Ann Walker sits on the edge of her bed, staring at the wall in a daze. Her printer is noisily running in the background as she fidgets with the ring on her pointer finger. She’s preparing in her head for what may be the most important day of her life. Having been on countless interviews since she graduated, she just can’t seem to land a promising job in her profession, or at least one that feels somewhat meaningful.
There’s a light knock on the door, startling her out of her trance. “Ann? Ah, sorry to scare you! Are you alright?” Her best friend and roommate, Catherine asks as she enters the room.
She puts a hand over her chest and sighs, “Yes, yes I’m fine. Sorry, I’m just trying to mentally prepare for this interview.” She rubs her forehead, trying to ease her anxiety. “I really want this job, Cath. I know it’s only an assistant position but it’s to the Executive Editor at Shibden Publishing. The same company responsible for some of my all-time favorite novels. This is the foot in the door I’ve been waiting for and I just have to do well today.” She takes in a deep breath, attempting to calm her nerves and moves towards the printer.
“Oh, you’re going to do great! You certainly have the credentials and you’re better than you think at making a first impression. I know you hate your current job, but just let that be your fuel to kick ass today!”
Ann smirks back at Catherine, eyebrows still wrinkled with worry. She lets out a heavy sigh as she thinks about her current job. She’s an entry-level proofreader for a medical device company. The job is fine but not at all what she envisioned when she got her degree in journalism. She’s always loved discovering new authors and submerging herself into the worlds they create. But the publishing industry is just so difficult to crack into and opportunities like the one she has today don’t come around very often.
And then there’s the issue of Tom Ainsworth. He’s one of the sales reps in her department who became somewhat obsessed with her when she started. He always tries to find ways to force them alone together and has made several inappropriate comments and advances towards her while at work. Since he’s one of the top sales reps in the company, she feels helpless and a bit scared to ever report him. She cringes at the thought of him and shakes his image from her head.
Ann picks up her resume from the printer and stores it in her bag. She turns and smiles back at her friend, “Thanks Cath. Regardless of what happens, drinks tonight?”
Ann takes the metro to her interview and finds an open seat. She pulls out her phone and looks over her research notes on Shibden Publishing. It’s one of the oldest publishing houses in London and it’s responsible for issuing some of the greatest novels in history. Ann smiles to herself as she sifts through her notes, trying very hard not to get her hopes up. She flips to the LinkedIn profile for the Executive Editor she will be interviewing with, a Miss Anne Lister.
She looks at the woman staring back at her and her stomach flutters, causing her to look away briefly until she can’t help but look back and study the photo. The woman is standing somewhat to the side with her head slightly cocked. She has a look of both sophistication and a bit of smugness. Ann can’t help but think how stunning this woman is as she tries to shake the thought from her head. As if she wasn’t intimidated enough.
She arrives at her stop and begins walking towards her location. The busy London streets whip by as she pulls out her phone to double check the address. She walks past a mirrored building and glances at herself in the reflection.
She’s wearing a mauve pink dress with small white polka dots that ties in the center and a simple pair of nude heels. Her blond hair is loosely curled and her lip color matches her dress. She shrugs her shoulders and smirks at her reflection. No turning back now.
Ann approaches the glass doors to Shibden Publishing and the butterflies set in. She walks to reception and gives her name. The woman manning the desk gives her a kind smile and asks her to take a seat. Ann looks around the lobby and notices a line of posters that showcase the impressive portfolio of books the company has published. She takes in a long, steady breath as the receptionist hangs up her phone and motions for her to follow. “Miss Lister will see you now.”
They walk into the main lift and go up four flights while they exchange pleasant chit chat about the weather. Ann is led down a hallway past many offices until she reaches a lounge area placed directly in front of a large office. The women are both stopped in their tracks as they hear a loud argument coming from inside between a man and woman. The receptionist and Ann exchange glances, not really sure how to react. Until suddenly, a man bursts out of the office door and yells back over his shoulder “…and you know what, you can take that offer and shove it right up...” he notices Ann and the receptionist as he turns to walk away and stops himself. “Sorry ladies.”
Well, he seems like a real charmer, Ann thinks to herself, widening her eyes and shaking her head. Ann slowly approaches the office a little scared of what she’s walking into. She sees the same brunette from the picture she studied sitting across the room at her rather large desk. She’s writing furiously in a black leather-bound journal. Ann is a bit taken back by the size of her office and what feels like an entire living room positioned in front of her desk. She can already tell that this woman is powerful.
She lightly taps at the open door, “Hi, Miss Lister?”
The woman barely looks up from her writing as she waves her in, “Yes, yes please come in and take a seat. Just give me a moment to finish this thought and I’ll be right with you.”
Ann isn’t sure what seat to take as there are so many chairs in this office, but she chooses the one directly in front of the woman’s desk. As she waits for her to finish, she tilts her head down as if she’s looking at her resume that she’s placed in her lap, but her eyes begin to slowly creep up.
The woman is dressed in a crisp black blazer and a loose white blouse that scoops down across her chest. She has her hair parted in a low ponytail with neat, wavy pieces falling forward and one tucked loosely behind her ear. The sleeves of her blazer are folded up and the muscles in her forearm are bulging as she writes feverishly with her right hand and runs the fingers of her left hand smoothly across her bottom lip. She wears a gold necklace with a ruby heart pendant that falls low, swaying gently across her cleavage, almost out of view beneath her shirt. Ann realizes where her eyes are and lets out a small pant.
Miss Lister hears this and finally lifts her head. It’s then that Ann can see the deep brown eyes staring back at her and the full, soft lips that curl into a warm smile. This may be the sexiest woman she’s ever seen. Ann swallows hard and smiles back.
“Miss Walker, is it?” the older woman looks directly in Ann’s eyes as she gently licks her bottom lip and flashes a bright smile before reaching out her hand.
“Y-yes,” she’s able to choke out, “please, call me Ann.” She connects with the woman and their eyes meet. They shake hands as Miss Lister slowly drags her middle finger across Ann’s palm as they separate.
“Ah yes, Ann. It’s nice to meet you. Do you happen to have a copy of your resume for me?”
“Oh yes, sorry. Here you go.” Ann quickly puts her resume on the desk.
“Excellent. And please, call me Anne.” The woman flickers another brilliant smile and begins looking over her resume to begin the interview. She asks her about her prior experience and her strengths and aspirations. Ann answers as professionally as she can, trying not to be distracted as Anne begins swiping her middle finger along her coffee mug in a slow, suggestive motion. Ann’s chest begins to heat up and she can feel herself starting to sweat.
After about twenty minutes of job-related questions, Anne ends the interview by describing the type of assistant she’s looking for. “This can be quite a grueling job at times. Putting in late hours to meet impossible deadlines. Working with difficult authors who are too attached to their work to accept help. Dealing with colleagues trying to poach your talent. It’s easy for work to fall through the cracks and that’s where you come in.” She pauses. “I need you to be on top of me,” she smiles impishly, “that is, if I’m not meeting expectations.”
Ann lets out a breath and responds too quickly, “I would love to be on top of you.”
Anne’s eyebrows raise slightly as she tilts her head to the side and smirks.
“I-I mean to keep you on track to meet the, the impossible deadlines.” Ann shrinks down into her chair, face on fire, in total disbelief of what she just said.
Anne laughed, “I knew what you meant.” She lowers her voice, “Though I’m not known to relinquish power easily.” She looks at Ann and slowly bites along the bottom of her lip.
Ann’s breath hitches. Did she actually just do that? She can only respond with a small smile and nod as her eyebrows twitch upward.
Anne stands and walks over to her filing cabinet. It’s then that Ann can finally take in her figure. She is slender, yet muscular and her blouse is tucked neatly into her tight slacks, showcasing her fit legs. Anne reaches in the top draw and pulls out a business card.
She hands the card to Ann standing directly in front of her. Ann begins to stand while reaching out to join her hand and on the way up her fingers accidentally brush against the woman’s firm torso. She can see Anne’s body jerk at the contact before pulling back into another irresistible grin.
Ann can’t believe the thoughts and reactions her body is having to this woman. She takes the card and puts it in her bag before willing herself to meet the woman’s intense gaze one last time. “Thank you for your time this afternoon, Miss Lis-Anne.” She ducks her head to hide what she expects is a very flushed face.
“Thank you for your interest, Ann.” She reaches to shake her hand one last time, gently squeezing it and flashing her a quick wink. “We’ll get back to you shortly.”