Meet the New Boss (excerpt)
“We have a new boss!” August’s eyes furrowed in confusion and Daniella nodded emphatically. “Mr. Riche is moving to Europe to run the London branch full time!” Daniella whispered. “His son is taking over this one!”
“He has a son?”
“More like an angel,” she said. “August, he is gorgeous. Like runway gorgeous. He gives Ethan a run for his money.”
“No way,” August said in disbelief. As angry as she was with Ethan, there was no denying his beauty. Needing to see for herself, she followed Daniella around the corner to the main floor where Ethan stood with Mr. Riche and another man, a younger version of Mr. Riche, and as stunning as Daniella promised.
August recognized him right away.
Sucking in a sharp breath, she slapped her hand over her chest. “I know,” Daniella whispered, nudging her, but August couldn’t manage a reply. “Look at his eyes,” Daniella continued. August did. They were as dark and tranquil as she remembered.
He stood nearly as tall as Ethan, and equally intimidating, if not more. He was the boss, after all. The big boss, as Daniella called him. His voice was low and even, but everyone listened intently as he spoke, August especially, though she was more captivated by the sight of him, his mere presence there in her office, than by his words. What were the chances?
Suddenly her own words came back to her. Everything she’d said, about herself, about Ethan and Riley and… She glanced around. Josh Andrews sat beside her. Josh watches porn at his desk…
Roger stood behind Ethan. My supervisor is, like, bipolar or something… I leave him love letters sometimes, from his ‘secret admirer’. And how could she forget, I’m just a shitty secretary, anyway… I only do the shit no one else feels like doing… Maybe I’ll just quit…
She could have died. She wanted to die. Or disappear, forever. She took a step back, then another, prepared to flee. She planned on quitting anyway, why not save herself the embarrassment of having to face the man she’d spilled her entire life to in a drunken, crying stupor?
Spinning around, she slammed right into Joseph, the mail guy. All the envelopes he’d been cradling in his arms went sailing in every direction. A startled shriek escaped August, and she immediately felt every pair of eyes in the office on her.
Her entire body grew hot, her cheeks burned. Without turning around, she quickly knelt down to help Joseph gather the mail. Keep talking, she silently begged the men at the front of the room, but before she knew it, the young Mr. Riche was at her side, gathering the mail with her and Joseph.
“Thank you, Sir,” Joseph said politely.
“No problem,” he replied. “Call me Alexander.”
Alexander. That was his name. She hadn’t caught it before she passed out in the back of his car that night. He didn’t look at her yet. Maybe he wouldn’t. She kept her head down, just in case, slightly turned away from him.
“What’s your name?” Alexander asked Joseph.
“Joe,” he replied. “And the bulldozer that nearly knocked me over is August.”
At the sound of her name, August’s heart dropped. Alexander looked at her at last, his eyes flickering with recognition. He paused a moment, took in the sight of her. She must have looked like another person to him, dressed in something other than a wedding gown. Not crying. Sober. Conscious. “Nice to meet you, Mr. Riche,” she choked out.
He nodded. “Likewise. Call me Alexander.”
With a tight smile, she stood and returned to her desk, barely breathing, certainly not focusing. For the first time since her wedding day, Ethan was the last thing on her mind. Instead, it was Alexander she thought about, and all of the incriminating, humiliating, completely personal things she’d told him. And not only about herself, but about half of the office.
It didn’t matter that she planned on quitting, he was going to fire her. He was absolutely going to fire her.
“He was flirting with you,” came Daniella’s voice from right beside her. “He was like, an inch from your face, staring right in your eyes. He didn’t even blink, ” she said excitedly. But August wasn’t listening to her friend.
“August,” came Ethan’s voice from Alexander’s office. Her heart pounded against her chest. Had Alexander told them? Did he divulge the details of August’s drunken tirade to Ethan and Mr. Riche?
In an anxiety induced trance, she slipped into her go-to pumps under her desk and made her way across the office to where Ethan stood. “Yes?”
“He wants to meet you,” he said, then added, “Formally.” August swallowed hard. What did he mean by that? Was he insinuating that he knew they’d met before?
She nodded and stepped into the office after him. Mr. Riche stood with his back to the room, looking out the window at the skyline. Alexander sat behind the large maple desk that was now his. “Mr. Riche,” Ethan said. Both Alexander and Mr. Riche looked up, then laughed.
“He’s Mr. Riche,” Alexander said, motioning toward his father. “I’m Alexander.”
Ethan nodded. “Alexander, then. This is August Kidd.”
Alexander gave her a once over and grinned. “August, is it?”
“Yes,” August replied, unable to look away from his piercing stare.
“I hear you’ve become quite an addition to the company,” he said. “Ethan, here, speaks very highly of you.” He raised a knowing eyebrow and August felt her face flush red.
She glanced at Ethan who was watching her. He nodded. “I hope I don’t bog you down with even more responsibilities, then. I assume you already have a lot on your plate?”
All I’m assigned are pointless, menial tasks… I only do the shit no one else feels like doing.
She couldn’t even speak. Thankfully Ethan came forward. “Absolutely, ” he said. “But only because she can handle it. She’ll catch anything you throw at her.”
Alexander nodded. “Impressive. I’m sure the agents must love you, then.”
I bet if I did quit no one would even notice. They don’t appreciate me.
“They certainly do,” Ethan assured.
With a polite grin, Alexander asked, “Would you excuse us a moment?”
Ethan’s spine straightened and he glanced at August then back at Alexander. “I’m sorry?”
“Will you give Miss Shannen and I some privacy?” he clarified. “You, too, Dad.”
Mr. Riche headed toward the door and after another moment of hesitation, Ethan followed. Once they were alone, Alexander stood and went around to lean on the front of his desk. “So,” he said with an amused grin. “This is your shitty job?”