Return of the Bad Boy

By: Jessica Lemmon

“I appreciate you reconsidering. I belong at the Van Heusen.” Until she figured out a way to get the hotel back, at least she could be there. She could come up with a way to delay the remodel.

“No, you misunderstand me. I can’t keep you there,” he said, a frown marring his otherwise perfect brow. “But I can offer you almost any position you’d like at Crane Hotels. We have openings in Wisconsin, Virginia, and Ohio. I know it’s not Chicago, but chances are you can stay in the Midwest.”

He slid past her while she stared at the sheeting rain, her fingers going numb around the lapels of his jacket. Not only was he firing her, but he expected her to work for him? Expected her to leave Chicago? This was her city, dammit! He didn’t reserve the right to boot her out.

When she turned, Reese was pressing a button on the wall. His office doors whispered open.

A balding, smiling man appeared in the doorway and gave Reese a wave of greeting. He noticed her next and offered a nod.

Merina didn’t care who he was; he was about to get an earful. She wouldn’t allow Reese Crane to dismiss her after dropping that bomb on her feet.

She stomped to the doorway between him and his guest.

“You listen to me, you suited sewer rat.” Disregarding their current third party, she seethed up at Reese. “I’m going to find a way around your machinations and when I do, I’m going to march back in here with the contract my parents signed and shove it straight up your ass.”

Reese’s eyebrows rose, his lips with them. Instead of apologizing to his guest, Reese grinned over at the balding man, who to his testament was appropriately shocked, and said, “You’ll have to forgive Ms. Van Heusen. She doesn’t like when she doesn’t get her way.” The balding man laughed, though it sounded a tad uneasy. Reese tilted his head at Merina. “Will there be anything else?”

“Your head on a pike.” With that parting blow, she left, holding fast to the suit jacket. She wore it on the way down the elevator, through the bland lobby, and out onto Superior Street, where she wadded it up and threw it into a mud puddle gathering near the curb.

Then she walked back to the Van Heusen in the rain, telling herself she’d won this round. But Merina didn’t feel victorious.

She felt lost.

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