Ella punched the button for the lobby and waited. Oh, why had she
waited? Why hadn’t she taken the stairs? Behind her, she heard rapid
steps thumping down the hallway. She peeked back to see Charlie Murray
rushing toward her. He didn’t appear calm and mellow, like at the
restaurant—not even charming and confident, as he’d been in the office.
No, he was angry. Why on earth should he be angry? She’s the one who
just lost her job.
Oh, dear Lord! I lost my job! No, I just quit my job. She held up the photograph. “George, I am a colossal idiot.”
What had she done? Obviously, she needed more prayer than she
thought. And now what was Charlie planning to do to her? She decided not
to stick around and find out. In a flash, she took off down the side
hall toward the stairs. She pulled open the heavy steel door and glanced
over to see Charlie still coming right for her, and this time he was
jogging. After running through the doorway, she took the cement steps to
the floor below as quickly as she could.
She paused on a step for just a second to peer up at Charlie staring down at her, a deep frown marring his handsome face.
“Stop following me. I quit, remember?”
“I remember. Now hold on. We need to discuss this.” He started down the stairs.
Her heart raced with panic. With his much longer legs, he was bound
to catch up with her in no time. She launched herself down the next set
of stairs. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
“Yes, there is,” he shouted back. “Now stand still, because I’m bringing you back to the office with me one way or another.”
She stopped and his footsteps ceased, as well. Would he actually
force her back to the office? She could almost imagine him picking her
up and tossing her over his shoulder fireman-style to carry her back to
Carefully, she peeked up the stairwell. Shimmering brown eyes filled
with determination met hers. Her breathing from all the running remained
“Ella…what are you running off…like that…for?”
Charlie stood right in front of her now, a little short of breath and
patience, too. He couldn’t hide the flash of annoyance ruminating in
his dark eyes, as he stared her down.
Like he had any right to be mad at her! What had she done? Not a
thing. Except quit. And she had every right to do that. The longer she
looked at him and ignored the cute dimple in his cheek, the angrier she
“Now, just take a step back, mister.” She held her palm out to him.
“I quit, and you have no right to force me to come back.” With her wool
coat in place, she felt incredibly warm. Why had she put it on when she
was still inside the building? A trickle of perspiration formed at the
back of her neck.
“You’re right.” The way he smiled just then made it absolutely
impossible to ignore the dimple a second longer and her anger began to
But then she remembered why she could never see this man again, never
be in his presence, and most definitely never work for him. That
Saturday night. The flirting. The fake number.
“Y…you should have told me,” she blurted out, “who you really are.”
His eyes opened wider, as if confused. “At the diner. ‘Just Charlie.’”
She firmed her mouth and tilted her head slightly.
In response, he gave her a relaxed smile. He leaned into the wall of
the stairwell and placed his hands into his pockets. “I like just being
Charlie. It fits me a whole lot better than Charles Murray II.”
His sincerity at that moment moved something deep inside her chest.
It must have been her heartstrings. It had been a long time since
someone had yanked on them. She’d done her very best to keep them hidden
away. Away from the players, the liars and the commitment-a-phobes.
Away from anyone looking one iota like Mr. Charles Murray II.
And yet she couldn’t help but think that Charlie wasn’t like many of
the men she’d dated. He had eyes that seemed too direct and too earnest
to ever intentionally hurt someone. And it seemed as if the boss’s son
carried a burden of his own. You probably needed big shoulders to carry
the Murray name around. Although, in point of fact, Charlie had mighty
broad shoulders, now that she came to think of it.
Oh, she couldn’t think. Her emotions were a blur racing through her
system. Pondering the width of Charlie’s shoulders was not helping. She
lowered her eyes and leaned against the door to the third floor. If she
looked into his eyes one more second, he could probably get her to do
whatever he wanted. She glanced at the photograph and focused on
George’s face. If only her brother were here now. He’d get her out of
For one mad moment Ella Valentine steps outside her comfort zone and ends up
caught in a lie and saddled with a new boss who she suspects might be
losing his mind. Now he has her enacting insane acts of espionage while
trying to catch the culprit who has embezzled money from their company.
Charles “Charlie” Murray II might be heir to the Murray
family dynasty, but he’d rather be off creating than running the CFO
office. However, if he can discover who’s been stealing from the company
then he just might attain the position of his dreams or will he
sacrifice it all to be with Ella.
Available from CleanReads.com.
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