Primal Heat(Wild Lake Wolves Book 3)(2)By: Kimber White
Thorp waved his hand toward the cubicle closest to his office. I think he expected me to apologize for whatever odor he thought he smelled on me. Damn his werewolf nose. I spent almost fifty dollars having this suit dry cleaned. Twice as much as my donation to the thrift store where I found it. Chanel, for God’s sakes! At least the label, anyway. Navy blue with white trim and a belted jacket. I pulled my platinum blonde hair into a neat ponytail just like the runway models on E’s coverage of Fashion Week. But, as Dale Thorp stood close to me, one sniff and he seemed able to peel away every layer of the armor I’d so carefully put in place.
Fifth in my class, but still East Wild Lake trailer trash. That’s what his narrowed eyes seemed to convey. Well, so what? I let out a hard breath and set my messenger bag down with a little more clunk than I intended.
“I’d love to get started. Do you have a project for me already?”
Dale crossed his arms, resting them on his paunchy midriff. His thick forearms were covered with a dusting of dark hair, and I swear I saw a few extra ones grow right in front of me.
“Congressman Foster is actually in the office today,” he said. “Why don’t I introduce you?”
Dale turned and motioned for me to follow. My heels dug into the plush, maroon carpeting and I was grateful for that. Slick marble might have been my literal downfall. Dale gave a quick knuckle rap on the door and then opened it. Foster sat with his high-backed green leather chair tilted back, his cell phone stuck to his ear. He raised his thick, bushy gray eyebrows at Dale and motioned for us to enter. Dale took a seat at one of the two matching green leather guest chairs, but something told me not to join him on the other. Instead, I stood with my hands folded behind my back and fixed my face with a pleasant smile as we waited for the congressman to finish his phone call.
When he did, he gave me a broad smile. He looked exactly like every campaign billboard I’d seen of him plastered all over town. Thick salt and pepper hair parted on the side, tanned skin that seemed permanently shellacked. He was handsome, distinguished, with a dimpled smile that seemed always to reach his dark eyes. The name Foster had been shortened or Anglicized from something when his Greek ancestors came through Ellis Island a few generations back. A fact he used when it suited him and downplayed when it didn’t.
“Welcome,” Foster said, his voice a gravelly baritone. He gave me the full politician’s treatment, rising to his feet and reaching across the desk to shake my hand with knuckle-crushing strength. “You’re Abigail?”
Of course Foster would know that. Dale Thorp seemed hell-bent on putting me in my place since I stepped foot in the building. Landon Foster seemed hell-bent on securing my vote.
“Abby,” I said and kind of regretted it. Maybe Abigail was more mature. But, it always felt First Lady-ish to me. “Abby Winslow.”
“Well, good to have you, Abby. I hope Dale’s got you properly settled in out there. Don’t let his sour disposition throw you off on the first day. He was born with a silver stick up his butt.”
I put my hand over my mouth to stifle the laugh that threatened to erupt. Foster let go of the other one with a twinkling wink and he gestured to the chair beside Thorp. “Be a gentleman for once in your life, Dale.”
Dale’s face lost a little color as he cleared his throat and rose to his feet to pull the chair out for me. I instantly regretted my choice to stand in the first place. Though Landon Foster was ultimately my boss, I knew Dale Thorp likely had the power to make my life a living hell here. I had to do a better job of not antagonizing him double quick. He stared murder at me as I took my seat and crossed my legs.
“I hope you like staying busy, Abby,” Foster said. “And I also hope you’re good with hitting the ground running. Dale will be here to show you around today, but things move pretty quickly around here and not always in the same direction.”
“That’s what I’m hoping,” I said. “That is, I’m ready to jump right in.”
“Good. Good.” Foster rooted around on his desk but didn’t seem able to find whatever papers he sought. “Help me out, Abby. What’s your experience?”