I’ve Introduced you to Holly and Jackson from my upcoming contemporary romance, The Non-Disclosure Agreement, but how about a little sneak peak? Here’s a short selection to get a taste of how this couple interacts before Limitless Publishing releases it in the spring of 2017.
Holly drifted over to the security desk and dropped her license and proof of employment papers in front of the guard. Her hands were sweaty and her eyes kept flitting around the busy lobby. “Excuse me, sir, but I believe you have a badge for me? My name is Holly McIntyre and I just moved here from Michigan to work for Mr. Cantrell. I’ve never been to New York City and-”
The guard reached below the desk and slapped a piece of plastic down on the desk. “Here’s your card, sweetheart,” he interrupted in a thick Brooklyn accent. “And a word of advice? Don’t talk so much. You need to be tough to make it in this building.”
Holly nodded and meekly slid the ID off the counter before turning towards the elevators. She felt her cheeks burn with embarrassment and internally abashed herself for rambling to a perfect stranger about her life. She was used to chatting with everyone back in Michigan and she just made herself look like a fool to the first person she ever met in her new city. It was a great way to start to her first day.
The elevators were packed, going up, and Holly had to squeeze herself between two very large men carrying briefcases to make her way up to the top floor. As people left the elevator to exit to their floors, Holly made time to give herself a short, meaningful, pep talk to fill the time during the long ride up.
Okay, Holly, you can do this. You can make it through this. This is just a building in a city, not one of the most major companies on the East Coast for marketing and international sales. So what, if it controls eighty perfect of the sales to China? All you’ll be doing it fetching coffee and picking up dry-cleaning. No big deal! Maybe you’ll address envelopes sometimes or water plants…totally doable! Fake it until you make it!
When she stepped onto the top floor, she had been the last person aboard the elevator and was entirely sure she should never be a motivational speaker.
The seventieth level was as white and bright as the lobby below; only it was primarily empty. There was only a single receptionist clicking away on a computer, a bright red couch for waiting on, and three heavy, oak doors against the far wall. Holly quietly walked up to the receptionist, her ID card clutched in her hand. The young woman was a statuesque brunette wearing a chic sweater dress and a pair of fifties-inspires glasses. She stopped typing and looked up at Holly from behind her vintage eyewear.
“H-hi, I’m Holly McIntyre, the new assistant.“ She cleared her throat and held up her ID for proof, hoping the receptionist didn’t notice the wild shaking of her hand.
“Lovely,” the receptionist purred in a way that made Holly think of a cat that has just spotted a defenseless mouse. “Go on in to Mr. Cantrell’s office. Begin filing the papers on top of the filing cabinet into alphabetical order. He’ll be in shortly to give you further instruction.”
Holly waited to be dismissed but took the woman’s return to typing as her release. She walked back to the far wall to the three doors. One was labeled ‘Meeting Room 1’, the second was ‘Meeting Room 2’ and the third said ‘Cantrell’ in bold golden letters next to the door. Slowly, she grasped the handle and pushed the door open to let herself inside.
The office was large and richly furnished with a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows behind the stately desk. It was almost sterile-looking, with no personal effects to be seen between the imposing grandfather clock and leather armchairs. Holly looked around for a picture of her future boss but the only art on the wall was a modern painting that only a man would pick. Bright squares of red, blue, and black thrown onto a canvas. It was something she thought a child could put together. But, what did she know? Holly had no doubt, however, that the simple piece had cost him thousands.
She placed her secondhand purse on one of the two guest chairs facing the desk and mad her way to a very tall, very large, filing cabinet that was tucked into the corner of the room. Holly’s hands began to sweat as she saw how monumental the filing cabinet was. While she was about five feet, and some odd inches tall, the cabinet must have been seven feet high. Wondering if she could actually do her duties with that monstrous piece of office furniture, she tried reaching the stack of papers and manila envelopes. But, her hands barely grazed the top of the cabinet. Next, she glanced around for a stepladder or a stool to climb on, but only saw the expensive chairs meant for guests. Not seeing any other option, she pulled the empty chair towards the cabinet and hopped on, balancing on the plush cushion.
She had just grabbed the heavy stack when the office door burst open, causing her arms to fly up in surprise and the papers to scatter all over the office floor, mimicking the worst kind of snowstorm. Holly immediately jumped off the chair with her hand covering her mouth to stifle a small shriek of surprise that escapes as a pained squeak. She had not been in the office five minutes and she had already made a mess of things. What made it worse is that the only person there to witness her shame was the man who could only be the boss, himself, Jackson Cantrell.
Jackson raised a brow as he inspected his new assistant. She seemed as flighty as a bird, and almost as frightened.
“Oh, goodness! I’m so sorry, Mr. Cantrell… sir… I can’t believe I…” Holly dropped back to the floor and began sweeping the papers into a pile with her quivering hands. “I’m sorry… I didn’t… I couldn’t reach…”
Jackson bent down to her level and began sorting the papers into small piles, slightly uncomfortable with the anxious woman fidgeting on his office floor. “I take it you must be my new assistant?”
“Y-yes. I’m Holly McIntyre.” She looked up at him, bright green eyes glassy with fear. “I promise, I’m not always so clumsy.”
Jackson was taken aback upon seeing her fully. She was a pleasant-looking woman with a heart shaped face and full lips that she bit her teeth into with worry. And as she lifted her emerald eyes to his, peeing at him under her thick lashes, Jackson had to clear his throat. “Good to meet you, Holly.”
“I’m really not like this. I’m very well organized and-”
Jackson held up a hand. “Please, it’s really not a big deal. Why don’t you just go get settled at your desk, for now, and I’ll fix this?”
“My desk?” Her face was still pink from embarrassment; a feature Jackson found oddly endearing. The women he came in contact with were always poised and collected.
“Yes. Your office connects with mine so that I will be able to constantly be in contact with you during business hours.” He scooped the rest of the files up and stood, holding a hand out to her.
Holly smiled uneasily, showing off a row of perfectly white teeth. Her hand was delicate in his and, when she rose to standing, he was surprised to see she had rather shapely legs beneath the unflattering sack she wore. “Of course, Mr. Cantrell. Is there anything I can get for you? Latte? Coffee? Tea?”
He shot her a small smile, amused by her nervousness. “No, thank you. Go get settled.”
Holly snatched her purse and tucked it under her arm, disappearing into her adjacent office. Jackson watched her leave, noting how that dowdy suit and ugly shoes did little to show her apparent charms. His other assistants were always well groomed and expertly dressed, looking at ease in their designer clothes. Holly McIntyre almost seemed like a little girl playing dress up in her mother’s closet. He thought she would do better to accentuate her girl-next-door beauty instead of hiding it.
As he arranged the last of the files upon his desk, he wondered if Holly McIntyre had what it took to survive life in the big city.
Well, that’s all for now! If you want to see what else I’m working on, check out my About page!