I had a stupid, cliched, crush on my boss. It made me cringe every single second of the day, too. Hot as sin boss, invisible, yet incredibly useful assistant without whom the sexy piece of man in his painfully expensive suits would be unable to function properly. The makings of a good office romance novel, right?
I can totally make it better!
Now, Tate King isn’t just my boss. He’s a goddamned cactus to everyone in the office, including and especially to me, but once that timecard is punched, Mr. King, turns into just plain Tate. The guy that texts me at midnight to tell me happy birthday, beating everyone else, including my birth-giver, as she calls herself. Even if it's not my birthday, but I let him have his dream. The guy that sends his personal driver to bring me cold meds when I got sick. The guy that personally went to the store to buy me three different types of both pads and tampons and new clothes when my period popped up nearly a week early, leaving me wholly unprepared.
It wasn’t like that when I first started working for him, though. He was a total dickhole for nearly two months before I started getting the random texts asking about if there was a puppy and a kitten in a tree that was on fire and I could only save one, which would I pick.
I couldn’t help but laugh as I read this one. I mean, who thinks of these things at 2:12 in the morning?
Obviously, I’d save the kitten, I replied.
And let the puppy die? You monster, came the reply.
First of all, puppies can’t climb, so how did it get in the tree? It’s either a pigeon in disguise, or some demon dog from Hell. Either scenario is cause for concern, so I pick the kitten, I snort as I hit send.
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and yawn as I stretch and roll over, getting comfortable again as my phone chimed with a new message.
The fact that you immediately go to pigeon sleuths and demonic possession is what concerns me.
Hey. Pigeons are terrifying, okay? The beady eyes and shifty head-bobbing is unnerving, but then you have to wonder... How did they get the old ladies to feed them in the parks so devoutly?
I turned my face into my pillow and sighed. Yeah, I had it bad for my boss.
Wow. That is concerning. You’ve convinced me, Emerald. Pigeons are trying to take over the world.
Sh! You lunatic! Don’t let them know we know! Now your fancy car is going to be a target, I laughed as I typed.
I’ll just have you take it to be cleaned, he replied.
Heaven forbid you have to bare the indignity of having bird shit on your car while you sit on the luxury Italian leather, heated seats. I swear, your ass gets treated better than I live. I’m tempted to demand a raise, I snorted and rolled my eyes.
I had no idea you were so concerned about my ass’s comfort. Now I have to give you a raise, he replied.
Shut up and go to sleep, Tate. You have to wake up in three and a half hours and have a board meeting in five. If you don’t get some sleep, your decidedly spoiled ass will be slapping on the pavement all day. As hilarious as that sounds, you’re kind of bitchy when you’re tired, I giggled at the mental image. It was a really nice ass, though.
I’m not bitchy and stop thinking about my naked ass. Very unprofessional.
I never said it was naked. Even if I did, I can’t see you in anything less than one of those insanely pricey suits that have completely overtaken your closet. Besides, I care too much about your ass’s comfort to let it get road rash, remember?
Ever the hero, Emerald. My ass thanks you for the consideration.
I rolled my eyes and put my phone back on the table so I could salvage a few hours of sleep before I had to get up and deal with Tate’s alter ego, Mr. King.
I had a crush on my best friend by night, and my dickhole boss by day. Yeah. Life was great.
“Good morning, Ms. Wells,” the doorman at Mr. King’s building greets me as he opens the door for me.
“Morning, Yuri,” I smile as I walk inside a coffee cup in one hand and the dry cleaning in the other. “Would you please call, Dale? I didn’t see him in the traffic outside.”
“Of course,” he grinned as I waited for the elevator. “You might want to make the morning coffee a double. He came in late last night.”
“I assumed as much, so I grabbed a triple. Busy day today and I prefer my boss not being cranky. He tends to take his annoyance out on me, which has me considering adding mood stabilizers to his mid-morning smoothie.”
Yuri chuckled as I stepped into the elevator while he called Dale, Mr. King’s driver. I ride up to the penthouse and check the schedule for issues if the board meeting had to run late and I needed to reschedule things. I was a master at juggling, at this point. I could do four things with two hands and I was working on adding a fifth to my skills. Put that on a resume, huh?
I slipped my purse off and set it on the table beside the elevator door as I walked across the polished stone floors that were covered in plush area rugs in the living room and all three bedrooms. It was a nice place. All white and gray and stainless steel in the kitchen. Marble counters, a shower I’d kill for and a bathtub that I didn’t dare look at in case I melted into a dreamy puddle at the sight. But it felt so...
I knocked briskly on the master bedroom door before opening it, not waiting for an answer, and switched on the lights.
“Good morning, Mr. King,” I said, setting the coffee on the bedside table and walking into his closet with his dry cleaning. “You have a consult with Mr. Hyatt in an hour, followed by the board meeting. That’s scheduled until noon, so I called in lunch for you. You have a one o’clock with the Fremont group and a two thirty call with Max Billings. Your standing appointment with Ms. Royce is at three and I took the liberty of scheduling a conference call with the Moore campaign at three fifteen, so you don’t have much downtime after Ms. Royce leaves.”
“I told you last month to cancel those,”Mr. Kings grumbled as I sifted through his suits and picked out something for him to wear.
“I did, then you threatened to fire me when she threw a tantrum, so I assumed you wished to resume them once she returned from vacation,” I said, hanging his clothes on the door of the closet and going to the drawers in the closet for a watch, tie, socks, and briefs. “There’s a five o’clock call with the senior King. I made sure everything after that was cleared and informed Mr. Hyatt of the reservations at Millford.”
“Get rid of Royce,” he grumbled.
“Very well,” I said. “Do you have any requests for breakfast this morning?”
“Do I ever?” he said, getting up. The sheet fell away and I rolled my eyes.
“You couldn’t have waited a few seconds for me to leave?” I turned around to avoid staring at the very naked man in front of me. “It’s like you’re a barbarian, wanting to show he has a bigger stick than everyone else. Christ alive, Neanderthal.”
I went to the kitchen and made his breakfast sandwich before gathering my purse and going back down to the lobby.
“You know, if he runs into the glass, I’ll pay you a hundred bucks,” I said as Yuri opened the door for me.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” he smiled at me. I waved to Dale as I walked down the street, avoiding the traffic so I could get to the office before Mr. King.
Even stopping to get my own breakfast and coffee on the way, I still usually managed to get there before he did, and I typically did morning voicemail and email checks on the way to and from the penthouse, so it left my morning rather comfortably busy on normal days like this.
“Ms. Wells, there’s someone wishing to see you,” Gloria, the lobby secretary said.
“Please direct all requests for meetings to the phones, please,” I sighed as Mason, the other secretary handed me the morning mail. “You’ve been working here plenty long enough to know this already.”
“She means that he’s here for you, silly,” Mason rolled his eyes and pointed towards the chairs to the right.
I looked over and dropped the mail on the counter and squealed softly as I ran and jumped into the arms of the man in his Marine uniform smiling at me.
“I missed you, too,” he laughed.
“Shut up and hug me, asshole,” I sniffed, my eyes stinging. “When did you get back?”
“Last night,” he smiled and put me back on my feet before kissing my cheek. “I’m in for a month, unless I get called early.”
“Really!?” I grinned widely.
A throat clearing broke up the happy moment and I turned to see Mr. King, along with the entire lobby, watching us.
“I have to get to work,” I made a face and stood on my toes to kiss his cheek. “We’re having dinner, right?”
“Of course,” he grinned. “I still have to stop and see Mom. Love you.”
“Love you, too. Tell her hi for me,” I squeezed him again before grabbing the mail bouncing towards the elevator after Mr. King.
Once the doors closed, he busied himself on his phone and I practically vibrated with happiness. It’s been months since I saw my brother, Lance. Our dad died when I was a teenager and Mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, so I really miss him when he’s gone. Mom still has more good days than bad, but it’s still so new, the bad days hurt so much more.
I practically skipped to my desk, my smile so big, it was hurting my face a little bit, but it didn’t feel like it was anywhere near enough to do the joy in my heart any justice.
“You’re in a good mood this morning,” Vince Hyatt said as he came to a stop in front of my desk.
“Lance is back,” I grinned broadly. “For a month.”
“That’s great,” he smiled back. “I take you two are going to have your traditional welcome home night?”
“Maybe not as long as usual, since it’s still the middle of the week, but yes,” I wiggled in my chair, buzzing with excitement. “He got in last night, so I’d bet he’s got jet lag, too.”
“That explains why he’s suddenly canceled the night out you set him up for,” he smirked.
“Mr. King? He can stay in, if he wants, but I’m pretty sure he’ll need a drinking buddy after his last meeting,” I shrugged. “Just make sure he gets some Advil into his system before he passes out. He’s miserable to be around with a hangover.”
“He’s miserable to be around, period,” he made a face, making me laugh as I picked up the phone and paged Mr. King to let him know his lawyer was here.
I stayed busy sorting and filing documents, making phone calls, booking appointments and meetings, answering emails, running errands around the office, and updating the schedule for the following days, weeks, and months as needed until lunch time. The food was delivered just as Mr. King stalked through the hall to his office, Vince close behind looking troubled.
“That bodes well,” I muttered as I picked up the ringing phone line. “This is Emma.”
“I know it’s you, stupid,” Lance huffed into the receiver. “Free for lunch?”
“Where?” I asked, with a smile.
“Tootsie’s Diner. Duh.”
“Give me fifteen and I’ll be there,” I said and hung up. I knocked on the office door and inwardly groaned at the growl to enter.
“Ah. Always lovely to see you, Emma,” Vince smirked at me, giving me the odd feeling that I was missing something here.
“Right,” I said slowly. “Here’s your lunch, Mr King. I’ll be leaving the office for a bit, so call my phone if you need something.”
“Where’s mine?” Vince asked with a frown.
“Waiting for you to order it, of course,” I smiled brightly. “I get paid to take care of Mr. King. Last I checked, you’re a Hyatt, correct?”
“You wound me,” he gasped.
“I’m sure your overly inflated ego will remain untarnished,” I said as I turned to leave.
“You’re in a hurry to leave, aren’t you?” Vince asked.
“I’m meeting Lance for lunch,” I smiled.
“Ah, yes. The Marine back from duty,” he nodded. “Well, don’t let us hold you back. Oh, and have fun with the reunion tonight.”
I narrowed my eyes at him suspiciously before shrugging and left, grabbing my purse on the way past my desk. My mouth was already watering at the prospect of a burger from Tootise’s. Best in the world, as far as I was concerned.
God, I had missed my brother!