He's the Boss (Dance with Me) - Ep. 2
Brooke Masters does not match the mental image I conjured of her a few days ago. When Jemma told me about her friend – an accountant who'd never stepped foot inside a club before – the picture I got in my head was of someone a lot less...sexy. Brooke is hands down the sexiest woman I've seen in the club tonight. The small amount of make-up she's wearing highlights her hazel eyes, high cheekbones, and voluptuous mouth.
She's smoking hot, which is the last thing I need her to be. I have plans for her – plans that don't involve making her blush simply because she looks so good with colour in her cheeks. Plans that don't involve fantasising about her kneeling naked in front of me, my hands tangled in her hair and her mouth wrapped around my dick as her glorious hazel eyes look up at me.
I shake my head, trying to clear out the far too exciting images dancing through my head. My blood feels too hot and pulses thickly low in my belly. This is exactly what I don't need. I have too much at stake for any kind of distraction. I can't afford to screw the staff. More importantly, I can't afford to screw Brooke. Not when I need her help.
Not when the future of my club is at stake.
A quick glance over my shoulder confirms Brooke is following me. I lead her down a series of hallways until we reach my office. After opening the door, I step out of the way and let her through. Her obvious nervousness is replaced by surprise as she takes in the utilitarian furniture that fills the space. There wasn't a whole lot of money left in the budget by the time I'd finished outfitting the club – not for the nice, luxurious office everyone expects me to have. About the only thing state-of-the-art in here is my computer.
Normally, I don't conduct interviews in here, and Kane, my bar manager, could have easily interviewed Brooke. However I want to get a feel for this woman, get to know her a little. I need to know if everything Jemma told me about her is true. Is Brooke really the good and decent person Jemma promised me she is? More importantly, can I trust her with the financial situation of my club?
I shut the door behind us and motion to one of the empty metallic chairs Brooke is eyeing curiously. "Have a seat, Brooke."
The moment she sits down her nervousness appears to return; her hands smooth her skirt down her thighs before she folds them in her lap. Her gaze darts around the room before landing on her resume which is sitting on my desk. Jemma passed it on a few days ago and I've already given it a thorough look through. Just as Jemma promised, Brooke is more than qualified to work the bar. But it's her accounting experience I'm more interested in. The accounting firm she worked at is reputable, and the fact they offered her a job straight out of university speaks volumes about her abilities.
"You're an accountant," I state. "I guess that means I don't have to test your basic maths."
Her smile is the epitome of polite. "No. I passed maths with flying colours."
"That's a relief. You have no idea how many beautiful girls walk through the doors of this club not knowing how to add a few numbers together."
Colour sweeps up her cheeks, and again I find myself admiring how gorgeous she looks like with a flush on her high cheekbones.
"Addition and subtraction aren't problems for me," she assures me.
"Want to tell me about what happened at S.T Meeks & Associates?"
Her smile slips a little. "It was a case of last one on, first one off. I have a letter of recommendation from my boss. He was more than satisfied with my performance. He simply didn't feel right firing some of the people who had been with him for twenty years or more when I'd been with them for less than eighteen months."
She shrugs. "I understand his thinking. Unfortunately, it doesn't change the fact I'm now jobless."
I lean back in my chair. "And now you want to work behind the bar here at Midnight Frenzy?"
She squirms in her chair. Jemma filled me in on Brooke's background and I'm fairly confident I know the answer to this question already, but I want to hear what she says. I need to know whether or not she can be honest.
"I worked hard for my degree in accounting," she starts cautiously. "And then I worked hard at Meeks & Associates. I did all that so I could put together the most stable and secure life possible for my sister. Working behind the bar lends itself to late nights, occasionally unpredictable clientele, and a rotating roster. So, if I had a choice between an accounting job and working behind the bar, I'd choose the accounting job. But right now I don't have the luxury of choice. That said, I don't think you should let my answer deter you from hiring me. I'll work hard for you – as hard, if not harder, than any other bartender."
She breathes out a large sigh and looks almost apologetic for her impassioned speech. If only she knew how much she just impressed me. There's no doubt in my mind she means what she said about working hard. Plus, she was honest – a necessity if we're going to be working together. Right now, I'm positive Jemma hasn't exaggerated Brooke's good points. Brooke Masters may just be the answer to all my prayers.
See, I really need a new accountant. Technically, the money that went into this place is my parents', not mine. They're the millionaires – billionaires if you want to be technical – not me. To get this place off the ground I had to borrow from them, and the strings that came with that transaction would shock the general public. Never borrow from friends or family; a great rule to follow if possible. Unfortunately, I didn't exactly have another option.
Now my folks are waiting for me to fail so that I'll take my place beside my father at Rivers' Diversified Financials. That's clearly stated in the contract. What else is stated in the contract? I have to marry Claudia Henley, the daughter of long-term family friends, if my club doesn't succeed. Forget the fact I actually did date Claudia for a while, and forget the fact I never loved her. I give up my right to be a bachelor if my club doesn't start making some serious coin.
The price of failure is too high. Signing a contract with my parents was a mistake, but every bank I visited looked at me like I was a rich playboy who'd never had a real job. I only had one choice. It wasn't even a choice, really. I would have sold my soul to the devil for this dream. And now that I'm living my dream I can't let it go. I won't. I have to make my club a success.
"What did Jemma tell you about the position?" I ask.
"Just that I'd be working nights and that I'd be behind the bar."
Jemma doesn't know that I want Brooke for her accounting skills. It was simply fortunate Jemma told me she knows a bartender who lost her job as an accountant and desperately needs a job to keep a roof over her sister's head. It's a win-win scenario as far as I'm concerned. Brooke is desperate to find employment so she can continue supporting her younger sister, and I'm desperate for someone to have another look at the numbers the accountant keeps throwing me.
I was so sure when I did the projections for Midnight Frenzy that I'd be able to start paying my parents back within the year. Now the club is more popular than I expected it to be, yet my accountant keeps telling me we're "haemorrhaging money." Of course, I don't believe him. I don't trust him. But the contract I signed stipulates that my parents get to choose the accountant and they have full access to the books upon request.
Stupidly, I can't straight up hire Brooke as my accountant because it goes against the contract, but there's nothing that says I can't hire a bartender with a background in accounting. I want Brooke to work for me behind the bar while I get to know her. If, after a few weeks, I'm still convinced I like her and trust her, I'll ask her to look over the books. I'm so desperate, I'd like to ask her now, but since I'll be relying on Brooke to keep the details of my family dynamics and contract confidential, as well as asking her to accept money on the down low, I have to be sure this girl can keep a secret. I need a few weeks just to be sure.
"How do you feel about leaving your sister alone four nights a week, Brooke?"
"I don't like it, but I have a neighbour who will look after her. Still, I'd like to keep my phone on me during my shifts."
"That's not a problem."
"Great. Thank you," she says, rewarding me with a smile.
"Well, you're more than qualified for the job. So, it's yours if you want it."
"You have no idea how happy I am to hear that."
I can only imagine how stressed she's been about not having a job. As part of my staff, I'll make sure she's well looked after.
"Does Wednesday through Saturday work for you shift wise?" I ask.
"You don't have a rotating roster?"
"No, I think stability helps keep my employees happy."
Her smile is so brilliant I can't help but return it.
"Wednesday to Saturday suits me," she replies. "When can I start?"
"This Wednesday, if that works for you. I know it's fast, but-"
"It's fine. Really," she assures me. "Wednesday is great."
It's a relief she can start so quickly. I've been stepping up to tend bar, intent on keeping an eye on the casual staff I've been forced to use recently. I was planning to stop once I hired more permanent staff, but working the bar with Brooke could be the perfect chance for me to get to know her a little better. Not to mention, I like to be across all parts of my business. Even with Brooke working the bar, we're still understaffed. No one will question me alongside her.
"Welcome to Midnight Frenzy, then," I say. "Be here at six-thirty for your first shift so you can fill out the paperwork we need from you. Kane will take you through things."
I stand up and she follows suit. As I open the door, she looks at me with a soft expression that makes my heart skip a beat. "Thank you, Linc. For everything."
"You're welcome. Jemma's down that way I'm guessing." I point towards the end of the hallway. "I can hear her laughing. See you next week, Brooke."
I fail at not watching the sexy sway of her hips as she walks away from me. I have to admit I'm a little concerned over how attractive I find her. I never flirt with staff. Never. True, I didn't realise she was Jemma's friend at the time, but I should have known something was up because she was backstage. Living like a monk these past few weeks has clearly done my head in. Dancing and making sure my club survives have been my top priorities, but after spending ten minutes with Brooke, I have some extra energy to dispose of.
Walking back to my desk, I pick up my phone and dial a number.
"Hey, baby," Destiny's voice croons down the line. "It's been a while."
"Too long," I agree. "Are you free tonight?"
"You know I'm always free for you. Do you want me to come down to the club or do you want to come over?"
"I'll come to you."
"I'll leave the door open," she says happily. "See you later."
I hang up the phone and stand up, ready to get back to work.
There are hundreds of women in my club tonight that would be willing to come home with me, but I don't need or want more than a few hours of fun. The girls in my address book know the score. They don't want anything from me that I can't give them. I don't need to pick up a woman here and have her stalk me later, hoping for some kind of commitment.
Since it's in the contract I have with my parents that I must marry Claudia if my club fails, I have to be discreet. But even if I didn't have to keep every hook-up on the down low, I wouldn't pick up here. I refuse to do anything that puts my club in jeopardy, and that includes leaving a woman feeling scorned or slighted. My club comes first. Always. And nothing and no one will ever change that.
My thoughts drift back to Brooke. I hope to God she doesn't take me up on the offer I extended to her before I found out who she is. I can't think of anything more torturous than having her turn up to the dance studio I teach at on Tuesdays and watching her dance in front of me.
Well, other than giving her hands-on guidance, of course.
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