Authors: Smith, Nicole
a work of fiction.
resemblance to any person or persons, living or dead, characters,
events, locations, or businesses is purely coincidental.
Jason Earlington grappled with the large fish on the end of
his line. Grinning, he felt the spray of the sea on his skin, the sun beating
down, and the strong pull of a big one on the hook. He loved this kind of
fishing, battling it out with the denizens of the deep.
By the time he had reeled in the monster tuna, and gotten it
stored away, he was ready to go back to shore. That last one had been a
work-out, even for him, with his gym-enhanced body. He turned to set the
fishing rod aside and stumbled into the girl who was cleaning up the area.
"Sorry, didn't see you there," he said to her.
She looked up at him. Her big brown eyes seemed appraising
as she said, "No problem. We're heading back in and I wanted to start cleaning
things up early. You got a nice-sized one today."
He laughed. "I guess you see a lot of them in your job,
but it was exciting for me."
She smiled back at him. "I'm glad you had a good
He watched as she walked away, noticing she had a curvaceous
figure in jeans and a t-shirt. Her blond hair was up on top of her head in a
tight bun. He wondered what it must be like to have a job out here every day,
to be able to be out on the water having a great time. Probably it wasn't as
much fun for the help as it was for the customers, he thought. Still, she
seemed happy enough, with a ready smile and helpful attitude. On the other
hand, this kind of job couldn't pay much.
Jason found the closer they got to the shore, the more his
mind wandered back to his own work and the problems he was having there.
Hopefully, his meeting with a new personnel agency on Monday would help solve
some of them. The firm needed more draftsmen as soon as possible. He sighed. It
was so hard to get away, even if only for a weekend. He always ended up
worrying about work, or designing in his head. He was an architect of major
buildings, and he'd worked hard to get where he was today--top of his field and
in high demand. An Earlington design was a coup many were after. Right now, he
was riding a wave of expectations based on previous work. As the young woman
working on the boat passed by him again, he felt envious of her life of no
pressures. But this wasn't his kind of life. He shrugged off any feelings of
wishing things were different. He had a good life that was making him fantastic
money, and a reputation for excellence. What more could a man want?
* * * *
Monday morning rolled around in its inevitability, and Jason
was up early to work out at the gym in his building. He had a nine a.m. meeting
with the head of the personnel agency he hoped to use. He'd heard good things
about them and he was desperate to get some people hired. But they needed to be
the right people, and not screw-ups like the last guy he fired.
He finished up with a steaming hot shower and felt
invigorated, his whole body in tip-top shape. Wrapped in a towel at his waist,
he ran a comb through his wavy brown hair and was done. He had no patience for
hair styling--and was lucky enough that his hair fell into pleasing waves on
By the time he'd put on his dark gray suit, and a green tie
with silver stripes, he'd finished drinking his morning protein shake. It
wasn't exactly tasty, but it was filled with nutrients and didn't take long to
make. He headed out with a black leather briefcase in one hand, and gave a
brief wave to the doorman. His offices were only two blocks away and he walked
briskly, mind already sorting through his schedule for the day.
At nine he was sitting in the conference room, ready for his
receptionist to bring in his appointment. He worked on a list of problems with
his next project and had his head down, looking at the tablet computer when he
heard the door open. "Just a minute," he said distantly.
"Of course. I'll make myself comfortable," said a
, he thought.
That voice sounds familiar.
He looked up to meet brown eyes he'd seen before--on a boat at Sully Point.
The woman looked startled and then began to smile. "I
guess today you'll be fishing for people rather than tuna."
"Who are you? What are you doing here?"
She shook back gleaming blond hair that fell across her
shoulders. "I'm your nine a.m. meeting, Mr. Earlington. Yesterday, I was
on a boat with you--my brother Cody's boat. He was short-handed, and I was home
for the weekend in Sully Point, so I helped him out. In my regular life I own
the personnel agency you wanted to meet with today."
He found confusion giving way to chagrin. He'd dismissed her
as having some low-paying job and she was instead head of her own company. The
intriguing figure he remembered was now wearing a very feminine looking
business suit. And with her golden hair down and out of the bun, she looked
quite beautiful. "Excuse me, it threw me, remembering you from a place so
different than work. I'm Jason Earlington," he said, getting up to move
around the table and shake her hand.
"And I'm Holly Grainger. It's nice to officially meet
He noticed her hands, while small, had a firm grip and felt
strong. He sat back down. "You have an excellent reputation, Ms. Grainger.
Let me explain what I need."
* * * *
Holly was amused and interested in equal parts. To find Mr. Earlington
was the Jason from the fishing boat was unexpected. He'd been just that little
bit of a snob on the charter. His face when he recognized her here had been an
amusing mix of surprise and confusion. She found him a fascinating puzzle. Earlington
buildings were the rage right now, and some people spoke of him as the next
Frank Lloyd Wright. His reputation was of a brilliant, demanding man, who was
driven to succeed.
Physically, he had a magnetism that would draw in any woman.
Around 5' 11" and sporting a trim physique, his wavy dark brown hair would
have been a highlight--until you got to the eyes, she thought. Piercing green
eyes, the color of an old-growth forest. Those eyes were framed by dark lashes
and sat above sculptured cheek bones. Attractive wasn't the right word for him
she decided. Striking and very masculine, yes, and very much in charge. Funny
how she hadn't heard of him being matched up with any woman in the gossip
columns. Either he didn't like women, or he was a complete workaholic. She was
betting on the latter.
Holly was good at keeping track of several lines of thought
at once and now focused on what she'd been hearing from him. "The last
people you fired, were they incompetent in their skills or did they not have
the proper work ethic?"
He gave her a brief smile. "That is a perceptive
question. It was more of a work ethic problem. Time spent on social media
instead of the work that needed to get done. Lateness, long lunches. There was
no understanding of what a deadline actually meant. It was very
"I can imagine. Do you have a preference for people
right out of school? I noticed the last people you hired were quite
"Only because I assumed they'd be up on the
latest--wait, are you trying to tell me their ages had something to do with
"I've found if you want a settled, hard worker it is
best to go with someone who has some experience. And in your field, in drafting
and drawing, has that much changed in the last ten years?"
He leaned back in his chair, twirling a mechanical pencil in
one hand. "Yes and no. Plans still look like plans have looked. But we do
so much on computer now, more than was done before. The drafts people have to
be familiar with the new programs to some extent--at least to have been exposed
"I can get you several people in their thirties right
now who have the kind of computer exposure you're talking about. With the
economy the way it's been, and the job market, there are experienced people out
there. People who know what it is to work, and not goof off. I'd recommend we
draw from that age group or even older, as long as they have the computer skills.
And perhaps even if they don't. I would imagine a course to brush up on the
training they need could be found. How soon do you need them and how
He looked puzzled. "How did I not even think of hiring
older people? That was a blind spot on my part."
She gave him smile. "It's my job to think of things
"Well, it's good you did. I need two people right now,
in the drafting department. Plus, I need a new assistant. The assistant doesn't
have to be experienced in the drawing programs on the computer, but they should
have some amount of familiarity with the field."
"All right, Mr. Earlington. I think I can get you what
you need within the week. I'll interview them myself first, with this job in
mind. If those interviews go well, I'll send them on to you. May I ask--are you
a demanding boss?"
He raised an eyebrow, and looked at her with those intense
green eyes. "Now, why do I think what you're really asking is if I'm the
type who yells and screams at his employees?"
She smiled but said nothing.
"No, I don't do that. I tend to get quieter and colder,
the angrier I get. Flying into hysterical rages is not my style."
"Good to know. Now let's talk compensation."
* * * *
Jason found himself bemused by Holly Grainger. First seeing
her on the boat and then here, the dichotomy was profound. She presented as a
highly competent businesswoman and there was a...reassuring...feeling when she
talked. As if she could and would solve whatever problems he had. He was
beginning to see why she'd come so highly recommended.
"And remember," she was saying. "We don't get
final payment from you until you have a month of satisfied work from the new
employee. If the employee doesn't work out, the final fee is waived."
"That seems very generous," he said with a slight frown.
"How can you afford to do it?"
"You might want to ask instead, 'how many times have
you had to waive the final fee?'"
He motioned with a palm up. "Yes, how many times?"
Jason sat up straighter in his chair. "None? That seems
"Not impossible. Improbable maybe." She leaned
back in her chair and crossed her legs. "You see, Mr. Earlington, I have a
gift. I am very, very good at matching people to jobs. And so far, I haven't
"That is impressive Ms. Grainger." He found himself
leaning forward toward her, and noticing the expanse of a shapely exposed leg
through the clear glass top of the table. He frowned. It wasn't like him to get
distracted by a woman during a business meeting. But she had some kind of
charisma that drew him closer. "I think we have a deal then. I'll look
forward to seeing who you find to send to me."
"You'll be seeing them very soon." She stood up
and picked up her buff-colored briefcase.
As she turned to go, Jason asked, "Do you do it
"Do what?" She turned back to look at him, brown eyes
with gold highlights looking puzzled.
"Work on your brother's boat. Do you enjoy it?"
She laughed. "Not very often at all. I enjoy being out
on the water. I find it relaxing and a great way to get away from the worries
Jason nodded. "Yes, I feel the same way about it."
"Cody, my brother, and his wife just had a baby, so he
begged me to help out. Being out there made me realize it had been too long
since I'd been on a boat just enjoying the day."
"So your home is there in Sully Point?"
"My family home, yes. I live here in the city, in one
of your buildings actually."
"Oh? Which one?"
"The Helix. It's a lovely place."
Jason nodded. It was still funny to him that people referred
to his buildings by names that were totally unlike the actual name and
sometimes were only slightly related to the structure. The 'helix' building was
not nearly so curved as the DNA double helix people referred to, but the name
had stuck. Holly must be doing quite well at the personnel business, because he
knew rents in the Helix were high.
"Thank you. I look forward to working with you."
"As do I." She smiled and left the conference
It's funny how she seems taller than she actually is,
Jason thought. And it wasn't just her spike heels that left such an impression.
It was the force of her personality, her charisma.
He returned to his day's work, putting her out of his mind,
never dreaming he'd be hearing of Sully Point before the day was done.