Southern Spice

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Dolly Jane Good, self-proclaimed Spicy Disaster-moved from a small town in Georgia to New York to work for one of the country's most prominent real estate development firms. While working to climb her way up the ranks, Dolly acquired a fantastic mentor-mentee relationship with the CEO, Orion Donaldson. She had become his unofficial right-hand woman as he taught her the ropes of the real estate industry. After the death of Orion, his son, Beckham, had been in line to inherit the position. Beckham had spent most of his professional career galivanting in Los Angeles rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, not caring much about the legacy he had with the Donaldson Reitman Development Company. When Dolly made a terrible first impression on her new boss, he surprised her by offering a life-changing proposal that would be the beginning of a relationship hotter than hell and half of Georgia.

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Chapter 1

"When are you gonna give me some grandbabies?” My mama sure knew how to open a conversation.

“Jesus, Mama!” I was incredibly sick of hearing how she was the last one of her friends at her bridge club that did not have a grandbaby.

“Dolly Jane Good, do not take our Lord and Savior’s name in vain,” she scolded.

“Sorry, Mama.”

I never used cuss words or said “JC” in front of, or within a mile of earshot of, my Southern Baptist Mother. This minor slip was because of the current frustration with my dating life. It made it extra special that my mama kept dumping salt in the wound by asking for grandbabies at least once a week.

Our weekly telephone chats happened on my lunch break on Fridays just before the weekend so that she could get a run-down of my potential gentleman callers. Unfortunately, I exhausted all my Tinder prospects and gave up on trying to find a date in this city. So, to satiate the beast, I pulled names from my favorite smutty romance novels and used those to keep her at bay.

This week I would date Gideon Banks. Gideon is an orthodontist who likes to role play as a pirate. I was all-in to bury his treasure, if you know what I mean. It gave me great pleasure to picture my mother clutching her pearls in utter shock, knowing her proper southern daughter was into such things. However, at this point, she wasn’t telling me to hold an aspirin between my legs on a date.

After hurrying off the phone with my overbearing and nosey mama, I ran to the restroom to straighten myself up.

I moved to New York about three years ago to work at the biggest real estate development firm in the tri-state area. I had big dreams for myself and had vowed to do anything possible to get out of that Podunk town, and I did. I worked my ass off and became a lawyer. My specialty is zoning law. Some folks might think that was boring, but I found it exciting.

They did not take me seriously when I first started practicing in New York, mainly because of my incredibly thick accent and my uncanny resemblance to my namesake, Dolly Parton. I had to really prove myself to get to my current position at Donaldson Reitman Development Company.

Every Friday at 1:00 p.m., Orion Donaldson would hold check-in meetings with the legal staff. He was such an incredible man and the reason I had been so successful at DRDC. He would often confide in me about decisions because he appreciated my southern bluntness. When he died, I thought about leaving, but recently, I received an email about the restructuring of the organization with Beckham’s leadership. I was curious about the changes, so I stuck around.

Expecting the meeting with the new CEO today, I wore my smartest suit, which was a black mid-calf, tight-fitting pencil skirt, and a black three-quarter sleeve blazer with a red belt. Since turning thirty, my petite cheerleader body gave way to some insane curves. I was no bigger than a minute, then one day, I woke up and my yoga pants looked like I stuffed them with two honey baked hams from the backside. Maybe it didn’t happen overnight, but it sure as heck seemed like it.

It was a challenge for me to keep all my goodies under wraps. Fashion was my thing, and I loved to be a bit extra with my wardrobe, but my shoulder-length platinum-blonde hair was my calling card. When I walked into a room, I simply demanded attention, and it was exactly what I got. Unfortunately, I haven’t been successful in getting any attention from the opposite sex lately, and it was really messing with my confidence.

When I got back to my office, my best friend—and Mr. Reitman’s personal assistant—Muriel was sitting at my desk waiting for me. Of course, she was the opposite of me. She was this tiny little spitfire from Brooklyn. She was single as well, but faring better than me as a New York single.

“How was mama?” She asked, using her fake southern drawl.

“Well, you know mama,” I said, smacking her feet off my desk.

“Dolly Jane, are you pregnant yet? You know, I would love to have a grandbaby before I’m dead and gone,” Muriel mocked.

“Oh my gosh, Muriel, please stop. You are too good at that, and I’m fixin’ to have a mental breakdown if I have to hear the word “grandbaby” again today.”

“Grrr—” She began to say the forbidden word when I damn near tripped over my own feet to get a look at the man that stopped in front of my glass office door.

“Dolly Jane, what the hell are you—” Muriel stopped in her tracks to inconspicuously look out my see-through door.

“Hush up!” I hissed. “Who is that fine specimen of a man standing outside my door?” Thank goodness he stopped to talk to a couple of other people, because if he looked to his right, he would see two women that were about to fall off their rockers to check out his fine ass.

“That’s Beckham Donaldson,” Muriel answered. “I’ve never seen him in person, but damn.”

“That is Beckham Donaldson? My new boss?” I asked out loud to assure confirmation from my all-knowing best friend.

“Yes, and you have a meeting in less than fifteen minutes with said boss, so get your shit together.”

“Shit!” It hit me right then that I would have to spend Friday afternoons with this man. “How do I look?”

“You look great. Your tits look big in that blazer.”

“What the hell am I supposed to do with them? They are like cattle; I can’t rope them back in once they get out.” I started messing with my size D’s ensuring nothing was inappropriately popping out.

“I didn’t say it was a bad thing,” she responded.

“Shit. Okay. I look fine though?” I asked again.

“You look amazing. Now, go, and try not to think of him naked.”

“Christ almighty, Muriel. I’m going to hell in a hand basket.”

“Yes, you are, and I will have the seat next to you. Now go.”

Muriel was pushing me out of my office door when I turned in the direction of the boardroom and caught Beckham Donaldson walking down the hall only six feet in front of me.

His hands were in his suit jacket pockets, which exposed his perfect backside in his snug suit pants. I almost cat-called in appreciation, but I was a damn professional, and I could handle myself in that manner, or so I thought.

When I got to the conference room, I noticed I was the last one in, while all the other good boys and girls of the legal team were sitting in their seats all attentive and prepared while Beckham made his way to the head of the conference table, standing and shuffling papers around. I froze for a moment until he looked up and cleared his throat.

“Won’t you join us, Miss...”

He was most likely questioning the spicy disaster, standing awkwardly trying not to draw attention to herself.

Oh, shit! He was talking to me.

“Good.” I responded.

“Well, Miss Good, won’t you have a seat?”

There I was, front and center, albeit unintentionally this time.

The conference room wasn’t as large as one would think, and the last seat available was to the right of the man himself. I tried my best to scoot my ample back side through the tight squeeze of folks that were already seated and the other table holding water pitchers and glasses.

As if I couldn’t be any more embarrassed, my bubble butt knocked over a glass, but thank God, it didn’t break. I hurriedly picked it up and apologized, then shoved the rest of the way to my seat, not realizing Beckham Donaldson’s eyes had not left me.

Fuck me! I really know how to make a fantastic first impression. I thought to myself while noisily attempting to get myself together, organizing the papers placed in front of me.

“Are you good, Miss Good?” He asked.

“Yes. All... good.”

When he spoke, it was as if my mind turned off and my lady parts turned on. He was gorgeous, like lip smackin’ after a fresh glass of sweet tea delicious. He was tall, maybe six feet, extremely well built, but not too muscular. You could tell he wasn’t a stranger to the gym. Dark, perfectly coiffed hair. And oh, those gorgeous silver-blue eyes.

Surprisingly enough, I was paying attention to what he was saying. He spoke well, but a lot of what he said was a load of crap. I wonder if anyone else noticed that he did not know what he was talking about. Knowing this group of sheep, they would say nothing, which was why Orion had me around. I was a straight shooter with him. No bullshit ever came from my mouth.

I looked around the room, watching my colleagues nodding their heads at this load of hogwash. Orion Donaldson would roll over in his grave if he knew what his son was saying. It really got under my skin, and I was getting mad. If there was one thing I knew, it was how to do my job and do it well. I knew more about this business than any of these old coots sitting at the table. The best part was that I wasn’t afraid of them, and especially not Beckham Donaldson. And so I interrupted before he dug himself deeper into a hole.

“With all due respect, sir, I am going to have to disagree with most of what you are saying.”

He stared at me intently with those icy blue eyes. There were no daggers being thrown my way. It was more like shock that I called him out, and he looked worried.

“Well, Miss Good, maybe you would like to elaborate further after I am finished with this meeting—in my office.”

I swear I heard a collective gasp from the peanut gallery like we were all in the fourth grade, and I had just gotten in trouble and sent to the principal’s office.

“Wherever you would like, Mr. Donaldson,” I responded with a sexy smirk, which he shot right back. What the hell was I thinking? I mean, I was a flirtatious person, but not like this, especially at work.

After the meeting, I headed back to my office, waiting for the call from Beckham’s assistant to head to his office. Muriel was waiting for me, sitting in my chair behind my desk.

“Don’t you have your own desk?”

“Oh, no, I need the details. I heard you made quite the spectacle of yourself.” It amazed me sometimes how fast news spread around this place.

“Why are you surprised?” I raised my eyebrow as if suspicious of the fact she didn’t know who she was talking to.

“I didn’t expect it to happen the first day he was here.”

“What can I say? I move fast,” I shrugged.

My phone rang, and I ended up fighting it out of Muriel’s scrawny little hand.

“Dolly Good,” I answered. It was Susan, Beckham’s assistant, calling to let me know he was ready for me. Fuck.

Muriel got up from behind my desk to grab my shoulders.

“I’m going to miss you. I really loved working with my best friend,” she said as she hugged me.

“Oh my gosh, stop.” I rolled my eyes.

“Go get ’em tiger.” She smacked my ass, which hurt, as I walked out, and I scowled back at her.

Unfortunately, I had a decent elevator ride to stew about how I was going to fix what my mouth got me into. If there was another thing I was good at, it was talking my way out of trouble. Being a police chief’s daughter, I really had to get creative and convincing.

Walking off the elevator, I felt a bit better about the situation. The one bright spot being that I could stare into Beckham’s eyes for a few more minutes before I had to depart for my lonely weekend of fun times with my rabbit, Ben & Jerry.

“Come in, Miss Good.” He said as I stood outside of his opened door waiting for him to invite me in. “Sit.” He commanded, then began taking off his jacket, revealing his fitted white button up with a deep blue tie. I felt the heat turn up in the room and my throat went dry. He proceeded to remove his cufflinks and slowly rolled up his sleeves to reveal his defined forearms. I gulped again, praying there was enough saliva to stop me from hacking.

“Miss Good, I wanted to talk to you about—”

“Mr. Donaldson, before you continue, I wanted to first apologize. Good Lord, this mouth of mine, it really gets me in trouble sometimes, especially when it’s something I’m passionate about. My colleagues in the room, they know how I am, and that my outbursts come from a place with the best of intentions. It had occurred to me that, for someone that doesn’t know me, I could come off as somewhat...” I trailed off.

“Insubordinate?” He inserted.

“Um, I was thinking more... spirited,” I smiled my best beauty pageant smile.

“I think you are mistaken, Miss Good. I do know quite a bit about you. My father spoke very highly of you.”

“He did?” I asked, somewhat surprised that he had talked about me with his son. I choked back another dry throat cough.

“Yes. In fact, he told me that if there was one person that he could trust at this company, it was Dolly Jane Good.”

My God, I never got wet hearing my full name, but he sure as shit made it a first.

“Wow. I’m honored that Orion would speak so highly of me. He was a great man and mentor. I am so sorry for your loss. I would have loved to pay my respects, but I know it was a private service.”

“I appreciate that, Miss Good.”

“Please, call me Dolly.”

“Okay, Dolly. Back to why we are here. I would like to make a proposal.”

A proposal from this man would be a slap in the face to all the neighbors back at home, thinking I would be single for the rest of my life. I would come home with my sexy, CEO fiancé and shove my three carat Tiffany cut solitaire right in their unfortunate faces.

“A proposal?” I asked, knowing damn well it wasn’t the proposal I envisioned.

“Yes, I want you to be my personal counsel. But, before you answer, hear me out. I need someone like you to help me navigate this company, call me out on my bullshit—like you did today—and above all, give it to me straight like you did for my dad.”

“So, you want me to be your assistant?” I said reluctantly.

“No. No, I want you to be my advisor. My right-hand man.”

“You mean woman,” I snapped back.

“Yes, you know what I mean,” he laughed.

“I don’t know, Mr. Donaldson.” I was apprehensive about this proposal. I didn’t want to be bringing this man his coffee and bagel order every morning and picking up his dry cleaning. Those dues had already been paid.

“Call me Beckham, and I will pay you $150,000 more a year.”

“Whoa. Are you joking? You have to be joking.”

“I am very serious,” he said as he came closer to me, leaning against the desk in front of where I was sitting.

“With all due respect, you ain’t got the good sense that God gave a rock.”

He looked confused.

“Listen, Beckham, I would love to take $150,000 off your hands, but do you think this is the wisest decision? I mean, you don’t even know me. So, I guess I’m questioning your common sense here.”

He let out a sexy chuckle that caused his crossed arms to drop.

“Oh, I know you, Dolly Jane.” He shot me a sexy smirk. “More than you think. And if my father trusted you, then I do too.”

I avoided making eye contact so that I could process the proposal. “Well?” He was anxiously awaiting my answer.

Well, fuck me sideways. I’m going to agree to this. I sighed.

“Yes. I’ll do it.”

He clapped his hands together and smiled. Of course, he looked please that he got his way. This was the most positive reaction I got out of a man in a long time.

“Perfect. The first order of business is to move your office up here and get you an assistant.”

“Wait, an assistant? For what?”

“You are in the C-suite now, Dolly Jane. You get whatever you want.”

I had this nagging feeling that this was going to be the opportunity of a lifetime topped with a whole lot of trouble.

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