Joanne pulled into the parking lot and found a spot well away from the building. The old country club was barely visible through the morass of workmen rebuilding the façade and while the lot seemed debris free, she didn’t want to take a chance on a flat tire. With funds dwindling, she needed a job more than a repair bill.
A few minutes early for her interview, she got out and leaned against her car. Six months ago, she’d been in and out of this place too many times to count while she organized the company Christmas party. With no idea of how quickly a start-up dot-com could go under, her boss had insisted on a high-end bash to celebrate the great year they’d had.
Two months later, they were bankrupt, and she was the only waitress at the diner with a master’s degree in marketing and bills to match the national debt. Well, everybody had bills to pay, and she couldn’t be sure about a couple of the other girls at the diner. But, for the last few months, her resume circled Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and Las Vegas. She even sent a few to San Diego, hoping she could locate Kevin and reconnect if they worked in the same town.
This was the last place she expected to be, but the new club opening after this remodel promised to pay top-shelf wages for qualified candidates, and she needed the money. Besides, she knew her way around a bar, knew how to fend of drunks and still get a good tip. She’d put herself through college doing just that. This couldn’t be any worse than some of the dives she worked on the East Coast.
She stepped over a bundle of wooden rails and made her way around to the side of the building where she’d been told to look for the temporary entrance. Halfway there, she ran into a wall of male heat with a wad of papers in his hand. One minute, she was on her feet with no one nearby, the next, she was on the ground looking up at the most impressive physique she’d ever seen.
Well, the best she’d ever seen in a shirt and jeans, but from the fit of the shirt as it hugged his body, he’d spent serious time at the gym.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
Looks a side, he wasn’t much of a winner.
He reached down and offered her a hand. “Why are you sitting in the middle of the walkway?” he asked.
“I was walking to the entrance when I was run over,” she replied, tugging at her skirt to make sure she was still presentable.
She gave him her best screw-you look, but he didn’t notice, so Joanne stepped around him, or tried to. His hand gripped her arm just above the elbow.
“Where are you going, miss?”
The steel in his tone and in his grip stopped the sarcastic reply on the tip of her tongue. One look at his face had her mesmerized. The sharp line of his brow, dark brows furrowed above his nose, highlighted the high cheekbones and strong jaw. Power. The word flung itself into her brain and wouldn’t leave. She filled her lungs and fought for a little self-control. “I have an appointment with Mr. Harrison.”
Without letting go, he took a step back and looked her over from head to toe before meeting her gaze. A flicker of interest in his expression caught her by surprise but it disappeared almost immediately.
“The path to the front door is on the other side of the fence.”
Releasing her arm only long enough to turn around, he took her by the shoulder and escorted her to the gate she’d been aiming for before their collision. The heat of his hand penetrated clear to her chest and breathing wasn’t easy with him so near. The scent of testosterone and clean male sweat permeated the space around him and overwhelmed her. Damn, she’d been single for too long.
“Harrison is in the main hall discussing carpet with a vendor. When you come back out the door, make sure you stay on the gravel path all the way to the parking lot.”
“Yes, sir,” she said as he put her on the other side of the chain link gate and closed it between them.
His lips twitched like he was trying to hide a smile before the man turned and strode back to a makeshift table facing the building.
Joanne focused on the door and increased her pace, mentally shaking off the encounter with the contractor. She needed this job, and as hunky as the guy was, she’d never see him once the club opened. The door was propped open even though the air conditioner blew cool air from every vent in the ceiling. The waste was irritating after the irrational spending of her former boss, but she tried to let it go. She didn’t know these people, but they must have money to spare.
Squaring her shoulders, she walked right up to Mark Harrison and waited while he looked at three carpet samples. The floor underneath was covered with beige industrial carpet, well-worn and dirty. It should have been replaced long ago. Harrison looked back and forth between the two salesmen, then caught sight of her.
“Mr. Harrison, I’m Joanne Reynolds. I have an appointment at one.”
One brow went up and he did that head to toe thing the contractor did before meeting her eyes. “I had a little accident on the way in,” she said, dusting off a spot of dirt on her gray skirt. “One of the contractors knocked me down. I don’t usually come to a job interview with dirty clothes.”
“You weren’t hurt, I hope?” he asked.
“Just ruffled a little, but I’ll be fine.”
His grin was a surprise. “Good. You can tell me what you think of the samples before we go to my office.”
That was so not in the job description, but she’d handled all kinds of tasks at the failed dot-com. “Thread count?” she asked the vendors.
Mark answered. “All the same. We’re—well, I’m stuck on the color and pattern. I need a woman’s opinion.”
Joanne studied all three of the large swatches and looked around the room where they stood. Football games could be played in the place if they took down the staircase in the middle. “Is it for this space?”
“Yes,” all three answered.
“I’d go with the purple.”
“Eggplant,” the salesman interjected.
“The eggplant with the gold and green swirls. It won’t take over the room and is more elegant than the other two.”
Harrison turned to the salesmen. “Order it. I need it installed at the end of next week.”
One of them pulled out his cell and keyed in a number while the other hurried to gather their samples. Harrison didn’t spare them another glance, just turned and strode toward the bare wooden staircase. She followed, hoping he wasn’t ditching her appointment. At the top of the stairs, he turned with an apologetic look.
“My office is still being put together, so we’ll need to be a little less formal today.” He waved her to a pair of folding chairs and a small table set out in the hall. “Please sit.”
As if by magic, a door opened and a demurely dressed woman came out to hand Mr. Harrison a manila file.
“Tell me about your previous employment.”
With so many interviews under her belt in the last three months, it didn’t take her long to hit the highpoints and share her work history. It was all in the resume in his hands and she didn’t deviate.
“Interesting and diverse. Now tell me about your personal life.”
Not a typical subject during a job interview and she didn’t have a ready answer. Could he legally ask that question?
“Private Delights is an exclusive members-only BDSM club. I’m interviewing for wait staff, baristas, and paid submissives. With your education and background, you would come closer to your previous high salary as a paid submissive, if that interests you.”
Prickles of heat crawled over her skin. “What in the world is a paid submissive?”
Chapter 2 will post next Monday, March 24th.
Help me out with a title! leave a comment or email me at LavenderDaye@gmail.com