I had enough money in my account to give me maybe a month or two of scouting out the perfect gig. After one week, I was sure there was no such thing. Everyone who wanted me was way too far away. Everyone I wanted wouldn’t even call me back, wouldn’t give me the time of day. Fuck you very much.

I sipped my coffee and nibbled on toast (yes, I was terrified on spending money, so I was eating cheap) and looked over the listings on the job sites. I just wanted to be a secretary. But everyone wanted me to be a secretary and something: secretary and receptionist, secretary and accounts receivable, secretary and space shuttle pilot. You get the picture. I just want to type reports, fetch coffee, work on spreadsheets, and sharpen pencils. Nothing earth-shattering. It was work I could do and work I enjoyed. No harm, no foul.

Here we go. Scheduling appointments, typing reports, running errands, and light flirting.” I did a double take and then laughed. “Filing, Pepper,” I scolded myself. “Light filing. Not flirting.”

Contact Adam Nelson. Good. I sent my résumé via email and poured more coffee. My cell phone rang twenty minutes later. “Pepper Valentine?”

The voice was warm and deep and sent a little tingle over my back and down my spine. It had been a long time since a voice had provoked any kind of reaction other than fear. My former boss, Mr. Klitzner, had a big booming voice and, often times, a nasty disposition. “Um, yes. This is Pepper.”

Pepper, Adam Nelson, here. I just read through your résumé. When can we get you in here?”

His voice was like warm chocolate—rich and a bit sweet—and it made me smile. I fucking love warm chocolate. “As soon as you want me.”

I froze, mouth open. Light flirting for sure. What the hell had I just said to my new potential boss? He laughed, though, and I remembered how to breathe.

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