Come Away With Me(10)

By: Ruth Cardello

What do you say to a man you assaulted with a lamp the night before?

You look well, Mr. Andrade.

No, he’ll think I’m being sarcastic.

Sorry, sir. It was either clock you with a lamp or wrestle you to the floor, and I was afraid I’d enjoy the latter too much.

No. No. No.

Honesty is not always the best policy.

A small smile pulled at her lips as she remembered how tempted she’d been to run her hands up those fabulous abs and kiss the arrogance right out of him. She shook her head. Grabbing the lamp in a desperate move, born in the confusion of unexpected passion, was not likely the best excuse to use either.

It was a matter of hit you or hit on you, sir.

Yeah, that’s not going to work.

I’m screwed.

Maybe I’m worrying for nothing. He won’t want to see me. CEOs don’t handle this kind of thing themselves. He probably spoke to Paul’s supervisor.

I’ll get a written reprimand.

Maybe a verbal one, too.

I hope I didn’t get Paul in too much trouble.


I’ll make it right. I’ll write up my report first thing and submit it. The whole thing was my fault. I’ll make that clear.

As she stepped farther into the foyer, she stopped midstep. Two new security guards sat in Paul and Tom’s seats. They were dressed in the same uniforms, but neither smiled as she approached their desk. One of them walked out from behind their station and stood at military-like attention in front of her. “Mr. Andrade requested that you report to his office as soon as you arrive.”

He wants to see me.

Oh, my God, he wants to see me.

Don’t get excited. This isn’t a good thing.

“I should put my bag in the monitor room,” Julia hedged and took a side step in that direction. While I figure out what I’m going to say. And get this smile off my face or he’ll never believe that I’m sorry about last night.

The guard stepped in front of her and blocked her way. “We have coverage in there already,” he said, looking past her as if dismissing her.

Coverage? The word was an unwelcome dose of reality.

Because I hit him, not because he spent the night, as I did, imagining what would have happened between us if I hadn’t.

“Am I fired? Where are Paul and Tom?” Julia demanded as her agitation grew.

She might as well have asked two stone statues, for all their expressions gave away. The stoic wall of muscle merely repeated, “Please report to Mr. Andrade’s office.”

Julia looked back and forth between the two men, then asked, in a confidential tone, “Would you tell me if the police were up there? Blink twice fast if they are.”

Neither man reacted at all.



I can’t be arrested for hitting someone I thought was an intruder.


Head held high, she strode to the elevator with purpose. It was only once she was inside that she hugged her arms around her waist for a moment and let out a nervous breath.

How you respond to adversity determines the level of success you will achieve. She quoted the chapter heading from one of the books she’d been reading, using the words to calm herself. None of the books, however, soothed the gnawing feeling in her gut—because she was more nervous about how her body would respond to her boss than afraid he’d fire her.

Maybe I’ll get in there and realize that I’m not attracted to him at all. I was excited about meeting with a buyer. My adrenaline was probably running high. I’ll see him again, feel nothing, and have something to laugh about with my friends when I go home.

Stepping out of the elevator, she headed into Mr. Andrade’s outer office and faced her fear. Or I’ll make a complete fool of myself by staring longingly at him while he tries to explain why I’m no longer employed here—or worse, has me hauled off in cuffs.

Her heart was beating so loudly in her ears she didn’t actually hear if Mr. Andrade’s secretary said, “Wait while I announce you,” or “Follow me, please.” Julia stood frozen near Rena’s desk.

Rena held the door to her boss’s office open, said something to the man waiting inside, then turned back to Julia and said, “Are you ready?”



“Is he alone?” Julia asked, hating that her voice sounded nervous.

“Yes,” Rena said and waved her forward.

Forcing her reluctant feet toward the open office door, Julia sought one last reassurance. “Does he look angry?”

With a sympathetic smile, Rena peeked in at her boss, gave Julia a conspiratorial wink, and whispered, “Always. But he’s all growl and no bite. If he yells at you, just cry. He can’t handle that.”

Julia found herself smiling back at the woman she’d spoken to only once before as they’d shared a coffee break in the downstairs café.

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