Beck and Call

By: Abby Gordon

Chapter One


Through the partially opened door, Keith MacLauren heard laughter.

Again.

This was intolerable! He was the CEO of one of the nation’s, if not the world’s, most advanced and innovative computer software companies, and he couldn’t get a moment’s peace because every person in his company felt compelled to stop by his assistant’s desk.

Hearing the voices of two board members, Keith scowled and stood. Striding to the door, he flung it aside and prepared to lash out at the two dozen people crowded in the outer office.

His mouth gaped, while his eyes took in the scene. His brain managed to snap his jaw shut before a single syllable slipped past his lips.

A birthday cake sat on Serena’s desk, along with several wrapped presents. Nearly every surface around the room sprouted large bouquets.

Keith’s angry eyes flashed to the blushing face of his assistant of nearly two years.



****

Serena bit her bottom lip nervously. Oh, he was pissed! At her. His dark blue eyes were rarely calm, but now they were so stormy they seemed to crash with thunder. Why his anger was focused on her, she had no idea. It certainly hadn’t been her idea for everyone to traipse in and out all day. She’d never told anyone about her birthday, much less how old she was. Thirty. Why on earth would she be happy to be thirty?

Yes, she had accomplished quite a bit by 1



Abby Gordon



completing her MBA and becoming executive assistant to the CEO. But, and it was a big but, she thought she’d be married and have two point five kids, a minivan, and be as blissfully happy as her sisters-in-law. But then she met Keith. She was amazed that someone only five years older than herself could have such presence, such charisma, such a potent force. Since then, Keith MacLauren had become the star of every intimate fantasy. She’d dated other men, but kept comparing them to Keith.

That morning, after her mother’s call had revolved around marriage and babies, she had given herself a stern lecture about getting over the infatuation with her boss and move on with her life.

Bosses, especially CEO’s, did not have intimate relations with their assistants. That only happened in fluffy romance novels.

Serena took a deep breath and gathered her courage. She’d been with the company for nearly eight years, working her way up from an entry-level clerk to the executive assistant to the CEO. She’d been careful not to step on any toes, even as she made it clear she wanted to go as far as she could. It was obvious that a large number of people in the company liked her.

There was nothing to be ashamed of in having so many want to wish her happy birthday, dammit.

Just because Keith was in the dark about her was no reason to get pissed. He’d made it very clear in her initial interview that professional and personal lives shouldn’t mix. Even if she’d disagreed, knowing that at some point the two intersected, she’d followed his rules. In her mind, he was losing out on quite a bit distancing himself from those he spent so much time with.

“Hello, Keith,” she said, pleased her voice was steady. “The conference call is in twenty minutes.”

“We’ll be out of her hair in ten,” added a former 2



Beck And Call



boss.

A young assistant, who had interned two years earlier and been taken under Serena’s wing, lit the candles.

Serena shook her head and sighed.

“Honestly, Claire, did you have to put thirty on it?”

Gleaming white teeth flashed as she finished and shook the match out with a flourish.

“Come on, quick,” she urged. “Blow them out before the fire department arrives.” Giving the younger woman a withering look, Serena took a couple deep breaths and blew out the candles. To applause, she laughed and gave a mocking bow. Taking the large knife from Claire, she made the first cut.

“Okay, someone else take over,” she smiled, returning the knife to Claire. “And take this away so I don’t eat the entire thing.”

“Like you need to worry about that,” replied Claire. “I’d kill to have your figure.”

“When you’re thirty?” drawled Serena.

“Now,” came the grimace as Claire glanced down at her own lush curves.

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