Home > The Boss(hole) : An Enemies To Lovers Romance(4)

The Boss(hole) : An Enemies To Lovers Romance(4)
Author: Penelope Bloom

This demon in a suit was offering me a ticket out of that reality. He was offering me my first step toward being able to show my father he’d been wrong. I could do this on my own. I wasn’t completely naïve about how the world worked.

“You had three days to decide. Now you have one minute. Do you want the job or not?” he asked.

I barely knew the man, but I already wasn’t surprised. I didn’t even bother asking how that made any sense. “I’d like to see a written contract before I agree to anything.”

Mr. White had a way of not responding right away. He let the silence hang there, reminding me how damn intimidating he was. He finally reached to his side and slid a stack of papers across his desk. I picked them up, noticing they were still warm.

I assumed it was some sort of template, but I noticed my name was filled in along with the salary and stipend he’d mentioned. “When did you have time to write this up?”

“Are you going to sign or not?”

I met his eyes, fought the urge to look away from their intensity, and then shook my head. I didn’t exactly have a choice. As much as I wanted to knock him down a peg and watch that self-satisfied look melt from his face, I needed this.

I sucked up my pride and finished reading. I tried not to care that he seemed to expect me to sign without reading and wasn’t bothering to hide his impatience. I wasn’t about to sign something without reading it from this man.

But by the time I finished all three pages, there was nothing shocking in the contract. It all seemed pretty standard, except for the massively generous salary and benefits that came with the position.

When I looked up, he was holding a pen out for me. I grabbed it, then signed my name at the bottom and pushed the stack of papers toward him.

“Why do I feel like I just signed a deal with the devil?”

Adrian actually grinned at that. “Maybe because you’re more perceptive than you look.”

 

 

4

 

 

Juliette

 

 

I started my first day by the reception desk with Martha. She looked just as harassed and tired as she had yesterday, except now I kept catching her looking at me like I was a wounded puppy.

“What?” I finally asked around lunch time.

We were both sitting behind the large, “L” shaped desk. She had a tupperware of some strong smelling fish and pesto sauce and I had pasta with a jar of store bought sauce. One of my early poverty finance lessons had been how comparatively cheap it was to buy pasta. A few dollars would get several meals worth, and if money was extra tight, I could skip the sauce and just eat it plain.

“You seem like a sweet girl,” Martha said. “And you’re picking everything up pretty quick. I just can’t help wondering if this is really the job you want to take.”

I speared a few penne noodles with my fork, then shook my head. “It’s not really about what I want. I need the money, and my former boss promised to blacklist me to everyone she knows. If I didn’t take this one, it sounded like Adrian was planning to do the same thing. Unless I want to work fast food, I think I’m stuck here. For now, at least.”

“You shouldn’t call him Adrian. It’s Mr. White.”

I gave her a funny look, which made her laugh when she appeared to realize how that had sounded.

“Mr. White has very strict standards. I’m not sure how much you got to see of him, but he’s… intense.”

“Yeah. I gathered that much.”

“He expects perfection out of everybody at all times. I don’t think he makes mistakes, and he seems to think it’s reasonable to expect everybody who works for him to be just as perfect. It’s why he’s always so angry. Nobody can ever live up to his demands.”

I chewed, thinking about how similar that sounded to someone else I knew. A Coleton keeps their cool, always. No matter what. A Coleton never…

I cleared my throat. “No pressure. Just have to be perfect and the boss will be happy!”

It was supposed to be a joke, but Martha’s smile looked sad. “I was at peace with leaving. Now that I know I’m leaving you here to go through what I went through, I feel conflicted.”

“I’ll be okay. I promise.”

She nodded, but her body language hadn’t changed. She still looked like she was expecting him to rip my arms off and beat me over the head with them. I was a dead woman walking, as far as she was concerned, and I couldn’t help wondering if the rest of the staff was just as terrified.

Walker arrived with a box of his things and a frightened look on his face a few minutes after we’d finished our lunch. He was a tall, lanky man with a thinning hairline.

“Wow,” I said. “He actually followed through.”

“Walker,” Martha said. “You really shouldn’t be here. If Mr. White--”

“He called me,” Walker said, almost as if in a daze. “He told me to come back. Said I could have a raise for the inconvenience…”

“What?” Martha whispered.

Walker gave her a look like he was just as baffled, then slowly made his way past us and toward his old desk. I couldn’t tell if he was excited to get his job back or if part of him wished he’d been allowed to stay fired.

I wanted to give Adrian—no, Mr. White—some slight credit for making good on his promise. I’d halfway expected him to tell me he’d been full of shit about hiring Walker back and that I could deal with it or leave.

But it was difficult to do much except feel disgusted by the man who inspired such terror in his employees. Maybe it was just a relic of my old life as a Coleton, but I thought this asshole deserved to be brought down several pegs. He was just a big fish in a small pond, even if he was inhumanly attractive.

“That’s so strange,” Martha said. “Mr. White lays off staff constantly. I’ve never heard of him re-hiring someone. Does this have something to do with you?”

The intercom on the desk beeped. “Miss Adams. My office. Now.”

Martha gulped. “Just listen, nod your head, and tell him what he wants to hear. Okay?”

“I’ll be okay,” I said, smiling to reassure her.

When I moved through the publishing office, everyone had their heads down and only a few people glanced up at me. Walker was putting the things back on his desk with a dumbfounded expression.

I opened Mr. White’s door. “You asked to see-”

He was standing at the window overlooking the city. “Knock before you enter my office,” he said, not turning his back. He half turned when I didn’t move. “Step back out, knock, and wait until I ask for you to enter.”

I balled my fists, walked out, and knocked what I hoped was a sarcastic little rhythm. “May I enter?”

“Come in,” he called. He was still standing in the same place, broad shoulders silhouetted by the bright sunlight. He was quite the sight, and I found myself in a constant battle to remember he was like one of those poison frogs. No matter how brightly colored, pretty, and tempting to lick he might be—he was pure poison. Or was it venom? I always forgot which was which.

On that note, I also wondered why it seemed such a popular thing to warn people about. Were there really swarms of toad lickers out there who needed to be told not to lick the bright ones?

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