His Indecent Proposition

By: Aphrodite Hunt

1





Susan Chalmers looks at herself in the bathroom mirror and takes a deep breath.

“OK, don’t panic. You can do it. He’s not as scary as everyone makes him to be,” she mutters to herself.

Then she freezes. She turns around to check if anyone is in the stalls of the fourteenth floor ladies’ restroom. Wouldn’t do to have any spies in the vicinity. None of the stall doors are closed, but you never know. So she does a cursory examination, her high heels going clack-clack-clack on the black and white tiles.

I’m getting paranoid, she scolds herself. It’s this intense competition that is getting to her, not to mention that slimy bastard, Leonard Drake. Leonard is aiming to be the youngest VP in the company, and yes, she has to admit she is older by a full year than that sneaky twenty-eight-year old who is always telling everyone he graduated from Stanford at age nineteen because he is some sort of accelerated home-schooled genius.

(Well, she’s older by exactly nine months, if you want to be picky about it.)

But VP!

Ohhh.

She can almost see her name in gold lettering on her door. SUSAN CHALMERS, VICE-PRESIDENT. She has earned her way to that promotion and she fully deserves the post. She has brought in the Stoughton contract, worth three hundred million dollars. OK, so Leonard is neck-to-neck with her with the Habber contract to the tune of three hundred and fifty million dollars, but what is a mere fifty million, right?

Her heart sinks.

Actually, if they wanted to be picky about it, that fifty million can mean the whole world between a promotion and another few more years of waiting in the wings. It just so happened that Dan Barry, the previous VP, dropped dead of a heart attack. Susan was genuinely sorry about it, even though Dan was a lecher who liked to grope all the women and cheat on his wife.

She looks at herself in the mirror again. She’s attractive enough with her coppery curls and wide brown eyes, but she has always wished she could be prettier and taller. But being pretty is not going to cut it with Mr. Channing Crawford, the CEO of Crawford, Peterson and Fulham Inc. As far as she knows, Mr. Crawford hasn’t even looked at any woman in the company. Rumors might have abounded that he was gay had it not been for his extreme alpha male masculinity and the way he seems to suck all the air out of a room.

Nope. This is all going to be based on merit. Maybe she needs the extra fifty million dollars after all.

You can do it, girl.

She plucks her purse off the sink and makes herself walk out of the restroom. Her legs are slightly wobbly as she strides to the elevators. The CEO’s office is on the top floor. Even after five years in the company, her encounters with Channing Crawford have been thankfully brief and limited to boardrooms and town hall meetings.

She doesn’t wish for broader contact. The man is frankly intimidating.

The light on top of one of the elevators comes on, and the doors slide open. Susan makes to step in, and freezes when she sees Leonard Drake inside.

Leonard smiles craftily. He is a tall black man with a full head of straight black hair. He is always impeccably dressed and he doesn’t walk – he glides like a shark.

“Going up?” he says.

She wonders if it’s a metaphor. She debates whether or not to postpone this appointment with Channing Crawford to another time. But you don’t postpone appointments with Channing Crawford. You don’t get a second chance.

She steels herself and lifts her chin up.

“As a matter of fact, yes,” she says.

She walks into the elevator with an air of confidence that she does not feel. Gotta keep those hands from trembling. She presses the button to the top floor, aware that Leonard is sizing her every move.

“Oh,” he says in a silky voice, “going to the CEO’s office?”

“What’s it to you?”

“I’ve just been there.”

Oh? Susan pricks up her ears. She will not give Leonard the satisfaction of turning her head to address him, however.

Leonard goes on, “Let’s just say the VP job is pretty much wrapped up.”

“Nothing is ever wrapped up until it’s over,” she says acidly.

Internally, she’s going damn damn damn in dismay. What uproariously stellar interview did Leonard give Channing Crawford? What new projects did he promise to deliver if he were to get that VP post? Leonard is an upstanding member of his church community, and he has a lot of contacts channeling in from that way.

As for her, she hasn’t gone to church since grade school.

Damn.

She wonders if it’s too late to court a parish.

The elevator reaches the twentieth floor and Leonard gets off.

“Good luck,” he says, grinning. “You’re gonna need it. Lots of it.”

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