Two more minutes. Two more minutes and she’d be headed out the door.
Mabel gathered the stack of ad copy she’d marked up and headed toward the main office, hoping to drop off the paperwork while everybody was gone for lunch. Then it was home to shower and hope for a smoother day tomorrow.
When she stepped into the room, however, she was dismayed to discover it wasn’t empty; Jake’s handsome face was furrowed in concentration as he stared at his laptop and rhythmically drummed a pen against the desktop. For one cowardly moment she considered backing out so he wouldn’t spot her, but she must’ve made a noise because his eyes flicked up from the screen and immediately back down. Then his pen-tapping slowed, and he dragged his eyes back up to her face.
“Well, hello.” His voice was warm with amusement, and the corners of his eyes crinkled.
“Hi.” She pushed confidence she didn’t feel into her voice. Despite radio being, well, radio, she normally put effort into her appearance at work. But that morning, she’d woken in a panic to find that her phone was dead and she had twenty minutes before she was due on air. While her ego could normally absorb a day of roaming the WNCB halls greasy and unshowered, that was before the hottest guy she’d ever met had started balancing the books down the hall from her, all tall and good-smelling. She might not allow herself to date him, but that didn’t mean she’d lost her vanity.
When his lips twitched, she groaned. “I know, I know. I’m a walking dumpster fire.”
“Did I say anything?” He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest, one corner of his mouth tilting up as he took in her limp ponytail, her makeup-free face, and worst of all, her sleeping ensemble.
“You didn’t have to.” She huffed her way across the room and dropped the stack of papers onto the corner of the desk, cursing herself for not shoving the damn things under the door and running. “I overslept. This is me in my natural state.”
She’d burst into the studio with seconds to spare in the shirt she’d slept in, a tiny pair of lime-green running shorts, and battered floral gardening clogs. At least she’d managed to scrounge a clean-ish sports bra from a gym bag in her car to wiggle into at a stoplight.
“A Minnesotan, huh?”
She plucked at the threadbare Mankato East T-shirt, which featured a cartoonish drawing of her high school’s cougar mascot.
“Oh, you betcha.” She hadn’t felt self-conscious all morning, but Jake’s amused scrutiny made her want to squirm. Then again, was she really going to let a lack of mascara hold her back? She was tougher than that.
“What, does this not do it for you?” She leaped to her feet, putting her hands on her hips and spinning to give him the full 360-degree view of an outfit that she wouldn’t even wear to the gym on a day when the air conditioning was broken and she was guaranteed not to run into anybody she knew. When she rotated back to face him, his face with alive with interest, his expression the warmest she’d seen since she walked in. And that’s when she became aware of just how short these shorts really were, and how clearly she could see the outline of her hot pink sports bra through the worn cotton of her shirt.
His eyes were slow to lift from her legs, and when they did, she held his gaze with a challenging stare, silently begging him to explain why he made her want to break her own “no dating at work” rules.
Sara Whitney writes sassy, sexy contemporary romance novels packed with wit, heat, and heart. A 2019 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award finalist, Sara worked as a newspaper reporter and film critic before she earned her Ph.D. and landed in academia. She’s a good pinball player, a so-so karaoke singer, and an expert TV opinion-haver.
In a funny twist of fate, Sara’s married to a divorce attorney, and she likes to think that her happily-ever-afters help keep their household in balance. She and her husband live in the Midwest surrounded by books, cats, and half-empty coffee cups. Keep up with Sara by subscribing to her mailing list here.