In Love With My Boss

By: Audrey Tolhouse

“Andrew Wiles, Miss.” It was a soft, pleasant voice to her right that spoke. Jennifer turned, spotting the maître d’. Behind him was another man, taller, lean and at ease within the tailored Canali European cut suit that clung to his body. She tried to take the man’s frame in within that short second but reigned in her eyes, and faced the maître d’.

Jennifer nodded in approval and he bowed out for his leave. “Andrew,” Jennifer spoke his name softly, “please take a seat,” she used her left hand to direct him to the soft love seat opposite the candlelit table in between them. She watched him as he moved. Definitely about the same age, or a bit younger. He was fit and seemed tall, possibly taller than James. Their eyes connected just before he sat down. They were intense pools of darkness. She couldn’t look away.

His lips stretched into a smile and he leaned over the table, extending a hand. Jennifer looked down at it, hesitating a moment before she finally took hold of him. His skin was warm, yet his skin soft. Andrew raised her hand to his lips, keeping his eyes locked on hers. He kissed the back of her palm.

“It’s a pleasure, Ms. Rhodes,” he said softly, releasing her hand. Jennifer’s brows pinched together. “I know all about you,” his gaze was piercing.

Swallowing back the unease rising within her gut, Jennifer smirked. “All about me?” She challenged.

“You’ve been with James Melone for five years, right?” It wasn’t really a question. “You’re his personal assistant and he entrusts everything to you.” He smiled coolly, accepting the wine that a passing waiter stopped to pour into his empty crystal glass. “I think it’s telling of a man, the type of people he allows himself to do business with,” with an assured nod, he paused to sip the wine. “That’s good,” his voice was dark and rugged, like cut earth from the side of a cliff. Her skin crawled with heat.

It was true that she had been to many a meeting with James, but never was her role so extensive that it would suffice a man to research her status within the company. Jennifer tried to blink her shock away.

“It would seem you do know a bit about me,” she cleared her throat. “I didn’t think that my presence during business negotiations was of interest to anyone.”

“Maybe not to some,” Andrew said with a slow exhale of breath. “But I certainly believe it’s important to know everyone I might be working closely with.” Another snake of a grin slithered onto his lips. “I can assure you that your clients are aware of the clout and decision authority you have on their contracts.”

Jennifer was smiling before she even realized she had glanced away. She was unsure of how to handle the direct praise. With effort, she cleared her throat with a wimpy cough, taking brief solace as a patch of hair dropped into her eyes. She was here to help interview. Not receive compliments.

Pushing the hair from her face, Jennifer began to shake her dangling foot. It was a terrible nervous habit, but it helped to still the uneasiness blossoming within her gut. She met Andrew’s dark eyes. “Flattery won’t get you brownie points, Mr. Wiles.”

A deep laugh erupted from his chest. He shook his head. “Not even a little bit?” A spark ignited in his eye.

They shared a chuckle this time. As the moment passed, Jennifer continued, “My position with Melone isn’t as prominent as you say.”

Andrew frowned. “It most definitely is, Ms. Rhodes,” he nodded with assurance. “To win female clients, Melone has to assure female board members that he’s comfortable working with women in positions of power.”

Jennifer felt her heart sinking. A bright smile remained plastered to her face. All this time she thought James had valued her intellect, wit, and charming breath of fresh air and perspective to the scene. She had never considered that having included her so deeply within the company was just another profitable business move for himself. Then again, that was something James Melone would do. He was a shark—a business shark, and he sealed the deal every time, all the time. She sighed, her ego deflated.

“Speaking of Melone, will he be joining us this evening?” Andrew raised the glass to his lips, tasting the smooth liquid one more time. He stopped and stared at the wine for a moment.

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