“Danielle, could you hand these flyers out to the visitors after the game?” Barbara fussed, pushing her leaflets into my hands. “Remember, cleaning, ironing or anything—”
“I’ve got this, Barb. Leave it to me and I’ll hand them out this side,” I promised my mother’s best friend, watching as she hurried over to the other side of the school field where the opposing team sat.
Pushing my hair behind my ears, I gathered the leaflets and forced a smile onto my face as people started to leave the stands.
“What’s this?” a woman asked, hooking a toddler over her hip.
“It’s a list of all the services Barbara offers.” I smiled sweetly at the toddler, who gazed at me through shining eyes.
“Does she babysit?”
“Uh, no.” I winced when the woman shoved the flyer back in my hands.
“No good to me, then.”
I was lucky when people politely took the flyers from me, and I turned a blind eye when they dropped them in the trash.
Poor Barbara. Her husband had left her—ran off to Vegas to “find himself,” leaving Barbara in heavy debt with a mortgage to pay. She had a job at a restaurant nearby, but she needed more money.
“What are you doing, handing these things out? It’s irritating,” a girl huffed, shoving past me.
“Ooh, what’s this? I need a cleaner. Do you have any references?” A woman scanned the flyer, as a striking guy hovered behind her, rolling his eyes.
“Yes!” I beamed, reeling off a list of jobs that Barbara had, praying I was doing her a favor.
“Great. Can you come over for an interview?” The woman smiled, digging around in her purse as I frowned.
“Oh, I’m not the cleaner—”
“Sorry?” The woman handed me a business card, shiny silver letters announcing that the woman in front of me was no other than Kayla James—wife of the billionaire Alec James.
I found my tongue, nodding my head at Mrs. James.
“Barbara can come for an interview whenever,” I breathed, scanning the crowds for Barbara.
I spotted Barbara finally, and I waved at her like a madwoman until she joined us, her eyes wide when she saw Mrs. James.
“This is Barbara, and Barbara, this is Mrs. James.” I introduced them, suddenly aware of eyes on me. I moved away, continuing to hand the flyers out, praying that Barbara made the cut with Mrs. James.
I whirled around to see the guy with Mrs. James gazing at me, his arms folded.
“Hi.” I smiled back, trying not to gaze at his navy-blue eyes. I’d never seen eyes so dark blue before, not with dark hair. He wore a loose-fitting T-shirt over cut off shorts, his dimples showing when he grinned at me.
“What’s your name, flyer girl?”
“My mother told me not to give my name to strangers,” I teased, flushing at my boldness.
What am ~I doing? ~
“I’m Blake James. Not a stranger at all; I’m sure you’ve heard of me.”
My jaw fell open.
As though he was amused by my reaction, Blake handed me a card, identical to the one his mother had given me earlier.
“Well, flyer girl, if you ever want to catch a movie sometime, drop me a message.” Blake winked at me, and my cheeks pulsed with color.
“Danni,” I said with a smile. “My name is Danni.”
“Danni,” Blake repeated, stepping close enough for me to smell the woody aftershave he wore. “Nice name. How old are you?”
“Sixteen,” I lied, but only half a lie. I was sixteen in less than six months.
Blake nodded, his eyes locking with mine. “Sixteen, huh? You look older.”
“You’ve left school, right?” I checked, praying he didn’t think I was strange for knowing so much about him.
“Yeah, last year. My cousin was playing today, that’s why I’m here,” he explained, chuckling to himself. “Are you okay? You’ve gone a little red.”
“Yeah, it’s a little on the warm side today, isn’t it?” I fanned myself with the leaflets when he nodded.
“Yeah. Hot.” Blake held my gaze and I glanced away when someone called my name.
“Danni! Elton wants to know if you’ll go with him to—argh!” I turned to see Freddie being manhandled by Elton and Carter, two guys in my year.
My eyes skimmed over Elton, who gave me an apologetic smile, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell that was about.
“Friends of yours?” Blake asked, stepping closer to me.
“Yeah. They’re in my class.”
“Where does Elton wanna take you?” Blake said, intrigued. “Because it looks like I’ve got some competition for a date.”
Is he being serious right now?
“Haha. Look, it was lovely to speak to you, but I’ve got to go.” I shoved the remaining leaflets into my bag, cursing when I checked the time.
“Hey, flyer girl,” Blake called after me, “don’t forget to text me. I need your number to arrange that date.”
I dug my phone out of my bag and punched in his number. I sent a quick, “hi,” and held my phone up.
“Done. I hope your mom gives Barbara the job,” I said, breaking his gaze.
“See ya around, flyer girl.”
That was the first time I met Blake James. I wish I could say it was my last, but fate wasn’t on my side.
“Welcome to James Luxury Travel. Is it your first day?” A pristine-looking man greets me as I walked into the modern building.
“Yes.” I smile, taking a deep breath. “I’m Danielle Vee.”
At twenty-three, I’d already climbed the retail career ladder as high as I could, so I pushed myself and applied for the job of retail oversight manager at the head office of James Luxury Travel.
And I’d gotten it.
“Great, welcome. Let me take you through security and then you’ll be on your way.” The man smiles, tapping away on the computer. “Can I see your identification?”
I fumble around in my bag, cursing myself for not having it ready.
“Morning, Harvey,” booms the voice of Alec James, my new boss. “Ah, good morning, Miss Vee. Good luck today. I’ve booked you on your orientation with the other new employees, so you’ll have a nice easy start.”
Alec James is heavenly to look at, despite being an older man. He reminds me of David Gandy, but he is such a sweetheart that I don’t feel uncomfortable for one second.
“Thanks, Mr. James.”
Alec nods at me before disappearing though the frosted glass door.
“Here you go,” Harvey announces, handing me a lanyard with my name in black printed ink. “I’ll just let you through, and the room you’re in today is on the second floor, room Dandelion. Have a great day.”
I smile back, walking through the open door, the scent of coconut filling my nostrils.
Clever. It makes you think of vacations.
I’d heard about the office environment being pretty wild here, and I was here for it. I’d been single ever since—
No. This isn’t anything to do with him. You’re just working for his father.
“Him” being Blake James, my ex and all-around arrogant prick. Also, the son of my boss of five minutes.
I make my way through hallways lined with framed, bright posters of sunny, far-flung destinations to the room Harvey had mentioned. The buzz of the office around me is steeped in laughter and animated conversation.
Wow. They all sound so happy.
I feel overdressed in my trouser suit, especially when I see the girls mainly wearing skinny ripped jeans and loose tops.
“Hey! Are you new?” a woman asks brightly, struggling with a stack of brochures.
Her hair is in pigtail braids and her nails are each painted a different pastel color. She has rosy cheeks and kind eyes, and despite having her hands full, she grins at me.
“Do you need any help with those?” I ask, reaching over to take half of the stack.
“Gee, thanks. I’m just taking them to Alec’s office.”
“Alec?” I echo, following her down the long corridor.
“Yeah, he doesn’t like being called Mr. James. Says it makes him feel old.” The woman laughs. “I’m Kiera, by the way.”
We reach an office with a glass door, and I see Alec James with his head down, scribbling away on a pad. I hand Kiera my half of the brochures, and she sighs.
“Thanks. Grab the door for me, would you? Are you having your orientation today?”
I push the door open, stepping back so Kiera can squeeze by me with the full stack of brochures.
“Yes. Dandelion?” I wrinkle my nose up as Kiera nods.
“It’s the room opposite. I hope you’ve got Isaac. He’s hot.”
Kiera giggles and disappears into the office as Alec James looks up with a warm smile.
I turn on my heel, heading toward the brightly painted yellow door, wondering how I’d gotten so lucky to work here.
Walking into the room, I noticed there are four other guys in there. One of them winks at me instantly.
“Hey! You must be Danielle?”
“Yes, that’s me,” I reply brightly, wondering how he knows that.
He laughs, a deep sound that makes me wonder if he’s a smoker. It’s kind of hoarse, yet sexy. He has browny-blond hair that looks too perfect to be natural, and dark eyebrows that frame green eyes.
“You’re the only woman in my orientation today. Sorry. I’m Isaac.”
Of course he is.
“Awesome,” I say awkwardly, as the three guys avert their eyes.
“I don’t bite,” I offered.
Isaac pouts. “Really? Get out then.”
I stare at him, a laugh of disbelief escaping my lips.
“I’m joking. Please don’t report me, I’m terrible with jokes,” Isaac pleads, waving his hand around the room.
“There’s coffee and tea at the back, and other beverages. No alcohol yet, I’m afraid. We usually wait until after noon.”
I assume this is another feeble joke, so I half-smile, heading toward the back where I help myself to a coffee; milky with ton of sugar.
“Okay, so as there’s only four of us today, we shouldn’t need a full day in the office. I’m hoping to be by the river at four with a beer.” Isaac rubs his hands together as a couple of the guys nod in agreement.
“Short intro, bit about you, and I want you to tell me a secret.” Isaac’s eyes meet mine briefly before he turns to the others. “Who wants to start?”
The men freeze, and I put my hand in the air, enjoying the admiration in Isaac’s eyes.
“It’s Danni,” I say, airily. “I’m twenty-three, I’ve run three megastores for JetAway since leaving high school, and my secret is…I blog online anonymously.”
Isaac’s eyebrows rise, and he folds his arms.
“Really? About what?”
I notice the guys in the room watching me with a reluctant interest, clearly racking their brains to see what they could say.
“Oh, this and that.”
Isaac’s eyes sparkle as he smirks, making my cheeks flush.
Kiera was right. He is hot.
But I’d sworn off men, thanks to Blake bloody James. Even thinking about him makes my thoughts bitter.
The rest of the morning consists of silly games and questions, most of which I feel like Isaac directs at me. It is soon time for lunch, and Isaac insists on taking us there himself.
“No one eats in the cafeteria here. We all go across the street to Old Moe’s.”
Which is where I find myself fifteen minutes later, squashed up against Kenneth, a burly IT guy who has barely uttered a word all day. He smells of cooking oil and sweat, and I wonder how the hell I’m going to eat next to him.
Isaac sits across from me, the other two guys beside him.
“So, Kenneth, IT, right? What about you?” Isaac asks cheerfully, turning his attention to the man beside him.
I tune out, my eyes scanning the menu as the boys carry on talking. I decide to opt for the steak and fries—fuck the diet. I live alone, so it means I won’t have to cook later.
“What about you? Married?” Declan ask me from across the table, twisting his wedding ring around his finger.
“Nope.” I wipe my forehead in mock relief. “You?”
I direct this to Isaac, who grins at me.
“Do I have to answer that?”
I frown, but I’m distracted by the waitress bringing our drinks over. As she hands out the drinks, I find Isaac gazing at me, a mischievous look on his face. I shake my head, lifting my soda to my lips.
Why is ~he staring at me like that? ~
More importantly, why do ~I like it?~
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