Home > The CEO Buys In (Wager of Hearts #1)(6)

The CEO Buys In (Wager of Hearts #1)(6)
Author: Nancy Herkness

“Got it,” Chloe said. “Thanks for the raise.”

“You’ll probably get overtime too. I hear Mr. Trainor works long hours.”

Not so good. She didn’t like to leave her grandmother alone. Grandmillie always told her it was fine, but Chloe worried. That’s why she was so determined to scrape together the money for a caretaker.

She glanced down at her outfit and frowned at the blue cotton blouse, beige trousers, and navy ballet flats. She’d dressed for entry-level clerical, not executive assistant. She’d gotten good at gauging those nuances of the corporate world after two months of temping for Judith’s agency. Once Camilla arrived she’d take fifteen minutes to dash out and buy a faux silk scarf to throw on. There was a discount clothing store down a side street from Trainor Electronics’ skyscraping office building. She could find something in her price range there.

Chloe made a slight adjustment to the red-and-blue striped scarf as she followed Roberta Stern, head of human resources, out of the executive elevator. Chloe had twisted her brown hair up into a sleek bun that mostly hid the blonde streaks and applied some red lipstick she’d found to match the scarf. Both adjustments made her look older and more sophisticated. The one thing she couldn’t fix was her flat shoes. In her opinion, executive assistants should wear heels.

At least the carpeting on the top floor was so thick that it felt like her feet would be entirely hidden from view as they sank in. The receptionist behind the front desk looked like a model out of the pages of Vogue, with her perfectly fitting black suit and high cheekbones. Chloe’s scarf suddenly reeked of bargain basement.

Roberta stopped at the desk. “Priscilla, this is Chloe Russell. She’ll be working for Mr. Trainor until Janice is feeling better.”

To be fair, Priscilla gave her a genuine smile that showed no judgment of Chloe’s wardrobe inadequacies. “If you have any questions about where things are up here, just ask me,” she said.

A resource. Chloe had learned to value those when she came into a new working environment. Some office workers were more willing to share knowledge than others. In fact, some were downright hostile to a temp, something that always baffled her, since she was no threat to their jobs. Judith said it was because Chloe was too good at hers and made them look bad. So Chloe tried to keep a low profile, although she refused to do subpar work.

Roberta led her down a long, wide corridor lined with paintings Chloe wished she had time to examine more closely. They were clearly originals and one looked like a Van Gogh, her favorite artist. Well, she would be able to admire them when she took a bathroom break. She assumed her new boss allowed those.

At the end of the corridor, massive double doors made of dark wood stood open. A beautifully sculptural wood-and-chrome desk sat just beyond them, empty.

“That’s your workstation,” Roberta said as they passed by the desk. “I’ll get you set up with a password and show you the internal office system once you meet Mr. Trainor.”

The head of human resources was going to show her how the computer worked? Usually she was lucky if a fellow admin told her which desk she should use. Were the staff members so intimidated by their boss?

Roberta knocked on the inner door, which was slightly ajar. “Mr. Trainor?”

“Yes, come in.” His voice sounded muffled.

Roberta pushed the door fully open and walked through. Chloe fiddled with her scarf again and went in behind her.

No one was there. The burgundy leather chair behind the huge U-shaped desk with three widescreen computer monitors sat vacant. She glanced right, toward one wall of windows, to see a couch and four chairs comfortably arranged like a living room. All unoccupied. The conference table and chairs to the left were also empty.

“Mr. Trainor?” Roberta appeared as baffled as Chloe.

“Just a second. My processor needed an update,” the voice said, this time emanating from somewhere in the vicinity of the desk. A large hand appeared on top of the desk, and then a man rose up behind it, his broad shoulders going up and up and up.

Chloe let her eyes skim over the tall, lean body, lingering a moment on the muscles the rolled-up sleeves of his white dress shirt revealed in his forearms. She checked out the shoulder breadth again. Definitely impressive. But it was the clean, sharp line of his jaw, the thick waves of his longish brown hair, and the intensity of his gray eyes that lit a spark of something irritatingly primitive deep in her belly.

She’d never met a CEO who looked like this before. They were usually older, balder, and chubbier.

“We have techs to do that,” Roberta said.

“I like to feel a circuit board every now and then,” her new boss said.

Chloe had to smother a spurt of laughter.

Roberta gestured Chloe forward. “Mr. Trainor, this is Chloe Russell, the temporary executive assistant who’s filling in for Janice while she’s sick.”

Chloe stepped up to the edge of the desk and stretched out her hand across the wide surface. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Trainor.”

“Chloe.” He nodded and shook her hand before he turned to Roberta. “A temp?”

The HR manager spread her hands in apology. “There’s a flu epidemic. The temp agency has total confidence in Chloe’s ability to work at a high level.”

“Right,” he said. With a smile that was clearly forced, he looked at Chloe. “Well, we’ll figure it out.”

Squelching the little flare of annoyance at Trainor’s assumption that she wouldn’t be able to figure it out, Chloe managed a tight smile in return.

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