I nurse my non-alcoholic drink on the sofa in the dance club and smile around at my oldest friends. Okay, we’re not that old, because we’ve only known each other a little over ten years, but we get together every year, which is not something I can say about people I’ve known longer.
This year, we’re celebrating Riva’s thirtieth birthday by club hopping in the city where we all attended college, where I still live.
We’ve been planning this for months, then I turned up pregnant.
Yep, pregnant and not married, and it’s still my little secret. But I’m telling my friends tonight.
Not looking forward to it, because there will be judgement.
Because the father of my child is my boss, and he did not handle the news well. Like, at all. Whew. I’m lucky I still have my job, but we keep a wide berth around each other.
Maybe I should start from the beginning. No, not the very beginning, but the situation with me and my boss, and how I ended up in this situation.
I work at a marketing firm here in the city. There are a lot, and ours is pretty successful, but the reason we are is that my boss, Lincoln Gentry, the owner, is very driven.
Very young, very hot, very driven.
I mentioned hot, right?
But we’re successful because we work a lot of late nights, and since my boss and I are both single, a lot of times it’s just us in the office after everyone else goes home to their families.
So a few months ago, it went something like this:
“I’m sorry, Spencer. I need your help on this. You know Sawyer Decker better than anyone, and I trust you most for this.”
I look up at Lincoln and try to scowl, but the light in his blue eyes and the curve of his mouth are so charming, I’m sure it’s not very effective.
“Why do I have to change my plans to go see Miranda Lambert in order to accommodate a hotshot chef who doesn’t manage his time better just because we went to school together?” And he dated my friend Autumn for a few months, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that to Lincoln. That was nearly ten years ago, anyway.
“Because he’s so hot right now.” He does a dead-on impersonation of Will Ferrell in Zoolander. “He wants to capitalize on that, and who can blame him?”
“But Miranda!” I almost never say no, because he’s really hard to say no to, and anyway, I usually don’t have plans. But today, I lift my phone and show him my screen with my tickets.
His blue eyes glint, and his voice lowers. “I’ll make it up to you. I’ll get you VIP tickets, and a flight to anywhere you want to go see her. I swear. You know how important this account is.”
I do know, and… “VIP tickets?” I clarify.
“Anywhere you want to go. I’ll throw in two nights in a hotel, everything. The whole experience on me.”
You know I cannot resist the chance to meet Miranda Lambert, so I sigh, text my date to find someone else to take, and follow Lincoln into the meeting room.
Look, he’s not the top of boss who just orders everyone around. He absolutely does the work. I don’t think he could let go, even if he wanted to, so he’ll be here until the last of us—probably me—leave for the night. He orders in a big dinner, expensive, anything to keep us happy.
I know why he likes me working with him. I get people motivated, organized, and I have a good idea or two. I can always tell when he likes my input because he gives me this smile that I shouldn’t find so damn sexy.
At first, there are ten of us working, then six, then three, then…
The skyline is all lit up below us as we sit with our heads together. He smells so good, like leather and the outdoors, though I swear he didn’t step outside even for lunch, and his sleeves are rolled up. He’s got these great forearms and wrists, and…I can NOT be attracted to my boss. I love my job, I love the free rein I’m given, how I’m encouraged to use my creativity, not constricted like other agencies. I like the rapport I have with my coworkers, especially Lincoln, who, as I said before, is not afraid to put in the work.
I like the money I make.
So what possesses me to touch the back of his wrist to get his attention, to lean in a little too close, not exactly brushing my breast against his arm, but close?
What possesses me, when he turns his gaze to look at me questioningly, to hold his boldly?
We’ve worked together for years, but never flirted, for all the reasons I mentioned earlier. I cannot tell you why I lost my mind.