Page 18 of Claimed (For Her 3)

“Top right drawer. They’re all yours.”

I won’t miss those things, and I know she’ll wear the hell out of them. Even right now, she has on four-inch heels and can run around in them all day.

“Another perk.”

The elevator dings, and we both step on. I know she’s right. She and Mallory got moved up to the top floor because Mallory is my boss’s obsession. Skyler got to come along, leaving their small cubicles behind.

“Anyway, some of us are going out tomorrow night. We do it most Fridays. You should come.”

I turn to look at her. No one has ever invited me out from work. I know a lot of people go out at the end of the day for drinks, but not one invite has ever landed on my desk. I don’t even think a lot of people like me around here. It’s one of the downsides to being the wall between the boss and the rest of the world. Annoying is the word I hear myself being called the most. I never thought I cared, but for some reason, in this moment, a trace of wanting to fit in slips through me.

“Are you sure?” I question. Skyler hasn’t been here long, so maybe she doesn’t know the whispers about me being up here on the top floor. Also, I never have to bother her or Mallory for anything. They take what they do very seriously, and if I do bother them, it’s only to lend a helping hand.

“Yes. It’ll be fun. Maybe we can talk Mallory into coming. You know, to poke at the boss man. That’s always fun to watch.”

I should tell her that we shouldn’t poke at him. My job is to make sure he’s poked as little as possible. But I have to admit, watching him chase Mallory around is always entertaining.

“I mean, we totally wouldn’t intentionally provoke the boss man,” she added, winking at me. Then her eyes go to the elevator camera before coming back to me. “Maybe you should have your new man delete this ride. Just to be safe and all.”

“He’s not my man,” I toss back, thinking what it would be like if he were.

We get to the ground floor, and the elevator doors slide open. Straight ahead I see Jordan standing twenty feet from the elevator with a single red rose in his hand.

“You sure about that?’ I hear Skyler say, but I can’t take my eyes from Jordan. The elevator doors start to close, and Skyler reaches out, stopping them. “This is the part where you go to him.” I hear her whispered laughter as she shakes me from my shock.

“Sorry,” I mumble as I step off. I don’t know why, but seeing him holding the rose makes this feel like a real date, something I’ve always wanted.

“Think about the drinks, and have fun,” Skyler says as her goodbye and walks in the direction of the exit. Jordan moves toward me, and we meet in the middle.

“My rose.” I can hear the excitement in my voice. God, I should be playing it cool, but I’m too happy.

“Your rose.” He hands it to me. “I took the thorns off, so it should be fine. I would have gotten you more than one, but I know you wanted a carriage ride tonight and I didn’t want you to have to carry them around and worry about them.”

His words trail off, and I don’t know if he’s nervous or shy, but I can’t focus on what he’s saying. I can’t stop staring at the rose. No one has ever given me flowers before. I look up at him, unsure of what to say. It’s then I realize I’ve never been on a real date. Sure, maybe I’d grab a burger or pizza after studying with someone in college, but that was because everyone was hungry and had no choice when we had a project together.

I think back to the romance novels I love to read and write and think what would they do. Then it comes to me. I take the rose and break off the stem and try to slide it next to my ear. But the smooth move is screwed up when my glasses get in the way and it flutters to the floor, dropping a few petals along the way.

“Oh my God, I ruined it!” I try to bend down to pick it up just as Jordan does the same, and our heads knock together. I step back, feeling my face turn red, but Jordan leans down and picks up the rose. “I’m sorry, I thought…”

My words trail off when Jordan straightens and his hand comes to my breast. My eyes snap down, and I see he’s putting the rose in the little pocket on my blazer.

“Wait, no—” I jump back from him once again. “I was supposed to take the blazer off!” I start to remove it, but I don’t even get it halfway down my arms before Jordan stops me once again, pulling the small jacket back up my arms. “Maybe I should go back up the elevator and come down so we can start over. Or maybe I should just go. This is all a mess. Everything I—”