Come Away With Me(8)

By: Ruth Cardello

He wasn’t happy with himself for succumbing to his curiosity and asking for background checks ASAP on all of the new hires, merely so he could find out more about her. No one needed to know that hers was the only folder he intended to open.

He’d half hoped to discover something big enough to negate the building anticipation he felt as he counted down the hours until her shift started. Unfortunately, what he’d read had left him more, not less, intrigued by her.

Although she had no experience with security, her flowered and scented résumé had somehow won over the head of human resources. Julia’s only prior employment had been at her family’s furniture business, where she claimed to have created a jewelry department and listed her skills as: Ask me.

For the third time that day, he opened the small handwritten card that had been paper-clipped to her résumé. She had warmly thanked the woman she’d interviewed with and written, “I know I’m not the most qualified person for the position, but I can guarantee you that no one wants it more than I do. I will come in early. I will work late. I don’t mind holidays or double shifts. Looking forward to hearing from you. Julia. P.S. I hope you don’t mind that I included a box of peppermint tea. During the interview you expressed that your sinuses were giving you trouble. I had my father overnight my favorite herbal blend. Our family swears by it.”

Since most of his business was conducted in the field, Gio wasn’t normally concerned with the level of security at his headquarters, but he could see the error in that now. He’d have that unpleasant conversation with his security team later.

For now he replaced the card in Julia’s folder and shook his head.

This isn’t me.

I don’t sit around waiting for any woman.

Certainly not someone who works for me.

But I need to see her again.

I need to prove to myself that what I felt last night can’t be repeated. He hadn’t realized how emotionally closed off he’d become until he’d looked into the eyes of a woman who had made him uncomfortably aware of it. What Julia made him feel was just as unwelcome as the sensation of pins and needles that fills a limb after it’s been temporarily cut off from blood.

And as impossible to dismiss.

He practically jumped out of his chair when he heard a light knock on his door. Not since his first teenage crush could he remember his heart beating so wildly in his chest at the idea of seeing someone again.

Rena opened the door. “I have the soil analysis you asked me for.” She stepped inside, placing them on his desk. Instead of leaving as she normally did, she hovered. “Are you feeling okay, Gio? Is your head still bothering you? I have some aspirin in my purse if you need it.”

“I’m fine,” Gio ground out. Rubbing a hand over the small red mark on his temple, he added, “Thank you.”

“You asked me to remind you to call Mr. Atwater today. I did earlier, but his secretary called a few minutes ago. She wanted you to know he’s in his office late tonight. I wasn’t sure if that meant you had forgotten. I told her I’d tell you.”

Cursing under his breath, Gio stood. “He can wait. He needs my investment more than I need the opportunity.”

“Yes, sir.” She went halfway to the door and stopped. “Miss Elson called this morning. I told her you were in meetings all day.”

“Good. I broke it off with her before I left. I hope you sent her nothing more than the usual.”

“The three-carat ‘thank you now go away’ bracelet that Tiffany’s buys in bulk just for you? Sent it with the usual note,” Rena replied blandly, still remaining in the room. It was times like this when Gio regretted hiring his friend Kane’s sister as his administrative assistant. She was good at her job, but she often felt personally invested in things that were none of her business.

Gio leaned back against his desk and folded his arms across his chest. “Say it.”

“Aren’t you getting tired of this cycle? Dating women you don’t care about and then breaking up with them as soon as they get attached to you?”

For a moment Gio was back in Kane’s house in upstate New York. He and Kane had become fast friends in middle school, and their friendship has survived eighteen years and Kane’s inquisitive sister. “I thought you didn’t like her. Want me to call her, give it another shot?”

Rena rolled her eyes and shuddered. “No. I’m pretty sure she’s a vampire. All that pasty white skin, perfect makeup, and cold hands. I know she’s the face of Umi Cosmetics, but they should let her eat something now and then. Maybe she’d smile.”

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