The Wrong Brother
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Objective: Get hired as a temporary secretary and find out if Champ Holloway is a dirty, cheating scumbag.
Time Frame: One week.
Gabby would do anything for her best friend, Mia. Anything. That's what besties are for, right? But going undercover at her boyfriend's work to find out if he's cheating seems a bit extreme. Except she can't say no. Never to Mia. The moment she walks in and sees her boyfriend, she knows she made a mistake. He's sex on a stick, and she wants to take a delicious bite. He's also a bit too arrogant, needs to work on his pleases and thank yous, and he never smiles. Everyone should smile at least once a day. It's one long week of a battle of wills, sinful glances, and keeping her hands to herself. All she can do is repeat Mia. Mia. Mia. This is all for Mia. Until she realizes...there are two Mr. Holloways. And she got hired by the wrong one.
Warning: This is not a full romcom. While it has moments of humor, it also has a twist of angst. Okay, now you can dive in, you're prepared!
The entire Perfect For You series: (Each book can be read as a standalone.)
The Wrong Brother (Book 1): Dane & Gabriella
The Right Time (Book 2): Jaxson & Mia
Release date: August 11, 2020
Publisher: Amanda Siegrist
Print pages: 251
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
The Wrong Brother
She brushed a hand across her forehead, trying to hold in her patience. “Run that by me again. You want me to do what?”
Mia rolled her eyes. “Aren’t you listening, Gabs? You never listen to me.”
“I always listen to you, just not when you’re talking nonsense.” Gabby stood up from the couch, swiping her empty wine glass from the coffee table. She needed a refill, especially after what Mia asked her.
“I think he’s cheating on me.” Mia pouted as she followed Gabby to the kitchen.
“You haven’t been dating that long. I haven’t even met him.” Gabby stopped midway as she reached for the wine bottle. “I take that back. I rarely meet a guy you’re dating because you go through them so fast. There’s always something wrong with them. He snores. He spits too much. He uses the bathroom for too long. He likes to read instead of having sex. He’s a momma’s boy. Should I keep going?”
Mia grabbed a strand of hair and started to twirl it. “If you’re saying those are silly reasons to break up with a man, they’re not. Snoring is annoying. I could never get any sleep. That baseball player I dated did spit too much. And what possesses a man to sit in the bathroom for more than thirty minutes? I have needs, you know.”
“Please, I don’t want to hear about the reading part. Reading is good. I like to read.”
“You like reading when you’re about to have sex?” Mia planted a hand on her hip, her lips pursed, her eyebrows raised in defiance as she waited for an answer.
“I don’t have sex as often as I’d like. That reminds me, I should put that on my to-do list.” Gabby grabbed the pen and pad near her phone. “Have some sex. Soon.” She made sure to underline the word soon several times.
She pushed the paper toward Mia. “I even underlined ‘soon.’ Then I’ll pull out a book and read before I do the deed. You know, if you read an erotica book together, it would add to the mood. Did you ever think about that?”
“You’re incorrigible. I get nowhere with you. Absolutely nowhere.” Mia rolled her eyes once again.
Gabby pulled the cork from the wine bottle, pouring herself a glass to the rim. Sometimes dealing with Mia involved much-needed consumption of alcohol. “Why do you think he’s cheating? And if you think he’s cheating, dump his ass. Move on. You do it so well.”
“Can you, for once in your life, not be so honest?” Then Mia glared at the jar filled with quarters on the counter. “You owe a quarter for swearing.”
Damn it, she did. “I’ll add it later. You knew what you were getting into when you started up a friendship with me. Remember the day we met, and I told you that green shirt looked horrible with that beautiful red hair you have? Never wear green. You make me think of Christmas.” Gabby took a sip of wine.
“But you love Christmas,” Mia pointed out. “I like bringing the Christmas spirit right to your door.”
“You’re right, I love Christmas. But not when I look at you and see a brightly lit Christmas tree.”
Mia laughed, covering her mouth with her hand. “I did look pretty bad that day. But not all green looks bad on me these days. I now have a great fashion sense. You, on the other hand, need help sometimes.”
“That’s why we balance each other out. That’s why we’re best friends.”
“And that’s why I need you to apply for my boyfriend’s vacant secretary position and see if he’s cheating on me.”
Gabby took a long sip of wine, letting the warm liquid soothe her. “I have a job, you know. A real job.”
Mia snapped her fingers with vigor, pointing at Gabby. “You also have vacation time. Didn’t you say you had so much time built up that you might start losing it if you don’t use it? I’m helping you with that little problem.”
“Mia, come on, talk to him. See if he’s cheating on you. You’re obviously getting a feeling that he’s doing something wrong if you’re asking me to do this. It’s a little extreme for me to go ‘undercover,’” Gabby said, using quotations with her fingers on the word undercover, “to see if your boyfriend is cheating on you.”
“Since when are cheaters honest? Like he’s going to say, ‘Yeah, Mia baby, I’m not cheating on you.’ He’d never admit it.”
She rolled her eyes. “Oh, God, does he call you baby? That’s so…so…disgusting.”
“It’s sweet. It rolls off his tongue like butter melting on a piece of warm bread. I love it when he calls me that.”
“If you say so. Look, Mia, I can’t take a week off work to go incognito at his work. There’s no way in hell I could lie on the application about prior employment. It’s not in me to lie like that.”
“You don’t have to lie. You were a secretary before.” Mia smirked. “That’s another quarter.”
Gabby raised her eyebrows in disbelief, almost spitting out the small gulp she had consumed. Then she rolled her eyes. “Stop making me swear. I’m blaming you. And I was a secretary when I was nineteen. I’m twenty-nine now. We’re a little too old to be playing these games. Talk to him.”
“I can’t. I don’t want to see him lie to my face.”
“If you think he’s cheating, I repeat—dump. His. Ass.”
“You’re almost up to a dollar.”
“Mia!” Gabby knew she was trying to irritate her.
“I need solid proof before I confront him.” Mia produced another pouty face that was hard to resist. “I need you to do this. His secretary is on maternity leave. It’s only a temp position, so it’s not like you’d be lying that much when you leave after a week. He’s been talking about how all the applicants have been horrible. He’ll hire you on the spot. I know it. Like you said, one week. That’s all I’m asking. I need to know. Then I can dump the lying, cheating, scumbag for sleeping around on me.”
Gabby gulped the rest of her drink, wiping her hand across her lips as if she gained a mustache from the sweet red wine. “How do I let you talk me into shit like this?” She groaned. “Yes, I know, I now owe a dollar.”
Mia screamed in delight, grabbing Gabby around the waist. “You’re the best bestie ever.”
“Fine, bestie. One week. No more.”
“Yes! I knew I could count on you. His name is Champ Holloway.”
“I can’t believe I’m agreeing to this.”
Gabby sat on a nice plush black couch, bouncing her leg out of tune to the mellow music playing overhead. Something you’d hear at a symphony. Not that she ever would attend that sort of concert. She’d fall asleep from boredom. She’d take a rock concert over a symphony any day.
A new song, just as light and melodious as the last, started to play. It was annoying music. If she did get the job—a big if—she sure in the hell didn’t want to listen to this crap all week. She’d go out of her ever-lovin’ mind. Give her a crazy upbeat song, and she’d be good to go. It’d get her in the mood to work and do the best damn job she could.
She still didn’t know why she caved into Mia’s pleading. This was insane. This problem could be rectified by simply talking to the man.
Mia and men. Problem? Of course. There was always a problem when it came to Mia and men. She didn’t know how to talk to them, how to have a normal, “let’s have a nice relationship” sort of talk. Although Gabby shouldn’t judge. She didn’t know how to have that talk either. Her relationships were fleeting, at best. Nonexistent, at worst.
When it came to the man department, she and Mia swung out every time.
She met Mia in the hallway of their elementary school. Third grade rearing its ugly head—in her eyes, anyway. She was new to the school. Not the best way to make friends by insulting her choice of dress, but Mia hadn’t seemed to care. She shyly smiled, pushed up her glasses that were too big for her face, and said, “Do you want to sit by me at lunch?” And as they say, the rest is history. Twenty years later, Mia’s suckering her into going undercover to see if her boyfriend was cheating on her.
Well, hoping to go undercover. There was no guarantee she would get the job. She’d have to use her wily skills of negotiation. She could do this. She would do this. Mia was depending on her to find the truth. That was her job. Finding out the truth. When it came to Mia, if she asked, she always came through for her. That’s just the kind of friend she was.
“Ms. Stileano, this way, please. Mr. Holloway will see you now,” an older lady with black as night hair—Gabby knew for sure she colored it recently to cover the gray, it was so bold—said with a nasally voice.
“It’s Stileano. Like Still-ano. Not Style-ano.” Gabby stood up with a bright smile. She hated it when people said her last name wrong. She always corrected them. Most people screwed it up, making her have to correct a lot of people. She always said it with a smile. It usually didn’t matter. People always took offense. It was her last name for goodness sake. She should be the one taking offense. Not the other way around.
Of course, in good order like it normally happened, the older woman took offense and pursed her lips in a thin line. “This way. Mr. Holloway is a busy man. He doesn’t have a lot of time.”
They walked down a long hallway where they came to a set of double doors. The older woman pulled one open, walked through, and didn’t bother to hold the door open for her. She had to rush ahead a few steps to grab the door before it slammed in her face.
The fast movement made her stumble in her high heels. The damn things. She hated wearing high heels. Yet, she managed to stay upright and not fall flat on her ass. The last thing she needed to do was embarrass herself or sprain an ankle.
She told herself to let it go, to not let the woman get to her. If this didn’t matter so much to Mia, she would’ve marched right back out of this place. Judgmental bitch. What did she have to judge about her?
Was her outfit not professional enough? Did her pants have wrinkles from sitting so long? She swore she waited longer than she should’ve. She arrived ten minutes early because she hated being late for anything. Or maybe Miss I-dye-my-hair-terrible was having a bad day.
She would never work at a place where she’d have to deal with someone like this. Sure, she dealt with some unruly, uncaring coworkers at her other job, but she loved that job. She knew she wouldn’t love being a secretary. This would test her patience. She hated being a secretary at nineteen, and she didn’t think her opinion had changed at twenty-nine.
Think of Mia. This is all for Mia.
A desk sat to the left, clutter-free, except for a small computer on the corner and a container full of pens and pencils right next to it. Another plush black couch sat kitty-corner to the desk. A small table filled with several magazines and a nice orchid plant sat next to the couch. A few paintings adorned the walls that captivated her attention. She wasn’t into art, but she could appreciate fine art when she saw it. Most were of buildings at unique angles. One really caught her attention. Splashes of color, like someone took a brush, whipping an array of colors onto the canvas. It spoke to her. It felt like her life sometimes. Different colors, different directions. The splashes indicating the many derails life held for her.
God, when did she get so deep?
She smiled brightly when she saw the older woman standing by another set of double doors, her hands on her hips and the impatience clear on her face.
“As I said, Mr. Holloway is a busy man. Are you finished looking around?”
“By all means. I’ve been ready.” Gabby gestured at the door. If anyone should be pissed, it should be her. She was early and still had to wait over twenty minutes after her appointed time.
The woman knocked on the door. A loud booming voice from inside yelled, “Come in.”
The woman pulled the door open and stepped inside. “Mr. Holloway, Ms. Stileano to see you.”
“Send her in.”
The old lady smirked at Gabby as she walked by. She wanted to slap her silly for saying her last name wrong again. She knew she did it on purpose this time. Instead, she kept the smile on her face and thought of Mia. This was all for Mia.
“Ms. Stileano, have a seat,” Mr. Holloway said from behind a huge oak desk, waving a hand at the chair in front of it. He didn’t even look up from the stack of papers lying on his desk.
Gabby tried to keep the awe out of her eyes, and her jaw from hanging open. The view behind him was spectacular. New York City was a city worth sighing over any day. But sometimes, a view as magnificent as this needed extra time to take in and breathe in deeply. They weren’t even on the top floor, but she could see the Statue of Liberty in all its glory, the sparkling water shining with elegance all around it. What a view. She would do anything to have a view like this to appreciate every day.
“Have a seat. I don’t have all day, Ms. Stileano.”
She shook her head clear of that misguided detour of beauty just to land on his face. Mia was dating this guy. She was glad she chose a pantsuit over a skirt. She imagined her legs would’ve blushed from all the heat gushing straight between her legs. Did legs even blush? Was that possible? Because it sure felt possible right at this moment.
She knew Mia had a knack for picking out handsome guys, but damn! This man was perfection at its finest, from his stylish hair to his angular jaw that looked meant for kissing to his suit that fit him like a glove. Even though he was sitting comfortably in his chair, she could tell the suit fit him to perfection.
Not that she cared how well the suit fit him.
She took a few more steps before sinking into the chair. Another plush, comfortable chair that made her want to groan with satisfaction. And maybe a little from the piercing depths of his dark brown eyes that seemed to stare straight through her. Right down to her very soul.
“It’s Still-ano. Not Style-ano. And I apologize. The view from your office is amazing.” She pointed at the window as she tried to make up for her complete lack of decorum.
She needed him to turn toward the window. She needed some time to regain her composure. He was sex wrapped up into a nice delectable package with a beautiful red bow to tie it closed. Merry Christmas to her. Or not. He was Mia’s boyfriend.
That didn’t mean she couldn’t appreciate the gorgeousness before her. It was totally okay to look. But no touching. He had brown hair, about as deep as his sharp brown eyes, combed to the right with a slight wave. It was short but long enough to tame with a comb. She was curious if she ran her hands through it if it would stick straight up or fall flat, resting into the same pattern he combed it into.
Mia. Think of Mia. This was her boyfriend. You are not touching the man’s hair.
They stared at one another for the longest time. At least, it felt like that. He needed to turn around.
“The view. Gorgeous, right? You must—”
“Moving along, Ms. Stileano. It says here on your application that the last time you had any sort of secretarial job was at nineteen. A few cooking jobs, a bakery, and a flower shop since then. What makes you qualified? I prefer not to waste anyone’s time here. Especially mine.”
“First off, Mr. Holloway, thank you for getting my last name right this time. I do appreciate that.” For the moment, she’d ignore the fact he interrupted her. Think of Mia. Because, how rude. “Secondly, I’m a fast typer. Writing reports is my forte at my—” Gabby stopped, almost spilling beans about her real job. “At my last job at the flower shop. You have no idea how many inventory reports I had to write. I take meticulous notes because I hate missing anything. There are so many things you can miss if you don’t write that shit down.”
She cleared her throat. “I didn’t mean to swear. I have a potty mouth sometimes. There’s a quarter jar at work. I contribute to it...a lot. The main contributor, actually. My former work, that is. I don’t work at the flower shop anymore.”
That wasn’t a lie. There had been a quarter jar at the flower shop because she made one, just like she created the one at her current job. And the one she had in her apartment. Not to mention one at Mia’s. Not that the dumb swear jars ever stopped her from cursing. She had the worst potty mouth. The words came naturally out of her mouth, no matter how hard she tried to stop herself. But it was nice to have—especially at work—because it filled up quickly with everyone contributing to it. They always used the money to buy donuts, cupcakes, and anything else yummy to snack on.
She inhaled a patient breath and folded her legs. She never lost her cool like this. He was simply too easy to look at. His eyes, brown as the chocolate she ate this morning, seared into her as she spoke. It was unnerving. Thinking about that chocolate made her want to eat him up as well. She imagined he’d be just as delicious.
Stop it! Mia, don’t forget about Mia.
“The qualifications said you needed someone who could write memos, take notes, file files.” She laughed. Not that there was anything funny about this situation. His tepid expression said he wasn’t amused at all. “I am very organized, some would even say anal—way anal. I’ve had that said to me way too many times. But hey, if it’s in its place, you can’t lose it. Am I right?”
She watched as his lips moved, barely. She couldn’t tell if that was a smile wanting to be freed or an unconscious gesture. She had to say, though, she enjoyed looking at his lips. They looked like very kissable lips. She could already imagine them making their way to hers. Taking a light nibble, then making a slow trail down her neck to her breast where he would clamp onto her—
Mia! You are here for Mia. Stop letting your mind wander.
“Why did you leave the flower business? Any problems that I should know? Besides your potty mouth,” he said, his gaze still unwavering and void of any expression but coolness.
But that twitch. She saw it again. Definite twitch of the lips. He wanted to smile. She could tell. Oh, how she wanted him to smile. She imagined it would personify his handsome features. The added five o’clock shadow on his cheeks added a hint of danger. Like he was tempting her to close the distance and kiss him. Brush her cheek against his scruffy one.
Stop this nonsense.
“I needed a change. So, here I am. What’s to lose? I would love to work for your company. You design and build things. I love watching things come alive. I rock at Legos with my five-year-old nephew. Not that that has anything to do with this.” She could feel a blush coming on. Seriously, Gabs. She never mumbled and sounded like an idiot. “The most you can do is say no. I didn’t lose anything. But if you say yes and give me a chance, I win. I gain a job. And you win. What’s not to like about that scenario? You’ll see within an hour what kind of wonderful secretary I would be if you gave me a chance.”
And you better because Mia will cry. I hate it when Mia cries. Then she pasted on the best smile she owned.
“You’re not like any of the other applicants I’ve interviewed. I like your honesty, Ms. Stileano. I’m a busy man—”
“So you said several times. Don’t you take time for yourself at all? Have a little fun and let loose? You can’t always be busy.”
“Don’t interrupt me. Ever.”
She nodded in agreement. “You’re right. That was rude of me. But you shouldn’t interrupt me if you don’t like it. You did earlier if you’re confused about what I’m talking about. Just sayin’…Mr. Holloway.”
A lone brow rose as if he were amazed at her audacity. She liked the look on him. It made him look sexier somehow, his cheekbones rising a little, the ridges on his face contorting into a slight shock that made her want to kiss each spot.
No kissing! Mia. Mia. Mia. If she needed to repeat her friend’s name a billion times in her head, she would.
Why was she having these illicit thoughts about a man who was—in all reality—cheating on her friend?
Because it had been a long while since she had sex. She needed to rectify that problem, especially if she had to work with him for the next week. Hopefully. Not too hopeful, though, because she couldn’t act on her impulses—like vault across his desk and devour him from head to toe. Nope. Just hopeful for Mia’s sake.
“I must be losing my mind,” he muttered, then ran a hand through his hair. Oh, wow. The gesture turned her on further, making her wish she could do the same thing.
No! She did not want to run her hands through his hair.
“I have work to do, and this is wasting my time. You want your hour? Here’s your chance. I need this memo typed up, twenty minutes ago. I need this phone call returned that I can’t make the meeting on Thursday. Reschedule it for Friday at a nice restaurant. I need to impress the client. After twelve but before four o’clock. And not Decello’s. Don’t ask why. I need emails to these people on the change of construction on the new building in Brooklyn. To the contractors, finance department, and investors. I don’t have the time to hold your hand or explain further about what I said. Do it in an hour, or you can leave. That’s my answer.” He held out a stack of papers and sticky notes, his expression indicating he wasn’t messing around.
“A kind ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ would go a long way. Just sayin’.” She grabbed the papers from him and stood up. “Thank you for the opportunity. See how easy that was?”
His face was still void of any emotion, not even a flicker of what he was thinking. “Get to work, Ms. Stileano.” His lip twitched again as if he wanted to smile. “Before I change my mind.”
Duly noted. He was the biggest Scrooge in the office. She walked out of his office, happy to be free and clear of his handsome face. This was going to be the longest week of her life. She hoped he hit on her. And no, not that she could revel in the fact he found her attractive as well and how he wanted to throw her across his desk and have his dirty way with her. Definitely not for that reason, as tempting as it may be. But because she would know he was a lying, cheating, dirty scumbag. She could rid Mia of him and get the hell out of this building away from his enticing, sexy face.
Dane rubbed a tired hand over his face after his new secretary walked away and closed his office door. What was he getting himself into hiring her? He had to be out of his mind. She swore, she stated her opinion without thinking, and her last job was working at a flower shop five months ago. A flower shop! Here he was hiring her to work as his secretary, where she would be making more money than she ever saw in her life.
Not that he thought about the money he made. He didn’t have time to think about things like that. He worked too much.
But he worked to get that kind of money in his bank account. He liked his job.
No. He loved his job, and he wasn’t in it for the money. He didn’t need to rise to the top like some people without working hard to earn his way there.
Of course, he didn’t want his thoughts to derail there because then he wouldn’t get anything done. He was already behind schedule on his latest project. He needed Ms. Stileano to pull through for him. If she did her job well, she deserved each penny given to her. Because he would work her to the bone. He had with every other secretary.
Not that they stayed long enough for his liking. They always quit within a few weeks, or he fired them. He couldn’t stand incompetence or slacking. He needed his work done, and he needed it done right away.
How long would she last?
He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was something about the woman that had him taking a chance for once. He never took chances. He always investigated, analyzed, and scrutinized every tiny detail before making a decision. He didn’t get to where he was without being precise. He always had to work hard to make his way—even in his own father’s company. Yet, here he was, hiring her on the spot.
But her honesty. That had him hooked right away. Honesty was hard to come by. He didn’t see it very often, especially in his own family. Unlike some people, he always tried to be honest. Whether people saw that as a weakness, he didn’t care. Honesty was important—critical in any relationship. He knew where he stood with Ms. Stileano, and that wasn’t something he could ignore. She wouldn’t hold back her opinion. He liked that about her—a lot.
Dane ran another hand through his hair. Damn. Was he making a mistake hiring her? He couldn’t afford to get behind any further in this latest project.
Would she get everything done? Would she screw anything up?
She looked the part, like she knew how to run an office with efficiency and organization. She was dressed very conservatively, very dull that wouldn’t attract too much attention. But she had an elegance that wasn’t hard to miss: long, wavy hair, half pinned to the side, giving a nice view of her cheekbone. For a moment, he had lost his train of thought, wondering what it would be like to kiss her along her jawline to her mouth.
Not something he could afford—a distraction. He had too much work to get done.
Double damn. Perhaps hiring her had been a mistake. She would be a huge distraction. She had since the moment she sat down in front of his desk. Her blouse had pulled tight across her chest, revealing a nice set of breasts that made a man want to touch. He was thankful it only lasted a second before she settled into the chair, making her blouse loose again. He couldn’t believe he even noticed in the first place. He never noticed things like that.
He had to admit, his favorite part had been when she walked out. The way her ass swayed from side to side, her pants fitting snug. He never considered himself an ass man, but he had been tempted to stand up and follow her. To grab her from behind and squeeze. Thank heavens he stayed seated and hid the hard erection that formed from watching her walk away.
An erection, for God’s sake. At work.
He needed to keep his thoughts away from the bedroom. He didn’t have time for a woman. And he didn’t need to screw things up by sleeping with his secretary. Never had he stooped so low in his life. Things like that were despicable in his eyes. He wasn’t about to start now. Maybe none of that would matter. Could she last an hour with his high expectations?
To his surprise, she did more than he expected. She completed his long list he threw out to her in their initial meeting, not once needing to clarify anything. She returned a few phone calls that needed to be taken care of via the sticky notes posted on the computer screen on her desk. She also tackled the phone calls as they came in, learning quickly he didn’t want to be bothered by just anybody.
He knew he was abrupt—to most people if he was honest with himself. If he expected honesty with others, he had to be honest with himself as well. He didn’t have time for nonsense. Most of the calls he received were nonsense. He needed a secretary who would weed out the nonsense right away and take care of the problem. He had given her a small reprieve by explaining what calls he wanted to take and what calls should be directed to the office manager down the hallway. He had bigger things to deal with than what color he wanted the walls painted in the new building in Brooklyn. Paint them white, for all he cared. It was the structure, the magnificence of the building itself that made his heart soar.
An hour and a half into her probation period, he decided he liked her efficiency. He canceled the other three interviews he had lined up that afternoon. He was sick and tired of looking for a secretary—three long days of interviewing, coming up empty in each one. None of them spoke to him like Ms. Stileano had. By noon, he left for a lunch meeting and told her he’d be back by two. He told her to grab lunch and finish completing the memos he placed on her desk.
He knew it was a large stack he set forth for her to complete. But he was three days behind schedule. Three days without a secretary that too much work had piled up. He hated being behind, and he hated rushing even more. He liked everything to run smoothly. So far, she had proved to make things run very smoothly for him indeed.
Until he went to the filing cabinet in his office and couldn’t find the file he needed. Nothing was in its spot.
“Ms. Stileano, my office! Now!” He shuffled through the files, his irritation rising by the second. He glanced over to the door to see it closed. Where was she?
“Ms. Stileano!” Slowing down as his fingers ventured forward through each folder, he made sure to take his time so he wouldn’t miss the file he was looking for.
What was taking her? This was ridiculous.
“Ms. Stileano, I need you. Now!”
His fingers paused between the files. It couldn’t be. He blew out a deep breath, wondering how much nerve the woman actually had.
A kind please and thank you would go a long way. Just sayin’.
“Ms. Stileano, come here…please.”
No more than three seconds passed before the door opened and she walked in.
“Yes, Mr. Holloway. You needed me?”
“Were you standing outside the door waiting for me to say please?”
“Was it so difficult to use the word? I am a person with feelings. I may be your secretary, but I am not a doormat or a dog. I don’t jump at commands.”
He steeled his mind not to lash out. She was right. He could be more polite at times. But he needed this file, and he needed it now.
“Did you mess with my files?”
“Do you mean to ask if I organized them? Then, yes, I did mess with them. I completed everything you asked of me. I took a phone call from Mr. Shelburg, who needed some information on the Duncan building. I came in here to look for it, and let me tell you, your filing sense is atrocious. I almost didn’t find the damn thing. I had to apologize to Mr. Shelburg—multiple times—for keeping him on hold for so long. You weren’t back yet from your meeting, so I organized your filing cabinet for you.”
“But I can’t find anything now.”
“Could you seriously find anything before?”
He paused, not wanting to answer the question. Then, because he couldn’t stop himself, he said, “You swore again. Do we need a swear jar, Ms. Stileano?”
A tiny smirk appeared on her gorgeous face. “Maybe.”
He forced himself not to return a smile, smirk, or even a tiny grin, but damn, he wanted to.
“I need the Marcelli file. Where is it?”
“It’s simple. I promise. It’s under M.”
She smiled brightly, making him want to shake her silly and remove that damn smile. Then it hit him. He knew the perfect way to remove it. What would she do if he suddenly kissed her? That’d wipe her smile off with ease. That sounded like a much better plan than shaking her.
Damn it. He couldn’t kiss his secretary, no matter how enticing it sounded. But, oh, it sounded very enticing.
He pressed his lips together to hold back another smile that wanted to let loose. “Do you enjoy being a smartass?”
She tilted her head, tapping a finger on her temple. “On occasion. But I didn’t mean it sarcastically. I meant it literally. It’s really simple. I organized it by sorting everything alphabetically. It’ll be much easier for you.” Then another beautiful smile appeared. “Perhaps I should make a swear jar. You can’t seem to control your impulses to swear either.”
He averted his attention back to the cabinet. She was right on one account. He couldn’t control his impulse to swear, and he was almost having a hard time controlling the impulse to cross the distance and kiss her senseless. Ignoring what he knew would be a terrible idea, he pulled open another drawer where he found the Ms. He saw the file he needed immediately, grabbed it, shoving the drawer closed.
“Ms. Stileano, I need a cup of coffee.” He walked back over to his desk.
“You can get your own coffee.”
“Excuse me?” And he thought she had already managed to surprise him enough for the day. Apparently, he was wrong.
“I’m your secretary. Nowhere in the job description did it mention fetching you a cup of coffee. I’m not your personal servant. Although, you’ve felt the need to almost act like I’ve been just that all day. I have a lot of things to do, thanks to you. I don’t have time to get your coffee. If you want one, you’ll have to get it yourself.”
“Do you like testing me?”
“No. It’s simple manners. You didn’t even add ‘please.’”
“Do you want to be fired already?”
“Are you firing me?”
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