Brent sat tipped back, staring at the ceiling, slowing spinning in one of the desk chairs when Dan walked into the construction office.
“Finally!” Brent sprung from the chair on a burst of energy. “I was beginning to think I was the only owner who bothered to work anymore.”
“Nope, you still got me.” The smell of fresh brewed coffee beckoned him into the kitchenette. Brent followed, close on his heels.
“Where the hell’s my brother at?” he asked. “He’s not answering his phone.”
“He came to my house early this morning and left a few minutes later with Kylie. He’s probably got his hands full.”
Brent snorted a laugh at the dumb joke. “About fucking time. I’m tired of Bitchy Jimmy.”
“You and me both.” Dan took a sip of coffee. It was good—very, very good. “You make damn good coffee, Brent. It’s your new job.”
“I didn’t make it. Our new office manager did.” Brent smiled a smug grin. “She started today.”
Dan’s stomach flipped in dread. “You were only supposed to interview them, not hire one.”
“I know, but she was perfect for the job and anxious to start.”
“How big were her boobs?”
Brent huffed in indignation. “Hell, I don’t know!”
“Uh-huh,” Dan grunted his disbelief. “What’s her name?”
“Vivian,” Brent answered on a sigh, his voice taking on a dreamy, faraway tone.
“There weren’t any ‘Vivian’s on the schedule.”
“I know. She came in last night, just as I was about to lock up. She was so perfect I hired her on the spot.”
Narrowing his eyes, Dan grumbled, “I don’t like her. Get rid of her.”
Brent’s jaw dropped. “But you haven’t even met her yet!”
“Fine, I’ll meet her, and then you can fire her. Where is she?”
“At the city office pulling the demo permit for Jedlicka.” Brent crossed his arms, daring Dan to keep arguing.
Dan paused and thought about it for a minute. She could make coffee and pull permits without help? It sounded too good to be true. “What does she look like?”
“She’s beautiful and smart and funny and all of our customers are gonna love her.”
“Even the female ones?” Dan challenged.
“Even our wives, Dan.” Brent reached behind Dan and pulled a Tupperware container off the counter. “Before you say anything else, try one of these. She baked them fresh this morning and brought them in for us.”
Brent popped off the lid and revealed soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls the size of softballs covered in thick, sweet, white-as-the-freshly-fallen-snow icing. Dan’s mouth watered.
“Huh, what did I tell ya?” Brent lifted one of the delectable goodies out of the container and handed it to Dan. “Take a bite. You’ll see.”
Dan brought the roll to his lips, the heavenly aroma of cinnamon and vanilla accosting his senses, and he moaned in anticipation. As his teeth sunk in to the billowy-goodness, he groaned. It melted in his mouth, the sugar flowing across his taste buds in an orgasmic wave, and he died, merrily drifting up into diabetic heaven.
“Oh, my.” He sighed and licked his lips.
“That’s what I’m talkin’ about.” Brent smiled.
“Did she bring these to the interview?”
“No… She brought cheesecake.”
“Cheesecake?” Dan breathed out in wonder.
Brent grinned. “With strawberries.”
“Strawberries…” Dan moaned as he took another bite of the cinnamon roll in his hand, chewing slowly, his eyes drifting closed as he savored the flavor. “We’re going to need a lot of demo jobs to work these off.”
“And gym memberships.”
“And a lot of sex.”
Dan groaned in agony. He buried his pain in a mouthful of cinnamon splendor.
“It’s only been like two days, Dan!” Brent laughed.
“I know, but I got six whole weeks ahead of me.” He shoved the last bite in his mouth and just about cried. “Omigod, this is good.”
“So, she can stay?” Brent asked hopefully.
Brent pumped his fist in victory. “Yes!”
“Do you really think we should we tell the girls though?” Dan asked, thinking fast as he licked the frosting off his fingers with gusto.
“Why wouldn’t we?”
“Stacy takes her baking very seriously. I’d don’t know that she’ll understand. And Aria…”
“Aria… yeah…” Brent faltered, his face displaying his dawning realization of the consequences. “Yeah, no, probably shouldn’t tell them…”
“But… if we don’t tell them, aren’t we’re kind of… I don’t know… cheating on them?”
“No… Nope. Not at all.” Brent shook his head back and forth in rapid denial. “Noooo.”
“But it’s kind of like an affair… with food.”
“We can’t say anything, Dan,” Brent said, his voice hushed. “They won’t understand… and they’ll take it out on poor Vivian. We can’t let that happen. This has got to stay between us—our little secret. You get me?”
“Yeah,” Dan agreed. Stacy definitely would not understand. “Are we sharing with Jimmy?”
“Hell no! Let him keep snacking on the Little Debbie’s. That’s what he gets for not showing up for work today.”
Dan nodded in agreement.
The front door opened. Brent leaned into him with a whisper, “That’s her. Isn’t she the most gorgeous creature you’ve ever seen in your life?”
Dan looked over his shoulder as Vivian took her place at the reception desk. She was a petite, well-endowed woman, gloriously blessed with full hips and soft, creamy skin. She wore her hair in a short, fluffy bob that framed her angelic face, and she smelled of fields of fresh, summer flowers. And she was seventy if she was a day.
Dan was in love.
He turned to Brent. “I could kiss you right now.”
“I have that effect on people.” Brent grinned. “It’s the Rogan charm.”
“I guess this means I can help you today.”
“I’ll go load the truck.”
“I’m going to run a few things by Vivian. Holler when you’re ready,” Dan said and went to meet his new Office Goddess.
They made their introductions, and Dan explained a typical day to Vivian, emphasizing some of the invoicing particulars and his filing system, and correcting everything Brent had taught her wrong. Vivian listened attentively, took notes, and asked appropriate questions.
After ten minutes working with her, Dan gave her a raise.
“Hey, Dan?” Brent motioned him over the shop door. “We’ve got a problem.”
“Aria just called.”
“Is she okay?”
“Yeah, but Jimmy’s not. She just got off the phone with Martha. Kylie took off again.”
“Shit,” Dan swore under his breath. “What happened?”
“I don’t know, but from what little bit Aria said, it’s not good. I’m gonna head out and go talk to him.”
“Yeah, go. Go. I got this covered,” Dan said and waved him off. Brent started for his truck and Dan called after him, “Hey! Do you think I should call the temp service, just in case?”
“I don’t know… maybe he won’t be so bad this time,” Brent said with an uncertain shrug. “Let’s give him a day or two before we decide.”
“Yeah,” Dan agreed, but he had a sinking sensation that this time it would be a whole lot worse.