Janice is a side character in my upcoming novel "Don't Let Him Go" which will be released this spring by The Wild Rose Press. This is her story...
My boss, Candace Gleason, is missing. Well, not like call-the-FBI missing. More like, what-the-hell-is-going-on-with-her-personal-life missing. She gave her two weeks notice out of the blue then promptly called out sick all the next week.
As the secretary to one of a handful of corporate lawyers at the real estate firm Morrison and Sons, my job can be pretty high-stress. I’ve been known to make the impossible happen on a timeline of insanity. But with no boss for a whole week, I’m at loose ends.
In addition to answering her e-mails, the occasional phone call, and canceling her meetings, I mostly wander around the office and try to deflect all the crazy rumors about where Candace is.
I’m pretty sure she took off because she fell for the boss’s son, Jack. I’m pretty sure her personal life is a complete disaster. And I’m pretty sure none of the off-the-wall theories going around the office are correct.
The one person who knows what’s really going on is the boss’s other son, Hayden. But he’s been completely closed-lipped about the whole thing. In fact, he hasn’t said much to anyone lately. I suppose that’s why it is such a surprise when he strikes up a conversation with me in the lobby of the 26th floor of our building.
“Hi, Janice, right?” he says, coming up expectantly behind me.
I whirl around, nearly knocking into him with my camera, which is in mid-motion as I quickly pull it from my face and down toward where it hangs on my chest.
“Um…Mr. Morrison. Hi,” I say, practically shaking.
He looks me up and down, pausing on the pricey camera hanging from my neck. “What are you doing?” He asks, not unkindly.
“I, um, I take pictures.” And apparently, talk like an idiot, too. “It’s a hobby of mine. And I thought the light looked really good in here.” Great, admit to the boss’s son that you’re bored so you’re goofing off with your camera. “And I thought the pictures would be good for the company newsletter.” I am sweating like a pig!
“That looks like a nice camera.” He scrutinizes my equipment, then looks out the window. “And I wouldn’t know good light from bad light. But you seem to.”
“Um?” What the hell was his point?
“Maybe photography is more than just a hobby for you?”
He’s hit the nail on the head there. It isn’t a hobby. It’s a lifelong passion. “Yes,” I say simply.
Hayden Morrison seems to be thinking hard, real hard. I contemplate making some excuse and walking away, but I’m not really sure how to do that, especially since he is still staring at me.
I am not bad looking. I have long brown hair that nearly reaches to my waist. I am not too skinny, but I have nice curves. My facial features are kind of plain, but I have these bright hazel eyes that everyone freaks out over all the time. I’m all right, pretty even. But I’m no match for a built, chiseled stud like Hayden. So I can’t figure out why he’s looking at me with so much contemplation on his face.
“Come to my office,” he finally says.
I am befuddled and confused. But I’m unable to do anything other than follow as he turns on his heel and walks out of the lobby.
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