Authors: Susan Fleming
A Billionaire Romance
Kayla glanced at her reflection in the black plate glass window that she passed just before heading into the high rise building. Ugh! She tugged at the side of her dress. Even though she had spent hours agonizing over what to wear to the interview, she still wasn’t satisfied.
She wanted to look smart and sophisticated, but what she saw was an elfish waif—a top-heavy elfish waif. Women paid to have boobs like hers, but thin women had no idea what a hassle they could be: ever attracting stares, wolf whistles, and paying upwards of a hundred dollars for a single bra. She hadn’t gotten to the point of backaches yet, but she figured she had that to look forward to.
She saw by the time on her cell phone that she was early enough to hit the restroom, but she wanted to find the right floor first. She stopped and looked at the directory—there it was, The Law Offices of McNabb, Petrou, and Sinclair, 8th floor. She took a deep breath and pressed the button for the elevator.
She smiled when she got on, a lot of women must work in the building because there was a little mirror mounted just above the push panel. She tried to rearrange some strands of hair but quickly gave up. The mirror was too small to be any good except for making sure you didn’t have lipstick on your teeth.
When the elevator arrived, three people stood there talking. One put a foot into the elevator and saw her.
“Is this your floor?” he asked. She nodded, and he stepped back, gesturing for her to pass. She smiled, nervously.
He was in shirtsleeves, suspenders and slacks, but the other two were in expensive suits. One had a fairly stiff, formal air about him, and the other… the other, as she glanced into his face, made her heart skip a beat. Thick black hair and classic Greek features, like she imagined Adonis would look.
The men had paused their conversation when the elevator opened. Once they got in, she furtively glanced back and the Greek-looking one was leaning against the back wall of the elevator watching her. She had to give him credit; at least he wasn’t gaping at her boobs.
She was pleased that she had decided on the navy sheath with the white lace collar, except she realized now that it made her look more sweet than chic. She squeezed her eyes shut. “Please let them see what they need to see, and not my insecurity,” she breathed. It was a little prayer she uttered anytime she was facing a potentially intimidating encounter.
She found the restroom and looked at herself in the mirror one last time. She shook her head. No matter how sophisticated she wanted to feel, her pixie nose always brought her back to reality.
She sighed, smoothed her dress one last time in a nervous gesture, and clutching her handbag, walked into the hallway. When she got to the door of the law offices, she stepped back a moment.
Remind me why I’m doing this again? Oh, yeah, because this is the first bite I’ve had for an interview despite thirty-some-odd applications.
They were really right about it being tough for new college grads, even one who had gone to vocational school to become a paralegal. One would think with lawyers being so plentiful, the work would also be plentiful, but apparently not in Detroit.
She took a deep breath and firmly gripped the door handle. One thing she had going for her, she told herself, was her height. At 5’7”, she could at least look graceful.
The receptionist looked at her over the top of her glasses.
“I have…” she rasped, then cleared her throat. “I have a two o’clock appointment with Janis in HR.”
“Have a seat,” the woman said. “I’ll let her know you’re here.”
Kayla had barely sat down when a tall, platinum blonde, must-have-been-a-former-model, opened the door from the back offices.
“Kayla? I’m Janis McNabb.” The woman flashed her a distracted smile, but it wasn’t an unfriendly one.
“McNabb?” Kayla asked. “So, you’re one of the attorneys?”
“Attorney’s wife,” she responded with an amused look, “and, recently, the head of HR.”
She followed the woman back past sumptuously appointed offices. Janis’s office was glassed in on both sides, one looking out on the rest of the floor, and one overlooking the Detroit River.
Kayla looked past her out the window. “Lovely view,” she said. She knew she was saying stupid stuff, but that’s what she did when she got nervous.
“Yes, it is. When my husband asked me to take over the department, I told him only if I got this office. He displaced a junior partner for me.”
Kayla smiled, feeling a bit more at ease.
Janis frowned, however, as she looked at Kayla’s very short résumé. “Recent graduate, Auburn Hills.”
“Do you know what kind of law we practice here, Ms. Johnson?”
Her mind raced. She had put in so many applications to so many firms, but… “Corporate Law?”
“Well, yes,” Janis said with a look that said she knew Kayla was reaching.
“But specifically, we work with the automotive industry. Do you know anything about the automotive industry?”
“A little,” she said.
“How little?” Janis asked, and Kayla squirmed in her seat.
She was racing toward an appropriate reply, when someone rapped on the glass behind her.
Janis nodded, still frowning.
Another Lamb To The Slaughter
Kayla smelled a subtle but familiar scent and realized it was Aramis cologne. She smiled inwardly. That choice told her a lot about this guy. It was probably his dad’s cologne first, since the scent had been around since the sixties. To her, it meant strong, traditional, loyal, and maybe a little romantic.
She looked straight ahead because he was standing so close to her she would have to crane her neck to look at him.
“Is this Kayla, Janis?” he asked.
She was startled when he said her name, and she involuntarily looked up at him. Her heart skipped a beat when she saw it was the same gorgeous man from the elevator.
“Yes. Kayla, this is Adrian Petrou, the younger Petrou partner. He is actually the one you would be working for, and he selected you as a candidate.”
“Pleased to meet you, Kayla,” he said, reaching out to shake her hand. “Very pleased.”
She was dumbstruck. He stood so close and was so imposing that it made her uncomfortable to sit “beneath” his gaze, so she stood up to face him. She mustered her best professional smile and returned the handshake. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Petrou.”
He turned back to look at Janis whose eyes were locked on him. He gestured toward Kayla. “I’ll take her for the rest of the interview now, Janis. Thanks.”
Janis just nodded her head grimly as he opened the door for Kayla.
Why was everyone around here so stiff?
As the door closed behind them, Janis murmured to herself… “Another lamb to the slaughter.”
The Personal Assistant
Looking into Adrian Petrou’s face was nearly impossible for her. She was afraid that gazing into those green eyes would bare her soul, that he could see right through her and know what she was thinking.
But he gave her little choice.
“Did you grow up in Detroit, Kayla?”
“Auburn Hills,” she said.
“Ah, so you’re new to the city.”
“Well, I’ve been here plenty of times, but only as a tourist, so to speak.”
“Did you move up here?”
“Not yet. I need to get a job first. Where I’m able to live will depend on my wages.” She bit her lip, horrified. That was a very forward thing to say to someone who’s interviewing you, she thought, no matter how honest it was.
“I understand. Do you have any idea what part of the city you want to live in?”
She glanced at him, smiling. “Again,” she said, “that depends…”
“On your wages. I know.”
They went up two more floors, the next one being where all the research assistants and law students resided, and the last one where he opened a heavy cherry wood door into a cluster of four suites which she recognized as the partnership offices. Each had an anteroom which, she surmised, was a receptionist’s desk. Three of the desks were occupied. He ushered her into the empty anteroom, and then opened the door into a luxurious office suite.
She blinked when she saw it. Detroit was an industrial city, and everything about it seemed industrial, including the building they were in. But when she walked into his office, it was like walking into another world.
She had expected heavy dark wood and leather furniture, but instead, it was decorated in warm golds and mahogany. The lines in the décor gave it a spare, clean ambiance even while the fabrics were dense and luxurious. A beautiful modern painting of cherry blossoms against a light, bamboo textured wall lightened everything perfectly and seemed somehow disarming.
He followed her wide-eyed expression as she looked around the room. “You’ll notice I didn’t get the windows overlooking the river, so I compensated this way.” She wondered if he were the junior partner whose office was stolen by Mrs. McNabb.
In front of his desk stretched a bench upholstered in gold beaded silk. He sat down on it, facing her, and patted a place beside him, indicating that she should sit. She hesitated. It was strange. She didn’t know how to describe it—his demeanor was neither unprofessional nor overly casual, and yet things were just not what one would expect for a job interview.
Now she was close enough to see his moss green eyes and long eyelashes. It was truly difficult for her to return his gaze for very long.
“Oh,” she blustered. “I’m nervous, so I would prefer to stand.”
“So open,” he said. “I like that.”
She blushed again.
“All right, then. Let’s get that out of the way. Have you done any number crunching? What kind of a salary would it take for you to live where you want to live here?”
“I—I…” she was confused. This wasn’t a question she was prepared to answer. “I haven’t really looked,” she said. “I wanted to see what you were offering….”
“So, you’d accept anything?”
Now she was getting flustered. “Well, yes… I mean no, but…”
“I’m still weighing options.”
“And what are the other options?”
Good grief. That class in “what to expect during an interview” she took just before graduation had been worthless when faced with Adrian Petrou. Now she went over to sit down on the end of the bench where he was because she was getting all fidgety just standing in front of him. Besides, if they were both facing forward on the bench, she wouldn’t have to look directly at him every second.
“You make it sound as though I have none.”
“Not at all. I just know the state of unemployed paralegals in Detroit. I’m betting you’ve put in over a dozen applications.”
“Well over,” was all she was willing to say.
“Well, I don’t really have a need for a paralegal, either.”
What!?! She felt a lump jump into her throat. She whipped her head toward him. Why was he putting her through this if he had no intention to hire her?
“What I do need is a personal assistant.”
“A personal assistant? I’m not even sure I know what that entails. I really don’t have secretarial skills; I’m trained as a paralegal.”
“Not a secretary. Do you have any desire to be an attorney yourself?”
“I—I might,” she responded. “I thought I’d see what it was like to be a paralegal first.” The truth was that she wasn’t sure she had what it took to do law school. Not that she wasn’t a good student—she felt that maybe she wasn’t the type, even though the profession interested her a lot.
“Then you would be ahead of the game becoming my personal assistant rather than being a paralegal. You already have some knowledge. As my assistant, you would be in the heart of everything, not just preparing documents.”
She looked at him, considering what he was saying.
He looked back at her. He had to have this one. His cock was semi-hard just watching her. She was willing to speak her mind. That was always a turn-on for him.
“I still don’t know what it entails to be a personal assistant.”
“You basically do whatever I ask you to do, which could be anything from making my coffee to…”
Her heart began to pound. She didn’t care how prestigious this firm might be, she didn’t get an education to make coffee!
“…sitting beside me in the court room.”
Sitting beside him in the court room? Now she might be interested.
“Well…” she started to say.
“Don’t respond right away. I have an idea. Let me take you to look at some potential places to live where I know you’d be safe. If we find something you really like, then we’ll discuss salary.”
This was unfathomable. She just blinked.
“I know you’re wondering why I would do this. I mean besides the fact that I really need a personal assistant. I knew from your résumé that you were very likely what I was looking for. When I saw you in Janis’s office—well, really, when I saw you on the elevator—I was pretty sure, and now when I see you here in my office, I’m positive.”
“You don’t know anything about me yet.”
“I know as much as I need to know to make the decision that I want to hire you, but if it would make you feel better that we get more acquainted first, then let’s go look at some apartments, and I’ll take you to dinner. We can talk all you want, and get more acquainted. It’s rather thoughtless of me; I’m sure you want to know more about me and about the firm as well.”
She hadn’t anticipated that, but it did make her feel better. One thing they had told her in the interview class was that it was her opportunity to “interview” her prospective employer as well, in order to know if the job was a good fit for her. She supposed this was above and beyond, but it would certainly tell her what she needed to know.
“Do you need to let someone know that you’ll be late?”
She shook her head.
“Where did you park?”
“I caught the train in.”
“Really? That’s kind of expensive for an unemployed paralegal.”
“I love trains,” she said. “That’s how my mom and I would always come to Detroit to shop. We made a big day of it, sometimes even spending the night in a hotel, returning to Auburn Hills the next morning.”
“Have you ever taken a long train trip?”
“Just once, as a child. My mom and I went by train from here to California and back.”
“So it’s kind of a family tradition, then?”
“More than that—many of the men in my family in previous generations were railroad men.”
He mused as he looked at her. She was easy to talk to. He liked that. Her family was blue collar—at least her ancestors were. That’s where her pluck came from—upfront without attitude. He liked that even better.
One part of her thought she should politely decline, but it sounded like fun, and whether or not it was exactly what she had envisioned, she needed the job.
He picked up his phone and asked someone named Jeanine to have his car sent around.
“Shall we go, then?”
She smiled and nodded. He gestured for her to lead the way, and they departed the suite.
Winning The Game
They took the elevator, and, by the time they reached the front lobby of the building, a black car with a driver waited outside the door for them. They drove to the opposite end of town, looking at several luxury apartments along various transit routes. They were all either embarrassingly huge or overly industrial-looking and just not her style. But the last one, the one within walking distance of the building which housed the firm, in fact, was quite different.
When they looked at the model, she had to smile because the dining room table held a beautiful vase with a branch of cherry blossoms, the very thing she had found so welcoming about his office. She surprised him by asking to see one of the actual apartments because she hadn’t in any of the rest. She had simply gone with the standard tour and nodded her head a lot.
“Sure, let me grab the keys,” the leasing agent said. “How many bedrooms are you interested in? We have several different floor plans….” Just then, the woman’s phone rang. “Oh, no… not again! I was just about to show apartments to a young couple….”