“Walker’s lucky to have you. And the person I’m sending you to see is ecstatic to meet you. Come on, girl! You really don’t have anything to lose in going to the meeting.”
Chrissy thought that Charles must have worked his client hard to be this insistent for her to meet him. And she was the one who called him. At least she owed Charles the courtesy of meeting the client. “Okay. When?”
“Today. Lunch. One. Fiorio’s.”
“Are you going to be there?”
“Just for introductions. I have another client to meet now as well.”
“You wouldn’t want it any other way, sweetheart. Later.”
She texted Jessica from her phone: Mark my lunch spot for 12:30 to 2:30.
Jessica: Business lunch? :)
Chrissy: Stop fishing.
Jessica: Mean boss :(
Chrissy: That’s not what you say in your performance evaluations.
Jessica: Only because you hold the power of my paycheck in your hands.
Chrissy: Get back to work. ;)
Jessica was one of the people who made where she worked bearable. Chrissy looked over the latest social media campaign she’d pulled together and sighed. There was nothing new, nothing flashy in this package. Not that Richard allowed her to do anything creative or bold. Maybe it was the right time to get out from under his thumb and find a place where she could spread her wings.
But, said the little voice inside her, you worked hard to get to this point. To be offered a promotion.
But was it a promotion? No one was talking, and through the week Richard was more closed- mouthed than ever. And despite the steady supply of cronuts shunted to Chloe, Jessica was unable to pry out any new information.
So, lunch it was.
At precisely five minutes to one she stepped into Fiorio’s and met Charles.
“Always on time,” he said with a broad smile. “Come on.” He led her to a table where a handsome older man sat. He smiled when he saw Chrissy and stood, which impressed her. Businessmen almost never stood when meeting a potential subordinate. “Mr. Pearson, this is Christine Serafina. Chrissy, James Pearson.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Pearson,” she said with a smile as she shook his hand.
“Please sit. Charles, are you joining us?”
“I have other business. Call me later.”
Chrissy settled in her chair and regarded James Pearson. He was in his forties, salt and pepper hair, and wore a dark Italian suit with a crisp white shirt and red paisley tie. Chrissy could swear his crystal-blue eyes twinkled when he looked at her.
“Would you like a drink?” he asked.
“No, thanks. Not during working hours.”
“Sane and sober, eh?”
“You tell me,” she said with a lift of an eyebrow.
“Confident, too. Good.”
The waiter came by, and Pearson placed an order for a bottle of wine with two glasses. Clearly, this was a man who took command of a situation.
“Are you ready to order, sir?”
“Yes, I think so. We’ll both have the lobster salad for starters and the burnt Rib-eye.”
“Very good, sir.”
Chrissy studied him. He hadn’t bothered to ask if she was a vegetarian or anything. Even though the lunch he’d selected sounded amazing, she still wasn’t impressed.
“Is that okay?” he asked when he caught her staring at him.
“You’re used to ordering for women.”
“It avoids the awkward, ‘what are you having’ conversation. But you didn’t answer my question.”
She took the napkin from the table and put it on her lap. How did she handle this without looking like she couldn’t handle the situation? She smiled tightly and shrugged. “I can’t argue with steak.”
He nodded. “And it’s very good here.”
“Yes,” she said, feeling a frost steal over her. It didn’t make any difference that he was as handsome as a god, or obviously rich. That damned imperious attitude of his was a turn-off. She didn’t think that she could work for a man like that.
“Did Charles tell you about the job?”
“No,” she said.
“I’m looking for an executive secretary. My companies take me all over the world and I need someone to travel with me to my various holdings and help keep my day straight.”
Crap! This is what Charles set her up for? An administrative assistant job? “I’m afraid there’s a mistake. I’m a social media director.”
“I know what job you have now, and I know what you earn. I checked you out very thoroughly before I took this lunch. In fact, you’re one of three people I picked to interview. The facts are simple. You’re attractive, professional, you work hard, and from what I’ve been able to tell you’re discreet. You have no romantic entanglements, and you live nearly alone. You have an extensive family network, but you’ve deliberately chosen a career path when the women in your family typically don’t work.”
“You know who my family is, then?” She actually took some satisfaction and saying that.
He nodded. “That’s not an impediment for me. What I’m offering is not just a job, Ms. Serafina. It’s an opportunity not just to travel the world, but to meet some of the most powerful people on the planet. The connections you make working for me will allow you to write your own ticket.”