Authors: Abby Gordon
Beck And Call
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and
incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any
resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business
Beck And Call
COPYRIGHT Ó 2010 by Abby Gordon
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press except
in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
The Wild Rose Press
PO Box 708
Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708
Visit us at www.thewilderroses.com
First Scarlet Rose Edition, March 2010
Published in the United States of America
To my sons, for their unwavering support.
To Kathleen, for not letting me give up.
To Angela, for her willingness to read what
literally started out as a dream.
Through the partially opened door, Keith
MacLauren heard laughter.
This was intolerable! He was the CEO of one of the
nation’s, if not the world’s, most advanced and
innovative computer software companies, and he
couldn’t get a moment’s peace because every person in
his company felt compelled to stop by his assistant’s
Hearing the voices of two board members, Keith
scowled and stood. Striding to the door, he flung it aside
and prepared to lash out at the two dozen people
crowded in the outer office.
His mouth gaped, while his eyes took in the scene.
His brain managed to snap his jaw shut before a single
syllable slipped past his lips.
A birthday cake sat on Serena’s desk, along with
several wrapped presents. Nearly every surface around
the room sprouted large bouquets.
Keith’s angry eyes flashed to the blushing face of
his assistant of nearly two years.
pissed! At her. His dark blue eyes were rarely calm, but
now they were so stormy they seemed to crash with
thunder. Why his anger was focused on her, she had no
idea. It certainly hadn’t been her idea for everyone to
traipse in and out all day. She’d never told anyone
about her birthday, much less how old she was. Thirty.
Why on earth would she be happy to be thirty?
Yes, she had accomplished quite a bit by completing
her MBA and becoming executive assistant to the CEO.
But, and it was a big
, she thought she’d be married
and have two point five kids, a minivan, and be as
blissfully happy as her sisters-in-law. But then she met
Keith. She was amazed that someone only five years
older than herself could have such presence, such
charisma, such a potent force. Since then, Keith
MacLauren had become the star of every intimate
fantasy. She’d dated other men, but kept comparing
them to Keith.
That morning, after her mother’s call had revolved
around marriage and babies, she had given herself a
stern lecture about getting over the infatuation with
her boss and move on with her life. Bosses, especially
CEO’s, did not have intimate relations with their
assistants. That only happened in fluffy romance
Serena took a deep breath and gathered her
courage. She’d been with the company for nearly eight
years, working her way up from an entry-level clerk to
the executive assistant to the CEO. She’d been careful
not to step on any toes, even as she made it clear she
wanted to go as far as she could. It was obvious that a
large number of people in the company liked her.
There was nothing to be ashamed of in having so
many want to wish her happy birthday, dammit. Just
because Keith was in the dark about her was no reason
to get pissed. He’d made it very clear in her initial
interview that professional and personal lives shouldn’t
mix. Even if she’d disagreed, knowing that at some
point the two intersected, she’d followed his rules. In
her mind, he was losing out on quite a bit distancing
himself from those he spent so much time with.
“Hello, Keith,” she said, pleased her voice was
steady. “The conference call is in twenty minutes.”
“We’ll be out of her hair in ten,” added a former
A young assistant, who had interned two years
earlier and been taken under Serena’s wing, lit the
Serena shook her head and sighed.
“Honestly, Claire, did you have to put thirty on it?”
Gleaming white teeth flashed as she finished and
shook the match out with a flourish.
“Come on, quick,” she urged. “Blow them out before
the fire department arrives.”
Giving the younger woman a withering look,
Serena took a couple deep breaths and blew out the
candles. To applause, she laughed and gave a mocking
bow. Taking the large knife from Claire, she made the
“Okay, someone else take over,” she smiled,
returning the knife to Claire. “And take this away so I
don’t eat the entire thing.”
“Like you need to worry about that,” replied Claire.
“I’d kill to have your figure.”
“When you’re thirty?” drawled Serena.
“Now,” came the grimace as Claire glanced down at
her own lush curves.
Keith watched the interaction. Hiding his
impatience with his usual impassive expression, he
leaned against the doorframe. He caught a couple
glances from those who didn’t fear reprisal. So he hadn’t
known it was his assistant’s birthday, much less her
age. That didn’t make him a bad person or boss. It just
meant that he had other priorities. Did these people
know that he made sure she had the highest bonus of
the entire administrative staff? It was only fitting that,
as his right-hand, she receive more. Personal
information had nothing to do with the workplace.
After ten minutes, Serena literally shooed everyone
out, making sure Claire took the rest of the cake so no
one else came to her office. She then picked up the
phone and punched in several numbers.
“Tom? It’s Serena.” She smiled and shook her head.
“Thank you. I don’t think it’s hit yet. I was wondering if
you could handle the flowers that were delivered.
There’s no way I can take them all home with me.” She
nodded. “That would be great. I’ll call security and tell
them to send Charlie and Bob up. Thanks.”
“Well, that’s something I’ve never seen,” Keith
drawled after she’d called the security desk in the
“You’ve never seen a birthday party before?” she
replied with a raised eyebrow.
“Not quite,” he muttered. “I’ve never seen a woman
give away flowers. Who are you giving them to?”
“The Hospice of Saint Benedict’s.”
“A hospice?” he stared at her. “Why?”
Startled, Serena looked hurt and then embarrassed.
“My grandfather lived there for over a year until he
died six months ago.”
Keith held his breath and tried to hold onto his
temper. He hadn’t known her birthday or her age. And
now she tells him her grandfather had died—she’d
never said a word.
“And you didn’t tell me?” he said quietly. He knew
he emphasized keeping personal things out of the office,
but something like this? How could she not have
mentioned it? “So to thank them for his care you send
them your flowers?”
She shook her head.
“I volunteer on Sundays and spend most holidays
“You’re serious?” Keith shook his head in disbelief.
“You enjoy being around people so much older than
“Yes,” she nodded. A small smile curved her pale
pink lips. “I listen to their stories. They’ve taught me
that life is too precious to waste a moment. That we
have to remember to feel.” He saw sadness flicker in her
eyes. “That we should put relationships first.”
“I do that and the company suffers,” he muttered.
“You’re the CEO,” she reminded him with a smile.
“That’s your job, but I’d bet you could manage if you
Keith was quiet a long moment considering what
“I guess,” he shrugged. “Sounds like you spend a lot
of time over there. I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman
who did something so selfless.”
“Really?” Serena sat down and tapped quickly at
her keyboard. “I’m not surprised, especially considering
that last woman and a couple others.”
“You didn’t like Charlotte?”
She shivered as if she didn’t even like to hear the
“Keith, please! The woman was more two-faced than
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!”
“What are you talking about?” The uncharacteristic
harshness in her voice had to be because—he hated to
think of something so cliché—she was turning thirty.
He’d heard that women got emotional at big birthdays.
“What did she do?”
“Keith, she treated anyone worth less than twenty
million to a cold shoulder that could have sunk the
Titanic!” Glancing up, Serena’s green eyes met his
gaze. She caught her full bottom lip with her upper
teeth and relented. “I’m sure she was wonderful to be
But Keith was reeling from her words. He couldn’t
remember Serena saying an unkind or unflattering
word about anyone. Period. Even when she’d had more
than enough reason to. This was more than just about
her birthday. Which could only mean that Charlotte
and some of his other girlfriends had hit hard and deep
at his usually calm and impassive assistant. He felt like
twelve different kinds of fools.
“In other words, she was a first-class actress and a
bitch when I wasn’t around, right?”
Grimacing, she slowly nodded.
“I thought I knew women,” he muttered. He couldn’t
believe he’d been fooled like that. Serena had said ‘a
couple others.’ Keith had a feeling she meant a lot
more. Who else had fooled him so well? He wouldn’t be
able to trust a damn thing any of them said. “I thought
I was a better judge of character.”
“You only knew her in a social setting. Surrounded
by people she wanted to impress.”
“I wonder how many others I’ve been wrong about.”
“You’re human, Keith. We’re all wrong about
For a long moment, he just stood there, staring at
her. Then her phone rang, and he turned and entered