Home > Taking Liberties (Like a Boss #3)

Taking Liberties (Like a Boss #3)
Author: Serenity Woods

Chapter One


Caleb

Love at first sight is bullshit.

That’s in my humble opinion (or IMHO, as my friend Colette would say). Not that I have much experience with it. (Love, that is. I’ve plenty of experience of bullshit.) But from what I understand, love is something that develops over time, like a photograph in a darkroom, or whiskey in oak barrels, or cheese. Okay, maybe cheese isn’t the best example—I can hear the squeak of Colette’s eyeballs rolling in their sockets at that comparison. The point is, so I’ve heard, love is about trust and contentment and becoming comfortable in another person’s company, discovering their strengths and weaknesses, learning what they like and dislike, and feeling as if—at that moment—nobody in the world is more suited to you than this person.

This is all hearsay, by the way, as my one and only foray into Cupid’s world ended very badly, with no sign of trust and definitely no contentment anywhere to be seen. But others assure me it exists in this form, and, if that’s the case, it simply can’t happen at first sight.

Lust at first sight… well, that’s another matter. That I do have experience with, because the moment I lay eyes on the new girl who comes in to collect a parcel from the conference room, I fall in lust.

I feel like a character from a cartoon—like Hanna and Barbera’s Tom when he sees that girl cat with the long eyelashes and the bow on her tail. His eyes pop out of his head with hearts painted on them, and his tongue unrolls like a red carpet on the floor. Yep, that’s me.

Now let me explain, first of all, why this is so unusual. I’m not lacking in experience where women are concerned, or at least, I wasn’t when I was younger. I’ve dated all kinds—tall, short, curvy, boyish, sexy, homely, skinny, curvy. But the last couple of years, I’ve tended to go for a particular type. Typically tall, blonde, sophisticated, well-spoken, educated, and ambitious. They’re usually called Sophie or Annabel or Lydia, and they wear pantsuits and have French manicures and style their silky hair in neat bobs.

I suppose, if I were to think about it, I’m subconsciously searching for someone who would make a suitable long-term companion. A woman I can take to the theater and the opera, to dinner parties and to charity functions, who’ll be able to blend in with the clientele I mix with, and who other men will look at with envy and say to each other Have you seen Caleb’s date? Wow, what a looker, and she has a degree in engineering, too! And the other guy will reply, Yeah, and Caleb told me she does yoga and can get her ankles behind her ears, which is really useful because apparently she knows every position in the Kama Sutra and she’s filthy as sin, even though she looks like a goddess.

Such is the fantasy. I’ve yet to meet a real woman like this, but I’m happy to keep looking for the foreseeable future.

The girl who comes into the conference room is… well, let’s say politely, not like this. She’s short—maybe five-four, slender, and… hmm, how best to describe her. Well, she has jet-black hair that’s twisted up so the ends stick out all over the place. She has black eyeliner, black eyelashes, and purple lips. She’s wearing a tight sweater the same shade as her lipstick, a black mini skirt, black tights—one leg of which bears a ladder running up her thigh—and long black boots. And she has a shedload of attitude that’s obvious from the moment she walks in.

We’re coming to the end of a busy afternoon preparing for a presentation we’re putting on next week as part of a huge telecommunications conference in the city. As well as several members of the office staff, the four directors are there—me, Elen, Seb, and Harry, as well as Seb’s partner, Colette, and Harry’s girl, Gaby. Harry and Gaby returned only last week from a long stint abroad. The two of them got married in Florence, and they’re having a big party on the weekend to celebrate the wedding.

Lots of people are talking and moving around as we check out the various promotional materials the marketing department have put together, so nobody else hears the door open. I’m standing right near it, though, so I turn and stare as the girl comes in.

She stands there for a moment, looking around, obviously looking for someone or something. Then her gaze falls on the post tray on the table near the door, and she leans across and picks up a large parcel waiting for collection.

When she turns back, she finally sees me watching her.

Our eyes meet, and she stops in her tracks. She has huge green eyes, made even huger by all the black eyeliner, and she’s chewing bubblegum. We look at each other for a long moment. Then her gaze leaves mine to slide slowly down me, taking in every detail of my appearance, I presume, from my suit to my shoes and then back up, lingering in a not-subtle manner somewhere around my crotch before returning to my face.

Her eyes meeting mine, she pokes her tongue through the bubblegum and blows out a big bubble, which she then pops with her teeth before gathering the gum into her mouth with her tongue and chewing it again. Her lips curve up, and she winks at me before finally backing out through the door and disappearing down the corridor.

Someone appears beside me, and I glance down at Elen—the only female director and Seb’s younger sister.

“Who the fuck was that?” I ask her.

“A walking lawsuit.” She gives me a direct look. “No banging the temps, remember?”

“Yeah.” I look down the corridor, but the girl has vanished. “Don’t worry. She’s not my type.”

My gaze comes back to Elen, who is now giving me a wry smile. “Her name’s Roxie,” she tells me. Of course it is. “She’s working in the mailroom. She’s only twenty-one, and she really is as feisty and unconventional as she looks.”

“All right,” I say, somewhat impatiently, “I said, she’s hardly my type.”

“Yeah. The steam coming out of your ears says otherwise. Just want you to know what you’re getting yourself into.” Ignoring my glare, she grins and walks away.

Refusing to look back down the corridor, I close the door and return to the table. We have to make a decision on which leaflets and promo sheets are the best, and Seb and Harry are currently arguing over two, so I’m going to have to intercede.

I push the girl and her laddered tights to the back of my mind. I am not going to fall in lust with someone like Roxie. That way lies seven kinds of madness. I’m definitely not going down that road.

 

 

Chapter Two


Roxie

It’s nearly nine p.m. on a Friday night, and the bar is heaving. It’s the middle of summer, and the room is warm enough to make me break into a sweat.

This is the first time I’ve played here with the band, and it’s a great atmosphere. It wouldn’t surprise me if the manager asked us back as his customers seem to like our music.

During a five-minute break, Marc brings me over a beer, and I drink half of it in one go. “Good crowd,” he says, nodding at the room.

“Yeah.” I wipe under my bottom lip. “It’s fucking amazing. Woop!” I’m buzzing with energy and do a little dance.

He grins. “Ready to rock and roll, girl?”

“Bring it on, bro.”

We climb onto the stage and don our guitars. Marc plays rhythm and also sings. I play lead, and our drummer and bass player take their places.

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