In my other life as an accountant, I maintained the accounting software and supervised payroll. Each year prior to year-end close I interviewed candidates sent over from various temporary help agencies for the most likely candidate to fill my shoes while I concentrated on the yearend financial reports.
One year, the best temp to interview for the job turned out to be a show-stopping male. He had the training, skills and willingness to learn I was looking for and could start the next day, auditing weekly time sheets. Word spread among our employees and a line of women soon began parading past his desk to turn in their time sheets in person and see for themselves if what they’d heard about the new temp was true.
The poor guy had a wife at home, but that didn’t deter his admirers, who looked for any excuse to visit accounting and earn a quick smile. Regardless of their marital status, all the females hung out of their cubicles whenever he walked by.
His hiring inspired my second published novel, Temp to Permanent. I decided to write a novel about the overextended owner of an advertising firm whose secretary calls in sick on the busiest day of the heroine’s career, forcing her to place an urgent call for a temp.
When a man so good-looking Carina Carrington wants to feast on him over dinner shows up, she thinks uh-uh, no way. She needs help, not the distraction this handsome guy is already causing her, and tries to send him away. Greg Lawless convinces her to let him work off the clock until lunch time, certain he can prove himself.
And prove himself he does, in countless ways. His fingers fly over the keyboard of her computer. He uses his head and makes needed decisions without interrupting her. It’s only when he clears his throat in the outer office that her thoughts return to him.
How can she get any work done under these conditions? But she must.
So it is that Carina Carrington’s life gets turned upside down by a black-haired, blue-eyed, extremely masculine temp determined to help her company succeed at all cost.
The suspense part comes later, when the office is running smoothly and it looks as if Carina’s dreams for success will all come true. It’s then things start going downhill. Small things at first, delayed deliveries, time lost she can ill afford. Then the petty cash disappears and Carina begins to she suspects Greg is a plant sent to cause her business to fail and is torn between firing him on the spot and keeping him on in hopes she’s wrong.
Not until the true villain kidnaps Carina at gunpoint does the truth come out, but can Greg find her before it’s too late?
Temp to Permanent is available now.
Temp to Permanent
Financial success or personal satisfaction? That is the choice a business woman must make when drawn to the secretive temporary secretary who triggers her suspicion, but lights her fires – fires that threaten to flicker out thanks to his relentless adherence to workplace ethics, until he saves her life.
Carina Carrington’s fingers flew across the computer keyboard.
Not fast enough.
She’d never meet her schedule without another pair of hands. Of all possible days, why did Rachael pick today to call in sick?
And what happened to her replacement? The temp agency had promised to send a secretary an hour ago. What was keeping her?
At the scrape of a leather shoe sole, Carina’s concentration cracked. “There’s no one at the desk out front,” a husky male voice rasped.
Startled, Carina hit a wrong key. Unless his face matches that heart-stopping voice, I’ll kill this salesman. She abandoned the keyboard and swiveled around in her chair. Six feet of tanned muscles crossed her carpet. No death warrant for this hunk.
Surrounded by masculine scent, Carina riveted her gaze on his business card, then glanced up. Devilish blue eyes locked with hers. She looked away to conceal her unprofessional, very unladylike reaction.
“I’m Gregory Lawless from Data Services. Pat Kilpatrick said to see Mrs. Carrington. Your receptionist–“
“Has the flu.”This perfect example of centerfold material could not possibly type. With all the work still to turn out, I’ll kill Pat, instead.
Reluctantly Carina pushed back her chair and stood to shake his hand. Good grip, self-confident. “That’s why you’re here, Mr. Lawless. I’m short handed today. And it’s Miss Carrington.”
She indicated a chair and waited for him to sit. “The agency didn’t say they were sending a man.” Oops. Maybe employers weren’t supposed to say things like that anymore.
“Is that a problem?”
She wasn’t about to acknowledge how difficult he made the simple act of speech. “Only if you can’t do the job.”
He folded his lanky frame into the visitor’s chair she’d indicated and placed a folder on her desk. “Ms. Kilpatrick asked me to give you this copy of my resume.”
A deep cleft creased his chin. How could she work with that distraction? With her weakness for cleft chins she couldn’t hope to actually work around this distraction. His devastating smile belonged in a bedroom. In a bar. Anywhere but in her office ruining her concentration.
Carina sank into her own chair and opened his file to study the brief list of qualifications while steadying her heart beat. San Diego Data Services normally provided exceptional help, but Pat had explained this flu epidemic had also left her short handed. Gregory must be the last healthy soul available.
Healthy? He was that, all right. From what she could see, far healthier than a man had any need to look.
He’d indicated a willingness to work. Any warm body could man the phones in her secretary’s absence. Surely she could control her body’s response for the next few hours.
What about this unexpected heat? Maybe Mom was right and she was sex-deprived.
Perhaps tomorrow Pat would have a real secretary available, or not such an attractive man. Her mind pictured a prim woman. Someone wearing a skirt whose very presence wouldn’t launch her pulse into orbit.
She glanced up from the resume to study Gregory. Information in the agency’s file was scant, little more than name, address and social security number. He looked about her age. Why would a man approaching thirty-five resign himself to temporary work?
Carina drew a steadying breath. “Have you been with Data Services long?”
He tilted his head as if mulling over a reply. “This is my first assignment.”
Great. Disgruntled by his admission, she looked away. Few skills and even less experience. Carina stole a glance. The smile hovering about his mouth prevented objective reasoning. “With a busy week ahead of me, there won’t be much time for training.”
He peered at the scribbled notes on her calendar and lifted one cocky eyebrow, giving him a rakish appearance that almost brought her out of her chair. “Tell you what. Let’s not waste any more time. Give me a chance to help and if I don’t meet your requirements, you don’t owe me a cent.”
Desperation evident in his voice caused her to give him a sharp look. “So you’re a gambler, too.”
He straightened his back against the chair, then leaned forward and gazed at her. “I’ve nothing to lose,” he admitted with admirable honesty.
Carina thought about everything she would gain if Gregory could fill Rachael’s shoes. She wouldn’t need to postpone tomorrow’s meeting and might still land that contract. Provided she somehow kept her mind on her business and off this man. Could she do it?
Quick decisions were her trademark. “I’ll only expect you to answer the phone. On Mondays it rings constantly.”
He grinned, nodding. “How shall I answer?”
Criminey. Would she need to hold his hand and walk him through the office as well? “Carrington Graphics will do.”
“I’ll manage. What is the nature of your business? Ms. Kilpatrick said you needed someone in a hurry and didn’t take time to fill me in.”
“Advertising.” From the bookcase behind her desk Carina selected two brochures and unfolded them for Gregory to examine. “This is a terrible time to come up short handed. I’ve two important presentations scheduled, one tomorrow, and another on Friday. Rachael always handles my prepress. Without her, I’ll never be ready.”
After a moment, Gregory leaned across her desk to return the brochures. Fragrance, spicy-clean and fresh, teased her nostrils. Aftershave and a recent shower, a masculine scent she adored.
“I’ve had some experience with–“
“It’s likely the phones will occupy all your time.” She couldn’t picture his neatly trimmed fingertips flying over a keyboard.
Imagining his hands in her hair though…
Easy, far too easy.
Cut that out. “Why don’t I get you settled at the front desk, Gregory.”
He followed her into the outer office. “Call me Greg.”
She ignored the thump of her heart his seductive tone induced. His voice ranked among her all time favorites, too. “Greg it is.”
Decisive Moments, a dark romance, will be released October 15 by Desert Breeze, and Law Breakers and Love Makers, another romantic suspense, is available for download from Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc., Barnes and Noble.com, Amazon.com, and AllRomanceebooks.com
And visit my website and blog: http://www.toninoelauthor.com/