No more. That was the old Jamie. The new Jamie was going to start saying no. She was going to take charge of her life. It was the main reason she sold her internet publishing company and took this job. She wanted, no, needed to get out in the world and this was the perfect opportunity. This job would force her out of her shell and into the world.

“I’m good,” she mumbled to herself, not really sounding all too confident, but it was a start. She pushed her glasses back up her nose and did her best not to vomit.

Taking one last fortifying breath, she grabbed her oversized purse, the one that really should be called a bag, and opened her door. After catching the small heel of her shoe on the floor mat and fighting her way to freedom she opened her car door and stood up.

Satisfied that she hadn’t vomited or passed out, she closed her door, hit the alarm and took a step forward only to come to a halt and stumble backwards into the car.

“What the….”

She turned around and frowned. Of course this would happen. She somehow managed to shut her bag in the car. Her cheeks burned as the sound of laughter reached her ears. She didn’t need to look back to know that they were laughing at her.

Keeping her eyes and face averted so that no one would be able to identify her later and point and laugh at her, she disarmed the car alarm and removed her bag. This time when she closed the car door she made sure to remain a safe distance away.

Clutching the purse strap tightly in her hands she headed for the front entrance of Rerum Publishing House, praying nothing else went wrong. She kept her breathing even as she walked up the sidewalk, into the lobby and to the elevator. She stepped inside, pressed the button for the fifth floor and exhaled slowly. Several people in the elevator threw her curious looks, but she ignored them.

She ran her sweaty palms down the front of her charcoal gray wool skirt and frowned as she inwardly groaned. Why hadn’t she taken the time yesterday to try on her clothes? Oh, that’s right, because Caitlyn and her little trio came into the store. She’d been forced to grab the first suit off the rack that looked like it would fit, pay up, and get the heck out of there before they spotted her.

It was either that or endure the fake looks of pity, rude comments, and Caitlyn’s “little” stories about how Jamie never could keep any man’s attention once they met Caitlyn. So yeah, she ran for it and apparently bought a suit at least four sizes too big.

The elevator dinged and people looked at her expectantly. It took a moment before she realized they were at the fifth floor. With an embarrassed flush and a murmured apology she hefted her bag, er purse, and stepped out of the elevator into a beehive.

“Excuse me,” a woman in a much better suit than hers said in a crisp voice as she rushed past Jamie.

Another murmured apology came from Jamie before she stepped back against the wall. She stayed there watching the chaos for several minutes before she broke out into a sweat.

Oh god, she couldn’t do this.

She hurried the three feet back to the elevator and hit the call button, and then pressed it again and again. Where was it? She pushed her glasses back up her nose to get a better look at the elevator lights. It was on the ninth floor and she didn’t have time to wait here.

Clutching her bag tightly to her body and averting her eyes to the floor, she turned and followed the Exit signs to the stairwell. Halfway there she spotted signs for the restrooms. After taking a quick glance up to confirm their location she took another deep breath and scurried quickly through the swarm of people. She didn’t release that breath until she was in the bathroom safely locked in the end stall.

After placing five paper barriers on the toilet she carefully sat down, dropped her bag between her feet, and cradled her head in her hands. This had been such a huge mistake. She should have kept her company and resigned herself to being the strange woman with twenty cats that all the kids would point and laugh at in twenty years. The fact that she didn’t like cats shouldn’t factor into her decision.

Decision made, she just needed to come up with a plan to get herself out of here. She would just have to leave the bathroom and use the stairwell to leave the building. Then she’d go home and pack up her small apartment and find someplace where she could blend in and allowed cats. Maybe she’d use her new little fortune to buy a house and a new car. Wait, a house was too big for just for one person. Unless of course cats required their own rooms then she’d be all set. Then after she set up her house she’d start up another internet publishing company and everything would be peachy.

The only glitch in her plan as far as she could tell was that little issue of the signed contract stating that she was not allowed to start another internet publishing company and a few other factors that would keep her butt here working.

She needed an antacid or something. She looked down at her oversized purse and frowned. She wasn’t the antacid carrying type of woman. Although there was a good possibility that she had a half roll of spearmint Lifesavers or a few root beer barrels somewhere in her bag.

Deciding that a root beer barrel sounded great, she picked up her bag and nearly cried out in frustration as her bag tipped upside down, which normally wouldn’t have been a problem except that somehow at some point her bag had opened. The soft whir of the air conditioning unit was momentarily drowned out by a loud gasp and the clanking sounds as everything in her purse hit the tiled floor.

“Why me?” she mumbled pathetically as she grabbed her bag and started to shove things back in. Things started to look up when she found a twenty dollar bill that she’d forgotten about and her favorite pen that she thought she lost a few months back. Well, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all, she thought as she kneeled on the cool tile floor so she could reach several items that escaped the confines of the stall.

After a minute it became obvious that her arms were just too short to reach the items that escaped the stall. Sighing heavily, she opened the stall door and crawled out picking up items as she went. Two tampons and a quarter later she was frowning at a pair of very large black leather shoes.

Her first thought was one of sympathy for whatever woman had feet that large. That feeling slowly disappeared as her eyes traveled up a pair of men’s black slacks to a very masculine jacket, shirt and tie that in her opinion really looked good on the obviously fit torso. Slowly, ever so slowly, she looked all the way up and gulped when she saw beautiful laughing green eyes and perfectly combed short honey blond hair.

Why on earth did it have to be him? A month ago when she came in for a meeting he had been the reason why she nearly choked on her own tongue. It was really unfair that someone so shallow should look so gorgeous. Really, it wasn’t fair.

Tags: R.L. Mathewson Hollywood Hearts Young Adult
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