Perfect Boss

By: Penny Wylder

I choke out a cough. I thought I was prepared for anything, but I did not see that coming.

“Your what?” I say, standing up, then sitting back down again after getting dizzy from standing up too fast.

His long fingers drum the top of the desk. “I need someone to go with me to Paris for a business meeting. My ex-wife will be there. She owns a rather large share of the company and I’d like to buy it from her. The problem is, she’s under the impression that she and I will be together again someday and so she doesn’t want to sell me the shares for fear of its permanence. If she sees that I’ve moved on and have married someone else, perhaps she’ll be willing to let go.”

I still haven’t quite gotten past the part where he wants me to pretend to be his wife. All the details start to catch up with me one by one and a bigger picture comes into view. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I mean, pretending to be the wife of one of the hottest men I’ve ever seen doesn’t sound like a bad gig if I’m being honest, but I’m not sure I have the breeding to pull it off.

No one is going to look at me and think ‘now there’s a rich man’s wife.’ I’m more like the kind of girl someone would look at and think ‘now there’s the wife of a rough-neck stuck on an oil rig.’ Not that there’s anything wrong with me. I get plenty of attention from men of all means, but I’m a bit rough around the edges—street-style I guess you might call it. Everything I own is affordable. Target is as high-end as I go when it comes to shopping. Last time I had wine, it was from a discount store and came in a box. I’ve never been in a plane before—nor do I ever want to be in one because flying seems terrifying. So, yeah, not exactly what you would call sophisticated. I don’t know what his ex-wife is like, but I’m guessing she probably doesn’t live in her car and I doubt she’s wearing yesterday’s clothes.

“What would I have to do?” I say, giving him a knowing look, because there are certain things that husbands and wives expect from each other that I’m not willing to give for any amount of money.

He laughs, obviously seeing where I’m going with this. It strikes me as odd and catches me a bit off guard, how casual he is even though he looks pristine. His laugh is melodious and puts me at ease.

“Nothing like that. Your only job will be to accompany me to the meeting and be seen with me in public—oh, and to look at me adoringly. I really need you to sell this relationship.”

Well, looking at him adoringly shouldn’t be all that hard. It’s difficult not to. He’s beautiful.

“Okay, that sounds easy enough. What else?” I ask.

“We’ll need to present a united front here, at this store. Word needs to get back to my ex that I’ve moved on and what better than a little gossip to get it there. She’ll never believe me if I tell her myself. She’ll sense a trick.”

The thought of everyone at the store, co-workers I’ve been around since I started working here four years ago, thinking I’ve slept my way to the top doesn’t sit well with me, but neither does another night sleeping in my car. I still need to get ahold of my insurance company. Maybe they’ll cut me a check soon and I can pass on this bizarre offer. As tempting as it sounds to be holed up in a room with him and hanging on the arm of arguably the sexiest man alive, I don’t know if it’s worth losing the respect of my co-workers. After this arrangement is over and he gets his company back, we’ll stop pretending to be a couple and I’m going to have to face these people on a daily basis—that is, if I still have my job after that.

“And, of course, you’ll be paid well,” he says

There they are, the magic words I’ve been waiting for. I sit forward, eagerly waiting.

“Aside from a significant pay raise as my personal assistant, you’ll get a bonus for pretending to be my wife.”

“A bonus?”

I get this warm, fuzzy feeling inside. During the holidays all the employees get a thousand-dollar bonus and usually some new expensive tech device. That kind of money would be a life-saver right now.

I cross my fingers and say to myself, over and over, please let it be a thousand-dollars, please let it be a thousand dollars.

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