By: Leddy Harper

I should’ve left.

I should’ve gone back to my office.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I closed the space between us until I stood only a few feet away. I waited until she glanced up, taking notice of me. Her striking eyes widened, a gasp piercing the silence.

Another step prompted her to stand until we found ourselves face to face, the scent of gardenia filling the air around us. It consumed me and reminded me of happier times.

“What are you doing here?” Her words were quiet and restrained. Her big eyes stayed with mine as she waited for my response. Those eyes. They were a dark green, a really dark green. I had never seen anything like them before.

Rather than answering her question, I said, “Come with me.” I shouldn’t have taken her hand, or dragged her down the hall, or led her into my office. I definitely shouldn’t have closed the door behind us.

But I did.

“What’s going on?” Her shaky voice ran through me, making me feel every ounce of her fear as if it were my own. She should’ve been scared. Lord knew I was.

I turned to face her, but we maintained our distance. “Why did you apply with PR? You have a degree in finance. Why wouldn’t you use it? A receptionist? Why? I don’t understand.”

“No, I’m the one who doesn’t understand. What are you even doing here? How do you know where I applied? Are you stalking me?” Her gaze darted around my office as if she was able to take everything in with one quick glance. “Do you work here?”

I simply nodded and stuck my hands into my pockets, rocking on the balls of my feet. It had seemed like such a great idea to go and steal her from PR, but now I didn’t know how to get out of the situation gracefully.

“I cannot believe you work here,” she whispered under her breath.

I finally caught her attention when I once again asked, “Why PR?”

She stood in the middle of the large room, twisting her fingers together in front of her. “It was the only department hiring, so I figured I could at least get my foot in the door and then look into transferring.”

“That’s a lie. There are always positions available.”

Eden shrugged and stared at the floor.

It was enough to draw me closer to her, but I had to stop before I ate up the distance that separated us. “You don’t belong in public relations. It’s a waste of your talent.”

“Then where should I be, Dane?”

I glanced around the room, noticing the closed door on one wall. It led to an office that hadn’t been used in years, no one ever qualified enough to fill it, and that’s when it hit me. A thought I should’ve pushed away. But I didn’t.

“I need an assistant, someone to help me come up with business plans, cost sheets, risk charts, and execution plans. If this sounds interesting to you, I’d like to interview you for it.” The words rushed out in a tidal wave before I could stop them. My brain took over the conversation and I had no control.

Her eyes widened. Even though she didn’t have on much makeup, and her clothes were way more conservative than what she wore last night, she still managed to have the same effect on me. I craved her company, even though I knew I shouldn’t.

“The pay is better, the position is better, and at least you’ll be able to do what you went to school for.”

She nodded and mumbled, “Okay.”

I moved around my desk and sat in the chair, extending an arm to offer her one of the seats across from me. After she timidly sat down, I began the impromptu interview.

“What made you choose Kauffmann Investments?”

Her spine straightened, her eyes finally meeting mine. In an instant, something changed and her confidence took over. “It’s an amazing company. I appreciate and value the care they take when handling the future of other businesses. I really admire the work and efforts made to save establishments from going under. I once read an article about one of the first ventures Mr. Kauffmann made. He took on this small business, but he couldn’t save it. He felt horrible about leaving employees without income, so he hired the ones willing to relocate and paid the others out of his own pocket. It convinced me I wanted to work for him.”