Eric stepped inside, his white tee no longer white and a fine layer of black grime covering most of his exposed skin. Even so, Dawn had to admit that it was part of his appeal, and it was all she could do to keep from sneering as his fan club of the day ran up and tackled him, one on each side. Not that he couldn't handle it. Six foot two and all muscle, the man had the body of a professional wrestler. Dawn had been fantasizing about it since she started working for the construction company three years ago.
Not that he would notice. Dawn turned back to her computer screen and pretended to be working. The man was a chick magnet - a new woman on his arm nearly every night. But not just any girls - he always seemed to come back with the good looking, fake boobs and impossible heels sort. Never just your average woman...and certainly not one who still wore flannel shirts long after the trend was over.
From the corner of her eye, Dawn saw him pick up both twins at once and swing them around in a circle. She shook her head, tapping away at her spreadsheet even though she knew full well she'd have to redo it when the office quieted down.
"We're headed to Elmo's for dinner," Eric said, putting the girls on their feet. At least they looked like they were of age this time. "Anyone wanna come? Dawn?"
She shook her head and waved him off, a pencil between her teeth.
"Suit yourself," he said, and shortly afterward she let out the breath she'd been holding as the door banged shut behind the trio.
The architect left too and Harry Stanton, the builder, approached her desk. "You know everyone knows you have a thing for that man," he said, smiling kindly. She shook her head, putting the well-chewed pencil in a cup, smiling in spite of herself. Harry was like a father to her, though sometimes he took his role a little too seriously.
"Now don't go spreading lies, Harry," she said, giving him a stern look. "There's no way I'd date a construction worker. Eric Daniels is off limits, and it's just as well, given how he seems to go through women like tissues. I think those two were the sixth and seventh just this month."
Harry winked. "Not that you're counting, right?" He shook his head. "I think you'd be surprised if you got to know him. He's smart under all that brawn. Give the man a chance."
"Give what man a chance?" Eric walked back in and picked up his wallet from the table, holding it up by way of explanation. "Forgot this. Are you having man troubles, Dawn?"
"No, I am not," Dawn said, thankful the lighting was dim, given how warm her cheeks were. She shot Harry a warning look. "You stay out of my love life." Then she forced herself to look Eric in the eyes. "And you mind your own business. Don't you have...two girls waiting for you?" She barely managed to refrain from calling them bimbos, but judging from the way he was looking at her, as if he could read her thoughts, he already knew her feelings on the subject.
"Girls, yes." He leaned against the doorway; his expression taking on a quality Dawn didn't quite know what to do with. The intensity made her want to squirm in her seat - in a good way - as he continued. "A woman, no. So if you wanna take their place, say the word and they're gone."
The door closed behind her with an audible click and she jumped, turning to watch as Nathan bolted the door. Her fear must have shown on her face, because he did laugh when he saw her expression.
“It’s so thieves don’t get in, not so you don’t get out, sweetheart. Relax.”
Audrey nodded, letting the breath she’d been holding out as slowly as she could.
“Thank you for letting me in,” she said finally, relieved when her voice sounded relatively normal. “Celia told me I should come for an interview, but it doesn’t really seem like she talked to you about it. Are you looking to hire a pastry chef, or was she just playing a prank on me? I apologize if that’s the case...”
He leaned back against the opposite counter, arms crossed over a wide, muscular chest. He must work out, she thought. While making pastries all day was hard work, it wouldn’t give anyone muscles like those.
She didn’t remember his eyes being so...intense. Deep emerald green, they looked like cat’s eyes, stalking her in the dimly lit stainless steel space.
“Honestly?” His voice did odd things to her belly, and she shifted as moisture dampened her panties when he continued.
“I misunderstood. I thought Celia was sending someone over for a... different position. I do need some help here in the kitchen, but I didn’t expect her to know anyone...like that.”
Audrey frowned, sensing she was missing something important. Had Celia had something else in mind when she suggested Audrey come over to interview? She’d been clear about looking for a pastry job when a friend from college had introduced them at Celia’s theme club. Brandy had wanted to check it out - for the experience, she’d said - and Audrey had gone along to keep her company. She’d never seen anything like it, but Celia had seemed nice enough.
“Well, what’s the other job?” she asked, looking up into those mesmerizing eyes again. “Maybe I can do both? Celia mentioned that the pastry job was part time...”
Nathan laughed, shaking his head. “I don’t think so. But thank you for offering. Do you still want to interview for the pastry chef’s job?”
Nathan studied the young woman closely as he waited for her answer. The fact that she didn’t speak right away was to her credit. She was a thinker, and he appreciated that quality in the people he associated with.
She looked familiar, something in those brilliant eyes made him wonder if they’d met before. Surely he’d remember though - the long gentle curve of her neck, those high and narrow cheekbones, that Roman nose. It was unlikely he’d forget that face, but he couldn’t decide whether he’d truly seen her somewhere or if her face was just pleasing enough to trigger an imaginary deja vu moment.
“Yes,” she said, looking him in the eye. “I still want to interview for the pastry chef position, if I may. Here’s my resume.” She held out a navy blue folder, but he waved it off.
“No resume needed. I prefer a more...demonstrative approach to interviews, if that’s okay with you.”
She raised an eyebrow, her expression intrigued. “Sounds like fun. Where do we start?”
Nathan wondered if maybe she’d work for the second position too. That confident, introspective attitude would be perfect, and there was certainly nothing wrong with her delectable body, or what he could see of it anyways.
Perhaps the interview could be structured in such a way to test her potential in that area as well...
He reached for a white smock hanging on the wall, and handed it to her. “In my kitchen, you will address me as Chef or Sir. Put this on, and we’ll begin. What is your name?”
She set her things down on the counter behind her to pull on the smock, as he’d expected her to do.
“Audrey,” she said, her fingers deftly buttoning up the jacket.
She finished adjusting the smock and looked up at him. “Audrey Patrick.”
He said nothing, merely waited as he watched understanding move across her features.
“Audrey Patrick, Sir.” It was a statement, not a question as some women might have posed it. He nodded, noting the slight relaxation in her shoulders at his acknowledgement of her obedience. A good sign.
Nathan looked pointedly over her shoulder at the handbag and folder sitting on the counter. “There is to be nothing on these counters that doesn’t relate to food preparation in some way. You can put your things over there,” he pointed to a set of cubbies and hooks in an out-of-the-way corner. “Then you can scrub that counter to restore it to its original condition. The cleaning supplies are in that closet.” He pointed again, this time to a door near where personal items were to be stowed.
Then he stood silent, waiting for the refusals that normally followed. Younger chefs tended to have trouble with the idea of being ordered to clean something right off, which was why he still hadn’t filled the position after six long months. But Audrey didn’t argue and didn’t look upset by his command.
“Yes Chef,” she said, gathering her things and going to the corner he’d indicated. She put the items away and then got cleaning supplies out and went back to the counter, spraying and buffing the stainless steel surface until it gleamed. Returning the supplies to the closet, she came back to stand in front of him, arms behind her back, chest out, shoulders straight.
Nearly perfect submissive position, which made him wonder if Celia hadn’t chosen her wisely after all.
“What would you like me to do next, Chef?”