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Copyright ©2012 Diane Nelson
Digital ISBN (EPUB): 978-1-936827-82-4
Second electronic edition published by PubRight
Published in the United States of America with international distribution.
Cover Design by Sessha Batto
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
To Maria K., for all you are.
THE DAY AFTER
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barry’s the Golden Boy with a killer corporate style and a former running back build.
Sam’s the techno-nerd with soft brown eyes and a smile that melts glass.
Sanji’s the world class soccer star, model, man-about-the-continent,
and the face of Raji Enterprises.
In a tropical paradise in the Bermuda Triangle, corporate giants come to a business conference to wheel and deal. The stakes: a half billion dollar prospectus with shares up for negotiation.
Maggie’s the systems analyst whose expertise will seal the deal. Confident in her numbers,
but not in herself, Maggie becomes an unaccustomed center of attention
and the unwitting victim in a game of corporate one-upsmanship.
The question is: what will it take to get the negotiations back on track?
With three men vying for her favors, can Maggie afford the distraction—a distraction
giving new meaning to the term hot and sultry?
Summer in the Bermuda Triangle—steaming, sultry hot. It was like infinity had settled on an ocean of blue plate glass, impossibly flat and featureless. Not a whitecap or undulation in sight. It was like morning had sprung too early, catching Poseidon napping on the job. The gentle slope of sugar sand bore scant witness to a lazy tide leaving nothing but a few shells on the ebb.
What brain trust decided this was a good idea?
“You coming, Maggie?”
“Yeah, Barry, wait up a minute. I’ve got sand in my damn shoes.”
“Did you bring the forecast specs? I thought I had them, but they aren’t in this folder.”
I ruffled through my plastic carryall, already slick with sweat from me gripping it with fervent determination. I risked a glance at my colleague, our team leader, first among the firsts, as our intrepid section head so coyly labeled his current Golden Boy.
My glasses slipped imperceptibly so I got a good look at ‘GB’ without the interference of bifocals. Easily ten years my junior and already on the fast track to corporate nirvana, armed with degrees and spreadsheets and a killer PowerPoint style that had the upstairs lads in a full collective hard-on for their newest and brightest recruit.
“Yeah, right here. You want them or should I keep them until you’re ready for your talk?”
“Keep ’em, Hon.” He sauntered away, tight ass, narrow-hipped fit in tan Dockers and flip-flops.
I staggered after him in medium-heeled black pumps and Just-My-Size taupe pantyhose gritty with beach goodness and resignation. My boys, as I was rather fond of calling them, took to calling me Hon after hearing Peter-the-Prick dub me as such during one of our town hall meetings.
Come on up here, Hon, and give us a rundown on the McArthur contract. This here’s our new mother, back in the saddle to take over for Tom as Operations Research Analyst, otherwise known as ORA.
The asshole had managed to stretch O*R*A out in some bizarre, sexual fantasy fashion. Add the “L” and you get ... titters all around.
Back then I hadn’t minded so much. Being the only “girl” in the department, and the first to hold the ORA title, made me a center of attention I’d been happy to encourage. That was a dress size or two ago, along with a marriage and my shot at Law School.
“What’s the chair’s name again?” Barry held the door open for me while I slipped past him, my too-tight-for-the-tropics linen skirt doing an incidental brush along his hip bone. He didn’t yield.
“Uh, just call him Dr. Ravi. And remember, he doesn’t shake hands.” I continued with the verbal dossier, filling GB in with all the pertinent details he’d obviously forgotten since last night’s pre-conference group pow-wow.
In my best mothering tone, I did a verbal countdown of the relevant bullet points. “You’ll need to talk slowly. Most of the audience will not have English as their native language. Just give them the highlights. We’ll leave hashing out details for later when we meet with the financials people.”
“Uh-huh. Okay. Here, let me take that folder.”
Grateful to be rid of the unwieldy pile of print-outs, I handed the plastic binder over.
“Get me a cup of coffee, would you, sweetie?”
Golden Boy turned away, my life’s work tucked carelessly under one arm as he trotted down the hallway toward The Magnolia Room and our first of many sessions for the day.
“What’s wrong, Maggie?”
Sam gave me a quick hug, nearly knocking over the coffee cup balanced precariously in my left hand. The other held a paper plate piled high with croissants, bagels and fresh fruit. My mothering instinct ran hot when it came to my boys.
“Oh hey, Sam. Uh, nothing.”
“Nothing looks like somethin’, Hon. Why don’t you bring that pile of goodies over to my table and we’ll talk about it.”
“Thanks, Sam. But Barry sent me for coffee. His talk starts in twenty minutes.”
Sam’s one of those touchers, a very hands-on, in your personal space type. My mothering capacity stopped just this side of rude when I was around him. He bothered me. At first I thought he was creepy in that techno-nerd way—harmless on the outside, total lascivious asshole on the inside. I’d made him the victim of my pop-culture viewing preferences without bothering to get to know the man.
That wasn’t nice. It wasn’t fair. And it was all on me, coming into the company with a chip on my shoulder and a need to have a set bigger than the biggest. The truth was ... his were bigger, and that scared me a little. What rattled me more was how he managed to make me feel vulnerable and safe all at the same time. Talk about mixed messages.
I moved away as fast as sand-filled heels and tight skirt would allow.
Damn, I should have tried this suit on before I packed for the trip.
I felt my ass straining the pencil-skirt, tight enough that even the slip had no ‘slip,’ nailed in place between my pantyhose-covered cotton briefs and the thick-weave fabric. For a Houston native, accustomed to hot and steamy as a lifestyle, I’d made a few spectacularly poor garment choices for my professional attire.
“Let me get that for you.” Another door abracadabra’d open, the Golden Boy bowing with a flourish.
“Didn’t the session start?” Bossy much?
I was worried about what all I’d missed and why Barry wasn’t sitting, flushed and flustered, anxiously going over the facts and figures I’d spent weeks compiling.
Barry took my elbow and guided me through the door. It was a tight fit. I had to turn sideways, hands and arms splayed fore and aft holding my breakfast cargo. Barry took up more than his half of the middle. My breasts brushed across his abdomen, forced to take a slow journey along a knit silk road of sapphire blue. Even through my stiff jacket fabric and sturdy cotton blouse, my nipples took note of the highway of six-pack abs and set themselves on high beams.
Geez, it’s been awhile.
Sam, coming up behind me, made a grab for the tottering plate of buns as I stalled, impaled, frantically sucking in my gut and inadvertently thrusting my boobs into Barry’s unyielding midsection.
Barry growled, “I’ve got it...” and pressed me into the door jamb while relieving poor Sam of his good deed for the day.