One Night With Her BossBy: Noelle Adams
Anne’s boss got into the office by 7:00 every morning, so she always tried to arrive by 6:45.
This morning, however, was one of those days when every outfit she put on looked frumpy. She normally thought she was a basically attractive person, but occasionally none of her clothes seemed to look good. So, after trying on half her closet, she settled for a pencil skirt she would have liked if it hadn’t made her ass look too big.
She had to wear something, and she was already running late.
It had already been a bad morning, and she felt even more out of sorts when she parked in her normal spot in the parking garage and saw Jake’s black SUV already parked two spots over.
It didn’t matter. Not in the slightest. There was no reason she had to already be settled at her desk when Jake arrived every morning, with her email and voice mail already cleared out so she could focus on whatever was on the schedule for the day.
But she preferred it that way.
With a sigh, she climbed out of her ten-year-old sedan, her ankle wobbling slightly since she’d worn her highest heels, since they were the only shoes that worked with this skirt. Then she grabbed her satchel and the cardboard tray of four coffees she’d gotten on her way to work before she headed for the elevator.
Jake was standing in front of it, talking on the phone. She was still a distance away when the bong chimed and the doors slid open.
Since he was on the phone, she didn’t call out to get him to hold it, even though it meant she’d have to wait for another five minutes for the damned elevator to return.
Jake’s back had been to her, so she didn’t think he’d seen her, but he was holding the elevator door open as she approached.
He was still on the phone, and he sounded exasperated.
She picked up her speed so he wouldn’t have to hold the doors so long, but that was a mistake because she stumbled on the last few steps, barely catching herself before the coffees all fell to the floor.
So she was feeling rather flustered as she stepped onto the elevator, smiling a sheepish thanks to Jake.
He nodded his acknowledgment, but was clearly focused on his call. “Damn it, Stew,” he said into the phone. “It’s your job to handle people like that.”
Stewart Hall was the manager of the shop in San Diego. He was new to the role and still rather insecure about his ability to handle problems, so Jake had to do a lot of hand-holding.
“No,” Jake said. “This is too important. You can’t let him—”
He broke off, shaking his head and muttering, “Lost the connection. Damn thing.”
“It’s not the phone’s fault.” She tried not to smile at the way he was glaring at the phone, as if it had disconnected him on purpose. “We’re in an elevator.”
He shot her a suspicious look, as if he guessed she was trying not to laugh at him.
Jacob Woodward had been a professional surfer with an impressive reputation for ten years until he’d busted his knee. Handsome and talented, with a laidback charm, he’d gotten a number of a big commercial endorsements. The knee injury had cut his career abruptly short, though. She hadn’t known him back then, but everyone said he’d had a bad few months, drinking himself into a stupor and acting out with dangerous stunts. But he’d eventually pulled himself together and opened a surf shop in Malibu.
Instead of easing his way through the rest of his life, resting on his laurels, he’d thrown himself into the new enterprise, treating the shop like a real business venture instead of just a beach hangout like some other retired surfers she knew.
He’d done so well that he’d opened two more shops on the California coast a few years ago, and he was currently working on national merchandising opportunities.
Anne had been with him for seven years, and she’d been in love with him for at least two.
Jake was thirty-nine, with dark hair, gray eyes, and a powerful build which was evident even beneath the business suits he always wore so people took him seriously.
Not that he’d ever told her that was why he dressed so professionally, even in a beach culture that didn’t require it. But Anne knew him very well, and she understood that he didn’t want anyone to think he was just some washed-up old surfer. So he wore expensive suits, he drove an expensive car, and he leased an expensive office suite instead of setting up an office near his first shop at the beach.
“We might need to go to San Diego this afternoon,” he told her now, glancing over with gray eyes that always saw more than his characteristically laidback demeanor indicated.
She tried not to make a face. She’d been experimenting with online dating recently, as one of her efforts to get over Jake, and she had a first date this evening. “Okay.”