Lexi, if I remember correctly.” As she placed her hand tentatively in mine to shake it, I could see her process the information and felt her body stiffen when it dawned on her.
Before she could speak, I added, “Look, about that time we met at my house? I was horribly chauvinistic and, might I add, a pompous ass, and I wanted to apologize. It was extremely disrespectful, and you definitely deserve respect. I’m sorry, Lexi, truly.” I said all of this quickly as we rode down to the lobby and the doors opened.
Lexi had become frozen and speechless yet again. I gave her my most genuine smile and gestured for her to step out first as several people waited to get on. She pulled her startled eyes from me and stepped out, and I followed and said hello to my employees who passed to go into the elevator.
Lexi still didn’t say anything as she marched stiffly through the front doors, her mouth closed in a tight line. I followed her out after I held the door open from behind, and said, “Okay, I know it’s a bit of a surprise. Why don’t I walk with you to your car—where are you parked?”
Once we’d walked a few feet away from the front doors of Huntington Productions, Lexi stopped, pivoted on her foot to face me, and finally spoke. “A bit of a surprise?” She echoed my words, her eyes sparking with anger. “I just got my dream job only to find out I’ll be working with you. I… I’m quite unpleasantly shocked, to put it mildly.”