Bossman by Vi Keeland

Chapter 5

Reese

“I really need to start taking taxis,” I grumbled under my breath as I rushed up the subway stairs and headed down the block toward the building I would have already been at had my train not been stuck for twenty minutes. My interview was at eleven, and it was already eleven-oh-one. Perhaps changing my outfit eight times this morning hadn’t helped my punctuality either.

The Maxim building was a modern, all-glass highrise with more than fifty floors. Inside the massive, sleek lobby, it took me a minute to even figure out where the company directory was—everything was silver and shiny. Finding it, I scanned for Parker Industries and ran my finger across the glass to locate the corresponding location. Floor thirty-three.

Running to the elevator bank, I saw that one car was just about to close, so I stuck my foot in to stop it. It worked but almost took off my toes in the process.

“Shit. Ouch.” The doors bounced open, and I hobbled my way inside, unknowingly sticking my shoe’s thin heel in the small gap of the door track. With my heel stuck, my body kept going, yet my foot didn’t, and I wobbled, falling forward. An arm caught me and kept me from landing on my face.

“Goddamn it,” I cursed under my breath, realizing my shoe was now completely off my foot and stuck in the elevator track.

“Nice to see you too, Reese.”

My head whipped up as I realized for the first time exactly who was keeping me from falling. “You’ve got to be kidding me. How many bad impressions can one person possibly make on another?”

After steadying me, Chase kneeled and pried my wedged footwear loose from the elevator. He tapped my calf to signal me to lift my bare leg and then slipped the shoe back onto my foot.

“Definitely not a bad impression,” he said, lingering on his knees longer than necessary. “You have great legs.”

“Thank you—for unjamming my shoe, I mean.”

He stood, and his eyebrows rose. “So you’re not thanking me for complimenting your sexy legs, then?”

I felt a blush creeping up and was relieved when he turned his attention to the button panel. “What floor?”

“Umm…thirty-three?” Is his company on more than one floor?

“You’re coming to Parker Industries? Are you here to meet Sam?”

“Yes. And Josh Lange.”

“Josh?”

“Yes. He’s who I’m interviewing with, right? The vice president of marketing?”

“Right. Yes. Josh is the VP of marketing,” he agreed, but I had the distinct feeling Chase hadn’t known I was coming to interview today.

We rode the elevator up in uncomfortable silence. When the doors slid open, he held out his arm for me to exit first, and we walked to the glass double doors of Parker Industries together.

The reception desk was empty.

“Why don’t you have a seat, and I’ll let them know you’re here?” he said.

“Thank you.”

A minute or two after he went inside, the receptionist returned to her desk. “Hi. Sorry, I had to make some copies. I hope you weren’t waiting long.”

“Not at all. Actually, I came in with Chase, and he was going to let Samantha Richmond and Josh Lange know I was here.”

“You must be Reese Annesley. Sam asked me to bring you to the conference room when you got here.” She waved me back. “Come on, I’ll show you the way.”

The conference room had a long mahogany table with a dozen chairs around it. The walls to the hallway were glass like a fishbowl, but the blinds on a track were partially closed. Once inside, I took out my Chapstick and lined my lips, adding some MAC Rebel lipstick on top. As I finished, I heard Chase’s voice from the other side of the glass.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to hire Reese.”

My heart sank. Obviously, he didn’t see me.

I recognized Samantha’s voice when she responded. “Why? We have a position open that she would be perfect for.”

“She wouldn’t be a good fit.”

“That’s crap.”

“Don’t give me a hard time, Sam. Just don’t hire her.”

I couldn’t see her, but I pictured her folding her arms across her chest. “Give me a reason.”

“Because I said so.”

“No.”

“No?”

“That’s right. No. You’re punishing the woman because she’s beautiful and you’re attracted to her. That’s just as wrong as punishing someone because they’re old or have a certain color skin.”

“You’re totally off base.”

“Okay. Then give me one good reason we shouldn’t hire her. She’s perfect for the job, and she’s able to start right away. With Dimitria going out on maternity leave soon, the timing couldn’t be better. Marketing is already understaffed, and Josh was planning on hiring someone for the branding team anyway. She can pick up some of Dimitria’s projects and then start new ones after Dimitria is back from leave.”

“Whatever. Do what you want, Sam.”

Sam’s voice became more distant. “I plan to.” She must have begun to walk away.

I closed my eyes. I certainly didn’t want to work somewhere I wasn’t wanted. But I needed to thank Samantha for her consideration before I left. Deciding it would be a waste of everyone’s time to even interview, I stood and began to walk back to the reception area. I would have the receptionist call Samantha for me. Of course Chase was coming down the hall as soon as I exited the conference room. I quickly turned and walked in the other direction, not even knowing where it would lead.

“Reese? Where are you going?”

“Why do you care?” I kept walking.

He caught up and fell in step with me. “What’s the matter?”

It pissed me off that he was acting all innocent, so I stopped and faced him to continue. “I overheard you in the conference room. I’m leaving.”

He closed his eyes. “Shit.”

“Yes. Shit. That’s how you made me feel.”

I began walking again, and Chase grabbed my elbow and steered me into an empty office, shutting the door behind him.

He raked his hand through his hair. His stupid, sexy hair. “I’m sorry. I was being an asshole.”

“Yes. You were. A big one.”

Chase dropped his head and chuckled. “You and Sam will get along great.”

“I take it you didn’t know Samantha had invited me here to interview today?”

He shook his head. “No, I didn’t.”

“Well, I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted. Please thank Samantha for me.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“I don’t even know what I think. You have me so confused.”

Chase stared at me for a moment, looking back and forth between my eyes. “Trust me, I’m trying to do the right thing.”

“Trust you? Because you have such a great track record of telling the truth when you’re around me?”

He glared at me.

I glared right back.

“Okay. Fine. You want the truth?”

I folded my arms over my chest. “That would be a refreshing change.”

He took a step closer to me, inching into my personal space. “I’m attracted to you. Really attracted to you. Have been since the first time I saw you. Tried to be respectful, considering you were seeing someone. Done doing that. If you work here, I’m going to try to get you into my bed.”

I opened my mouth to respond. Then closed it. Then opened it. “I can’t believe you just said that to me.”

He shrugged. “You wanted to know the truth. That’s the truth.”

“You do realize that I’d have to agree to sleep with you. Which wouldn’t happen if you were my boss, so it wouldn’t be a problem.”

“Oh. Well, then… Sounds like we wouldn’t have a problem after all. I was concerned for nothing. I’ll hit on you, and you’ll shut me down.”

“And…I also have a boyfriend.”

“Baron. We’ve met. The dope.”

“Bryant. And he’s not a dope.”

“Then we’re all set. Sam was right. You should work here if Josh wants to hire you. Won’t be an issue.”

He leaned in a little closer.

I stood my ground. God, he smells amazing.

“So we’re good? I apologize, you accept? You’re going to kick ass in the interview and get hired, then I’m going to try to get in your pants, and you’re not going to let me.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. The man was truly absurd.

He extended his hand. “Deal?”

“I’ve probably lost my mind, but, hey, why not? I’m days from being unemployed.” I put my hand in his, but instead of shaking it, he brought it to his mouth and kissed the top. I felt it all over. God, I’m in trouble.

He smiled wolfishly, revealing a dimple I hadn’t noticed earlier. It was a good thing he hadn’t taken that thing out before. Dangerous.

“All we have to do is get you hired now. You want some inside info?”

“Sure.”

“Tell Josh he looks like Adrien Brody. He loves it.”

I smiled warily. “Good to know.”

“And for Sam…never say you’re a Mets fan, even if you are. Yankees all the way.”

I squinted suspiciously. “You think baseball will come up in my interview for a marketing position?”

“You never know.”

“Why do I think you’re screwing with me?”

“One other thing, Josh isn’t hitting on you. That’s a twitch he’s got going on with his eye. Thought he was into me for the first week he worked here.”

I laughed. “Okay.”

Chase walked me back to the conference room, where Sam and a man I presumed to be Josh (since he looked exactly like Adrien Brody) were talking.

“Showed your interviewee the way to the ladies’ room,” Chase said and then introduced me to Josh. After we all shook hands and the three of us had taken seats in the conference room, Chase lingered in the doorway.

He held up a hand. “Nice to see you again, Reese. Good luck with your interview.”

“Would you like to stay for the interview, Chase?” Sam asked.

“No. I’m good. I’m sure you two have it covered.”

“Any questions or anything before you go?” she added.

“I don’t think so.” Chase pivoted to leave and then stopped. “Actually, I do have some quick questions. Do you mind, Reese?”

“Not at all.” What is he up to?

“Great. Favorite baseball team?”

I squinted at him, debating whether I should trust him or not. He looked amused when my answer didn’t come quickly. I took a deep breath, followed by a leap of faith. “I’d have to say the Yankees.”

“Good choice.” Chase’s eyes flashed to Samantha, whose face had brightened.

“One other question.”

I knew exactly what it was before he asked, but played along anyway.

“Does Josh look like any particular celebrity to you?”

I turned to Josh and pretended to deliberate for a moment, then turned back to Chase. “Adrien Brody, except with glasses.”

Sam looked at Chase like he’d lost his mind, and Josh sat a little taller.

“Good luck with the rest of the interview, Reese.”

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