I had time to wander before my interview, so I walked down the hall toward the exit sign near
the stairwell, wondering if there was anything interesting near there. A ladies’ room was opposite
the stairwell with a water fountain next to the door. I swung the door open to the ladies’ room
and checked my hair and makeup. I felt a bit washed out. I was nervous. I needed this job.
Whatever it was, I needed it.
I saw the stairwell door just in front of me as I looked toward the elevators. A small
group of people was conversing in a lively manner. I decided on the stairs. As I pushed the
handle down to enter the stairwell, my cell phone dropped out of the side pocket of my purse. I
bent to pick it up from the carpet in the hall, and as I did, I felt two strong hands grabbing me
from behind, by the waist, almost pushing me back into the hall. Screaming, I dropped my arms
and spun, breaking the contact. I stepped back and was in the process of launching my knee into
whoever had accosted me.
“Wait. It’s all right! It’s all right! I almost ran into you.”
Oh God. It was Mr. Chills. My stomach did a flip, and my arms felt drained of blood. I
could feel a trail of heat run up my back, and when it hit my neck, my arms broke out in goose
bumps. He had his hands on my forearms, and he pushed away from me, letting go.
He took a deep breath. “Please forgive me. I wasn’t paying enough attention, obviously.”
He wore long running shorts and a loose, sleeveless shirt. Sweat ran down both sides of
his face. His shirt clung to him enough so that I could see the outline of his upper chest. He
looked a little scruffy. It was sexy as hell. He stepped back and put his hands on his knees. He
took some cleansing breaths. Even his knees were good-looking.
“I really am sorry. I certainly didn’t mean to frighten you.” He had an elaborate tattoo on
his left shoulder that might or might not continue over his chest. I could see more of it at his
neckline. It extended down his arm and glistened with sweat under the intense lighting of the
stairwell. I was distracted by it. I wanted to reach for him and examine it, let my fingers follow
its path. Is that why men get those? To shut relatively intelligent women up while they collect
“I am so sorry.” He stood and pulled his head back in recognition. He looked surprised.
He raised his right hand up and swiped at his forehead, pushing the dark locks off of his brow. I
had relived that very gesture over and over. He moved toward me and bent down.
“Eee.” That was all that came out of my mouth, a high-pitched squeak. I sounded like a
dolphin. I couldn’t believe that sound had sprung from my mouth.
He picked up my bag and tried to hand it to me. “Hello again.” He stared into my eyes,
and the hairs went up on the back of my neck. I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks.
“Hello again?” I asked. “What do you mean? I don’t believe we’ve met.”
He sweetly tilted his head. His eyes were a warm brown. “No, we haven’t yet. But
weren’t you here last week? You had on a shimmering sort of blouse, white, wasn’t it?”
I took in a quick breath. He remembered me? I felt like I was trying to gain control of my
brain. My words weren’t coming to my mouth. Is time standing still? Oh crap, he’s going to
think I’m challenged. Challenged and lost.
“Yes, yes, it was, and I was, here, in this building. It was silver.” Shit, I still sound
He pushed his hands through his hair, brushing it back from his face. He wore no ring. He
ran his hands over the sides of his hips. The muscles in his upper arms danced. He was
devastatingly gorgeous. He just stood there.
I tried to compose myself. “I had an interview.” My throat felt suddenly dry. I licked my
lips. I was just looking at him. I could see his pulse at his throat. I was sure it was keeping time
to my own heart pounding. I knew he could hear it. He stood in front of me, looking at me. I was
I took a deep breath. “I have an interview. Today, actually. What are you doing here?” I
nervously stammered. I wished I could undo what I had just asked. What was wrong with me?
He smiled as he put his hand out to mine. “Reid, Reid Jamison, and I am running these
“E, Elyse August.” Slowly, I raised my right hand. He stepped in closer, giving my hand
a gentle press. His hands were so warm. My hands were icy.
“Such a pretty name. It was nice running into you, Elyse.” He stepped to the side. “Good
luck with your interview.”