“I’m fine.” I shake my head, not wanting to go down this road with Van, not today. I have a long day ahead of a new job, and bringing my own baggage into it won’t be productive. “I promise, I’m fine. Now, I need to get down to HR. I don’t want to be late on my first day.”
“I’ll walk you down.” She stands, but I shake my head.
“No thanks. No favoritism, remember?” I shoot her a grin and walk toward her door.
“Kate, if you want to talk about—”
“Do you want to talk about Lance?” I ask without turning around, and the room is suddenly filled with a heavy silence as I shake my head and open her door. “I didn’t think so. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
“This is Hilary,” Linda Beals, the head of HR informs me as she leads me to my new office. “She’s been promoted to another position here in the company, but is going to stay with you today to show you the ropes.”
Hilary, a woman who looks to be a few years older than me smiles and stands, offering her hand to shake. “Pleasure,” she says.
“Hello,” I reply and smile at Linda, as she assures me that I’m in good hands, and leaves me with Hilary.
“So, you’re taking over as Mr. Rudolph’s assistant,” Hilary says, stating the obvious.
“It seems so,” I reply and sit in the desk chair next to hers behind my new desk. “How long have you been with him?”
“Oh, gosh, about twelve years now, I guess.” Hilary leans in as if she’s about to tell me a big secret. “He’s really very easy to work with, as long as you make his coffee just so.”
“You make his coffee?” I ask with a raised brow. “That’s a little old school.”
She shrugs and starts pulling files out of her drawer. “I don’t mind. Now, let’s get started. You only have me for today, but I’ll just be one floor up, so if you ever have questions, don’t hesitate to call me.”
“Did Linda show you around?”
“No, she just brought me down here after she went over my paperwork.” I glance around my small, simple office, and see exactly why Van put me here. It’s a corner space, and I’m able to see down two corridors of offices, and into the windows of said offices.
“Sounds about right,” Hilary replies with a roll of the eyes. “After we go over these things, we’ll take a break, and I’ll give you a grand tour.”
“Are you new to town?”
“Yes, very new.”
“Well, I think you and I will be good friends.” She smiles and then stands when a man walks in, looking harried and busy. “Mr. Rudolph, this is your new assistant, Kate.”
“Hello,” he says with a distracted smile and shakes my hand, his grip firm. He’s probably in his early forties, with thinning hair over a handsome face, with a nose just a couple sizes too big, and he wears thick-rimmed glasses on his face. He’s not terribly tall, but he’s wiry thin. “Hilary will show you the ropes, but let me know if you have any questions.” And with that, he disappears into his office just off of mine and shuts the door firmly behind him.
“He’s a man of few words,” I remark with a smile.
“Yeah, he’s not terribly chatty,” Hilary confirms.
“Miss O’Shaughnessy?” A man asks as he walks into my office, carrying a large bouquet of happy sunflowers.
“Yes,” I reply with surprise.
“These are for you.”
I gape in surprise as he sets the flowers on my desk, waits for my signature, and then leaves.
“Wow, sugar, those are impressive.”
I nod and pull the small envelope out of the plastic holder in the center of the bouquet and open it, facing away from Hilary, so she can’t read over my shoulder.
Welcome. Have a good first day.
“Who are they from?” Hilary asks.
The sexiest man I’ve ever seen in my life, but I have no idea why he sent them because nothing good can come of it.
“My parents,” I lie easily, and shove the card in my pocket. Eli said he doesn’t play games, yet he kisses me like he’d like to devour me, says it’s a bad idea, and then sends me flowers?
“Oh, how lovely.” Hilary begins to chat about her own family while she sets me up with new passwords on the several software programs we use and shows me her routine, and all the while my mind wanders exactly where it shouldn’t: to Eli.
Does he think he can sweet talk me with a few pretty blooms?
Okay, maybe the flowers are sweet, but I don’t get it. I was up long after I turned off the lights and climbed into bed last night. I could still feel him against me, hear his low, rumbly voice. My body was on fire, and the man had really barely touched me. Sure, that kiss was combustible, and just the casual way he laid his hand on my back, or linked our fingers, sent my body into a tailspin unlike any I’ve ever felt.
Even with my ex-husband, and I don’t know for sure what that says about me.
By lunch time, I’ve been shown Hilary’s complete routine from start to finish, I’ve been given a tour of the building and introduced to everyone in the department, and Hilary was kind enough to show me exactly how Mr. Rudolph likes to have his coffee made.
Oh, and it must be on his desk by 8:05 every morning. Sharp.
Because, apparently, this is 1956, and it’s important to bring the boss man his coffee.
Hilary and two other assistants from our department, Suzanne and Taylor, invite me to join them for lunch, and I eagerly accept, hoping against hope that one of them lets something slip and I can wrap this case up early.
Of course, I’m not that lucky.
“So, where are you from, Kate?” Taylor asks, as she munches on her sandwich, careful not to get her perfectly manicured hands dirty. She’s short and lusciously curvy with dark hair that is styled in a short bob and has big brown eyes.
“Yes, tell us about you,” Suzanne, Taylor’s exact opposite with blonde hair, tall, statuesque figure, and bright blue eyes agrees, while Hilary nods expectantly and pops a chip in her mouth.
“Well, I grew up in the Denver area,” I reply, easily keeping the details vague. “Are you all from here?”
“Hilary and I are,” Suzanne replies, “but Taylor just moved here from Florida last year.”