Perfect Boss

By: Penny Wylder

Before I can say anything, Marcus puts a credit card down on the counter. “Use this,” he tells the man.

I look up at him, my eyes welling up with tears. Everything is spinning out of control. How could my life spiral out so fast? How could I have gone from having a house and a car to having nothing in twenty-four hours?

“Thank you, but I can’t let you do that,” I tell Marcus. I hate how weak I sound, how obvious it is that I’m about to cry.

He looks at me with a gaze that I can’t quite read. He doesn’t smile, nothing about his expression changes, and yet there’s something kind about the way he looks at me. “It’s already done.”

He’s right. The clerk has already swiped the card and is handing Marcus the receipt.

“Come on, I’ll take you to lunch,” he says.

We leave the tow-yard. Marcus tells the man we will pick up my car later and I ride with him. In the car, things are uncomfortably silent for a moment before he says, “Did you sleep in your car last night?”

I look out the window, watching the scenery whiz by. I want to lie to him, but I can’t. He’ll see me wearing today’s clothes when I come into work tomorrow. I suppose I could borrow something from Alba, but we aren’t exactly the same size. She’s stick-thin and flat chested, where I have what’s considered a true hourglass figure and bountiful breasts.

Plus, I don’t want to lie to him. He did a kind thing for me, picking me up, taking me to the tow-yard, as well as paying for it. Lying to him now would be a slap in the face.

“I did. My friend Alba has a house full of people so I didn’t want to intrude, and she’s pretty much my only friend,” I say.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he says, his voice taking on a stern quality.

Shit. Is he going to change his mind about the job because I don’t have a home? Maybe he thinks it will make me unreliable. I guess, in that case, he would be right. I mean, I came so close to losing my car—which is my only transportation to and from work. If something happens to it because I’m parked in a no-parking zone, that might mean showing up to work late (again), or not at all.

“I was ashamed,” I say in a pathetic voice.

He reaches over and puts his hand on top of mine, giving it a squeeze. The kindness of the gesture threatens to make me cry again. I blink back tears.

“Your house burnt down. There’s no shame in asking for help.”

“It was my fault my house burnt down. It wasn’t some tragic accident. I left a toaster oven plugged in.”

He stifles a laugh and does a terrible job at covering it up. “That’s unfortunate. I take it the insurance company won’t pay because of it.”


“Which means you need a place to stay.”

“Right again.”

“You can stay with me.”

I slowly turn my head to look at him, wondering if I actually heard him right. “What?”

“I have a high-rise near the store. You’ll live with me.” He gives me another one of his sideways smiles that I’m becoming obsessed with. “It’ll help sell the marriage bit too.”

I’m so overwhelmed and grateful, and terrified at the same time. I don’t know what to say. “Are you sure?”

He hasn’t thought this through. He doesn’t even know me. How could he offer to let me live in his personal space when he has no idea if I’m a thief or a bad person in general?

“Of course I’m sure.”

This probably isn’t a good idea. Being in the car with him, in close quarters, I start to notice how amazing he smells and how good he looks. His suit pants are pulled tight across very muscular thighs and flex each time he pushes down on the clutch to shift. Those big hands and long fingers wrap around the steering wheel. I imagine long fingers like those could reach places in me only my gynecologist is familiar with.

I bite down on the smile forming at the thought. I should say no and try to figure something else out. If Alba knew the kind of bind I was in, I know I could stay with her. But Marcus lives alone and I would be far less of a burden on him than I would on my best friend and her family.

“Thank you,” I say.

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