I had no reason to complain. The women in our office did, and they did—regularly.
Even though Mr. Sutherland owned the company, he had to listen to the board. There had been so many sexual harassment complaints and payouts he wasn’t allowed to have a female assistant anymore. That’s where I came in. He was an asshole, but I enjoyed my job.
Straight out of school I’d gone to work for Sutherland Industries as a temp with no expectations. Two weeks later, I was hired as his personal assistant and was making more money than any of my friends. The demands of the job meant that I didn’t have time for a boyfriend. There was always later. Instead, I was traveling the world with Mr. Sutherland and seeing things I never thought I would.
We’d been to Thailand, China, Spain, and just about every other country his company did business with. And, even though I didn’t have a boyfriend, I still found plenty of action. Mr. Sutherland spent most of his days in meetings and his nights fucking whatever woman, or women, caught his attention that day. He just had to wink at a woman they were ready to go. I couldn’t blame them, honestly.
His dark, always perfect hair, perfect nose, thick lips, and tanned skin… if I didn’t know his personality was shit, I’d have dropped to my knees and begged for a go a long time ago. That I’d never seen him give a guy a second look was another reason I didn’t bother trying.
The day everything started, we were in Chicago of all places. Not that I didn’t appreciate Chicago, but a more exotic locale would have been more fitting.
“What do you mean? How can you only have two singles booked?” I fumbled in my jacket for my phone. Being the ever-efficient assistant, I already had the confirmation opened. I passed it across the desk and the uniformed lady pushed her glasses up and barely glanced at my proof.
“Mr. Chambers, I see where you reserved three rooms. I also see where someone from your office called and cancelled one of them three days ago.” She didn’t look at me as she ran two key cards through the machine next to her terminal.
I turned and saw that Lara Palmer, the outside efficiency expert Mr. Sutherland had insisted on bringing with us, stood so close to him that their arms almost touched. She smiled sheepishly, and he looked at the ceiling of the lobby like he was admiring the pressed metal tiles.
Son of a bitch. I was supposed to keep an eye on him so things like that didn’t happen.
“Am I to assume that you will share a room with Ms. Palmer?” I didn’t make accusations about the reservations. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind what had happened.
Mr. Sutherland looked startled. “Well, maybe this little mix-up is a blessing in disguise. Lara and I have a lot of business to discuss and, if it’s alright with her we can just have a cot sent up to her room and I’ll sleep there, so we don’t disturb you.”
Cot my ass. But, for appearance’s sake…
I turned back to the front desk lady. “May we have an extra key made for the eighth floor room and a cot?” I preferred the view from the tenth floor. So, if he was going to play me, I would choose my room.
“Of course, sir.” She made a note in her computer and whipped another card through the reader. “Your wifi passwords are on the sleeves. And, thank you for choosing us again.”
I nodded, took the thick sleeves containing our key-cards off the counter, and motioned for the bellboy who’d stood patiently while I checked in.
He rolled the cart over and I handed him Lara’s and Mr. Sutherland’s keys. When I reached to take my bags off the cart, he cocked his head and held out his hand.
“I would be glad to bring yours to your room too, sir.”
His smile was charming and his blue eyes glinted. I knew that look well. Thought the uniform made him look a little older, he couldn’t have been over nineteen. I was only twenty-three, so that wasn’t an issue—but Mr. Sutherland was standing four feet away and didn’t know I was gay. He was always so wrapped up in himself and his sex life that I’d been able to do what I wanted without his noticing, and I wanted to keep it that way. He already treated me like shit and he’d made enough gay jokes since I met him that I didn’t want things to get worse.
“No, thanks. I want to get settled in.” His smile didn’t waver but his eyes still managed to look disappointed. “But,” I continued, not wanting to turn down his offer outright. “I will probably need help at some point. And I will definitely ask for you…” I glanced at his name tag. “Carlos.” A little in-house tryst might do me some good.
His eyes regained their glitter. I smiled and took my bags. Lara and Mr. Sutherland had been oblivious to the flirting and already headed for the bank of elevators, so Carlos gave me the once-over, winked, and trailed after them.