HI! Hope you enjoyed Chapter One of The Undercover Playboy yesterday. Today, I’m excited to share Chapter Two with you. Enjoy!
The Undercover Playboy Chapter Two
Cassie kept walking towards the elevators, pretending she hadn’t heard her boss call her name. It was ten past five, and working hours were officially over.
“Cassie!” Randy Silver called out again, trotting to catch her before she got to the lifts.
“Yes, Randy?” she asked, turning to him and not even pretending to smile. She knew what was coming, and she was sick of it.
“Could you stay for another half an hour or so? I have to go to a dinner meeting and Estelle needs someone to check her work when she’s finished.”
“Sorry, Randy. I’ve got plans.”
“It’s after five, Randy.”
“I’ll pay you overtime.”
“Great,” she said a tad sarcastically. “Would you also pay me overtime for all the extra hours I’ve worked in the past few months?”
“Come now, Cassie,” Randy said, his tone cajoling. “You chose to stay back during those times without telling me. They weren’t approved overtime.”
Cassie took a deep breath to arrest the anger bubbling inside her. This guy just didn’t get it. “You know what, Randy? It’s tough that you don’t even appreciate why I stay back. We used to have five people in the accounting team. For a long time now, there’s only three of us because you refuse to replace the two who left. We’re overworked.”
“Cassie, we’ve talked about this before,” Randy said with an apologetic smile. “The company is not doing as well as it used to—”
“I know that, Randy. But that’s not my fault. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really have to go.”
She turned to leave, past caring about what her boss might be thinking with her gesture. What was he going do? Sack her for not obeying orders? He couldn’t afford to do that and he damn well knew it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t pay her what she was worth in the marketplace, either.
She’d had high hopes for her career when she started working for this kitchen appliance wholesaler four years ago. But when her original boss, Randy’s mother, had handed the reins to her son when she retired due to illness, everything had started to go downhill. Not only had Cassie not been given the financial controller role that Randy’s mother had promised her—that position had gone to Randy’s wife—but Randy had also called a freeze on salary increases and bonuses.
The company had headed southwards from the changes Randy had made. Now he was making everyone suffer for his incompetence. Worse, Randy wouldn’t listen to anyone’s suggestions and chose to continue along the path of destruction. It was such a huge shame that the company Cassie used to love wouldn’t survive another year if Randy stayed at the helm.
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” Randy said with resignation. “Don’t forget we have a meeting first thing in the morning to go through the monthly reports.”
The elevator doors opened with a ping and Cassie stepped inside with barely a glance back at her boss. It would be the seventh month that Randy had been asking her to do things that his financial controller wife should be doing. His wife clearly wasn’t anywhere near as skilled in that position as Cassie, but Randy refused to acknowledge that.
Well, she’d played the martyr for far too long. Even her best friends had constantly told her she was being unreasonably loyal towards a company who no longer recognised her worth.
Except that she didn’t have another job to go to yet. As soon as she did, she’d hand in the resignation letter that she’d already drafted.
She’d been on tenterhooks all day waiting for calls from two companies. She’d been to a second round of interviews with those two firms and she felt certain she’d done well enough to still be under consideration.
Her phone buzzed as she stepped off the elevator. She pulled it out of her handbag, her heart hammering as she recognised the number.
“Hello, this is Cassandra,” she answered in a professional tone, crossing her fingers.
“Hello, Cassandra, this is Susan Sanchez from Tellman Galleries. Did I catch you at a bad time?”
“No, Susan. I’m free to talk.”
“Good. I’m ringing to see if you can come in at nine tomorrow morning? Bronwyn Tellman wants to have a chat with you.”
“Yes, I can make that time. I’ll be there.”
“Great. We’ll see you then. Bye for now.”
“Thank you, Susan.”
Cassie couldn’t help the face-splitting grin that spread to her face. That was a good sign. A meeting with the commercial art gallery’s owner had to mean she was among two or three shortlisted candidates.
Randy wouldn’t be happy that she wouldn’t be there for their meeting tomorrow. She didn’t care. He really should be talking to his wife anyway. Cassie wasn’t the financial controller, after all.
Well, that phone call from a potential new employer had certainly lifted her spirits. She’d be in a much better mood for tonight’s dinner with Natasha at that newly renovated restaurant close to their apartment. Pity Carter wouldn’t be joining them tonight, like he usually did on Thursdays. But he’d said he was busy with a big work project and wouldn’t see them for a few weeks.
She exhaled a swoon-like breath as a picture of Carter flashed in her mind. Yeah, okay, she did have a little crush on him. But she didn’t have time to date…
What a load of crap, Cassie.
She shook her head as she remembered Erin saying at Lexie’s party that she didn’t know why Cassie was lying to herself.
Well, Cassie did know why. She hadn’t had much luck in the dating game. None of her previous relationships had gone past the getting-to-know-you stage. Somehow, she couldn’t make a guy want her enough.
Each of her past three boyfriends had dumped her with heartbreaking honesty. Their words had all been different, but their reason had been the same: their feelings for her hadn’t been strong enough to want to continue with the relationship.
Each time, she’d been devastated.
Sure, she knew it was just a matter of finding the right guy—that there was someone out there for her. But, frankly, it was an exhausting exercise looking for Mr. Right. She’d rather concentrate on her career and finish her MBA first. Those were far easier to achieve… and disappointments in those areas were less hurtful.
As for her crush on Carter, she was happy to keep it to herself. All she had to do was look at him to know that she’d just be asking for heartache if she allowed her feelings to grow. He was too good-looking. Someone like her would have a hard time keeping him. So why bother?
Cassie stared at a large abstract painting of vivid, earthy colours hanging on a feature wall in the boardroom of Tellman Galleries. It was mesmerising, just like the other pieces of art that were displayed in the room.
It would be wonderful if she could get a job in this place. To come to work every day and be surrounded by so many incredible items would be inspiring. She didn’t have an iota of artistic talent, but she had great appreciation for art.
Tellman Galleries was still a small company, but it had grown in leaps and bounds in the two years since it had opened. From what she’d been able to Google, and from the information given to her by Susan Sanchez—the gallery’s very pretty human resources manager who’d interviewed her twice before—both artists and art lovers from around Australia had embraced the gallery and were lining up to do business with it.
“Good morning, Cassandra.”
Startled, Cassie turned around. She hadn’t heard anyone come in.
A beautiful, dark-haired, smartly dressed woman, probably in her early thirties, was closing the boardroom door and smiling at her. “I’m Bronwyn Tellman,” the woman said, approaching her with an outstretched arm.
Cassie hid her surprise. She wasn’t expecting the gallery’s owner to be this young. “Good morning, Ms. Tellman. I’m very pleased to meet you,” she said, taking the proffered hand for a shake.
“Call me Bronwyn,” the owner said, indicating for her to take a seat.
“And call me Cassie, please,” she said with a shy smile. “The artwork you have displayed here is fantastic.”
“Thank you. The artists we work with are very talented. And they tell us that they’ve sold more pieces since being exhibited here in this gallery than in any other places.”
“That’s impressive,” Cassie said.
“Yes. Most of them are up-and-coming artists. I believe in giving the right people the exposure they deserve. That’s why I wanted to meet you, Cassie.”
Cassie sat up straighter, ready for whatever tough questions Bronwyn wanted to throw at her.
“You applied for the financial controller position,” Bronwyn said, linking her fingers together on the table as she looked at Cassie. “According to your résumé, you’ve never held this position before.”
Cassie nodded, expecting that question even though Susan Sanchez had already asked her the same thing in a previous interview. “My official title in my current job is Senior Accountant. However, I’ve been doing a controller’s work for almost a year. I’m certain I have the necessary skills and qualifications you need for this job. I was actually earmarked for the financial controller position, but there was a restructure in our company after the previous owner retired. While being a controller for a bigger company might be outside my level of expertise, I believe I’m suitable for a growing firm such as Tellman Galleries.”
“When do you finish your MBA?”
“In about four months.”
“I spoke to Mrs. Silver, your previous boss,” Bronwyn said.
Cassie held her breath. She’d put Randy’s mother as one of her referees. Considering that Cassie had been clashing with Randy recently, she hoped that Mrs. Silver only had nice words to say about her.
“She said that you were the one person she relied on the most in the company,” Bronwyn said. “She assured me you’re more than capable of doing the financial controller job.”
Cassie exhaled slowly, relief flooding her.
“More importantly, she said you’re loyal,” Bronwyn said. “She spoke very highly of you and gave me an indication why you now want to leave your current employment. But I want to hear the reasons from you.”
Cassie smiled. “When Mrs. Silver was there, I was very happy. But she’s retired and her son has taken over the business. The promotion and salary increase I was promised by Mrs. Silver before she left have not come to fruition even though I’m now doing higher-level work. And I do a lot of overtime that I’m not getting paid for. So I thought it was finally time for me to find another company where my contributions are reasonably rewarded.”
“And if I offer you this, Cassie,” Bronwyn said, pushing a sheet of paper towards her, “could I expect your loyalty and hard work?”
Cassie’s heart hammered as she took the document and started reading through a formal job offer. Her breath hitched as her gaze landed on the line that said Salary. Yes! She’d been hoping for this amount, even though she’d expected a lesser figure due to her lack of experience in the position. It was more than fair. Way more than fair.
She couldn’t help but continue on reading what was included in the package: bonuses, inclusion to invitation-only art events, opportunity to travel with the director to conferences around the world, and a company car.
Overseas travel and a company car!
Wow. Just… wow.
She put the paper down on the table as her hand started shaking. “This—” She heard the squeakiness in her voice and paused to swallow her excitement and nerves. “This is great, Bronwyn,” she continued in a more measured tone. “You can count on me to do my best every single working day.”
Bronwyn smiled widely. “Well, Cassie, congratulations. The job is yours if you want it. I’ll let you take the paperwork home so you can read through the offer thoroughly. Once you sign it and return it, it will be official.”
“Thank you so much, Bronwyn,” she said, letting a bit of her excitement show. “I’ll read through it today, and if I don’t have any questions, I’ll sign and return it before I head home this evening.”
“I take it you can start in two weeks?”
Cassie nodded. “If I hand in my resignation this afternoon, yes, I can start in two weeks.”
“Great! I’m looking forward to working with you, Cassie,” Bronwyn said, gesturing for a handshake.
“Me, too. Thank you so much, Bronwyn,” she said, grasping her new boss’s hand gratefully.
Cassie left the gallery, her feet barely touching the ground. She couldn’t believe it had finally happened. She’d landed her dream job—with a remuneration package much more than she’d hoped to get!
She couldn’t wait to tell someone the good news. She called her parents, then wondered which of her best friends she’d call first. On a playful whim, she went to her list of recently called numbers, closed her eyes and tapped. Her phone started to ring… Jade. Perfect. She grinned as she waited for her best friend to answer.
“Hi, Jade,” she greeted, then told Jade everything.
“Oh my God! Congratulations, honey! That is so exciting!”
“Thank you. I’m so happy I could do cartwheels on the street.”
“We should have dinner with everyone to celebrate,” Jade said. “How about tomorrow night? I’ll organise it.”
“Oh, thanks! I’ll also invite Tash, so let me know where we’ll be going.”
“Are you going to ask Carter too?”
“Carter’s super busy for a few weeks so he won’t be able to join us,” she said, hearing the disappointment in her voice.
Jade chuckled. “Missing him, huh?”
She felt her cheeks burn. “No…”
“It’s me you’re talking to, Cassie,” Jade said with censure.
She inhaled deeply. “Okay, yes,” she answered, then proceeded to tell Jade about her horny dream.
“Oh my God. You obviously want the man, Cass.”
“It’s only a physical thing because of that damned dream. You know I’m not looking for a relationship, especially now when I have a new, challenging job to focus on. And you know Carter. He’s not in any hurry to go exclusive with anyone. But how do I stop myself from… you know… craving for him?”
“Proposition him for a one-night stand and get him out of your system,” Jade teased.
“Hm. Maybe I will,” she teased back.
“What? Did I hear you right?” Jade asked in surprise.
She laughed. “Well, I’m on such a high right now that I think I could pull off asking him for one hot night. Carter’s the type who wouldn’t bat an eyelid from that. I only hope that he’ll say yes.”
“Wow,” Jade said with wonder. “Whatever have you been eating, Cassandra Stephens?”
Carter. In my dreams.
Oh, Lord. She did have to do something about this. It was distracting her way too much. Maybe sleeping with Carter was the answer.
***End of Chapter Two***
That’s all for now! Hope you’re as excited about the release of this book as I am
You can pre-order The Undercover Playboy right now from the following stores:
Amazon US | Other Amazon Stores | Apple iBooks| Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Links to Google Play, All Romance Ebooks and Smashwords will be available on July 14th.
And to celebrate the upcoming release of The Undercover Playboy, The Unwilling Executive is on sale for a limited time!