“I don’t get paid to spare your feelings. You’ll need to practice walking in the heels during your spare time.” He waved the assistant over and informed him we’d take all eight pairs.
I’d never owned that many shoes in my life. The bills he was racking up on my wardrobe were phenomenal and my irritated feelings eased. “Is all this really necessary?” I was sure the words sounded accusing but I really didn’t understand how someone could waste so much money on clothes.
“Image is everything Miss Burns. A lesson you would do well to remember. The only thing that inspires more confidence is attitude. If you dress the part and prove to your opponents that you have the wit to outsmart them, winning any argument becomes easier.”
I couldn’t argue with his logic even as cold-blooded as it sounded. Honesty had always been my goal, that and taking an interest in the people I spoke with. We couldn’t be more different. “If you say so.”
“I do and if you want to be successful in this job you’ll learn to play by my rules.” He pulled out his cell phone, contacted his driver and gave implicit instructions on picking up his purchases. “We have one more stop and then we can call it a day.”
While most women might have enjoyed the shopping spree, I was exhausted. I still had to go apartment hunting and at this rate my feet were going to be screaming in denial. “What other torture do you have planned for the day?” I didn’t mean to sound frustrated, but I really did need a break.
“We must work on your attitude.” He shook his head and took off in long strides out of the shoe department. I raced to keep up with him, my shorter stature making it difficult. By the time we reached the car I was out of breath.
“For someone so young, you are tiring out quickly. How many days a week are you exercising?” He seemed amused as he turned his gaze my way after we were seated.
“I don’t see how that’s part of my job description.” I had been slacking on my runs for the last month, but in my defense I had other things to worry about.
“You look very fit, but a good workout keeps your heart and body in optimal health.” He rolled down the partition window between us and the driver and gave our destination.
He was taking me to a spa? I’d never been to one before but from what I’d seen and read it was a relaxing experience. “I use to run at least a few miles three times a week but I’ve had other concerns lately.” I wasn’t sure why I confided that piece of information since it really wasn’t any of his business.
“We have a gym at the office, there’s also a track. If you’re going to keep up with my hectic schedule you need to be in top physical form. For now we’ll consider that one of your duties. I expect you to work out at least thirty minutes a day during the week.”
At first I wanted to call him a pompous ass for his demand, then I reconsidered. If he wanted to pay me to work out then why argue. It was something I enjoyed and I had been neglecting my runs lately.
The car pulled up in front of an elegant hotel and for a moment my heart skipped a beat. “Why are we here?” It was crazy to think that he was bringing me here for something not involving business, but it still crossed my mind.
He smirked as he stepped out of the car. “The spa is inside. Believe me I don’t have designs on your person, Miss Burns.”
Sliding out, I thanked the driver for holding the door and fought to hold back my embarrassment. Of course the spa was inside, why else would we be here? Instead of sticking my foot in my mouth again I followed meekly behind him.
He spoke to the woman at the counter explaining he wanted a makeup consultation, manicure and pedicure as well. The woman glanced over at me with a warm smile and invited me back. During the next two hours I was pampered like a queen and even knowing he’d arranged this, I couldn’t help falling in love with the services.
I joined him back in the waiting area feeling calmer than I had since we left this morning. I had a bag full of products from my makeover and even enjoyed learning how to apply them. “Thank you for the experience. I’ve never visited a spa before.”
He seemed confused by my response but nodded his head curtly. “My mother can barely go a week without visiting.” He smiled and it nearly made my knees buckle. It was the first time I’d seen him drop his cocky attitude.
“Your father said she enjoyed being pampered.” I remembered how Lenny’s eyes would light up when he talked about his wife. I’d told myself that one day I’d find a man who loved me that much.
“She deserved to be indulged.” The resentment in his tone was shocking. I wasn’t sure what I’d said that changed his attitude but he left me no time to question. With long strides of his legs he walked toward the exit and I was almost running to keep up again.
We didn’t speak during our drive back to the building and the tension was overwhelming. All I wanted was to escape the hostile vibe he was putting off. “Will you be needing me for anything else today?”
“Already trying to shirk your duties?” His voice was mocking and he raised an eyebrow as he looked at me for the first time since we’d gotten in the car.
“Of course not. I just need to go apartment hunting and thought if we were finished I’d get started.” I had no idea why he displayed such hostility toward me, maybe it was just his nature.
“I wasn’t aware you needed a place to live. How soon were you looking to move in?” He seemed almost concerned now and his attitude flipping back and forth was giving me a headache.
“I have thirty days to vacate the house I’m living in, so as soon as possible.” I needed to learn to bite my tongue, the way I made that sound was I was being evicted. I decided to clarify. “My mother sold our house after her move to Vegas.”
“Not much notice?” His blue eyes bore into mine almost seeming to study them for a response.
I tried to shrug casually, as if it didn’t bother me as much as it did being forced out of my residence. “She’s getting married again so I guess it just slipped her mind that I might have trouble finding a new place.”
“I’m sure my father mentioned that we own a complex downtown.” He seemed to be mocking me again and I wondered what joke I was missing.
“He might have but we really didn’t talk about things like that.” The ire that took over his face made me wish the car wasn’t moving. I wondered again if working with this man was worth the pay. His moods were a little difficult to put up with and this was only my first real day in his employment.
“I’m sure he had much better things to discuss.” With a cool gaze at me he rolled down the drivers’ partition. “A change of plans take us to the condos.” Turning back to me he glared. “I’m sure this property will be to your liking.”
“Mr. Ross I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think I can afford a condo.” This man was a complete contradiction. One moment he was looking at me with daggers in his eyes, the next he was trying to help me out. I was more than a little confused.
“Affording isn’t an issue. I need you at my beck and call, not to mentioning knowing that you’re in a good location will make you more efficient in serving my needs. Consider it a job perk.”
I sat back in my seat trying to understand this complex persona of his. Maybe in his world this was how things worked, but in mine a boss didn’t offer to hook you up with a place to live. I was still in shock as we arrived at the ten story building.
I knew little about the property besides the fact that it was considered one of top places to live according to a local magazine. I was sure that even with my new salary my budget couldn’t afford the rent.
“Seriously? I think this place is out of my price range.” I wasn’t sure how to make him understand that people that lived in the normal world didn’t just go out and rent condos.
“I’ve already explained that this is a job perk. I use the top floor for my residence during the week and I have three vacant rentals available.” He seemed exasperated that he needed to explain this fact and I didn’t know how to make him understand I didn’t feel comfortable with this.
He urged me out of the car and quickly made his way inside. I followed him to the elevator still trying to decide how to explain my reservations. Stepping out on the ninth floor, we arrived at a door. He unlocked it and began giving me a tour. The place was unbelievable.
The living room was completely furnished in beige and cream décor and a huge suede couch and recliner took up most of the room. A large screened television rested on the wall along with surrounding artwork that teased the senses.
The kitchen was stylish and boasted of an island counter and stainless steel appliances. It was an amateur chef’s dream and that was something I considered myself as since I loved to cook. By the time I’d been shown the bedroom I was already in love with the coziness.
“I really can’t afford this.” I was smiling even as I spoke the words because the place was truly amazing.