Perfect Boss

By: Penny Wylder

She moves swiftly and efficiently as if she were gliding on rails. “Pie?” she says, overturning a coffee cup and sliding it toward me. I catch it before it slips off the end of the counter.

“Cobbler, please.”

After she scrambles around for a while, checking to make sure her customers have everything they need, she gets her mom to cover her tables so she can go on break. She hops on a stool next to me and puts two pieces of peach cobbler between us.

“Tell me everything,” she says. “Have you talked to your insurance?”

“Yes,” I say, my mouth full after stuffing my face with a forkful of pie.


“And they aren’t going to give me any money for my house.”

She pauses mid-bite. “What?”

“It’s fine because I got a raise and I’ll be getting a bonus in a few weeks.”

I don’t tell her what that bonus is. I figured I should tell her the story in baby steps because the entire offer is so surreal.

“What aren’t you telling me?” she says.

I chew what’s in my mouth, giving myself some time to figure out how to explain without it sounding like a Pretty Woman situation. I mean, getting paid to pretend I’m someone’s wife doesn’t exactly sound like a legit business deal.

“The bonus is enough to get me into a new house.”

“That’s amazing. It’s about time that weasel Leonard rewards you for all the hard work you do,” Alba says.

“Actually, that weasel is no longer my boss, Marcus Steere is.”

“The Marcus Steere?” Her mouth falls open and it’s full of food, which kind of grosses me out, so I reach out and push her chin so it closes.

She laughs. “What, you don’t want to see this?” She sticks out tongue and I laugh and try not to gag at the same time.

“Stop. And yes, the Marcus Steere is now my boss. I’m his personal assistant and his …” I mumble the last words.

She wrinkles her brow. “I didn’t catch that last part.”

I hesitate because it sounds so bad. Better to rip the band aid off. “He’s paying me to pretend to be his wife.”

“What?!” The word belts from her mouth and everyone in the diner turns to look at us.

“Jesus, Alba, keep it down.”

Her mom glares at us. I shrug an apology.

“Oh my God, are you serious? You’re going to have to go into more detail because I’m struggling to figure out a scenario where any of this makes sense. How did you possibly go from being a clerk in a high-end clothing store to being the personal assistant and pretend wife of fucking Marcus Steere?”

“It’s a long story.”

It’s actually kind of a short story, but it feels like it should be far more complicated than it is.

“Honey, I’ve got an hour long break, and you’re not leaving this building until I hear the whole thing,”


I tell her everything from the time my house burned down, leaving out the part about sleeping in my car. I tell her about the PA position, the pay raise, and finally about the bonus house. Then we spend the next twenty minutes sorting through Marcus’s photos on Instagram and drooling over his good looks. By the time we’re done, Alba is shaking her head in disbelief.

“I wish I were you right now. This is like a fairytale.”

“Except it’s not, because it’s all a lie to get his ex-wife to hand over her shares of the company so he doesn’t have to fight her in court.”

Alba shrugs. “Okay, maybe not a storybook romance, but a modern day fairytale.”

I laugh at the whimsy in her voice. “Not even that. It’s not a romance. It’s a business deal.”

“Will you please stop trying to crush this fantasy for me? I haven’t had a boyfriend in years—not even a fake one, so I’m going to pretend that whatever is happening in your life is far more romantic than what’s happening in mine.”


I let her have this one even though it’s giving her false hope. There’s no way a man like Marcus Steere could ever fall for me. I’m shocked he would choose me, wife of all people, to be his pretend since I am so obviously out of his league. If we’re going for a sports metaphor here, it would be like comparing tee-ball to the NBL.

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