Beck and Call(2)

By: Abby Gordon



Keith watched the interaction. Hiding his impatience with his usual impassive expression, he leaned against the doorframe. He caught a couple glances from those who didn’t fear reprisal. So he hadn’t known it was his assistant’s birthday, much less her age. That didn’t make him a bad person or boss. It just meant that he had other priorities. Did these people know that he made sure she had the highest bonus of the entire administrative staff? It was only fitting that, as his right-hand, she receive more. Personal information had nothing to do with the workplace.

After ten minutes, Serena literally shooed everyone out, making sure Claire took the rest of the 3



Abby Gordon



cake so no one else came to her office. She then picked up the phone and punched in several numbers.

“Tom? It’s Serena.” She smiled and shook her head. “Thank you. I don’t think it’s hit yet. I was wondering if you could handle the flowers that were delivered. There’s no way I can take them all home with me.” She nodded. “That would be great. I’ll call security and tell them to send Charlie and Bob up.

Thanks.”

“Well, that’s something I’ve never seen,” Keith drawled after she’d called the security desk in the building’s lobby.

“You’ve never seen a birthday party before?” she replied with a raised eyebrow.

“Not quite,” he muttered. “I’ve never seen a woman give away flowers. Who are you giving them to?”

“The Hospice of Saint Benedict’s.”

“A hospice?” he stared at her. “Why?” Startled,

Serena

looked

hurt

and

then

embarrassed.

“My grandfather lived there for over a year until he died six months ago.”

Keith held his breath and tried to hold onto his temper. He hadn’t known her birthday or her age.

And now she tells him her grandfather had died—

she’d never said a word.

“And you didn’t tell me?” he said quietly. He knew he emphasized keeping personal things out of the office, but something like this? How could she not have mentioned it? “So to thank them for his care you send them your flowers?” She shook her head.

“I volunteer on Sundays and spend most holidays there.”

“You’re serious?” Keith shook his head in disbelief. “You enjoy being around people so much 4



Beck And Call



older than you.”

“Yes,” she nodded. A small smile curved her pale pink lips. “I listen to their stories. They’ve taught me that life is too precious to waste a moment. That we have to remember to feel.” He saw sadness flicker in her eyes. “That we should put relationships first.”

“I do that and the company suffers,” he muttered.

“You’re the CEO,” she reminded him with a smile. “That’s your job, but I’d bet you could manage if you wanted.”

Keith was quiet a long moment considering what she’d said.

“I guess,” he shrugged. “Sounds like you spend a lot of time over there. I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who did something so selfless.”

“Really?” Serena sat down and tapped quickly at her keyboard. “I’m not surprised, especially considering that last woman and a couple others.”

“You didn’t like Charlotte?”

She shivered as if she didn’t even like to hear the name.

“Keith, please! The woman was more two-faced than Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!”

“What

are

you

talking

about?”

The

uncharacteristic harshness in her voice had to be because—he hated to think of something so cliché—

she was turning thirty. He’d heard that women got emotional at big birthdays. “What did she do?”

“Keith, she treated anyone worth less than twenty million to a cold shoulder that could have sunk the Titanic!” Glancing up, Serena’s green eyes met his gaze. She caught her full bottom lip with her upper teeth and relented. “I’m sure she was wonderful to be around.”

But Keith was reeling from her words. He couldn’t remember Serena saying an unkind or unflattering word about anyone. Period. Even when 5

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