The boss: (billionaire romance) (page 2)

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She forced herself to calm down, knowing she wouldn’t go anywhere. She had the smarts, the common sense, the hard work ethic and even a friendly demeanor when her family wasn’t around. She just lacked the belief she could do it.

Enough!She went to the bathroom mirror to touch up her makeup. It was bad enough Stephen had left her for her younger, hotter sister, she didn’t need to look like the rejected one. It hadn’t been meant to be. She and Stephen would never have lasted. She knew that, but it didn’t lessen the hurt and humiliation.

To procrastinate more, she practiced her smile in the mirror, trying to make it look more sincere and confident. “That’s right, Stephen, son of Ass Hole,” she told her reflection and giggled. “I don’t need you. You can just kiss my derriere, you shallow son of a bitch.”

She froze when she heard Stephen’s voice clearly through the door. The bathroom wasn’t even close to being soundproof.

“Alex! How the hell are you doing?”

Oh, shit!

“It’s good to see you, Stephen.” There was the slapping sound that always followed when guys hugged. “How’s the life of the newly engaged?”

“Nearly fantastic! How’s the life of the eternal bachelor?”

“Even better.”

“I’m sure it is.” Stephen laughed, which only caused Jamie to roll her eyes inside the bathroom. “You’re looking a little gray around the edges. Has work gotten to you yet?”

There was a sigh and Jamie imagined a tall, dark and handsome dude running his fingers through his hair. The stranger would be gorgeous, of course. Stephen only hung out with insanely, beautiful people.Obviously a workaholic. Probably early thirties.

“I keep telling you to hire a personal assistant,” Stephen said. “One of these days you’re going to find yourself swimming way above your head in shark-infested waters.”

“I know.” Alex sighed again. “Actually, I’m looking for one. Do you know any?” He chuckled.

“Really?” Stephen laughed. “Actually, I know the perfect girl for you. She’s got secretary experience.” His laugh turned into a snicker. “And she’s looking for a job.”

Jamie rolled her eyes. She could just imagine the kind of secretary Stephen wanted to suggest. Barbie. Or some perfect ten, size-four model.

“Hold on, Stephen.” Alex chuckled, a delicious sound escaping his lips, which left Jamie dying to know what he actually looked like. “I’m sure you have the best intentions, but I don’t need distractions in the workplace. You might be all right with that, but I’ve got a lot more riding on my company.” Alex must have given Stephen a playful punch to the shoulder or something.

“You’ll like this one,” Stephen persisted.

“If she’s as pretty as your fiancé, then it would never work. I need someone efficient that can get the job done. Not a beautiful distraction.”

Stephen hooted. “As beautiful as Christine? That’s funny. No, she’s hardly attractive. Actually, she’s Christine’s slightly older sister, Jamie.”

Jamie flushed. Stephen wasn’t saying she was ‘hardly beautiful’ when he was begging her to have sex with him.

“I bet she’s gorgeous.” Alex paused, probably shaking his head or arching his neck to see where Christine was sitting in an attempt to get a glimpse of the ‘older sister’. “Is she here with you guys?”

“Yeah,” Stephen said. “But she’s in the bathroom right now. Are you serious about not wanting someone hot?” He clapped his hands and rubbed them together. Jamie imagined he shrugged when Alex nodded. “Hey! Why don’t you join us for dinner? When she comes out, I’ll introduce you.”

Jamie’s mouth went instantly dry. The last thing Jamie needed was Stephen’s gorgeous friend looking at her all through dinner to judge if she was ugly enough not to be a distraction for him. She glared at herself in the mirror before smoothing her clothes. Taking a deep breath, she sucked in her belly and tried to appear calm as she opened the door from the bathroom, surprising both Stephen and Alex.

She smiled coolly at her ex. “S-Stephen!” She nearly stuttered when she noticed the man beside her soon-to-be brother-in-law. She wouldn’t have been surprised if there had been a loud stomping sound from her jaw hitting the floor. The most gorgeous man she had ever laid eyes on stood in front of her. His eyes were a smoky blue that made her feel hot all over. They seemed to glow against his tan, which looked too good to be fake. Despite Stephen’s comment about him getting gray around the edges, there wasn’t a hint of it in his dark brown hair or goatee.And he’s judging other people about being distractions in the workplace?

“Jamie, we were just talking about you.” Stephen hesitated.

“I know,” Jamie said, cutting him off. “The bathroom walls here are lousy. I could hear everything.”

Stephen had the decency to look embarrassed before quickly recovering and making his face unreadable. “Good! Then you know what Alex is looking for.” He gestured to mister tall, dark and handsome. “This is a friend of mine, Alex Reid. Alex, this is Jamie, Christine’s sister. Alex is looking for a personal assistant. I was just telling him how perfect you are because of your secretary experience.”

“Among other things.” Jamie wished she could call him out on what he’d said. Except she needed this job. It meant she could move out in a month or two. She turned to Alex and smiled at him, sticking her hand out for him to shake. “Nice to meet you.” She hoped her hand wasn’t sweaty. “I’d be happy to submit my resume. I’m sure Stephen can give me your contact information.” His hand pressed against hers, sending a jolt of something new running through her veins.Probably the taste of freedom. “If you’ll excuse me, I should get back to my sister’s engagement party.” Before Alex could even say a word, Jamie spun on her heel and headed to their table, blinking back tears, and feeling this had to be the top on her list of most humiliating nights of her life – ever.

Chapter 2

“Ican’t believe you just did that,” Alex hissed.

Jamie could still hear him as she walked away.

“I’m not sure who’s more embarrassed; me, or the girl.”

“How was I supposed to know she could hear me?” Stephen cleared his throat. “Besides, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to her. She already knows she needs to lose weight.”

“Stephen,” Alex warned. “Your lack of subtlety and shame is downright vulgar. Besides, the girl’s not even ugly. She has pretty light blue eyes, and a nice smile.” He paused and Jamie thought she’d stepped out of earshot until she heard him say, “When did you become such an asshole, Stephen?”

Stephen clapped his friend on the shoulder. “I’ve always been an asshole, Alex. You’re just too busy to see it.”

“Apparently.”

Jamie pretended to drop something so she could hear the rest of their conversation.

“Anyway,” Stephen said. “Come join us for dinner? Christine’s parents are paying.”

“I’m just on my way out,” Alex replied. “Have a nice night. Make sure Jamie gets my contact information.”

Jamie looked up when he said her name.

“Will do,” Stephen called as Alex turned and walked out of the pub. He grabbed Jamie’s elbow a few tables before theirs, out of earshot. “I went out on a limb for you.”

“Pardon?” Jamie pulled her elbow free but didn’t move.

Stephen shrugged and quickly glanced toward their table before looking back at her. “You introduced me to Christine, now I’m returning the favor.”

“I don’t need your favors.” She shivered, hating his touch.

“You do right now. Alex rarely considers anyone his friend. He hardly sees anyone anymore, probably because he doesn’t trust anyone. He can’t slow down if he wants to stay ahead of the game. The world of Wall Street waits for no one. Not even for multi-billionaires.”

Alex, a multi-billionaire? Jamie blinked. What might she be getting herself into? She headed to the table and collected her purse.

“Where do you think you are going?” Christine stood. “We have things we need to discuss. You’re my maid of honor.”

“You’ll be fine without me.” Jamie sucked in a shaky breath. “I’ll do whatever you need me to do. You know I will.” She hurried out before anyone could convince her to stay. She had a feeling Stephen would fill them in, making sure to explain his big part about how he was trying to get her a job.

She took a different route home than her parents so they wouldn’t know she stopped at a Chinese takeout place for some fried rice and crab Rangoon. Alone in the parking lot with an empty carton of food beside her that had tasted delicious but probably added another five pounds to her hips, she leaned her head against the steering wheel and cried.

How had things gotten this lousy? She knew she wasn’t obese, but her family had the habit of making her feel like the elephant in the room.

She needed to lose some weight, yeah she got that. She’d put the freshman fifteen on back in university and never lost it, and then a little bit more crept on each year. She didn’t need it rubbed in her face. Jamie blew her nose on a lousy thin napkin. More stupid tears fell. It didn’t help that her boyfriend—ex-boyfriend—who was supposed to love her unconditionally, also saw it and promptly dumped her because she was “looking a little thick around the hips”. He would never be a jerk like that to Christine because she was so perfect in all of her bony glory.

Now Alex was going to think she was pathetic... if she even got the job. He probably would be a crappy boss to work for anyway. She snorted and almost laughed. At least her ugliness had some benefits. There was no way she would ever be so hot that she’d drive him mad with desire when he was supposed to work.

She needed this job. It meant getting out of her parents’ basement and she had to restart somewhere.

Jamie squeezed some hand sanitizer on a fresh napkin and wiped her face and hands before stashing the empty takeout boxes under her seat and pulling out of the parking lot. “Jamie,” she told her rearview mirror self. “All men are pigs. You don’t have to be saddled with one like Christine does. You’re done. You’ve got nothing left.” She took a deep breath. “Go find yourself.”

Chapter 3

Jamie got the call from Alex two days later. “First of all, I’d like to apologize for how we met,” he said after pleasantries were exchanged. “It was not my intention to disrespect you, or anyone else, in any way. I’m sorry for Stephen’s behavior.”

Jamie sat up and set her laptop aside. “You don’t need to apologize.” She wanted this job, but she would not act like the weak, insecure person Alex probably thought she was. “You’re not responsible for Stephen’s behavior. He’s, well... Stephen.”

“He’s an asshole,” Alex said bluntly. “I hope we can move forward and you won’t be insulted when I offer you an interview for tomorrow at two. The interview has nothing to do with Stephen. Your resume’s impressive and ideal for this position.”

That’s not the only thing ideal for this position. You need someone un-pretty.Jamie grimaced and thought about the money she would make.You can move out of the basement.“All right,” she said, trying to sound professional and unbothered. “Tomorrow should work. Where would you like to meet?”

“At my office. I’m emailing you the address and directions right now,” Alex said. “Thank you, Ms. Connors. I’ll see you then.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow at two.” She hung up just as email pinged, telling her she had a new message from Alex. She smiled at his promptness and then opened the email. With the directions and address was also the job description and benefits. She grinned when she saw the top benefit: a two-bedroom apartment only three blocks from Alex’s office and a salary double what she had earned at her last job. There was no way she was letting this job slip through her fingers.

The following afternoon, Jamie made sure to be at Alex’s office fifteen minutes early. She wore a brand new suit that didn’t look fantastic, but it didn’t look half bad in her opinion. She had set her blonde curls wound tight in a conservative bun. She couldn’t resist putting a little bit of makeup on to hide the dark circles under her eyes and a touch of color on her lips. Not enough to make it obvious, but enough to make her look somewhat presentable. After barely sleeping the night before, she had looked like hell when she got up that morning. Only some artificial fixes would cover up the bulk of the damage. She wasn’t too worried. Alex Reid didn’t need a pretty girl, he needed someone efficient. Jamie could do that.

“Mr. Reid will see you in a moment,” a skinny secretary told her.

Jamie sat down in a chair in the waiting area and looked around the immaculate office building. It was far grander than the one she had worked in before. The floors and ceilings were made with white and black marble with beautiful paintings both classical and modern adding splashes of color to the wall. All of it had to cost a fortune. Did Alex own all of this? She had already guessed that he was well off, but this was positively extravagant. Her mouth went dry as she realized she had no idea what Alex exactly did or what his position was in the company. She should have done her homework.Idiot!

Her thoughts were interrupted by her phone ringing. She jumped at the sound and grabbed it out of her purse. “Christine, not now,” she hissed.

“I’ll make this quick,” her sister said. “Did you send out the invitations yet?”

“Not yet, the envelopes haven’t even arrived. I thought you said you haven’t finalized the guest list yet.”

“Jamie,” she whined. “You were supposed to help me with that last week, remember? You have no idea how stressful all of this wedding stuff is. I need to—”

Alex appeared in the doorway of his office, one dark eyebrow arched in a way that could cause fear and swooning at the same time. He leaned against the doorframe, his expensive business suit pulled up by his arms as he crossed them, showing of a gold pair of cufflinks.

Jamie had no idea how long he had been standing there. “Christine, I have to go.” Jamie jabbed at the end button, trying to get the sound of her sister’s angry complaining voice to stop echoing off the waiting room windows. She hit the speaker button instead of end. Christine’s voice rang out clearly, “You’re so freakin’ incompetent! Now I’m just going to have to take care of–” Jamie managed to hit end before her sister had a chance to finish.

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