Rocked by Him(6)

By: Lucy Lambert

I remembered the secretary told me Mr. Loughery's office was towards the back, so I glanced at the nameplates on the doors until I came to the one just shy of the corner office.

A woman with curly, dun-colored hair did her best to cope with her work. The black receiver of the phone was wedged between her shoulder and ear as she spoke into it. Her eyes scanned her monitor even as her fingers flew across her keyboard. The intercom on her desk buzzed, the little cherry-colored bulb on it blazing each time.

And to top it off, her iPhone vibrated beside her purse.

Normally, she would be pretty, I knew. A heart-shaped face, narrow waist, and full lips spoke to that. But the lines on her forehead and the little wrinkles beside her eyes made her look probably ten years older than she was.

I stood by politely, holding my small purse against my stomach with both hands.

"Yes, of course Mr. Loughery will be able to see you this weekend at the club. I'm sorry; I don't know exactly when he'll arrive. Sorry, could you hold for one moment?" she said, her voice surprisingly strong despite the strain on her face.

I opened my mouth to speak as she leaned across the desk, one hand clamped over the receiver on her phone. She didn't even notice me as she pushed down the button to the intercom.

"Yes, Mr. Loughery?"

"Lucinda, has my new assistant shown up yet?" the intercom made his voice sound distant and small.

My heart sped up. That was me!

"No, Mr. Loughery, I'm sorry, but I haven't seen her..."

"Excuse me? I'm his new assistant," I said, trying to cling to that sense of purpose from when I'd walked in.

Lucinda's green eyes took me in with one glance. Whoever was on the other side of that phone call was clearly not pleased, as their tinny voice squeaked around her clutched fingers.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Loughery, she's right here at the desk. Should I send her in?"

"I don't know, sweetheart, why don't we let her sweat it out for a few minutes? Of course I want her in here!" Bud Loughery's voice squawked.

I winced as I met Lucinda's eyes. Thoughts of just turning around pushed through that barrier of bravado I'd tried to construct. I wished now that I had been able to meet him before agreeing to the job.

"Yes, sorry Mr. Loughery. I'll send her in straight away."

"That's my girl," Bud said.

Lucinda nodded at me, then glanced at the door with "Bud Loughery" on the nameplate behind and to her right.

I went in, trying to put that last look she gave me out of my mind. It had been pity. First the receptionist, now his secretary. Just who the hell was Bud Loughery?

I pulled the door open and stepped into his office. His desk was too big, and didn't match the sterile office decor outside. It was a monster, made of polished mahogany or something. There was a model tall ship complete with pirate flag at one corner.

It took me a second to realize that there wasn't a single piece of paper or file on that desk. Only a chromed nameplate, an enormous monitor, and that model.

There were also no chairs in front of the desk. The only one in the room was occupied by Mr. Bud Loughery, his body framed by the large bay window behind him through which I could see a glittering skyscraper across the street.

Bud wore a wrinkled suit, the knot of his tie pulled down to reveal the unbuttoned collar of an off-white shirt. I couldn't tell if the thick mop of black hair was a wig, but, based on his paunchy, sagging jowels I would have bet money on it.

His teeth were too white, and contrasted sharply with the Halloween pumpkin orange of his spray tanned cheeks.

His eyes were beady and too small for his face. And at that moment he had them fixed squarely on my chest, not even bothering to hide the hunger I saw in them.

He was a walking sexual harassment machine, I could tell. My skin crawled as I tried to make myself smaller.

I cleared my throat to let him know I could see his bald stare. He took his sweet time lifting his eyes.

"Looks like ole' Bud's lucked out again!" he said. He put his hands on his thighs, below his desk. They worked back and forth. I hoped to God he was just straightening his pants.

But just because he wasn't being professional didn't mean that I couldn't, or shouldn't, be. So I stepped forward and offered my hand even as I forced the muscles of my face into a smile.

"Hi. I'm Jennifer Snow; I believe we'll be working together..."

He took my hand and I immediately regretted the gesture. His thumb rubbed in suggestive circles on my wrist as he pulled me forward so that I had to lean over his desk.

I sucked in a breath as he kissed the top of my hand. That was too far. I yanked my fingers back, trying not to think about the warm wetness on the top of my hand, and where it came from.

My face twisted in disgusted shock so hard my cheeks hurt. It didn't faze him. Bud just smiled at me for a moment before getting up and making the long journey around the desk.

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