In Love With My Personal Assistant

By: Audrey Tolhouse

“I know it’s not the best champagne out there,” James remarked, “but you know I hate a fruity wine to go bad,” he reached for two glasses hanging along the glass rack of the bar and set them down on the marbled surface.

“Why don’t you come over here?” James asked, keeping his back to Jennifer. The bar consisted of a minifridge with a wine and glass rack to the right of the bar. To the left was a hanging counter with three stools to enjoy the drinks.

Standing, Jennifer held her hands in front of her and approached a stool to the left of the bar cautiously. It wasn’t that she hadn’t been asked to share a drink with James before. They had on many occasions. If all their time had been work and no play, the feelings she had grown to have for him might very well have been delusional.

What bothered her was that he had a knack and unusual ability to relax around her in a way she had never seen before, but still keep her at a distance. His walls were always up. Although his banter still seemed easy and loose, there was just something different about it. She felt like those invisible walls that had always been a silent reminder for her to keep her distance were gone. Like they had simply vanished over the weekend.

Jennifer didn’t want to lie to herself and say that she wasn’t happy about it. Somewhere, some part of her was overjoyed beyond belief; but there was another part of her, a more rational part, who approached this new side of James with caution.

Five years she had worked for the man and never had she known him to forgo formalities. He was a shark. That’s who he was: James Melone. He was incredible at what he did and many, like herself, admired him for it.

Taking a seat pensively, Jennifer took a deep breath and ran a hand through her hair. She felt her body ease at the sound of the pouring juice and wine.

James finished by setting the bottles down on the counter top and handed Jennifer a glass. She took it with a pinch of her forefinger and thumb and held it tightly. She held James’s gaze steady. He smiled at her, and then squinted his eyes playfully.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” He asked in a voice that made Jennifer’s skin crawl. She was starting to remember why she had fallen so hard for him.

Chuckling, Jennifer shook her head with reservation. She lifted the glass to her lips, eyeing James over the rim and took a sip. It was delicious. His eyes sparkled at her. He chuckled, shoulders heaving with the action. Lifting his own glass to his mouth, James paused.

“Do you remember the last time we had mimosa’s together?” He asked the question before taking a swig of the drink.

Jennifer smiled and nodded. Of course she remembered.

“It was the opening night of Robert’s sponsored band, wasn’t it?” Jennifer asked the question as if she didn’t really know the night he was referring to.

James nodded. “Yes, Mr. Field’s gave me two complimentary balcony level loges. Remember that?”

With a soft smile, Jennifer nodded. The tickets were for James and Katie. Except Katie had missed a flight from Fresno and wasn’t going to make it in time. In an effort to still honor the tickets, James asked for Jennifer to accompany him.

It might have been an awkward night if Jennifer hadn’t already known the tension in his relationship. There wasn’t much that James had to say in order to explain.

At the time, one of their highest-paying clients was sponsoring a debut gig at The Chicago Theatre. The partnership would help everyone involved and they had come to James looking for ways to boost their presence and reach. With the help of PR and the local news, they were able to launch something successfully for the young company who had chosen to invest heavily in the debut singer and musician. The owners would be there, they expected to see James, even if the tickets were complimentary.

He could have gone by himself, but the whole purpose of handing out the two tickets was also a nice gesture of thanks for the work that the company had done. These tickets were meant to be enjoyed. It was important for James’s presence to be there, and not alone, but with someone else, preferably, a female. That’s where Jennifer had risen to the occasion, but like it was a terribly difficult thing to do.

They received special catering throughout the event and were interviewed by local reporters covering the evening. Several professional photos were taken with the singer before and after the events. The whole thing was incredibly glamourous—Jennifer didn’t understand how any woman attached to James’s side would miss such an opportunity. But Katie had.

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