Ella Valentine doubts she’ll ever recover when her twin brother passes away in college. Four years later, living in a new city and working for a large corporation, she gets caught in a lie and saddled with a new boss who she suspects might be losing his mind. Now he has her enacting insane acts of espionage while trying to catch the culprit who has embezzled money from their company. If it wasn’t for his deep brown eyes and lazy smile she just might quit. Is this God’s plan for her life? She isn’t even sure who she is anymore without her twin and the way things are going she just might end up in the loony bin.
Charles “Charlie” Murray II may be the heir presumptive to his father’s industrial dynasty, but all he really wants is to create–be it drawings or a marketing campaign. When he’s summoned to the home office to take over the position of CFO, he discovers his new assistant is the same woman who passed him a phony phone number in a diner the previous weekend. If he can figure out who’s been stealing from the company, he just might attain the position of his dreams or will he sacrifice it all to be with Ella.
Ella punched the button for the lobby and waited. Oh, why had she waited? Why hadn’t she taken the stairs? Behind her, she heard rapid steps thumping down the hallway. She peeked back to see Charlie Murray rushing toward her. He didn’t appear calm and mellow, like at the restaurant—not even charming and confident, as he’d been in the office. No, he was angry. Why on earth should he be angry? She’s the one who just lost her job.
Oh, dear Lord! I lost my job! No, I just quit my job. She held up the photograph. “George, I am a colossal idiot.”
What had she done? Obviously, she needed more prayer than she thought. And now what was Charlie planning to do to her? She decided not to stick around and find out. In a flash, she took off down the side hall toward the stairs. She pulled open the heavy steel door and glanced over to see Charlie still coming right for her, and this time he was jogging. After running through the doorway, she took the cement steps to the floor below as quickly as she could.
She paused on a step for just a second to peer up at Charlie staring down at her, a deep frown marring his handsome face.
“Stop following me. I quit, remember?”
“I remember. Now hold on. We need to discuss this.” He started down the stairs.
Her heart raced with panic. With his much longer legs, he was bound to catch up with her in no time. She launched herself down the next set of stairs. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
“Yes, there is,” he shouted back. “Now stand still, because I’m bringing you back to the office with me one way or another.”
She stopped and his footsteps ceased, as well. Would he actually force her back to the office? She could almost imagine him picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder fireman-style to carry her back to the office.
Carefully, she peeked up the stairwell. Shimmering brown eyes filled with determination met hers. Her breathing from all the running remained elevated.
“Ella…what are you running off…like that…for?”
Charlie stood right in front of her now, a little short of breath and patience, too. He couldn’t hide the flash of annoyance ruminating in his dark eyes, as he stared her down.
Like he had any right to be mad at her! What had she done? Not a thing. Except quit. And she had every right to do that. The longer she looked at him and ignored the cute dimple in his cheek, the angrier she got.
“Now, just take a step back, mister.” She held her palm out to him. “I quit, and you have no right to force me to come back.” With her wool coat in place, she felt incredibly warm. Why had she put it on when she was still inside the building? A trickle of perspiration formed at the back of her neck.
“You’re right.” The way he smiled just then made it absolutely impossible to ignore the dimple a second longer and her anger began to wane.
But then she remembered why she could never see this man again, never be in his presence, and most definitely never work for him. That Saturday night. The flirting. The fake number.
“Y…you should have told me,” she blurted out, “who you really are.” His eyes opened wider, as if confused. “At the diner. ‘Just Charlie.’” She firmed her mouth and tilted her head slightly.
In response, he gave her a relaxed smile. He leaned into the wall of the stairwell and placed his hands into his pockets. “I like just being Charlie. It fits me a whole lot better than Charles Murray II.”
His sincerity at that moment moved something deep inside her chest. It must have been her heartstrings. It had been a long time since someone had yanked on them. She’d done her very best to keep them hidden away. Away from the players, the liars and the commitment-a-phobes. Away from anyone looking one iota like Mr. Charles Murray II.
And yet she couldn’t help but think that Charlie wasn’t like many of the men she’d dated. He had eyes that seemed too direct and too earnest to ever intentionally hurt someone. And it seemed as if the boss’s son carried a burden of his own. You probably needed big shoulders to carry the Murray name around. Although, in point of fact, Charlie had mighty broad shoulders, now that she came to think of it.
Oh, she couldn’t think. Her emotions were a blur racing through her system. Pondering the width of Charlie’s shoulders was not helping. She lowered her eyes and leaned against the door to the third floor. If she looked into his eyes one more second, he could probably get her to do whatever he wanted. She glanced at the photograph and focused on George’s face. If only her brother were here now. He’d get her out of this mess.
Cindy K. Green has worked as a middle school history & English teacher, a frozen yogurt server and a golf magazine employee. Today she’s a multi-published, award-winning author, a mother, a wife, and a homeschooler too. This native Californian now resides in North Carolina with her husband, two boys, and two cats named Chloe & Kassey.
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