The Boss Vol. 2By: Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott
Damn guy was always smiling. Always. Jolly asshole.
This time, she didn’t reply. Shortly afterward, Jack ambled off, whistling.
I went back to my notes. Work, I understood.
It wasn’t long before my IM chimed again.
GC: Your mail has been sorted and prioritized. Shall I bring it in now? Perhaps gather you a cup of tea and a scone?
BC: Your sarcasm is neither welcome nor appreciated.
GC: My apologies, sir.
I narrowed my gaze on Grace’s form through the glass. She sat at her desk, her hair restrained in a neat braid, her fingers flying over the keys. Beneath her desk, I could see the hem of her long skirt flirting with her slim calves. Her shoes weren’t sexy. Far from it. They appeared to be chunky-heeled, buckled things that were for function more than form. I shifted on my seat just the same at the telltale stirring in my pants. Between her calling me sir and those narrow ankles, strong and delicate both, peeking out from between skirt and shoe, I had to fist my hands on the edge of my desk.
I also couldn’t avoid her forever.
BC: Please bring in the mail when you get a moment. No scone or tea required. I’m reasonably sure we have neither on the premises.
A moment later, she rose from her desk, her arms wrapped around a stack of mail and a white bag clutched in one hand, when the elevator opened and a courier stepped off with a large white box. He smiled upon sighting Grace, his professional demeanor falling away in favor of flirtation.
Was I doomed to see every man within miles swarm Grace?
She chatted easily with him, setting down the mail and the bag in favor of accepting the box. She drew the top off, her smile faltering at whatever the courier was saying, too low to be overheard. She nodded and he left, leaving her to withdraw one of the envelopes. Then her head lifted, her gaze connecting with mine through the thin pane of glass that separated us.
She didn’t know I was staring. That I stared far too often, helpless against my need to watch.
She picked up everything again, leaving behind the box she’d just received though she brought the single envelope she’d taken out with her. Curiosity had me rising from my chair as she opened the door and breezed inside on a cloud of lilac perfume and indignation.
“You support this charity?” She slapped the gold-embossed envelope on my desk without relinquishing her hold on the rest of her pile.
Frowning, I picked up the envelope. Foundation for the Lost was printed in the upper left hand corner, and a seal in the right said Bring Home Jimmy Calagnino.
“Yes. The company is one of their primary sponsors for this year’s Light Up The Night community gathering. Why?”
Why does it make you angry?
“So it’s some corporate shill. Just something you do to seem important and use as advertising.”
“Of course not. Why would we need to use a missing boy for advertising? I think we’re doing just fine on our own.”
She compressed her lips and set down her stack of mail. The small white bag started to tip off the pile and I reached for it, but she snatched it back.
“He was six. Just six,” she said quietly, without looking at me.
“Do you?” She clutched the bag to her chest, and I wondered what was in it. Why she gripped it in white-knuckled fingers. “He vanished in plain sight, moments before his parents arrived to pick him up. A playground should be safe for kids. It should be safe for everyone.”
“I agree.” I had no reason to want her approval—to need it, for reasons I couldn’t explain even to myself. But I was driven to receive it just the same. “Without getting into all the technical jargon, we’ve developed a kind of glass we’re using as part of their gathering for community awareness about missing children. It’s reflective, and under streetlights, it will appear to glow as if it’s lit.”
“So you’re doing it for the spectacle?” Her cheeks reddened. “For attention and to gain community favor?”
“No,” I snapped. “I’m doing it because that playground meant something to me when I was Jimmy’s age, and I’ll be damned if I don’t use my name and money for something other than making more.”
She fell silent, the shields dropping down over her eyes more effective than my one-way glass at shutting me out.
The fact that I deserved no better didn’t stop it from stinging.
After a moment, she opened the white bag and withdrew a single tea bag. Lipton. Yellow and red, with a frayed string.
“I stopped off at the deli on my way in. I was going to bring you coffee, but I decided tea might be better. Too much caffeine isn’t good for anyone.” I thought I heard a tremor in her voice, but I wasn’t sure. “The scones were two for one, on special. So I brought you one of those too.”