By: Leddy Harper

“So where did you go?” she asked after catching her breath.

I didn’t care to talk about me. I didn’t want her humor to die. I wanted to listen to her talk and hear her laugh. To watch her pouty, red lips turn up at the corners and see her dark eyes sparkle with mirth. But I couldn’t be selfish—I wouldn’t even know how to be. So I answered her question, hoping I could turn it around on her. “I studied business at Florida State. Clearly not as interesting as you. I mean, you’re the one who got a job all the way here from New York. Someone must really want you.”

She glanced down again and fought against the unwavering grin. But it didn’t last long before she met my gaze once more. “I don’t have the job…yet. I actually interview for it tomorrow morning.”

I had so many questions bouncing around in my mind I didn’t know which one to start with. “So you’re only visiting here until you get the job?”

“Nope. I moved here.”

“Without getting a job first…” It wasn’t a question, more of an open-ended statement, waiting for her to finish with the details. It didn’t make any sense to me why someone would move thousands of miles away without any guarantee of income.

“It’s my dream job. So if I don’t get it, I’ll simply keep trying.”

Determination. I loved that in a person. I didn’t come across too many with that quality anymore. Most assumed they were entitled; they went to school, earned a degree or diploma, and expected to be handed a job. They also expected a paycheck simply because they showed up to work. Life didn’t work that way.

“Well, you should probably limit those,” I said, pointing to the drink in her hand. “You wouldn’t want to be unprepared for your big interview.”

She lifted the glass and smiled. “It’s vodka-water. The water keeps me hydrated while the vodka settles my nerves.”

“What do you have to be nervous about?”

“Oh, gee…I don’t know, Dane. I was supposed to be meeting a stranger, some guy who kept me waiting for a very long time—who probably had no intention of showing up. To top it all off, I have an interview tomorrow for my dream job. And if I blow it, I’ll have to flip burgers at a fast-food place until I can try again.” The lines next to her eyes deepened with her soft, easy grin.

“That guy is clearly a moron, but it worked out in your favor.” I wagged my brows at her. “I do a lot of interviews. Want my advice?”

Her shoulders lifted eagerly as she said, “Sure.”

“First, don’t be nervous. You went to a great school, got a degree, and you’re more determined than half the people I work with. You’ll do fine. Second, speak with confidence. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the answer—never let them know that. And last…you are the only person for the job. They could have a hundred applicants, but when you leave the room, the only person they need to remember is you. As far as they’re concerned, you are the person for the job.”

She nodded and toyed with her bottom lip between her teeth, taking in every word. “Okay. I think I can do that—no. I can…I know I can do that.”

“See? Already a quick learner.” I winked at her and watched as her cheeks darkened yet again. “Now, you also have to dress the part. This is one of the rules I probably hate the most. I personally like individuality, but not everyone does.”

She blinked and nodded, waiting for me to continue.

I pointed to the vibrant flowers on her arm. “Your half-sleeve. As hot as it is, maybe wear a sweater. You never know, they may not care about it, but in the event they’re conservative, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.”

“Yeah, I planned to cover it up.”

“The diamond in your nose is probably okay; it’s tiny enough. But the Monroe”—I pointed to the silver ball in her smile line—“could be frowned upon. And please, Eden…” I reached across the table and covered her hand with mine, not thinking twice about it until the warmth of her skin met mine. My chest grew tight, my stomach coiled, and heat from an invisible fire licked up the sides of my neck. I snatched my hand away, realizing how inappropriate it all was. “Don’t be offended by my suggestions. If you worked for me, I’d tell you to keep them all in. They’re incredibly sexy on you.”