The Boss's Mistletoe Maneuvers

By: Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

 One

 Chaz Monroe knew a great female backside when he saw one. And the blonde with the swinging ponytail walking down the hallway in front of him was damn near a ten.

 Lean, rounded, firm and feminine, her admirable backside swayed from side to side as she moved, above the short hemline of a tight black skirt that did little to hide a great pair of legs. Long, shapely legs, encased in paper-thin black tights and ending in a pair of perfectly sensible black leather pumps.

 The sensible pumps were a disappointment and a slight hiccup in his rating overall, given the sexiness of the rest of her. She was red stilettos all the way, Chaz decided. Satin shoes maybe, or suede. Still, though the woman was a visual sensory delight, now wasn’t the time or place for an indulgence of that kind. Not with an employee. Never with an employee.

 She wore a blue fuzzy sweater that molded to her slender torso and was on the tall side of small. Her stride was purposeful, businesslike and almost arrogant in the way she maneuvered through the narrow hallway, skillfully avoiding chairs, unused consoles and the watercooler. Her heels made soft clicking sounds that didn’t echo much.

 Chaz followed her until she turned right, heading for Cubicle City. At that junction, as he hooked a left toward his new office, he caught a whiff of scent that lingered in her wake. Not a typical floral fragrance, either. Something subtle, almost sweet, that would have decided her fate right then and there if he’d been another kind of guy, with a different sort of agenda.

 This guy had to think and behave like the new owner of an advertising agency in the heart of Manhattan.

 Taking over a new business required the kind of time that ruled out relationships, including dates and dalliances. In the past two months he’d become a freaking monk, since there wasn’t one extra hour in his schedule for distractions if he was to turn this company around in a decent amount of time. That was the priority. All of his money was riding on this company making it. He’d spent every cent he had to buy this advertising firm.

 Whistling, Chaz strolled past Alice Brody, his newly inherited pert, big-eyed, middle-aged, fluffy-haired executive secretary. He entered his office through a set of glass doors still bearing the name of the vice president he’d already had to let go for allowing the company to slowly slide from the top of the heap to the mediocre middle. Lackluster management was unacceptable in a company where nothing seemed to be wrong with the work of the rest of the staff.

 “There is one more person to see today,” Alice called after him.

 “Need a few minutes to go over some things first,” Chaz said over his shoulder. “Can you bring in the file I asked for?”

 “I’ll get on it right away.”

 Something in Alice’s tone made him wonder what she might be thinking. He could feel her eyes on him. When he glanced back at her, she smiled.

 Chaz shrugged off the thought, used to women liking his looks. But his older brother Rory was the real catch. As the first self-made millionaire in the family, his brother made headlines and left trails of women in his wake.

 Chaz had a lot of catching up to do to match his brother’s magic with a floundering company. So there were, at the moment, bigger fish to fry.

 First up, he had to finish dealing with old contract issues and get everyone up to speed with the new company plan. He had to decide how to speak to one person in particular. Kim McKinley, the woman highly recommended by everyone here for an immediate promotion. The woman in line for the VP job before he had temporarily taken over that office, going undercover in this new business as an employee.

 More to the point, he had to find out why Kim McKinley had a clause in her contract that excluded her from working on the biggest advertising campaign of the year. Christmas.

 He couldn’t see how an employee headed for upper management could be exempt from dealing with Christmas campaigns, when it was obvious she was a player, otherwise.

 He’d done his homework and had made it a priority to find out about Kim, who spearheaded four of the company’s largest accounts. Her clients seemed to love her. They threw money at her, and this was a good thing.

 He could use someone like this by his side, and was confident that he could make her see reason about the Christmas campaigns. Intelligent people had to be flexible. It would be a shame to issue an ultimatum, if it came to that, for Kim to lose what she had worked so hard for because of his new rules on management and contracts.

 Chaz picked up a pencil and tucked it behind his ear, knowing by the way it stuck there easily that he needed a haircut, and that haircuts were a luxury when business came first.

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