Wife For Now

By: Penny Wylder


I sigh and check the clock on the wall. Or at least, that’s what I pretend I’m doing. In reality, I’m checking through the large floor-to-ceiling office windows beside my desk, out of the corner of my eye. Luke is still in there, as usual. And as usual, he’s bent over his computer like a hunchback. That man is going to give himself back problems soon if I don’t step in.

That’s all I’m doing, I insist. Being a good assistant. Helping out. Making sure he doesn’t need me to book another chiropractor session in a week’s time.

This definitely isn’t an excuse to pop my head into his office for the dozenth time today. Nope. Not an excuse to stand near him and catch the scent of his cologne; the smoky, spicy scent that haunts my dreams. Not a thinly veiled reason to stand near him and hope he hands me some more paperwork, just for that split second when our fingertips brush and my whole body goes electric.

“Luke?” I tap on his doorframe.

He glances up and flashes me one of his trademark Luke Rossfield smiles. I swear, in a past life the guy must have been some kind of Nordic god or something. Tall, blond and angular, he’s got the kind of blue eyes that pierce right through you, and the cheekbones to finish the job. But when he smiles, it all softens, like he’s sharing a secret. A little hint of emotion meant just for you. “Celia.”

Not to mention the way my name melts on his tongue…

“Don’t make me call Dr. Morgen on you again.” I point at his spine.

Dutifully, he straightens, though the smile never leaves his lips. He arches his back and reaches up to rub the back of his neck with one hand. “Old habits die hard. At least that explains this crick in my neck.” His smile widens. “Thank you, Celia. What would I do without you?”

My heart skips a beat. I force myself to ignore it. “Probably slip a disc,” I respond. He laughs, and I take that as my cue to spin back to my chair. Just a few feet away, and yet, with the glass of his office between us, it feels like a million miles.

His phone starts to ring, and through the window, he catches my gaze just to roll his eyes dramatically. I check my own line, an extension of his, and immediately understand why. Tony from shipping and processing, again. It’s the dozenth time this week. Luke’s about to pick up the line when I hold up a palm to signal him, and mouth, Let me.

“Tony?” I pick up, my voice sweet as honey.

There’s a pause on the other end. “Celia. I was looking for Luke.”

“Of course. Unfortunately, he’s unavailable right this moment. Can I help you instead?”

Another, longer pause. Tony hates dealing with me. I suspect it’s because he doesn’t like answering to women, which is why I enjoy making him. Finally, he lets out an audible sigh over the line. “We’re going to be late with the Tuesday shipment—”

“Why is that, exactly?” I keep a smile on my face, because I swear you can hear that kind of thing over the phone.

Through the window of his office, Luke’s expression is torn somewhere between annoyance and relief that I’m handling this. Like I always do. There’s a reason I’m paid the big bucks.

I’m good at this. At handling every annoyance the world throws our way. Luke is the ideas guy, great at leading the company and developing new wild plans for where to take it. But I’m the one who excels at follow-through. I get things done.

Tony rambles through a million explanations, all of which I’ve heard before. They boil down to crappy excuses for why he hasn’t been doing his job.

“So there’s no way you’ll have the shipment processed in the next five days?” I clarify. “In that case, why don’t I just call Morgan and her crew.” The night shift in the warehouse and Tony’s mortal enemy. “We can afford to pay them overtime if it will make the difference here.”

Tony hesitates. Clears his throat. I know he’s weighing his options. Get the overtime pay himself and actually do his job? Or continue making bad excuses and give up the overtime pay—and the credit—to his arch-nemesis?

I smile at my reflection in my computer screen. I’ve got him.

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