Perfect Boss

By: Penny Wylder

“Yes, a bonus. On top of your new wages, I will buy you a new house.”

I nearly fall out of my chair. “A house?” I say, my voice a high keen. I’m barely able to contain myself.

“Yes, Ruby, a house.” He shows me the most adorable playful smile that makes my heart thud in my chest.

I tell my heart to knock that shit off. This is business. No time to be fooling around with a crush on the man who holds my future in his very big, very nice looking hands.

This sounds too good to be true. It probably is. I want to say yes, but I can’t. Not yet. I have to see what my insurance says first.

“Can I think about it?” I ask.

“Of course. Take the day off. Talk to the McNugget downstairs and let him know you’re taking a personal day. I’ll make sure you won’t be written up.”

My face heats up and I’m embarrassed for letting him know how much I can’t stand the store manager. I’ve been so unprofessional. I can’t believe I haven’t been fired yet. There’s still time for me to screw that up, though. I need to get out of here and get my head straight.

“Thank you,” I say.

He hands me a card with his personal number on it. When I reach for it, our fingers touch and I feel a spark of something that makes me tingle all over. His eyes widen the slightest bit and I wonder if he felt it too.

After I leave, I lean against the wall outside of his office and let out a long breath. I have so much to think about. But first I have to pee. Oh right, and make a phone call.


I spend the rest of the day on the phone with the insurance company. Turns out if you burn your house down through every fault of your own, they don’t want to give you money for it. I’m not getting a single penny.

I lean back in the seat of my car, heart racing. I close my eyes to keep the world from tilting. My hands fist in my hair and I scream. A blood-curdling, animal-raging scream. And then I start to cry. All of that money I invested into my home was for nothing. That was years of saving, not to mention all of the priceless things I owned that had belonged to my parents. Things I’d planned to give to my children one day after I started a family of my own.

I want to curl up in the back of my car and cry some more—that ugly type of crying that gives you wrinkles and makes your features look as though your face is melting. I’m just about to do that when my phone chimes. I look at it and there’s a text from an unknown number: Are you all right?

I furrow my brow in confusion and type back: Who is this?

Unknown number: Look up

I look up and see a new black Jaguar parked in front of me among the Corollas and the Civics. It looks out of place with its sleek lines and custom paint. Leaning against the back of the car is Marcus Steere. He raises his hand and gives me a stiff wave.

My stomach sinks when I realize he just watched me have a meltdown, and again I’m struck with the overwhelming urge to crawl into the back of my car and never come out—the trunk this time, where it’s dark and he can’t find me.

As he comes around to the passenger side of the car, my hands start to shake. No, please don’t get in the car, it’s such a mess in here! Not only that, but it’s a piece of shit. An early 2000s sub-compact with over two-hundred thousand miles on the odometer. It breaks down more often than it runs, and the guy at the auto shop is so familiar with me that he knows the sound of my voice on the other end of the phone without me even saying my name.

To make matters worse, whoever owned the car before me smoked and the stale smell of cigarettes still lingers, plus there are burn-holes in the fabric. My leopard print seat covers hide the holes in the front seats, but there’s no hope for the back or floor boards.

He can’t read my mind, so he opens the door and slides into the seat beside me.

He looks around and frowns. He clearly doesn’t like what he sees. “I really don’t pay you enough, do I?”

Can someone die from humiliation? Kill me now. “No, you don’t.”

He gives me that sideways smile of his that is just about the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen. The fact that it’s aimed at me feels like charity because I am nothing to smile at right now.

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