By: Cynthia Dane

Chapter 1

Second day in a row. For the second day in a row, Sarah spaced out at her desk and completely forgot what she was supposed to do.

This was not business as usual for one of the most meticulous executive assistants in America – a title she never gave herself, but heard many times from those who tried to poach her from her bosses. But Sarah hadn’t achieved her lofty title by being a daydreamer who stared at her computer monitor but forgot to do any actual work.

“Ms. Clayborn.”

She glanced between her notebook and the computer screen. Dates, times, names… they needed imputing so she could print them off and pass them on to others around the office. The well-oiled machine she worked for demanded nothing less.

“Ms. Clayborn.”

The monitor flickered. At first she feared her spreadsheet was crashing, and then she realized she didn’t give a shit if the whole thing exploded right now.

“Ms. Clayborn!”

She jerked back, alert. Beside her stood her boss Damon Monroe, his facial hair twitching on top of his lips. He could carefully control his frustration all he wanted, but Sarah had worked for him long enough to see her future severely compromised if she kept this bullshit up.

Sarah already walked a tenuous tightrope with the Monroes.

“My apologies.” She stood, office chair nicking the back of her knees. “Lost in thought.”

Mr. Monroe’s leveled gaze turned most women on. Sarah had seen her fair share of women falling over themselves to get an arousing date out of the man. Her? The man could wear the nicest suits and douse himself in the most scintillating cologne in the world, and she wouldn’t give a shit. Damon Monroe had always been off-limits. He wasn’t her type, anyway.

His father, though…

“So I see,” Mr. Monroe grumbled. “Hopefully you were thinking about Monday’s meeting with Blackbourne Corp, because those are the figures I need right now. Well? Do you have them?”

As it happened, Sarah had a stack of figures already highlighted and noted on her desk. Impeccable, like the rest of her work space. Like her simple, drab clothes. Like her clean and functional hair. Like her damned room in the apartment she shared with her brother, Nigel.

“I do.” Sarah handed him the folder. It bothered her that the movement caused one of her crystal paperweights to turn askew. She would stare at it until Mr. Monroe was done flipping through her work, some of the colorful stickies bending and papers slightly falling out. He didn’t have the same love for perfection that Sarah did. Not when it came to his things. People? Sarah had sat in the front row of that spectacle for over two years now. “Let me know if you need any changes, sir. I’m working on you and Mrs. Monroe’s schedules for next week right now.”

“I thought Ms. Oduya was taking care of that.”

“I took it on so she could attend Mrs. Monroe’s meeting with her.”

“Well…” Satisfied with her work, Mr. Monroe tucked the folder beneath his arm and turned toward his office. “Just don’t take on more than you can handle.”

“Do I ever?”

She usually wasn’t that snarky with her boss, causing Mr. Monroe to double-take in her direction. Immediately, Sarah regretted it. I certainly have taken on more than I can handle around here. Not at her job. In her personal life.

Mr. Monroe probably didn’t remember what meeting his wife was at. Sarah did. Of course, it was her job to know what the power couple was up to every moment at work. But when Mrs. Alice Monroe packed her Gucci purse after lunch, Sarah knew she didn’t want to deal with the lawyers involved with the senior Mr. Monroe’s legal affairs, including his upcoming marriage to a Japanese heiress. The less Sarah had to look at Russell Monroe, the better.

Besides, she made great spreadsheets. Alice Monroe always complimented her organization skills and easy to read calendars.

Mr. Monroe backtracked from his office. His beeline for Sarah’s desk meant she was either in trouble, or he had forgotten something.

“You’re off this weekend, correct?”

Sarah sighed, although it was so subtle that Mr. Monroe never noticed. “Yes, sir. I’ll be back from New York Sunday afternoon. Otherwise, I’ll be taking time off.”

Her boss nodded. Before his marriage a few months ago, the man would have scoffed at Sarah’s assertion for personal time and kept her on-call anyway. Sarah could see a trip to New York City as a guaranteed, “Turns out I had business here. Make the meeting, please.” Now, with a new wife and a baby on the way, Mr. Monroe had considerably mellowed out when it came to granting personal time. Which was hilarious, because Sarah was supposed to have weekends off, anyway.

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