Excerpt from The Property of Twin Dragons by Berengaria Brown
Copyright © Berengaria Brown, 2017
Lois sighed. The yummy-looking clients couldn’t have bought much, if anything then, since Mr. Mallory was downsizing the company again. Well damn, that was disappointing. The one who’d spoken had seemed so nice. For the first time, Lois began to worry that maybe there wasn’t a problem with the accounts. Maybe what she was seeing was a company sliding into bankruptcy. Her elderly parents couldn’t support her and neither could her siblings. Stacy was separated with a son to rear on her own, and Don had a nice house and a good job, but he also had a wife and three children to support. No, she was on her own, and she needed a job.
The moment Lois got home, she opened up her laptop and looked at the employment ads. As soon as she listed her location as Ohio, the number of vacancies for an experienced bookkeeper dropped from over one hundred to five. Just five. The good news was that the starting salary for every one of them was higher than what she was earning. The bad news was that Lois suspected there’d be a hell of a lot of applicants for each vacancy.
She’d lived her whole life in Ohio. Was she willing to move somewhere else? Maybe somewhere warmer with shorter winters and less snow? That was something she ought to think about.
Sighing, she pulled up her old resume and began to update it. The problem was she hadn’t really done anything very exciting. Just the kind of tasks any bookkeeper could do. By nine that night, she realized that she’d been stuck in a rut for years and hadn’t noticed. She had more than enough work to do, but nothing was new or challenging or different. Nothing had been the kind of task that would urge an employer to call her in for an interview.
It was no use asking Mr. Mallory to let her try some new work. He was very much in control and gave out jobs piecemeal without explanations. The last thing he’d be willing to do was help her upskill to get a better job or a pay increase.
Damn. She was going to be shit out of luck if the company went down. She would have to seriously consider leaving family and friends behind her and going somewhere else? But where?
She leaned back in her chair, staring at the computer screen. Her tummy rumbling reminded her she hadn’t eaten yet, so she stood up to heat her soup, and as she did, her cell phone rang. She snatched her purse and riffled through it for her cell, hoping the call wouldn’t drop out before she found the phone. “Yes?” she asked breathlessly as “withheld number” appeared on the screen.
“Lois McCubbin, this is Drake Kelekona,” a deep, rich, and sexy voice said.
For a moment Lois thought it was a salesperson and was about to end the call when the sexy voice penetrated her brain. “The man who came to the office last week? Why are you calling me?”
“I’m calling because I can’t get the image of your smiling face out of my mind. So I thought you might like to have dinner with me on Saturday night at Urbane. I could pick you up at seven.”
Lois was left staring at her cell phone. It had been years since someone had invited her out for dinner, and she’d never been to Urbane. That was one of the nicest restaurants in the city. Her brain kept telling her to say no, that she didn’t know this man, no matter how sexy his voice might be and how good looking his body was. But her empty tummy was bouncing with delight at the thought of a nice meal for once, and her pride was involved now that someone was flattering her.
“Please don’t let me down. Say yes, dear Lois,” came the sexy voice.
Almost as if he’d brainwashed her, she replied, “Yes.” Then her brain kicked into gear. “I’ll meet you in the foyer there at seven. Thank you very much for the invitation.”
“I do like a woman who says invitation instead of invite. I’ll be waiting for you in the foyer at seven.”
Lois sank back into her chair, all thoughts of soup, resumes, and job searches gone from her mind. Instead, she was focused on a pair of brilliant blue eyes in an incredibly handsome face. He asked me out to dinner. That’s unbelievable. Me!