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Narcissa Valentine. Even her name annoyed him. It sounded like some self-involved designer or hairdresser, not the name of the new Vice President of International Relations. And yet, that was her title. One she had plucked right out from under him. Whimsically, he thought that maybe it was because his name was so plain, maybe he should have changed it, made it more romantic and intriguing. But Jackson Fray Nelsen had been his father’s name, and now he bore it proudly.
He had worked his way up the corporate ladder, starting right out of college and immersing himself in the corporation and its politics. He was next in line for Vice President, it had been as good as offered to him. Then, they accepted outside applications. Then, they hired HER. God, he was prepared to dislike her, this usurper of his position.
Memos flew around the office, directing the staff to make the transition easy, to make the new Vice President feel welcomed. Jack didn’t feel like being cooperative or friendly. He felt like undermining her at every turn. He wanted her to go back to fashion or whatever she was suited for with that name, leaving big corporate decisions to the men who could handle them.
As the days passed, things around the office were hectic. The corner office, his corner office, was painted and recarpeted and new furniture moved in. Meetings were held to set up the pecking order, and to encourage the employees to welcome Ms. Valentine warmly and sincerely.
Then it was her arrival day. Everyone was sitting at their desk, pretending to be busy, but wanting to be the first to see her, to have the scoop to share with fellow employees. It was almost anti-climatic when she finally arrived. No fanfare, no trumpets. Just a woman walking into the reception area and asking for the company president. Many of the employees missed it. They were expecting an entourage, simpering underlings answering “yes” to everything.
Instead, Narcissa Valentine entered quietly and alone. Jack happened to be at the reception desk, picking up his messages when she walked up. Not knowing who she was, he was pleasant and friendly. It would be hard not to be. She was a striking woman. Small, petite, dark, with a beautifully tailored suit that fit her body perfectly. Her legs were short and shapely, encased in fine silk hosiery. Jack considered himself a leg man, and these were perfectly wonderful. She smelled delicious, a combination of flowers and powder, that he inhaled happily. The absolute best part was the little hat she wore. A hat! A perfect hat with the tiniest feather perched jauntily on the side. He couldn’t remember the last time he had seen a woman wear a hat, and she wore it so very well.
He almost fell over himself trying to be helpful. He offered her coffee, a sweet roll, a seat in the well-appointed reception area. He sat beside her, keeping her company as she waited to be summoned to the inner office. She sat back, comfortable with herself, crossing those splendid legs, and sipped her coffee. Jack was his wittiest, his most charming. The lovely woman, the stranger who had walked into his life so unexpectedly, seemed bahis siteleri quite taken with him too. She had a lovely deep laugh, from her heart. Her eyes smiled at him, lit from within.
He began chatting with her, drawing her out, while thanking the fates for sending her to him. Her hair was dark and worn short, a style Jack usually disliked. He preferred his women to have long, flowing locks. But on her, the cut was very attractive. She had curls that seemed to punctuate the air and he knew if he touched them they would be caressable. Her eyes were so dark, Jack would have said they were black, but he could see hints of golden flecks there, softening them. Her smile was devastating, her lips slightly puffy and very kissable. The suit, a butter yellow color, skimmed her compact body, and enhanced her exotic coloring. Her shapely legs were encased in creamy silk stockings. As she crossed her legs, he could hear the faint swish of silk on silk, and his blood pounded.
She was intelligent too. What were the odds of finding a woman so enticing who could discuss business and finance this easily? Jack totally forgot that they were in the reception area of his workplace. He felt so comfortable and relaxed, so incredibly pleased to be here with her. He could easily imagine this being a cozy restaurant bar, and that they were waiting for a table, making conversation and getting to know each other while on a very good first date.
Jack leaned toward her, enjoying her soft, melodic voice, thinking that he could listen to her recite the phone book and be just as happy. He was thinking many things. Among them, how beautiful their children would be. Jack was thinking of children and making children and ……the inner office door opened and Stan Adamson, the company president, hurried out.
“Oh, Narcissa, I am so sorry I kept you waiting! I had an unavoidable conference call with our Italian office and I couldn’t seem to end it. Please, dear lady, forgive me? I see Jack has made you comfortable and kept you company. Jack, I would like to introduce you to the new Vice President of International Relations. This is Ms. Narcissa Valentine. Narcissa, this is Jack Nelsen. He will be working with you, helping you get settled and up to speed.”
Narcissa Valentine! He had been consorting with the enemy. Except, she didn’t seem all that much of an enemy. She seemed quite nice. She seemed like the person who could fill his empty life and make him happier than he had ever been. Then Jack remembered that this woman had stolen his position, had swooped in and taken the job he had practically been promised.
He nodded, gave her a suddenly mechanical smile, and moved back to the desk to pick up his messages. Strolling to his office, his very small, one-windowed office, he inwardly seethed. This was what all the excitement was about, this little woman who should be designing fashions or giving beauty advice. Narcissa! Who would name a corporate officer Narcissa? Then his thoughts drifted to her pretty eyes, her captivating smile, her delightful laugh. He tried hard not to think of those beautiful legs and the whisper of silk canlı bahis siteleri as she crossed them. Unbidden, he remembered his fantasy of sharing children with her and all the attending joys; dating, kissing, sex, marriage….. No, he couldn’t let his mind go there, she was his BOSS, not his future girlfriend!
Jack remained in his office the rest of the day, accomplishing little, his mind a jumble of conflicting thoughts. He ate his lunch at his desk, the picture of a dedicated employee, a worker bee.
In reality, he sat there, with the door closed, staring at the stacks of papers, disinclined to touch them. His inburst continued as he silently recounted all the slights and injuries he had dealt with because of her. But then he remembered her scent, her pretty pink cheeks, her delicious lips. Finally, he decided today was pretty much a lost cause and packed up to go home. Opening his office door, he found Ms. Valentine, about to knock. She was thrown off-balance and fell forward, just a little. Jack reached out to steady her, and held her arms a scant second longer than was necessary. And she let him. They stood there, looking into each other’s eyes, unaware of the activity around them, unaware that they were the center of attention. Then they pulled apart and Ms. Valentine waved a delicate white flag. She smiled from deep within, lighting her eyes with golden sparkles and spoke. “I could really use your help, Jack, in getting acquainted with everyone. You would also be invaluable in teaching me the system and instructing me about the mergers. I know you were involved in most of the foreign operations. I would really appreciate any help you could give me.”
Jack wanted to stay mad, wanted to hate her, but he hadn’t expected her to be so very nice. He told himself that it wasn’t her prettiness or delicious scent that was swaying him. It was his devotion to the company. He was a company man. It was his duty to help. He found himself nodding, agreeing, offering his expertise to this woman. The anger he had felt for weeks dissipated a little. He could breathe better, deeper.
Apparently not noticing that he was ready to leave for the day, she invited him back to her office. Apparently forgetting his plans to leave the office, Jack followed. He walked behind her, immersing himself in the sight of her pretty body, swaying delicately as she moved. He didn’t notice the attention they received from the general workers, the buzz they generated as they walked toward the corner office. All he noticed was the lingering scent of her fragrance, the sweetness of the air that filled her space.
As he entered her office, he couldn’t help feeling that it fit her. The wall of windows filled the room with a bright light, the warm oak furniture seemed scaled perfectly, even the deep wall color complimented her. Narcissa. Now that name didn’t annoy him, now he realized it suited her. She had a hypnotic air about her.
They removed their suit jackets and settled down to work. His first impression proved true. This woman was intelligent and able, quickly grasping the intricacies of the various foreign mergers. canlı bahis It seemed minutes later when they looked up and realized the sun had set and the city skylight was lit against the darkness. They had worked for hours, yet neither was tired. Both stood and stretched, pleased with the amount and quality of work they had completed. They had moved into an easy mode, comfortable with each other, content to be together.
Almost without discussion, they decided to have some dinner. Jack helped her into her jacket, again immersed in her gentle scent. She was so small beside him, she seemed so fragile. But an afternoon working with her had dispelled that idea from his mind. She was deceptively soft and quiet, but he could see she was a tiger in business. He liked that.
They moved through the now-empty office building, talking easily about her move and her new apartment. She hadn’t really had time to see the town and Jack volunteered to show her around. But first, food!
Jack took her to his favorite restaurant. He was well-known there and enjoyed all the attention that the employees bestowed. They had a great table, complimentary appetizers, and absolutely delicious steaks, grilled to perfection. The owner brought over a bottle of wine, pouring it himself. It, too, was perfect. The evening went well, both of them relaxed and enjoying the other.
After dinner, Jack drove through the town, showing the sights to Narcissa. He drove well, and kept up an interesting commentary about the buildings and areas they passed. He felt comfortable with her, even the silences were easy. As they drove, they passed a particularly historical hotel, and he turned to tell her about it. He was surprised to find her asleep, her head resting on the seat at an uncomfortable-looking angle, her breathing softly snuffling. Jack smiled at her, thinking how hard this first day must have been for her and how gracefully she had handled it. She had already told him where she was lived and he drove there now, moving through the nearly empty streets, reflecting over the day.
The doorman hurried out to meet the car and open the door. Jack lightly touched her shoulder to wake her, not wanting to startle her. She woke as she did everything, with grace and dignity, with no flurry of embarrassed apologies. She thanked him for a lovely day and accepted the doorman’s hand. Jack watched as she walked away, elegant, nearly regal.
After that, there was no problem between them. Jack and Narcissa became an unbeatable team, working closely together on many projects. If he occasionally looked at her with longing, neither mentioned it. If she occasionally wished the relationship was more, she kept the thought to herself. Jack was finally given a well-deserved promotion, making him parallel to Narcissa in responsibilities and power. His office was changed and he too had a lovely sweeping view of the skyline, right next to Narcissa’s. Still, everything remained friendly, no lines crossed, no barriers disturbed.
Maybe they would have continued that way, friends who liked and respected each other, who attended each other’s parties and, even, weddings, who became godparents to new children. It certainly looked as if that was the path they were following.
Then they attended the company’s 4th of July party, and everything changed.
TO BE CONTINUED……
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