Playing Pretend - Book cover

Playing Pretend

R S Burton

The Final Straw

I sighed as I looked up at Wolf Technologies.

The last month had been difficult but refreshing. I hadn’t needed to avoid Brennan’s family calls, and I hadn’t needed to talk to some poor girl about how Brennan was never going to settle down with her.

I’d been tempted not to return, but Dad had assured me he would be fine and that I had a career to return to. Now I was here, I wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision.

I walked through the foyer, my heels clipping the marble floor with a rhythmic thud. I smiled. It was the little things I had missed…maybe coming back wouldn’t be so bad.

I rode the elevator up to the top floor and walked out.

Brennan wasn’t exactly expecting me. I’d let him know I’d be back this week, but had been hazy about which day. Truth be told I hadn’t been sure myself when I’d be back.

I walked into the office and glanced toward Brennan’s office. I could see through the glass walls.

Brennan was looking over some files with a statuesque blonde woman leaning over right next to him, their shoulders touching. She brushed her hand over his and he smiled, looking at her with lust.

I swallowed hard and shook my head. Something washed over me—not rage, because that would be silly and completely unjustified, but something like it.

In that moment it occurred to me that, while my job was fulfilling, my boss’s behavior conflicted with my own beliefs. I couldn’t expect him to change; he owed nothing to me.

I needed to leave. I could start again anywhere—closer to Dad. Anywhere but here.

I placed my bag down on my desk and resisted the urge to knock the temp’s Gucci purse onto the floor. I pursed my lips and walked across the floor to Brennan’s office door and pushed it open.

“Mr. Wolf…” The woman giggled, standing up straight, acting like Brennan had just told the joke of the century when I knew his sense of humor was somewhat dark and mostly hidden.

I cleared my throat to interrupt the unprofessional dalliance.

Brennan and the woman looked up in my direction with completely different expressions.

Brennan almost smiled, which was confusing, while the temp scowled. She stood up and began to walk toward me.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but you’re supposed to wait in the other office area.”

Brennan held back a laugh by covering his mouth and then raised his eyebrows at me. The woman drew closer. She looked angrier the closer she got.

When she got to the door of Brennan’s office, she pointed through the glass doors as if to show me where I should wait.

“You can grab your bag and go back to the agency.” I smiled.

“Huh?” she replied. Her anger fell and she looked confused.

“The name is Grace Reynolds,” I replied. “Nice to meet you…sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

The woman’s eyes widened, and she bit her lip. She looked at Brennan behind me and nodded before mouthing ‘call me’ even though I stood right there.

I frowned and looked down at the ground. I was going to have to resume that part of my duties sooner than I’d thought, it seemed.

“Katrina. Sorry, I didn’t know it was you,” she said, sounding apologetic.

“It’s fine, and I’ll make sure you’re paid up until your contract ends.”

Katrina grabbed her things and left—in quite a hurry, I might add. I hadn’t been trying to intimidate her, but clearly I had.

I sat down across from Brennan’s desk and glared at him. He leaned back and shrugged, as if he didn’t know why I was currently sitting across from him judging him.

“Random girls in the club is one thing, but the temps? How many have you gone through while I was away?!” I replied, sounding less like a personal assistant and more like a jealous girlfriend.

I sat up straight and pulled at the front of my blouse.

“Three,” he replied. “And I didn’t sleep with all of them. One of them left because she got a permanent job somewhere else.”

“Oh, well, if you didn’t sleep with all of them, that’s okay then,” I responded sarcastically, rolling my eyes. “I have work to do. No doubt there is some paperwork to fix up.” I stood and walked to the door.

“I’m glad you’re back, G,” Brennan said as I walked out. I stopped, nodded, and continued back to my desk.

The files were more disorganized than I’d expected. I’d hoped the agency would have prepared them accordingly, but based on the state of the accounts the three PAs had been little more than eye candy for my misogynist boss.

The feeling of discontent simmered throughout the morning, slowly building up until I knew I couldn’t continue at Wolf Technologies any longer for the sake of my morals and my sanity.

Brennan was entitled to live his life as a bachelor who sexed anything in high heels and a skirt, but I didn’t have to be a part of it.

I spent the afternoon drafting my resignation letter, and at 4:30 p.m. when Brennan called me in for a daily debrief, I handed it to him and waited for him to read it.

I watched him. His brow furrowed and his mouth, which was usually set in a line anyway, became even more taut. His jaw clenched as he put the paper down and ran his hand across his mouth.

“What is this?” he asked.

“My resignation,” I replied.

“I’m not an idiot, G. I mean, what is this—why are you resigning?”

I shrugged. “We have different ideals. I love my family and you make me avoid yours for you. Sometimes I feel like I am your pimp. I have to screen your hookups from calling though and let them down when you don’t.

“Brennan, I have put three years into this business, and I feel like your personal life is becoming part of my professional life. I can’t do it anymore.”

Brennan’s shoulders sagged and he looked up at me. His eyes were unreadable, I couldn’t see anything. He nodded and folded up the paper.

“Fine. I accept this resignation, but as per your contract, you need to give a month’s notice.”

Now that I’d made the decision to leave, I wanted to go before I changed my mind. My stomach turned and I bit my lip. Maybe I really shouldn’t have returned.

“I was hoping you’d find it in your heart to let me forgo the notice period. I’m sure Katrina would love to come back,” I offered softly.

Brennan scowled and shook his head. He stood up and walked to the back of his office, turning to look out the windows. He shoved his hands into his pockets.

“Well, by all accounts, Miss Reynolds, I’d say you think I’m pretty heartless. So rather than prove you wrong, let’s just stick to the contract. One month. You can finish for the day now.”

I stood up and walked out the door. I’d expected to feel lighter, but I felt more confused than ever.

I needed to get out of here. The sooner the better. I had to figure out a way to get Brennan to let me out of the contract sooner.

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