Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Training the Receptionist: Excerpt

With the release of "Training the Receptionist" less than two weeks away, I thought I'd start posting some excerpts. I'll start with PG, and work my way up to the naughty stuff.


I snatched the application and plopped myself into a leather chair. I didn’t have time for random idiocy, I needed a freakin’ job. Quickly, I filled in all the usual information.

Dana Arthur. Age twenty-two. Previous experience: various crap jobs, some waitressing. Two-year degree from Long Island Community College. Strengths: motivated, hardworking, willing to do just about anything to move out of my house. (Okay, so I didn’t actually write down that last one.) It didn’t ask about weaknesses, but I don’t mind saying them. No tolerance for boredom, restless, problem with authority, a couple of hidden piercings and not-so-hidden tattoos, one or two DUIs. Or three.

I attached my resumé to the application and handed it to Bizarro Girl. Showing absolutely no interest in it, she slid the papers into a manila folder and stood. Something flashed into my eyes, and I realized, after recovering my vision, that she’d taken a Polaroid of me. While I was still blinking, she popped it into the folder and left the room.

Alone in the lobby of Cowell & Dirk, I seriously debated walking out right then and there. What kind of place took a Polaroid of you without so much as letting you get the McMuffin crumbs out of your teeth? But I let it go. For one thing, there was something very relaxing about that lobby. It was so quiet, like a super-secret, soundproofed vault. Not a single sound came in from outside. The colors were all bland and soothing. Beige carpet, black leather armchair and couch, blond wood receptionist’s desk. The overall look was what I would call Corporate Zombie. I could totally picture the people who worked there—pudgy-bodied, dull-eyed, combed-over drones in yellow ties and brown dress shoes. Every Friday they went out for after-work drinks at the nearest T.G.I. Friday’s. Mondays they spent the first few hours recounting their wild weekends, consisting of football games and blind dates who wouldn’t go down on them unless they paid for dinner.

Shows what I know.

When the door opened again, the sexiest man I’d ever seen in my life came toward me. My nipples got hard the instant I set eyes on him.

I still can’t put my finger on exactly what made him so hot. He was good-looking enough, with eyes like chips of green stone and black hair. Black Irish, I think that look is called. He had a rolling, in-charge kind of walk, as if he were walking onto the deck of his own personal pirate ship. The pirate comparison wasn’t half-bad, he even had a scar on his cheek, a thin, white crescent around his mouth.

His mouth might have been the sexiest of all. Surrounded by a slight stubble, it curved in a way that implied I know you and I know what you like. He was the kind of man who looked like he had a lot of secrets, secrets you might regret learning. The kind of man any normal mother would never allow anywhere near her daughter.

But my mother was long gone, and I hadn’t listened to my stepmother from day one.

“Ms. Arthur. Thanks for coming in.” Those eyes of his were mesmerizing. Half-hypnotized, I barely noticed he was patiently holding out his hand to shake mine.

I got to my feet. But instead of shaking his hand, I stuck out my chin. “And you are?”

“I’m Simon Dirk, Executive Vice President.”

He could have said, “I’m the King of the World,” and I wouldn’t have argued. I shook his hand. “Nice to meet you.” Was there some kind of extra electricity when our hands touched? I can’t be sure. I was too bewitched by his eyes. From closer range, they looked more forest than grass-green, more cool than hot. They were slightly narrowed. This man was taking me in. Assessing me. It made sense, of course, he was considering whether or not to hire me. But, in retrospect, I know he was assessing me for something else.

He looked down at my application. “So, you’re interested in the receptionist job.”

Something told me he wouldn’t mind a cheeky attitude. “Yes. It’s a lifelong goal.”

Right away his gaze darted up to meet mine. He gave me a long, cool look. “Do you plan on greeting clients in that manner?”

“Absolutely not. Clients will get my complete and undivided servitude.”

“I see.” After another long look into my soul, he pulled my resumé from the folder and scanned it. “Interesting job history.”

I couldn’t help a wince. “It’s a tough economy.”

“Yes, but two months at The Lotus Circle? Six months at Chuck E. Cheese? U-Stuff Taxidermy?” He looked up from my resumé, the most endearing frown making a dent between his eyebrows. Oh, how I wanted to feel that crease in his flesh.

“Only one month there.”

“What do you have, Job Attention Deficit Disorder?” Those eyes sent me a sexy green sparkle.


A smile tugged the corner of his mouth and I watched the scar retreat up his cheek. Without the scar, his face would have been almost too pretty. But the scar, and a bump on his nose that I knew meant it had once been broken, kept him on the rugged side of fucking gorgeous. And then there was the animalistic heat he gave off. Quite a feat, under his crisp business suit.

“Well, Ms. Arthur, I have a feeling you’d fit in well here.”

I wasn’t entirely sure that was a compliment, given the Corporate Zombie decor. “Thanks.”

“Can you start on Monday?”

“Uh…sure.” I inwardly danced a jig. Hired! At last! That meant I could skip my Monday appointment at the hospital to participate in a blood sugar experiment that would pay me fifty dollars. “But…silly question, I know, but what is it that Cowell & Dirk does?”

“We’ll get to all that during the training period.” Simon Dirk frowned. Had I asked something inappropriate? “Oh, and we’d like you to wear this on your first day.” From behind the receptionist’s desk, he produced a white box with a fancy department store logo I didn’t recognize. “If, that is, you’re serious about working here.”

What did I need to do to convince him? “I’m serious. It’s either that or sell my blood by the pint.”

He chuckled. I hoped I would be answering to him personally.

Little did I know how personally.

"Training the Receptionist" comes out on March 2 from Samhain Publishing. My free read "Thanking the Receptionist" is available for download on the sidebar to the right. Enjoy!


Laurann Dohner said...

I can't wait to read this!!!

Armenia said...

OMG...I can feel the buildup. I can't wait for the next excerpt.