“What the hell is she doing?”
When the light turned green, I kept jogging in place rather than crossing. The scene unfolding across the street was just too entertaining to interrupt. My car was parked in front of the office, and a curly-haired blonde with killer legs was leaning over the windshield—her hair apparently somehow stuck in my wiper blade.
Why? I had no fucking idea. But she seemed pretty pissed off, and the sight was comical to watch, so I kept my distance, curious to see how this would play out.
It was a typical breezy day in the Bay Area, and a gust of wind kicked up, causing her long hair to fly all over the place as she struggled with my car. That seemed to upset her even more. Frustrated, she yanked on her hair, but the clump wrapped around the wiper was too big, and it didn’t come loose. Rather than trying to unwind it gently, she yanked harder, this time standing up as she tugged at her hair with both hands.
That did the trick. Her hair came loose. Unfortunately, my wiper blade was still attached to it, dangling. She grumbled what I suspected was a string of curses and then made a last, futile attempt to remove the tangled mess. The people who had crossed the street when I should’ve now began to approach where she stood, and blondie suddenly seemed to realize someone might take notice of her.
Instead of being angry that this crazy woman had damaged my one-week-old Audi, I couldn’t help but laugh when she glanced around, then opened her raincoat and tucked the dangling wiper inside. She smoothed down her hair, cinched her belt, and turned to walk away as if nothing had happened.
I thought that was the end of the show, but apparently she thought better of what she’d done. Or so it seemed. Turning back, she returned to my car. She then proceeded to dig into her pocket for something and stick it under the remaining windshield wiper before scurrying off.
When the light turned green again, I crossed and jogged to my car, curious as to what her note would say. She must’ve been stuck there for a while and written it before I saw her, because she hadn’t taken out a pen while I watched.
Lifting the remaining wiper, I slipped out the note and turned it over, only to find what she’d left behind wasn’t an apology note at all. The blonde had left me a damn parking ticket.
What a morning. My car vandalized, no hot water at the gym next to the office, and now one of the elevators was out of service again. The morning rush crammed into the only functioning elevator car like sardines in a can. I looked down at my watch. Shit. My meeting with Jonas was supposed to start five minutes ago.
And we were stopping at every damn floor.
The doors slid open on the seventh floor, one floor below mine.
“Excuse me,” a woman behind me said.
I stepped to the side to let people out, and the woman caught my attention as she passed. She smelled good, like suntan lotion and the beach. I watched her step off. Just as the elevator doors began to close, she turned back, and our gazes locked for a brief second.
Gorgeous blue eyes smiled at me.
I started to smile back…then stopped, blinking and taking in her whole face—and her hair—just as the doors slid shut.
Holy shit. The woman from this morning.
I tried to get the person standing in front of the elevator panel on the other side of the car to press the open button, but we’d started moving before she even figured out I was talking to her.
Perfect. Just perfect. Goes with the rest of the damn day.
I arrived in Jonas’s office almost ten minutes behind schedule.
“Sorry I’m late. Crappy morning.”
“No problem. Things are a little hectic here today with the move.”
I sat down in one of the visitor’s chairs across from the boss and let out a deep breath.
“How’s your team doing with everything going on today?” he asked.
“As well as can be expected. Would go over much better if I could tell everyone their jobs were safe.”
“No one is losing any job at the moment.”
“If you could stop that sentence after the word job, that would be great.”
Jonas sat back in his chair and sighed. “I know it’s not easy. But this merger will be good for the company in the end. Wren may be the smaller player, but they have a nice portfolio of clients.”
Two weeks ago, the company I’d been working for since straight out of college had merged with another large ad agency. Everyone had been on edge ever since, nervous about what the acquisition of Wren Media meant for their position at Foster Burnett. For the last two weeks, I’d spent half my mornings reassuring my team, even though I had no fucking idea what the future of two major ad houses consolidating might look like.
We were the bigger company, so that’s what I’d been reminding people. Today was the physical consolidation into the San Francisco office where I worked. People carrying boxes had infiltrated our space, and we were supposed to smile and greet them. It wasn’t fucking easy—especially when my own job could be at stake. This company didn’t need two creative directors, and Wren had its own marketing team, which was moving into our space right at this very moment.
While Jonas had assured me my job with the company was safe, he hadn’t yet said that any of us wouldn’t be transferred. The Dallas office was larger, and a recent rumor had floated around that more transfers were in the cards.
I had no plans on moving anywhere.
“So, tell me about the woman I’m going to crush. I asked around. Jim Falcon worked at Wren for a few years and said she was pretty close to retirement anyway. Hope I’m not going to make some blue-haired woman cry.”
Jonas’s brows drew down. “Retirement? Annalise?”
“Jim told me she uses a walker sometimes—trouble with her knees or some shit. I had to get maintenance to widen the aisle between the cubicles where the staff sits so she can get through. But I refuse to feel guilty for whipping the ass of this woman just because she’s older and has some health problems. I’m sending her packing to Texas, if it comes down to it.”
“Bennett…I think maybe Jim is confused. Annalise doesn’t have a walker.”
I shook my head. “Are you kidding? Don’t even tell me that. It cost me a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label to get my work order moved up to the top of the list with the maintenance department.”
Jonas shook his head. “Annalise isn’t—” He stopped mid-sentence and looked up over my head toward the door. “Good timing. Here she is now. Come on in, Annalise. I want you to meet Bennett Fox.”
I turned in my chair to see my new competition—the old biddy I was about to annihilate—and nearly fell over. My head swung back to Jonas.
“Who is this?”
“This is Annalise O’Neil, your counterpart over at Wren. I guess Jim Falcon confused her with someone else.”
I turned back to the woman walking toward me. Annalise O’Neil certainly wasn’t the old woman I had pictured in my head. Not in the fucking slightest. She was late twenties, at best. And gorgeous—drop-dead gorgeous. Killer long, tanned legs, curves that could cause a man to drive off a cliff, and a wild mane of wavy blonde hair that framed a seriously model-worthy face. Without warning, my body reacted—my dick, which had been floundering around disinterested for the last month since news of the merger broke, suddenly perked up. Testosterone squared my shoulders and lifted my chin. If I were a peacock, my colorful feathers would’ve fanned wide.
My competition was a fucking knockout.
I shook my head and laughed. Jim Falcon hadn’t made any mistake. The fucker did it to screw with me. The guy was a wiseass. I should’ve known. He must’ve been laughing his ass off when I had the guys from maintenance disassembling and reassembling the cubicles to make room for her walker.
What a dick. Although it was pretty funny. He got me, that’s for sure.
But that wasn’t what had me smiling from ear to ear.
Nope. Not at all.
Shit was about to get interesting, and it had nothing to do with my kicking the ass of a woman who walked just fine.
My competition—Annalise O’Neil, the beautiful woman standing right in front of me inside my boss’s office, the woman I was about to go head to head with…
…was also the woman from this morning, the one who had ripped my wiper blade off and left me a damn parking ticket in its place, the smiling woman from the elevator.
“Annalise, is it?” I stood, straightening my tie with a nod. “Bennett Fox.”
“Nice to meet you, Bennett.”
“Oh, trust me, the pleasure is all mine.”