From the moment Jay Prescott meets his new employee Lillian Ross, she turns his orderly life upside down.
EXCERPT: A Wife For Jay Prescott
The moment Jay Prescott opened the executive rest room door he encountered a delicate wild rose fragrance. The men’s room at the architectural firm of Prescott and Wilkes had on occasion smelled of his partner’s favorite green cigars or expensive aftershave, but never roses. Jay stepped back, double-checking the sign on the partially opened door. Written in white letters was the word "Men."
He breathed in the faint aroma which reminded him of a walk in a rose garden. Jay shook his head and walked farther into the carpeted lounge.
Obviously, he still suffered from jet lag if he allowed something this trivial to distract him. After a grueling three-week schedule in New York, where he’d battled record snowfall and frigid temperatures, Jay wasn’t sure which he’d looked forward to more -- returning to his regular schedule or to Oregon’s misty sunshine.
He looked around the corner expecting to see someone by the row of sinks. At first, the rest room appeared vacant; then the rustling sound of a paper bag caught his attention.
"Steve, is that you?" Jay called out to his partner.
"I thought I locked the door."
The voice from the last stall was muffled, but it was definitely a woman’s voice. He moved closer and noticed the nylon-covered ankles, well-turned ankles, the best-looking ankles he’d seen in some time. Mesmerized, he watched her kick off one black pump. Before he could ask her why she was in the men’s room, he heard the sound of a zipper. Jay froze. Proper etiquette would call for him to leave, but he couldn’t tear his gaze off her wiggling toes as they celebrated their freedom.
"I’m sorry. No one was in here and I thought I’d be finished before anyone noticed. I’ll be out in just a minute."
Jay tried to recognize her voice, but she sounded as if she held something between her teeth. "Why are you changing in the men’s room?"
"I went jogging this morning."
"That doesn’t explain why you’re here." Jay crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"Oh. The door to the women’s was locked with two "Out of Order" signs on it, and I have a meeting in less than ten minutes."
Ten minutes. With a glance at his watch, Jay swore under his breath--he also had a meeting.
Could the mysterious woman be the one Steve Wilkes hired while Jay was in New York? His partner had been evasive on the phone--something about a fresh new face and how she’d be good for the company.
Unable to curtail his curiosity any longer, Jay asked, "Are you the new personnel director?"
"Umm-hmm. I’ve only been here two weeks, and already I’m giving a presentation--Steve insisted."
Jay watched as she slipped her foot back into her shoe. He wondered how old she was. Judging from her light, breathless voice, she sounded rather young.
What an unusual way to meet an employee for the first time, behind a closed door in the men’s room no less! Although he hadn’t interviewed her, Jay didn’t doubt her qualifications. Steve had an uncanny feel for people. He had a reputation for hiring the right person for the right job.
Apparently she didn’t allow small obstacles to stand in her way, or she wouldn’t be changing in the men’s room. Instead she found solutions to her problems--he liked that trait. "I’m sure you’ll do fine."
"Sorry to keep you waiting."
The stall door opened, startling Jay. He stepped back so fast his feet started to slip out from under him. To prevent himself from falling he jerked back hitting his head on the wall. Tilting his head down, he rubbed the painful spot.
"That must hurt. Are you all right?" She moved closer.
His gaze traveled up the ankles he had secretly admired moments ago to her beige linen skirt and a white silk blouse. Not even her loose fitting blouse could hide her trim figure. Her hand fiddling with her pearl necklace drew his attention. She had a good overall professional appearance--another plus for her. He watched her push back the thick spectacles that started to slide halfway down her nose. Her gray hair was stylishly short.
Gray hair? Heavy wrinkles flanked her mouth and creased her forehead. Stunned, Jay simply stared at her. He’d been admiring the legs of a woman who appeared to be as old as his grandmother.
"There’s a small button on the top of my blouse that I can’t reach. Would you fasten it for me?" She turned her back to him. "These old hands don’t cooperate like they used to," she explained.
He considered her request unusual, yet it didn’t surprise him. Nothing about their first meeting had been ordinary. Jay shrugged his shoulders and moved closer. He fumbled with the tiny button before it slipped through the loop. When his knuckles brushed against the soft skin at the nape of her neck, Jay jerked his hands back. He’d admired not only the older woman’s legs but also her silky skin.
"See that wasn’t so bad, now was it." She slipped on her suit jacket then retrieved a shopping bag and burgundy briefcase from the stall. A mischievous smile played across her lips. "You’re a good-looking young man. I bet you’ve helped a few women get dressed." She elbowed him in the side.
Amazed at her outspokenness, he continued to stare. So much for secretly admiring her. Jay’s mouth felt dry. He muttered something he hoped sounded acceptable.
He’d become so engrossed in their conversation he hadn’t given her lack of privacy a second thought. Or how she’d feel about it. Feeling guilty, Jay was at a loss for words to explain his inconsiderate behavior.
"Have a nice day," she said.
ALSO BY ROSEMARY INDRA
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