James, or Mr. Banten as Liza liked to refer to him, was sitting behind the large, masculine, mahogany desk, his fingers grazing the keyboard in front of him when Samantha tapped on the heavy wood door.

“Sam. Glad you could make it in.” It was easy to make out the faint irritation in James’ voice. He obviously didn’t like to be kept waiting.

Sam slid her purse and bag down her arm and let them rest on one of the vacant chairs that sat facing James’ desk. She nodded and grinned, but didn’t give in to his attempt to intimidate her. When she didn’t say anything more, James continued.

“I was just putting together the information I received from the president of the project team in Dallas. I think this is a substantial opportunity for you and hope you have given it some thought.”

How much thought did he think she could have given it in the last twenty minutes? With a disbelieving look on her face, she spared him a quick glance, waiting for him to continue, but he sat perfectly still, hands clasped together on his desk, staring at her with a blank expression.

When he didn’t speak, she opted to fill the strained silence. “Well, I can tell you I didn’t do a whole lot of thinking in the last few minutes, but I’ll be glad to sit here and try to pull the information out of you if you’d like. Or you can give me some more details on exactly what I ‘ll be doing and make it easier on both of us.”

A smile tipped the corners of James’ lips as he stared back at her. Although he appeared to be trying to dominate the situation, Sam could see his eagerness to share his good news.

He leaned forward slightly, resting his elbows on his desk, steepling his fingers, as he watched her. “First, let me say they have asked specifically for you to manage this project. Aside from this being the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, it also comes with a promotion.”

She sensed he was proud of himself in being able to give her that news, but she could also see the apprehension that furrowed his brow.

“When you say ‘they’, exactly who would that be?” Sam lowered herself into the chair across from James, sitting her coffee cup on the edge of his desk.

It was difficult to act nonchalant when she truly wanted to fast forward this conversation to the good part. She was curious, plain and simple.

Knowing James, he’d prepared for the hard sale. Sam wasn’t known as the type of woman to let anyone try to get something past her. Her attention to detail was often a discussion point with her project teams, and oftentimes there were some choice words being said when they talked about her. Having prided herself on her ability to get the job done, Sam didn’t let those things bother her.

“Sam, I know it isn’t hard for you to believe that the big guys up in Dallas know exactly what you contribute to this company. Your reputation precedes you.

“During our last planning session, your name came up numerous times in regards to a certain responsibility within the company.”

The blush his statement invoked trailed up her neck and infused her cheeks. When it came right down to it, Sam knew she worked hard, and she was adept at what she did. It had never gone to her head though. She was still humble, and that type of feedback was awkward at best.

Knowing the conversation needed to remain on the serious side, Sam pondered what James was telling her. “Ok. So by process of elimination, I end up being a candidate. I love my job. Why would I want to give that up? What does this position offer that I don’t already have?”

James had always been forthcoming with information when he had it, and she knew he relied on her heavily when it came to running the projects that came out of his office.

What was surprising was the fact that he was pushing her in this direction so quickly. What was the motivation behind that?

Her forehead wrinkled at the negative thought, and she consciously blanked her expression. She didn’t want to believe someone else was doing this for their own personal gain, least of all James, but through experience, it was something she had come to expect.

“How does this sound?” James paused as he pushed his chair back from his desk. “Samantha Kielty, Vice President of Project Operations.”

It sounded like a load of crap, she thought to herself. Sam just stared at him for a moment.

Vice President of Project Operations.

Wow.

How in the world do people come up with titles that actually encompass everything and nothing at the same time? She had learned that titles didn’t mean a whole lot, except for the amount of work the job would require.

Regardless, vice president had definite appeal to it. But the bigger question was the part about the operations. That term encompassed a lot of things.

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