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Fall Into You: Chapter 23

Shay

I should’ve known this job was too good to be true. I should’ve known it was all a setup.

Life only gives me a big win right before it kicks me in the teeth.

The morning started great. Riding high on a wave of excitement, I gave myself plenty of time to drive downtown, park, and check in with security. A lovely woman from human resources named Ruth met me in the vast, sparkling lobby of the McCord Media building and accompanied me to the elevator that would take us to the executive suites on the twenty-ninth floor. I’d already filled out all the new-hire forms with Sally, so I assumed it was company protocol for Ruth to introduce herself to new employees on their first day.

It soon became apparent, however, that she had something else in mind.

The instant the elevator doors closed and we began to ascend, she turned to me with a serious face and an air of urgency.

“Sally told me that she informed you of the challenges you’ll be facing in your position. Is that correct?”

She put enough special emphasis on the word “challenges” that I understood she meant my new boss but was trying to be circumspect about it.

“Yes. I’ve been fully prepped. I’m ready.”

Her smile was small and pitying. “That’s like saying you’re ready to be struck by lightning, dear, but no one is ever quite ready for that.”

I didn’t let her cryptic statement deter me. I simply smiled back and thought of the thirty thousand dollar bonus I’d be getting in three months. “Don’t worry about me, Ruth. I can handle anything. I’m unflappable.”

Her expression was grave and full of doubt.

“Seriously, I’ll be fine. I’ve gotten enough details about the…position…that I feel mentally prepared to face anything.”

“That’s encouraging. But please know that if you ever need to discuss any problems you may have, my door is always open.”

“Thank you. But I’m sure that won’t be necessary. I’ve dealt with all kinds of stressful work situations. I know I can handle myself.”

I could tell she wanted to pat me on the head and smile at my naïveté, but she restrained herself.

Her doubt made me even more determined to withstand whatever storms my new boss might send hurtling toward me with a grace and poise everyone could marvel at.

We exited the elevator at the top floor and entered a penthouse lobby with a water feature on one side and a reception desk on the other. The view of Los Angeles through the floor-to-ceiling windows was breathtaking. Ruth introduced me to the CFO’s receptionist, a birdlike brunette named Marion who seemed to be teetering on the verge of a breakdown. Her nervous tics included constant hand wringing, eyes that darted left and right as if scanning for predators, and gnawing on her chapped lower lip.

I wanted to give her a hug, but feared it might make her scream in fright.

Ruth bade me farewell and left me with Marion, who had started to hyperventilate.

“Have you met Mr. McCord yet?” she whispered.

“Not yet. First day and all.”

“Oh, I know it’s your first day, I just thought this time they’d make sure to let the new hire see what you’d be up against—”

When she stopped abruptly and bit her lip, I found myself wondering if I’d accepted a job with a serial murderer.

The way everyone went on about this man!

“I’ve got a pretty clear picture. And believe me, if he does anything inappropriate, I’ll report it to human resources right away. I’m not going to let anyone mess with me.”

I squared my shoulders when I said that. I lifted my chin and squared my shoulders, and poor nervous Marion looked at me like I was the bravest person she’d ever met.

At that point, I’d been warned in one way or another by no less than four women that I was walking into a minefield with a blindfold on. Also, the security guard who checked me in downstairs lifted his brows and whistled under his breath when I told him who I was starting work for today. He shared a look with the other guard sitting beside him, and they both chuckled.

So it was with an iron-clad resolve that I approached the closed door of my new boss’s office. Following Marion down the hallway, I told myself that no matter what I might encounter when that door at the end opened, I’d remain calm, cool, and collected.

I’d be ice.

I’d be stone.

I’d be as I promised Ruth—unflappable.

When we stopped in front of the door, Marion knocked. “Mr. McCord? Your new assistant is here. Shall I send her in, sir?”

From within the office came the sound of a deep and displeased male voice. “I’m in the middle of something.”

Marion turned to me and tittered. “Probably giving himself that enema he needs so badly.”

It was so unexpected, I had to laugh.

A moment later, the door was yanked open from the inside.

And there he stood. The man I enjoyed a scorching night of dirty, unforgettable sex with a month ago. Mr. Dark and Stormy himself.

Cole.

I thought I was going to faint.

But I managed to conceal my shock and restrain the cry of joy and disbelief that wanted to burst from my chest. I stood expressionless, all that determination I’d cemented on my way here acting as support for my gelatinous backbone and weak knees.

Then Cole stared at me with a look of such absolute horror, my shock turned to hurt.

“What the hell are you doing here?” he shouted.

He could not have made it more obvious that the sight of me was as pleasant as having his face smashed in with a brick. Also obvious was the fact that of the two of us, only I had fond memories of the evening we shared.

Judging by his expression and tone of voice, Cole thought I gave him an incurable venereal disease.

But because I promised Ruth and poor Marion standing next to me cowering in terror that I’d be fearless in the face of this idiot’s wrath, I looked him up and down like he was wearing a suit made of dog turds and replied icily, “I’m reporting for work…boss.”

He looked at me as if he were going to puke.

Then he slammed the door shut in our faces.

Pressing a trembling hand over her heart, Marion said, “I’m so sorry.”

For her sake, I managed a smile. “Don’t be. It’s not your fault. Now, why don’t you show me where my desk is so I can settle in?”

Marion’s eyes widened. “You’re staying?”

“Oh, I’m staying, all right. And when Mr. McCord decides he’s done with his temper tantrum and shows his face, please tell him I said that if he treats me with such disrespect again, I’ll file a complaint with HR. And if he retaliates for that and fires me, I’ll sue him. Not only the corporation, but him personally too. Will you tell him that for me?”

Marion looked at me in awe and reverence, as if I’d become her new religion.

Meanwhile, I wondered what I’d done to so offend the universe that it kept sending me these butthole men.


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