“The Look” – A Romance Mini

(First appeared on Books-n-Kisses)

The pouring rain outside made it feel more like late evening than six in the morning. Annalisa stared out into it, her back to the office door. Sounds banged and clicked in from the busy shop outside as she tried to jumpstart herself.

The sound of the door swinging open did it. The outside noise jumped in volume, then dimmed again as it slammed shut. She spun around.

“We don’t need some change agent coming in here. We can handle this ourselves!” A very fit man with a long sleeve shirt and jeans threw a stack of papers onto her desk. Some slid across it and hung over the edge on her side. Spotting her, he stood mid gesture and blank faced, watching her push the papers back into a somewhat neat stack.

The day went from bleak to super charged in 2.3 seconds, and not because he’d burst into the office. This guy needed to be in a clothing ad, maybe for outdoor gear. He had a movie star, Brad Pitt type face, and she imagined running her hand along his jaw, checking for stubble.

She sat and leaned back in her chair. “What kind of ideas do you have?”

“Who are you?”

“Looks like I’m the person you’re looking for. Mr. Rici brought me in to see how we can improve the processes out there.” She glanced down at his papers to keep her eyes away from his tall and lean figure, the piercing blue eyes set in a firm face. Soon she realized he had thoughtfully written out several process improvement ideas with calculations on how much time each would save.

Sometime during her scanning, he asked, “Do you have a name?”

She finally looked up and realized he’d sat down and had been watching her for several minutes. Evaluating her. Memorizing her. His face had softened considerably and now he stared at her in wonder. She’d been about to compliment his ideas but got caught up in gazing back at him.

Oh, yeah, her name.

“I’m Annalisa Gildhart, and you?”

“Dan.” He extended his hand in a polite gesture that threw her. His shake was firm but not too hard…and they didn’t break the physical contact right away. He nodded toward the papers. “You know, people aren’t expecting you to listen to our ideas.”

She smiled, thankful for his honesty. “I’m here to help, believe it or not, and that means working with you to keep this place running. These are great ideas, Dan.”

A slow smile spread across his face, and the flirtatious tilt to it made her think he’d reacted more to her smile than her words. Still, he looked much more at ease.

It was her that was tingling inside.

Dan leaned back and studied her. Change always made people nervous, but he almost looked like he’d be willing to drop the old us-against-you routine. Oh, she hoped he’d keep that attitude and prevent a hotbed of tension. Everyone would have to work together or this place would be closing within three months.

“So you might be around a while?” The smile lifted even more on one side.

“Yeah.” She was local too, but kept her answer short.

They were smiling across the desk at each other when someone else rapped on the door and cracked it. “Mrs. Gildhart, you’re on. Everyone’s gathered for the morning meeting.”

She pulled in a deep breath as she rose, then grabbed the papers. She’d like to show them she was on their side and wanted their ideas.

Dan gave her a reassuring smile. “This revamp is starting to look much better than I anticipated.” The gleam in his eye sent shivers up her back as she stepped out of the office.  Annalisa agreed. She just hoped she could concentrate on work with him around… but, wow, those jeans looked good on him.

Copyright Kristen James, all rights reserved. If you like the short stories and previews on my blog, try my Kindle freebie, Embers of Hope, Flickers of Passion

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