A Wolf in Billionaire’s ClothingBy: Daphne Loveling
The dog turned to look at Miranda with his glowing eyes and she had a moment of sheer panic. She opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out. The dog closed his mouth and made a questioning sound, cocking his head and backing away a couple of steps. He yipped once softly and turned on his pads, disappearing into the night.
Miranda stood there for a minute in a daze. As her shock began to wear off, she realized she was shivering, and she began to walk slowly and unsteadily toward the subway stop. Emerging finally from the side street on to the main boulevard, she unexpectedly ran straight into Liam Blake.
“Ms. Jacobs!” he exclaimed, then frowned. “My God, you look terrible. What’s happened to you?” His hair was slightly disheveled and Miranda noticed what seemed to be a relatively fresh scrape above his left cheek.
“What happened to your cheek?” she asked, her voice faint and unsteady.
“Never mind me,” he said brusquely. “You seem shaken. Come, sit down.” He led her to the subway entrance and had her half-sit on the railing surrounding it. “Tell me what happened,” he said gently, grasping her by the shoulders.
“I don’t know exactly…” she began. “I was walking for the subway and this man came out of the shadows at me, and he was going to…” her voice broke, but she cleared her throat and continued. “He was going to try to hurt me. And then this giant… dog… came out of nowhere and chased him off. Then the dog left. I almost feel like I imagined it. It seemed so unreal…”
He was silent for a moment, not commenting on what she thought she had seen. Finally, he said, “Well, whatever happened back there, it’s clear you’ve had quite a shock. Please, let me take you home in my car.”
“No!” she insisted. Then realizing she was being rude, she started again in a calmer tone. “No, really. Thank you. I appreciate it, but I really insist. I’ll be fine. I’m right here now, and I promise you I can see my apartment building from my subway stop. I even have pepper spray, see?” She held up her keychain with the little vial. “I promise I will always keep it in my hand when I’m walking, from now on.”
“Miranda, I really don’t feel good about…”
“Please,” she begged him. She suddenly felt so humiliated to have her boss here, trying to take care of her. “Please.”
Liam Blake frowned, then sighed. “All right. I suppose I can’t force you. But please, please, be careful.” His eyes locked onto hers with an expression she couldn’t fathom. Blushing, she turned away.
“I promise. And thank you.” Miranda gave him a half-smile and a little wave, before turning and hurrying down the steps to her train.
The next day, Miranda made sure to show up early for work. She took extra care getting ready, fussing over her outfit and her hair. She was nervous about Liam Blake’s opinion of her, especially after last night’s embarrassing debacle. She had spent a good part of the night before wondering whether he had found something wrong with her appearance the day before. Did she find what she was wearing too unprofessional? Too dowdy? Too revealing? Miranda had no idea. Judging from the other women in the office, he was probably disappointed that she didn’t look like she had just stepped off the fashion runway. Finally, she settled on a dark red blouse that was muted enough in color not too be too flashy, but set off her skin attractively. A conservative yet attractive black skirt and a pair of medium-low pumps completed her outfit. Giving her hair a final brush, she looked at herself in the mirror to make sure her makeup was subtle and professional. Miranda squared her shoulders, stared directly into her own eyes, and thought, I will not be nervous. I will be calm and professional, and not let Liam Blake scare me.
Thirty minutes later, Miranda found herself again in the lobby of Blake Consulting. Trying to exude a confidence she didn’t feel, she smiled a hello to the blonde woman behind the reception desk and held out her hand. “I’m sorry, I never asked your name yesterday. I don’t know if you remember me: Miranda Jacobs, Liam Blake’s new assistant.”
The blonde smiled in a way that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Yes, of course I remember. I’m Jennifer. How was your first day?” she asked, flicking her eyes subtly at Miranda’s outfit.
“It was good, thank you!” Miranda said brightly. It was clear this woman wasn’t necessarily very happy Miranda was there, but Miranda refused to let herself be bothered.
“So, is Mr. Blake treating you okay?” Jen prodded, raising her eyebrows.
“Yes, why wouldn’t he be?” Miranda bluffed.