A Wolf in Billionaire’s ClothingBy: Daphne Loveling
Miranda looked at all of her new colleagues, milling around her in various stages of activity. What is it with all of these gorgeous women? she wondered abstractly. She fought the urge to compare herself with them. She knew it would only make her feel miserable. She had always been curvy, ever since puberty. It didn’t matter how much she exercised or what she ate. Even at her very thinnest, when she was playing sports in high school, she never got below a size ten. Privately, she thought she looked better now than she did then, but still. That didn’t mean she didn’t often wish, in her heart of hearts, that she could be long and lithe like the blond at the reception. What she wouldn’t give to be able to wear skinny fashion-model designs!
Sighing, Miranda straightened in her chair and told herself sternly to stop thinking about it. She was who she was, and that wasn’t going to change. Frowning, she reached up to pull her cascading brown hair out of her way to one side, and picked up the first bit of correspondence to be typed. Before she knew it, she was immersed in her work. She continued until a voice to her left said, “Do you need a friend for lunch?”
Looking up, Miranda saw a slim, attractive redhead in a black pencil skirt and emerald green top. What is it with all these stick-think women? she thought irritably, struck once more by how out of place she felt. Still, the woman was looking at her expectantly, and seemed friendly enough. “Sure, thanks for asking! I’m Miranda,” she said with a smile.
“Kim,” the redhead said, holding out her hand for Miranda to shake. “I figured you could use a breather. You worked straight through the morning without a break.”
“I did?” Miranda looked at the computer screen for the time. 12:06. “Wow, you’re right. I guess I thought Ms. Hathaway would be back for me soon, so I just didn’t pay attention to the time.”
At the mention of Ms. Hathaway, Kim rolled her eyes a bit.
“What? Should I be worried about Ms. Hathaway?” Miranda queried.
“Nooo… she’s okay. Just a little demanding. She tends to play favorites. But anyway, she’s not the one you have to worry about. It’s Liam Blake you’re working for.”
“What’s he like?”
“Come on.” Kim urged Miranda out of her seat. “I’ll tell you at lunch.”
A few minutes later, over sandwiches in the cafeteria, Kim told Miranda what she knew about Liam Blake. “He’s freaking gorgeous,” Kim sighed, taking another bite of her turkey on wheat. “All the women in the office are in love with him. But he doesn’t give anyone the time of day. Ms. Hathaway gets on some of the women that she thinks are flirting with him. It’s like she thinks she owns him. But he doesn’t really pay much attention to her, either, as much as she’d like him to.” Kim giggled. “The only time you will ever see Marie smile is when she’s talking to him.”
“Marie? Oh, Ms. Hathaway.” Miranda had forgotten her first name.
“Yeah, the name doesn’t really suit her, does it?” Kim mused. “Marie sounds like a soft name. She’s pretty tough. Like a one-syllable, no-nonsense name. Jane. Or Kate. Something like that.”
They passed the rest of their lunch break thinking of better first names for Marie Hathaway and gossiping about other people in the office. By the end, Miranda decided Kim was very nice, if a little too willing to bring up personal details about her colleagues. Miranda made a mental note not to confide in her too much.
At the beginning of the afternoon, Marie Hathaway came back to Miranda’s desk and spent the better part of an hour with her, going through various aspects of the job.
“Mr. Blake should be in later this afternoon. He’s coming back from a business trip and needs to take care of a few things here before the end of the day. Be sure to keep a professional attitude with him. No flirting. He doesn’t appreciate it,” Marie warned. He doesn’t, or you don’t? Miranda thought, but she simply smiled and nodded. Besides, it wasn’t like Miranda would flirt with him, anyway. If none of these thin, perfect women could manage to get any attention from him, how would she stand a chance?
“Understood,” Miranda murmured, knowing that Ms. Hathaway would expect an answer.
Marie Hathaway gave Miranda a long, cool appraising look. “Good. Now, here is a project that should take you through the rest of the day. I have a meeting now, so I won’t be back to check up on you. Once Mr. Blake arrives, I’m sure he’ll have work for you to do, as well.”
Miranda watched Marie’s disappearing figure stride purposefully down the hallway, breathing a sigh of relief when she was out of sight. She turned back to her work, and again lost herself in the task until she heard footsteps approaching on the carpet. Looking up expectantly, she was suddenly staring into the eyes of one Liam Blake.