It started out like any other day at the office. Jill Lincoln sat at her desk, working on the budget for the new project she had been assigned. The company she worked for handled several large condo communities and her job was to decorate them after they were built. She loved her work. She also loved working for the sexiest man alive.
As she looked around, she saw Jarrod Baine, the subject of her adoration, entering his plush office. Now that was one man she wouldn’t mind getting close to. In fact, of all the men she had ever met, Jarrod Baine was one she could see herself having more than just a casual affair with. Tall, with jet black hair, and piercing gray-blue eyes, he commanded attention and respect. His well-muscled body hinted that he worked out. His confident gait confirmed that he was in charge. He was her boss. And that being a factor, Jill had refrained from batting her baby blues in his direction. She knew he was single. She also knew he didn’t date anyone at the office. Whatever romantic life he led was his secret and was kept well hidden from the women he worked with.
She jumped to attention when the intercom on her desk buzzed.
“Jill, come into my office, please.” At least he’d said please. Jill stood up and straightened her skirt. When Jarrod Baine issued a command, it was best not to keep him waiting.
She knocked on his door and when he told her to enter, she did.
“Have a seat,” he said as he continued to focus on the papers in front of him.
“Is anything wrong, Mr. Baine?” she asked timidly.
As he looked up, she could see the faint hint of a smile as the corners of his mouth turned upward slightly.
“No, Jill, not as far as I know. How soon will you have the budget ready for the Crestview project?” he asked.
“I’m working on it now. I can have it to you by the end of the day,” she replied as her gaze met the sexiest pair of eyes she’d ever seen.
“Tomorrow is fine. Right now, I need you to take these contracts to the mailroom and make sure they go out today. I realize that isn’t in your job description, but my assistant is out sick today. Would you mind helping me out?” he asked with a half-grin that would melt any girl’s heart.
Her heart pounded as she realized the man was actually smiling rather sweetly at her. “No problem,” she replied as she took the envelopes from him. “Will that be all?”
“For now,” he said. “And thank you.”
She smiled back at him and said, “You’re welcome and if there’s anything else I can do to help out while Susie’s out sick, let me know.”
“I’ll be sure and keep that in mind,” he replied.
She hurried out of his office, relieved that she hadn’t done anything wrong and happy he’d chosen her to step in and help him out. With Jarrod, you never quite knew where you stood. As she headed toward the elevator, she grinned. An evil thought entered her mind. If Jarrod Baine was as commanding in the bedroom as he was at the office, he might be quite the challenge. But since she would never get the chance to find out, she might as well move on and put all thoughts of ever becoming the woman he couldn’t live without completely out of her mind. A few exchanged smiles in the office weren’t going to make him hers.
As she stepped onto the elevator, Ronnie, the new mail clerk was the only other person in the compartment.
“Hello, Miss Lincoln,” the boy said pleasantly.
“I was just on my way to see you. I have some things that need to go out today.”
“Well, I’ll just prolong my lunch and ride back down with you, I’ll take lunch after I get those out.”
“Oh, Ronnie, that would be great. Mr. Baine doesn’t like to be kept waiting, you know.”
“So I’ve heard,” the young man replied with a smirk.
Jill relaxed and allowed herself to gaze over Ronnie’s young features. He was probably about twenty-two, she surmised. He was blond, tanned, and muscled. She guessed he was a hit with the ladies. And from the way he was leering at her, she figured he knew it.
“Are we downstairs already?” she asked, as the elevator jerked to a halt.
“No, I think we’re stuck,” Ronnie replied. He tried to push some buttons, but the compartment didn’t budge.
“So what do we do, wait for someone to rescue us?” she asked.
“We could call for help. Or we could take advantage of the situation,” he said with a seductive grin.
“Take advantage of the situation?” she asked. Surely, he wasn’t coming on to her.
She was surprised when he closed the space between them with one long stride. And she was even more shocked when he took her in his arms, and slid a hand up her short skirt and caressed her thigh.
Her eyes widened, but before a protest could escape her lips, Ronnie had a strong hold on her and was lowering his face to kiss her.
As she tried to pull away, he snickered and assaulted her lips with a brutal kiss.
In an attempt to break loose from his vice-like grip, her right knee rose to connect with his crotch, and the elevator door suddenly opened.
Jill looked up and met the eyes of Jarrod Baine staring at her. It was hard to tell behind the steel expression of his gray-blue eyes just how much trouble she was in. His eyebrows shot up and she couldn’t tell if he was surprised, angry, or disappointed. Did he honestly believe she was enjoying this?
Jill winced. As his booming voice spoke, she heard, “Miss Lincoln, I believe you had an errand to run. Ron, let’s you and I go to my office and have a little chat.”
“Yes, sir,” she said, as she watched Ronnie step off the elevator with his head hung low. She pushed the button to continue her elevator ride to the mailroom. The elevator seemed to be back in working order. She stepped off it, and went straight to the ladies’ room. After calming her nerves and making herself look presentable, she walked to the mailroom, gave the envelopes to a different mail clerk and got back on the elevator to face the music. What awaited her in Jarrod’s office? Surely, he would summon her when he was through with Ronnie.
She walked back to her office and sat nervously behind her desk. She looked at the phone for several minutes, and when it didn’t ring, she finally picked up the paper with the figures she’d been working on earlier. As she tried to concentrate, she found herself looking at the silent phone several times. Would Jarrod call her into his office? What if he hadn’t gotten the elevator door to open? Would the attempted kick to the groin have stopped Ronnie or would it have made him angry enough to assault her? Jill was a nervous person by nature and the thought of what might have taken place put her in a tailspin. Had Ronnie been disciplined? Was she going to have to see him in the office and be afraid from now on, or had Jarrod let him go? Her stomach lurched at the thought of seeing that little pervert every day. She twisted a strand of hair as she thought about the effect that would have on her already panicked mind.
Her thoughts kept wandering back to what had taken place earlier. Ronnie had most likely faced the wrath of Jarrod and she wondered what had been said in that little chat. Maybe she didn’t want to know. Had Ronnie told the truth, that he had initiated the scene Jarrod had encountered when that door had opened, or had he thrown her under the bus? And what had Jarrod thought when that door had opened? Had he thought she was indulging in afternoon delight or had he realized she was doing her best to fight her young assailant off? Shaking her head again in an effort to clear her mind for her work, she once again began adding the columns of numbers.
The full impact of what had nearly taken place in that stalled elevator hit her full on, and Jill put her head in her hands and began to cry softly. She was quickly working herself into a state, worrying about having to see the young man again if he had only been disciplined and not let go. She stood up and paced back and forth across the carpet in her office, wringing her hands nervously. Biting her bottom lip, she again grabbed a strand of her long hair and twisted it. It was a habit since childhood and was always a telltale sign that Jill was upset about something. As she poured a glass of water and forced herself to sit down, she wished Jarrod would let her know what was going on with Ronnie. Surely, he would do that soon.
She attempted to work on the budget again. Try as she might, though, she couldn’t focus. As she glanced down at the numbers, they were nothing but a blurry mess of black on white. Her mind wandering again a few minutes later, one more lone tear fell down her cheek as the realization hit her that if she had ever stood a smidgeon of a chance with the handsome Mr. Baine, it had most likely been blown all to smithereens that afternoon. And all because a cocky young mail clerk in a stalled elevator felt the need to make her his next conquest. What if Jarrod actually thought she had encouraged Ronnie – that she had been the one to come on to the younger man? Sadly, she knew her heart would be broken if she had lost whatever chance she might have had with the hot, demanding man who sat in his plush office and barked commands. What if her chance with the stern but sexy boss had been ruined beyond redemption? Nothing would be worse than not being able to gaze into those beautiful stormy eyes and missing out on the sexy way his lips turned up ever so slightly in the hint of a smile.
Jill sternly told herself she was letting her imagination run away with her, almost to the point of driving herself into a frenzied state. And if she didn’t get a handle on her feelings for her boss, as well as her nerves, she knew she was headed for big trouble. Why should the scene in the elevator have any bearing on Jarrod’s feelings for her one way or the other? After all, she hadn’t done anything wrong and she was only his decorator. Decorators were a dime a dozen, new ones graduated from college every year.
Damn it, Jill, get a grip. Jarrod Baine is paying you to work for him. He couldn’t care less about anything else. Concentrate on your work, not the color of your boss’s eyes. This constant emotional state has got to stop, one way or the other.