Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
Panting. Heavy breathing. Toes curling.
My teeth sink into my bottom lip as a wave of pleasure hits my core, and then…
The piercing sound of my alarm bellows out, and my body shoots straight up in a panic to turn it off. I look and see it’s six a.m.
That’s the most action I’ve had in a year, and it was all a damn dream.
I stretch and slide out of bed, mentally going over my to-do list for the day. Walking to my kitchenette, I grab my mug of coffee that’s ready to go. I always program my Keurig the night before, so all I have to do is add creamer in the morning.
As I walk toward the bathroom, I blow into my cup and take a small sip. Just as I check my phone, I see Rachel has already left three messages.
Rachel: I need you here by 8 today.
Rachel: Make that 7. Coffee extra hot.
I roll my eyes at her last text, knowing it probably pained her to use that word. Author Rachel Meadows is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who has hit the list more times than I can count and is known for being socially awkward and blunt. She’s in her midforties, and although she writes about romance, she doesn’t have a love life because she eats, sleeps, and breathes writing. She’s the very definition of a workaholic, which is why I work sixty-hour weeks. I maintain her life so she can focus all her energy on her work.
Perhaps if she did have friends nearby or went out with a man once in a blue moon, she wouldn’t be so damn uptight 24/7. However, most people could probably say the same thing about me, which is one reason Rachel and I work so well together. Well, that, and I have the tolerance and patience of a saint.
My previous author client, Vada Collins, found her happily ever after and moved to the East Coast, which is how I ended up working for Rachel. Her assistant quit, leaving her in a major bind, and I needed a new job stat. The cost of living in Chicago is too expensive to stay unemployed for long.
So when Rachel Meadows called me back for a second interview, I prayed to the gods for good voodoo because it was the only local job opportunity available at that time. Now, after a year of working for Rachel, I know nearly everything there is to know about her and cater to her every need.
For example, when she says to arrive at seven with extra hot coffee, that’s code for come fifteen minutes early and have a protein shake ready to go. Which means I have exactly forty-five minutes to shower, get dressed, stop at the Starbucks half a mile from her apartment, and read through her emails so I can brief her while she sucks down her blended meal.
Or when she’s four days away from her cycle, I know to stock up on Andes Mints and red wine. She has two microwavable rice bags that I rotate out, so she always has a hot one ready for her lower back when she needs to lie down after sitting for too long. Though, if she’s on a major deadline, she’ll lie in bed with a heating pad and dictate her words to me so she can work through the cramps.
This morning, I woke up early so I wouldn’t have to rush, but now I’ll be taking a five-minute shower—cold—since I don’t have time to wait for the water to warm. All thanks to Rachel deciding at the last minute that I need to arrive an hour early.
I manage to finish my first cup of coffee in the shower, so while my hair is air-drying, I take a few seconds to dab concealer on the bags under my eyes. I’m a workaholic just like Rachel, except I run marathons around her while she carefully crafts her words for thousands of readers. Once I’m dressed in a pencil skirt and tuck in my blouse, I slide on my Chucks, grab my oversized bag with everything I’ll need for the day, and rush out the door.
My Uber arrives as soon as I jog down my apartment building stairs. I fly into the back seat, asking him to step on it. He understands my urgency and guns it down the road. I quickly read over Rachel’s emails on my phone until we drive up to the Starbucks closest to her place. Since I ordered ahead on the mobile app, I won’t have to wait in line, but I’ll still be rushing to Rachel’s at this rate.
As I hurry inside to grab the coffees, I check my phone and realize I have less than five minutes to get there. We’re only half a mile away, but we’re on a one-way street, and her building is behind us. Which means instead of having my driver drop me off at her door, I’ll have to jog there.
After letting the driver know my plans, I secure my bag over my shoulder and start running down the block. I wear Chucks for this very reason. Running in heels would result in a broken ankle or blisters for days, and I don’t have time for that.
“Excuse me, sorry.” Holding our cups tightly in my grip, I maneuver my arms up and over my head while I weave in and out of the crowd walking toward me. Glaring because I’m on the wrong side of the sidewalk, they aren’t moving out of my way, but I ignore them and push through. For someone as isolated as Rachel, she lives on one of the busiest streets in downtown Chicago. Even though it’s convenient when she needs a coffee break or sends me on a random errand, it’s hell to get through.
I make it to her apartment building and am greeted by one of the doormen. They all know me by name and often crack jokes about how they aren’t even sure a woman lives in the apartment I work in every day.
“Good morning, Sam,” I say as I sprint through the lobby. The elevator doors are already open and set to the tenth floor for me. He nods and gives me a small smile. “Thank you! You’re amazing!” I call out right just before the doors close.
Sam Evans is in his late fifties, and within my first couple of weeks of working for Rachel, he memorized my work schedule and how many times I come and go throughout the day. Rachel sends me for bagels often, and as soon as I get them for her, she’ll decide she wants a smoothie too. Of course, she couldn’t have told me that at the same time so I didn’t have to run out twice, but that’d be way too convenient for Rachel Meadows. Sam notices these patterns and has picked up on them over the past year. He always makes sure the elevator doors are open and waiting for me every morning, even when I’m early. He’s a good man.
I juggle the coffee cups between my elbow and side boob so I can grab the keys from my bag and have them ready to go as soon as I make it to her apartment. Quietly, I open her door and step inside, making sure to shut it with little to no sound at all.
Setting the cups down on the table, I reach into my bag for my ankle wedge booties that cost me a month and a half’s worth of rent and change out of my Chucks. They’re one of the most expensive things I own, but comfort costs money. If I want to be taken seriously in this business, Chucks won’t cut it. Rachel might be a homebody and live in the same clothes for three days in a row, but she expects professionalism from me at all times.
I shove my Chucks inside my bag and reach for the stash of doggie treats I keep in there. Rachel has a dog who absolutely hates me, and as soon as I walk inside, she nearly gnaws on my ankles to let me know I’m not welcome in her home. Angel—ironically named considering she’s the mini version of the devil—is a Toy Poodle, and although she’s fluffy and has cute pink bows in her hair, she’s a predator, and I’m her prey.
Angel trots in with the worst doggy stink eye I’ve ever seen. She lowers her front legs and sticks her ass up in the air as she releases the most pathetic growl. She still hasn’t figured out she’s only ten pounds, and half of that is from fur alone. I wouldn’t hate her so much if she’d give me a chance, but after months of trying to get on her good side, she rewarded me with a nasty bite, so I gave up.
“Oh, I’m shakin’ in my boots now. I might even pee myself.” I glare at her and toss her a treat. “Hope you aren’t allergic to rat poison.”
Before I walk into Rachel’s office, I put some vegan protein powder in the mixer, along with a banana. I have a feeling she’s not going to want it immediately, so I don’t add the ice or soy milk. Grabbing our coffees, I manage to walk to Rachel’s office without Angel chasing me. I place hers down on her desk without a word and walk to my little desk in the corner. Once my coffee cup is in place, I set my bag down and dig out my laptop, then start it up.
“I’ll take my protein shake in twenty,” she informs me without a hello or even a thank you.
“Of course.” I smile, feeling as if I can finally read her mind. As soon as my laptop turns on, I grab my book and place it on my desk. The Bible as I’ve coined the very large notebook planner has everything about Rachel to successfully be her personal assistant and to keep her happy. Every detail from her personal life and professional work life is included—schedules, deadlines, likes and dislikes—anything that helps me help her. Reaching for my coffee, I take a sip and relish in the hot liquid.
“Yes?” I briefly look up from my cup like a deer in headlights.
“I need you to organize my schedule and plans for my upcoming tour. I have that book signing coming up in Dallas, and if I’m going to be traveling, I want other events to attend during that time before I hunker down and start writing the next one. Book two more city stops with three events—or more—at each. A meet and greet, after party, or whatever. Schedule some dinner meetings with bloggers or my PR firm. Just keep me busy. I don’t want to be gone too long, so it needs to be within a two-week period of the first signing.”
I nearly spit out my coffee as I put it back down on my desk and scramble for my pen. As she continues to ramble, I jot notes down in the “Rachel Bible” knowing she won’t repeat herself even if I ask. The book signing is three months away, which doesn’t give me much time to plan the rest. I’d already booked her flight and hotel for that event, but now I’ll have to reschedule her flight and book additional accommodations to meet her requests.
“Any particular cities you have in mind?” I ask, my pen still flying over the paper.
“That’s for you to decide. My readers are everywhere,” she replies. “You’ll also need to get in touch with the cover model for the Bayshore Coast series and let him know about the added travel dates for the other events.”
“Of course,” I say, rolling my eyes when I know she’s not looking. Her cover model for that series is none other than the arrogant playboy, Maverick Kingston.
“He doesn’t fly, so you’ll have to drive with him and make sure—”
“What?” I blurt out louder than I mean to. This is the first time she’s ever mentioned that to me. How was he planning to make it to Dallas in the first place?
I look up to see if she’s serious. “Maverick doesn’t do planes, so you’ll have to fly to LA where he lives, then drive with him to each city. I’m paying him good money for his public appearances, and I expect him to be at every event—on time and on his best behavior.”
“So, you want me to babysit him?” I pinch my brows together, reading between the lines.
“I want you to make sure my investment doesn’t get out of control,” she clarifies. “My readers are nuts about him, and they’d die for a chance to meet him, so I need you to make sure he gets to where he needs to be on time.” She pins me with her eyes as if to dare me to protest. “Will that be a problem for you?”
Yes. “No, not at all.”
“Excellent. I’ll be flying to each event, and since you’ll be driving, keep that in mind when you make plans to give yourselves enough time to travel.”
That means I’ll need to book a rental car, hotels while we road trip, additional flights to two other cities, and the event spaces. All within ninety days from now. No pressure.
Her book signing in Dallas has been planned for over a year, and now she decides to add this to her schedule? It’s not like her, but not entirely out of character either. Rachel’s impulsive most of the time. One minute, she wants a turkey and bacon sub, and the next, she’s a vegetarian, but this is somewhat extreme and random.
“Okay, got it.” I finish my notes and start thinking of cities that can realistically be driven to from Dallas. I don’t have much time to nail this all down. If she wants to do two more signings with other events in each city, I’ll need to call bookstores, her publisher, get the tickets organized, and start marketing for them pronto.
“Oh, and Olivia?”
I look at her, almost scared for what else she has for me.
“I have a strict no fraternizing policy among my employees. I hope that won’t be a problem.”
I snort, covering my mouth once I realize the noise was audible. She gives me a disapproving look, but I can’t help it. That she even felt the need to add that bit makes me want to burst out laughing. “Trust me. That won’t even be an issue.”