Read an Excerpt
If the Shoe Fits
By Stephanie Rowe
Copyright © 2005
All right reserved.
Business tip for the day: if your future employment at the day
job is already in peril, don't let your boss find you passed
out at your desk, drooling all over a set of loan documents.
I was dreaming that I was in a meeting at the day job. I'd
fallen asleep in the conference room, and I couldn't wake up.
Everyone was hitting me with various office supplies, and I
was trying desperately to wake up, but I couldn't get myself
to open my eyes, couldn't find the strength to lift my head.
"Paris?" An insistent knocking. "Paris. Wake up."
I sat up quickly, blinking at the sight of my very hot boss
standing in my doorway, the corners of his mouth curving in
poorly hidden amusement. Damn. I'd been dreaming that I'd been
dreaming. In actuality, I had been sleeping at my desk and I'd
been totally busted.
I wiped the drool off my cheek and tried to think of a really
good explanation. "I have narcolepsy."
Thad Wilkins was maybe a couple years older than me, and he
took his bank career very seriously, as evidenced by the fact
he was considerably higher than me on the career hierarchy at
NorthEast Savings Bank. Like Will the hottie scientist, Thad
didn't fit his role. He might be a banker, but there was an
oozing sexuality about him that reminded me of a predatory
cat.All muscle, and sinew and stealth, like he could sneak up
behind me and eliminate my defenses before I had time to take
Since the day he'd taken over as my boss six months ago and
introduced himself to me over coffee, there'd been an
undercurrent of something between us. Maybe that was why we'd
never gone to coffee since. He was my boss, I was his
underling, I was already engaging in the occasional midnight
massage with Will, and I still had ex-hubby baggage, yet there
was something about Thad and I was pretty sure he felt the
same way about me.
Scary stuff that had no room in my life, thanks so much.
But that didn't mean I was able to keep myself from leaning
back in my chair and letting him wash over me when he leaned
on my doorframe in that casual, cat-like way. Too bad the
drool incident probably meant that he wasn't entertaining the
same thoughts about me.
There's something not sexy about a girl with saliva hanging
off her face, you know?
"Got a minute, Paris?"
"Sure." My heart started beating a little faster, as it always
did when I was in close proximity to him. "Anything for you,
Boss." I used his title just as a little reminder to both of
us. I'd never had a boss I was attracted to before. Especially
not when I was already dating someone else, though technically
I was free to sleep with anyone I wanted, as was Will. My
attraction to Thad was more than a little unsettling. On the
other hand, it also made for some nice daydreams during boring
I hopped up and cleared a stack of files off my client chair,
catching a whiff of his scent as I moved past him. Thad
smelled like soap. Clean, fresh, well-scrubbed. No cologne or
other falsities. He was what he was, and it was enough for me.
Crap. What was I thinking?
Sleep deprivation or not, it was time to get a grip.
I felt my cheeks heat up and retreated back behind my laminate
desk. "What's up?"
He tugged at his bow tie (how many guys nowadays wear bow
ties? I think Thad was the only one. A guy had to be pretty
sure about himself to wear a bow tie. And trust me, it worked
for him). "I had a meeting with my boss this morning."
"Sylvie Myers?" At his nod, I grimaced. Since Thad had never
once reported to me about a meeting between him and Sylvie, I
immediately decided that it might be time to get nervous.
Then I had a bad thought. He'd noticed my name on the loan
documents and he was going to fire me before I had a chance to
come clean? Shit, shit, shit.
"The meeting was about you."
"Ah." Great. This was going to be special. "And?"
"There's some concern about your performance."
"My performance?" My gut sank. It didn't just sink. It
plummeted like an elevator whose cables had been cut, and
smashed into my toes. This sounded way bigger than one loan
application. "Are you firing me? Just tell me now, otherwise
I'll obsess about it and I won't hear anything else you say."
That's me. I was all about being direct. I hate people who
can't lay it out the way it is. But damn, being fired? At two
in the morning when I'd pledged to risk my job for PWJ, I
hadn't thought he'd actually fire me. I couldn't afford to
lose my job. Really, I couldn't. But could I afford to let PWJ
die? Impossible choices ...
"No, no. I'm not firing you." He shook his head firmly.
Phew. Some of the pressure in my gut eased.
"But there are some issues."
Pressure back. "But I'm not being fired?"
"No." He gave me a half smile. "Not today, at least."
Well, at least I still had a job. That was good. I couldn't
afford to be unemployed. I forced myself to take a deep
breath. "So, what's wrong?"
He set a small pile of documents on my desk. "You've had typos
in six different sets of loan documents in the last two weeks,
all of them important."
Ow. Not good. "Really?" I took a quick glance. Yep, those were
my loans. Yep, an extra zero on the loan amount probably
wasn't a good thing. Apparently, even the expensive Starbucks
caffeine wasn't enough to make up for four hours of sleep a
night. I aimed for six, but it hadn't been happening lately.
Certainly not last night, when I'd stayed up way too late
working on a new business plan for PWJ. And I wasn't drinking
Starbucks anymore either. It was cheap convenient store coffee
nowadays. Totally not the same thing.
"You come in late. You take long lunches. You leave early," he
said. "And I'm thinking you're not visiting clients when
you're out of the office, are you?"
"Um ... I stay until six." Couldn't deny my tardy arrivals. Or
that I hadn't been off visiting potential clients.
My arrival time had gotten later and later recently. I'd get
up early to work on PWJ stuff, but I'd forget to stop so I
could go to the job that actually paid the bills. Okay, so
maybe my priorities were a little confused. Follow your dreams
or be able to afford food? Not always an easy choice. Dammit!
I'd been working so hard at both jobs! I'd thought I was doing
it okay. I was so tired all the time, and for what? So I could
fail at one and get fired from the other? In case you hadn't
guessed, I really needed my day job. Food. Shelter. Such
annoying needs that seriously limited my freedom to be
No. Unacceptable. I wasn't going to get fired.
Thad peered at me over the rim of his glasses. "You're seventy
percent commission. You should be selling during the business
day and doing paperwork after hours. You know that."
I pressed my lips together. I did know that. And I was also
aware that my paychecks hadn't been as big lately as they used
"Plus you look like hell."
Yeah, that one I had already figured out. It figured the first
comment my hot boss would make about my appearance was that I
looked like hell. He couldn't have noticed a new blouse that
showed off my boobs? Maybe he didn't feel the same sexual
tension I felt. Maybe I had completely misinterpreted
Great. So not only was my job in jeopardy, but my fantasy
lover wasn't even returning the fantasy. Every girl needs a
fantasy lover to make herself feel better when real life was
in the shitter. No such luck for me, apparently.
"What's going on, Paris?" He leaned forward, and the look on
his face actually seemed to care. Like really care.
Like any good boss would.
He wasn't trying to catch a glimpse down the front of my
blouse at all. He never had. Maybe I needed a new fantasy
lover. If he'd stop coming into my office all the time and
reminding me of how sexy he was, it would be a lot easier.
"Paris? What's going on? When I first came into this
department, all I heard were rave reviews about you. But I
haven't seen it. Either I'm a bad boss or something's up with
Oh, nice one, Thad. Guilt me into revealing all. "It's not
How do you tell your boss that your professional aspirations
lay elsewhere? Wasn't that the fast track toward a farewell
"Paris? Do you have a response?"
A light knock sounded at the door. A respite! Right on! Any
distraction was welcome. Gave me time to try to figure out how
to save the situation before I had to commit to anything
stupid. I smiled brilliantly at the admin who supported the
loan department. "Dani! Hi! Come on in!"
Thad shot me a skeptical glance. Busted. He totally knew I was
Dani gave Thad an apologetic smile. "Sorry, Thad. I didn't
realize you were in here." She looked at me. "Someone named
Greg McFee is here to see you. Shall I have him come back
later or will you be available soon?"
My ex-husband was named Greg. I hadn't heard from him in five
years, since he took off in the middle of the night. He
couldn't be back. It couldn't be that Greg McFee.
Black spots started dancing around in my office and the room
began to spin, slowly at first, but picking up speed.
"Paris? You don't look so good."
That was Thad's voice, but it was somewhere in the distance,
echoing in the vast emptiness of my brain.
"Is she going to pass out?" Dani talking now.
"I don't know."
I felt firm hands on my shoulders. "Take a deep breath. Fight
Right. Fight. It. Off.
I could do this.
I scrunched my eyes shut and willed myself to get control.
Focused on Thad's grip on my shoulders. On his hand rubbing my
Oh, wait. That would mean he had three hands, seeing as how
two of them were holding me up. Must be Dani who was rubbing
I took a deep breath and the buzzing in my ears faded.
"I think she's going to be okay." Thad again, only this time
his voice was right next to my ear.
I opened my eyes and found him standing directly in front of
me, his face so close I could have planted one on him with
minimal effort. I could actually feel his breath on my face.
He smiled. "You going to pass out?"
You going to kiss me? Hah. Nothing like having your ex-husband
show up unexpectedly at your office to make you want to be
caught in a compromising position with another man. "I'm
He lifted a skeptical eyebrow at the word "fine," but didn't
argue. He did, however, help me sit up, his hands holding me
securely. What a good boss. Plus he'd maybe redeemed himself
as my fantasy lover, coming to my rescue like that.
Dani was standing next to my desk, looking worried. "Should I
call an ambulance?"
How sweet was that? I patted her wrist. "No, I'm all right.
She didn't look like she believed me. What was with all these
suspicious people? Just because I'd nearly died of an anxiety
attack didn't mean there was any reason to be concerned.
"So, what do you want me to tell Mr. McFee?" she asked.
"Tell him I died last week and he missed the funeral." I sat
up more erectly and Thad let go of me. Sob.
Before I had a chance to say yes, I was absolutely serious,
Thad interrupted. "She'll be available in five minutes."
"Okay." Dani darted out of the room before I could stop her.
So I glared at Thad. "What's up with overruling my death
"It's a client. I don't care if you're feeling sick. You still
have to meet with them."
I felt like sticking my tongue out at him. "He's not a client.
It's my ex-husband."
Gawk. He definitely gawked at me. "You've divorced?"
"Yep. Haven't seen the bastard since he left either." I eyed
my window. "Do those open?" I could probably fit through it. I
wasn't as skinny as I had been when I was training for the
Olympic trials, but it was a very big window. And it was only
three floors up. I could survive that, couldn't I?
Thad cursed under his breath. "Listen, I'm sorry I interfered.
You never talk about your personal life. I had no idea you ..."
"Had a personal life? Now you do. I'm the CEO of a financially
strapped company that makes foam and I have an ex-husband.
Anything else you want to know?"
"Got a boyfriend?"
"What?" I gaped at Thad, and he looked completely shocked at
Awkward silence, anyone?
I should have said yes, I really should have. Or at least sort
But I didn't.
Excerpted from If the Shoe Fits
by Stephanie Rowe
Copyright © 2005 by Stephanie Rowe .
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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