Authors: Elizabeth Powers
Allie Mitchell was having a typical Monday. Too bad that it was actually a
Thursday, she thought as she looked down at the tear in her jacket. She had torn
it on a piece of metal in the parking garage that morning, and it had given
before she had a chance to notice that the fabric was caught. Good thing it
was on a side seam, she thought. Barely noticeable to anyone but her. But it
just seemed to top off everything else that was going wrong that day. She had
started the day with a cold shower, noting that she should call the plumber
about the hot water heater before her friend Anna got back from a business trip
this weekend. She then dropped her hideous pancake makeup on the bathroom
floor and made a huge mess on the tile. While rushing around the kitchen, she
had spilled coffee all over her sleeve, forcing a quick change of her outfit.
And then her car's maintenance light came on when she started it that morning.
All in all, not a good start to the day.
So when she received her boss' summons to his office as soon as she got in that
morning, she assumed that it would be more bad news. Stowing her lunch in the
small refrigerator in the company break room, she slipped into the ladies' room
to fix her jacket with a safety pin, and to check that her makeup was intact.
She looked terrible, she thought as she gazed at her reflection in the mirror.
But that was intentional. She had gotten this job because her boss had wanted
a matronly-looking woman who had no physical appeal whatsoever.
When Allie had heard about the job from a good friend of hers in HR, she had
jumped at the opportunity. But her friend had warned her that it would be a
hard position for her to get.
"Why? I'm completely qualified, and I would give away all of my worldly
riches for a chance to work for Sean Greyson. He's a legend in the business
"Your worldly riches wouldn't mean much to the man," Debra had
laughed. "A used Honda and a small apartment with a few antiques is
probably pocket change to him. But here's the thing...."
Debra went on to explain that Sean Greyson's three previous secretaries, each
with impeccable credentials, had all taken the position in hopes that they
could seduce their rich, handsome, and successful boss into a relationship.
Mr. Greyson was tired of the game. He just wanted someone to do the work, do
it well, and leave him the hell alone.
"So how will he weed out candidates? Do I need to wear a fake wedding
band or something?"
"No, one of his previous secretaries was married. Didn't make much of a
difference to her. I guess she was prepared to trade up. I think your best
bet is to downplay your physical attributes, and to play up your
"Wear nothing sexy or revealing to the interview. Pull your hair back
into a bun or a pony tail. No makeup, or maybe something that actually looks
bad on you. I can get you in the door to see him, Allie, but you're going to
need to sell him on who you are. So be studious, serious... quiet. You're
one of the most kind-hearted people I know, but just don't let him see the
social side of you until later. Let him think he's hiring a repressed
So Allie had gone to her interview in an ill-fitting suit with a blouse in a
color that didn't suit her, and had done what she could with some old stage
makeup that a friend had given her. She had been quiet and serious, and kept
her personality hidden. And it had landed her the job. But unfortunately,
one year later, she was still trapped in the old and poorly fitted suits, and
wearing ugly makeup. At times, she considered slowly phasing out the old
clothes and starting to wear outfits that fit her better, both in size and
personality, but she knew that her boss trusted her and was happy with her
work, and she really saw no reason to rock the boat. The one time she did her
hair differently, he had looked at her long and hard, and she had panicked.
The next day, it was back in a neat bun.
With one last look in the mirror, Allie left the ladies room, went back to her
desk to pick up her notebook and appointment book, and headed toward Mr.
Greyson's office. The door opened just as she reached it, and Sean Greyson
stood in the doorway to usher her in. Tall, with an impressive air of
authority about him, he intimidated Allie without even trying. It didn't help
that he was so handsome, she thought. His dark hair was turning grey around
the temples, but that only seemed to add to his distinguished appearance. His
eyes were a unique shade of green that seemed to change with his mood. Right
now, he was completely focused on business.
"Come on in, Allie," he said, as he turned back toward his desk and
motioned to one of the chairs in front of it. "Sit down, and let's get
through the planning for the Montreal trip. Did you book everything?" he
asked, sitting back down behind the desk and pulling his planning book toward
"Yes, sir. You are in the same suite as last time, and your flight leaves
on Thursday morning at 7:00. You return on Saturday morning on a 10:15 flight,
so you'll be able to attend the dinner on Friday night."
"Is Joe available?"
"Yes. He'll meet you at the airport and will be available to drive you
anywhere for the next 48 hours without any problem. He said to let you know
that he's found a new lunch place for you."
Sean nodded, and then quickly moved on. "And you have a full meeting
schedule for me, I assume."
"Yes, sir. It's all in your Outlook calendar, so you have it on your
Blackberry. Most of the meetings are scheduled to give you a bit of time in
between them in case you are running late or want to check messages, but your
Friday morning is booked fairly solidly. I had trouble fitting everything
since Charles wanted a 10:00 that day. But take a look, and if there is
anything you want me to change, I'm happy to do so."
"Great. Thanks, Allie. The only other thing I need you to do for me this
morning is to order flowers for Maureen. You have her information,
"Yes sir, I do. What would you like the card to say?"
"Just sign my name."
Allie nodded and made a note to herself. She never knew if the plain signature
was an apology, a thank you, or a farewell. Sean always took care of making
sure that the women he dated knew where they stood at each phase of their
relationship, so she never needed to get too involved. She just needed to
choose an arrangement, and she generally chose different colored roses for
different women. To her, the rose was a cliché, and trying to mix any other
flower in just seemed too personal. So she stuck with roses, and so far, she'd
managed without confusing any of the women.
"Anything else sir?"
"What are you working on this morning?" he asked.
"I'm typing up some letters for you to sign, returning e-mails asking for
appointments, and generally just making sure that everything is in order before
you go. Is there anything else you need me to concentrate on?"
Sean shook his head. "No. I just need to finalize the Robertson contract
by the end of the day. If I need anything else, I'll let you know."
He stood then, intending to walk out behind Allie to go see the firm's lawyer
about the Robertson deal, and waited as she stood and gathered her things.
Allie turned to go, remembering at the last moment her appointment book that
she had left on one of Sean's chairs. She turned abruptly to go back for it,
forgetting that Sean was directly behind her until it was too late. She
careened into him, losing her footing, and falling directly into his arms. He
caught her easily, and set her upright, but held her arms loosely with his
hands as he looked carefully into her face.
"Are you all right?" he asked.
Allie just nodded her head. "I'm fine, and I'm very sorry. I left my
appointment book..." she started to explain, but her voice died off as she
looked up into the green eyes of her boss. His expression was one of concern,
but Allie felt his hands slowly moving along her arms, almost caressing her
through the thick material of her suit jacket. She doubted that he even knew
what he was doing, but it was doing very interesting things to her own
equilibrium. Pulling deliberately away, she moved back toward where she had
been sitting and picked up her book.
"Sorry about that," she said quietly as she reached the door again,
book held in front of her like a shield. "I'll get out of your way now.
And I'll try not to run you over in the future," she added, trying to keep
Sean didn't say anything as Allie slipped past him and moved out into the
hallway. Having her fall into him like that had been more than unexpected, he
thought. It had been most unwelcome. His assistant was a mouse, he thought.
A shy little mouse, who wore ill-fitting clothing, and never seemed to get any
sun. And while she was the best assistant he'd ever had, he never thought of
her as a woman. The last three secretaries that HR had sent him had all been
lovely, but all of them were clearly in the market to date him, not to work for
him, and none of them had lasted longer than a week.
Allie was different. She showed no personal interest in him at all, and her
ability to know what he needed before he'd even asked for it was amazing, if occasionally
disconcerting. So while she was nothing like the beautiful women that he dated
regularly, either physically or in temperament, that was exactly how he
The problem was, he'd never touched his assistant before. And when she'd
fallen into him, he had realized that she was a lot smaller and... well...
than he'd given her credit for. All of that tweed made her look large and
boxy, but he realized that she might actually have a decent body under all of
But it didn't matter, he knew. She was his assistant, and he refused to date
his employees. And a decent body didn't change the fact that she was a
mouse. So why, he thought as he headed down the hall to see his lawyer, was
he even thinking about this at all?
Allie was thinking similar thoughts as she sat down at the computer in her
office, took a deep breath, and looked down at her frumpy suit. First of all, Sean
was her boss, she told herself. And she wasn't interested in an affair with
her boss. She wanted to be taken seriously, which is why she went to so much
trouble to disguise herself in the ugly clothes and sallow makeup. So why was
she now breathing so quickly, and why was her heart rate so fast? Who's
kidding who? she thought dryly. Damn. If he hadn't touched her, she would
have been able to go on thinking of him as just another man in a suit. But she
had felt his hard muscles as she had slammed into him, and then felt his gentle
caress as he made sure that she hadn't hurt herself. And now the attraction
for him that she had kept hidden away for the past year had surfaced.
Allie shook her head and sternly admonished herself. She was a professional,
and she would continue to act like one. No doubt Sean had already forgotten
about it, dismissing Allie as clumsy as well as mousy. So she would do her
best to bury her feelings again. And that would be that.
The following week, Allie was just starting to gather her things together to
leave for the night when her boss appeared in front of her desk. Allie jumped
a bit, but immediately smiled up at him.
"Mr. Greyson. I'm sorry, you startled me. Is there something you
Sean ran his hand over his face apologetically and said, "I'm sorry,
Allie, but I need you to work late tonight. I need to finish hammering out the
Thomson deal, and I really need you there to mark it up and be sure that we
don't miss anything. Will that be a problem for you?"
Hiding her disappointment, Allie shook her head and just said, "Nothing I
can't work around, Mr. Greyson. I just need to make a phone call and then I
can come back to your office. What do you need me to bring?"
"I'm sorry if I'm forcing you to change your plans, Allie."
Allie smiled politely. "It doesn't happen often enough for me to get
upset, sir. I know this contract is important. Do you have copies of the
paperwork, or do you need me to print them out again?"
"I have them. Just come back after you make arrangements," he said.
After Sean disappeared into his office, Allie picked up the phone and called
her roommate. They had had plans to go to a local tavern that night for
drinks and dinner with Anna's fiancé, as well as a few other friends from
"It's Allie," she said when Anna answered the phone. "I'm so
sorry, but I need to work late tonight. I have no idea what time I'll be home,
but just go without me."
"Aw, Allie. I really wanted you to be there."
"I know. I really wanted to be. But it can't be helped. If I can leave
at a decent hour, I'll call you and find out if you'll still be there for a
while. I'll come by if I can. I'm sorry, sweetie."