Summary: For Unconventional Courtship. What happens in Vegas...is even hotter in London!
After a fling in Vegas that was so wild even she can't believe it happened, copywriter Lynda Day has finally got her mojo back. Time to get back to London and win that promotion!
But things veer catastrophically off course when her new coworker Spike Thomson saunters in... and he's much too familiar. Even worse, Spike and Lynda will be competing for the promotion - and he's just as good in the boardroom as he was in bed! So what's a girl to do when Mr One Night becomes Mr One-Desk-Away? Stand her ground, of course - if there's going to be a war, she's going to make sure she enjoys it!
Lynda Day was smiling. Her co-workers gave her a wide berth with worried looks, not that it bothered her. She didn't care what they thought on any day, but today she was particularly not paying them any attention. She'd had a relaxing holiday in Las Vegas, where her refusal to gamble with her friends on their second night there led her to unexpectedly meet up with Spike, who she hadn't seen for a year. A few drinks later and she'd ended up in his hotel room, wondering why they'd ever split up.
There were all the usual reasons, of course, among them being the fact that they lived thousands of miles apart. Spike was living in America now, probably to avoid seeing her and ending up the way they had in Las Vegas. It didn't look like that was about to change, so the whole thing was probably best left as a wild holiday fling.
She had more important things to do anyway, such as getting a promotion. After being editor of the Junior Gazette she'd hated having to start from the bottom, even though she was working for a national newspaper with branches in other countries. She'd been working here long enough that she knew she was the best choice and all she had to do was impress the associate editor. Spike had - however unwittingly - given her the confidence to do that.
"This is the place to be. A vacation right here in the office."
Lynda's eyes widened and she swivelled in her chair, breathless with horror. Just inside the doorway, staring at the beach holiday posters that were supposed to be inspiring, was Spike. He still wore sunglasses and a leather jacket. To have got here so soon he must have left America just after she had.
He saw her staring and grinned at her.
She quickly turned back to her desk and struck through her last sentence with a heavy hand. Correcting other people's writing generally soothed her. It didn't tend to work with hers, but the only one in front of her at the time was her piece for the promotion.
Spike, of course, wasn't fooled that she was working. He came over and perched on her desk as if they were still at the Junior Gazette.
She sighed and stopped, but held on to her pen to use as a weapon if needed. "What are you doing here?"
He pushed his sunglasses up onto his head. "It's good to see you too, Lynda." Her tone didn't stop him from smiling and he leaned a little closer to whisper. "I work here."
"No, you don't."
"I do." He picked up her internal telephone directory from the back of her desk, and flicked through the pages. Then he held it out to her.
She gave him a suspicious look, but took it. Listed in their New York office was James Thomson. "All right, so you work for the paper. You don't work in this office." She closed the directory with a snap and dropped it carelessly back on her desk where it nearly knocked over her pencil pot.
His smile grew. "I do now. I got a transfer."
"Is this because of what happened in..." She went red and coughed. He raised his eyebrows at her inability to continue. She wasn't going to allow him to goad her about that, so she asked, "Are you following me?"
"You know, Lynda," he said, standing up, "not everything I do is because of you."
"It looks like it to me." She pushed her chair back and stood too, so they were eye to eye. "I live here, remember? You went back to America. Again. How many times was it? Three? Four?"
He shrugged. "Seeing you reminds me how much nicer the girls in America are." He took a step away from her, then turned back to say, "And it was three."
Lynda opened her mouth to dispute that, but was silenced by the quiet. Everyone was watching them. It felt like the Junior Gazette all over again, but these people weren't her friends. Even though she'd known them longer than Spike had, she couldn't count on them to be on her side. Nor could she order them about, as she was one of the most junior people in the office.
She sat back down, but still got the last word: she sent him a memo.
Spike spent most of the day flirting with every other woman in the office. Lynda wasn't jealous because it was obvious that was what he wanted. Besides, she was pretty sure that by now she knew just what to say to get him to come home with her, if she wanted. Which she didn't. Las Vegas was not going to be repeated in London.
She had more important things to do, anyway. This time she was going to make it out of copy editing and into features. She spent her lunch break finishing her article and at the end of the day,dropped it into the associate editor's in-tray. Only to turn round and bump into Spike.
"You are following me," she said, before she saw the sheet of paper in his hands. "What are you doing here, Thomson?"
"My job. But it'll soon be a better one." He stepped around her to place his article on top of hers.
She frowned, hesitated for a moment and then swapped them. He shook his head, but she ignored him. "You don't want to be a writer."
"Why not?" He folded his arms.
"You can't spell, your grammar's terrible and your idea of punctuation is to sprinkle commas liberally and hope for the best."
He shrugged. "There's more to features than writing. I happen to be very good with people. A skill you lack." He pointed at her.
"I am good with people." She turned and started walking back to her desk.
Unfortunately, he followed her. "Oh, yeah? So who sits there?" He pointed to a desk across the office from hers.
She looked back at him with a triumphant expression and said confidently, "Angela."
He shook his head. "Jane."
She frowned. "Well, how am I supposed to remember?"
"You've worked here for over a year."
She folded her arms. "What is your point?"
He signed and softened his tone. "This isn't the Junior Gazette. You can't be horrible to everyone all the time. Why do you think you've been stuck in copyrighting?"
"Because there weren't any other jobs going." This time she stalked off. By the time Spike caught up she was dropping her belongings into her bag.
"No, Lynda. Because no one wants you in their department."
She shook her head. "You couldn't possibly know. You haven't even been here for a whole day." She faced him and hated the sympathetic look on his face. "We'll see whose approach gets that promotion."
Lynda sat up straight and did her best to look intimidating. Friendly and like the sort of person who'd be a good features writer would probably be better, but she'd tried that before and it still came out like intimidating. Mostly she was hoping the associate editor would be too scared of her not to offer her the job this time.
With a sigh, Oliver Banks put down the sheet of paper he'd been reading and turned his attention to the woman sitting on the other side of his desk. "To date you have submitted thirteen articles when I only required three."
"So you can see that my writing is not only good, but consistent," Lynda explained. "All you have to do is compare them to the articles you've published recently."
Oliver took off his glasses and leaned back in his chair. "Do you know why I asked for three articles?"
She sat up straight. So far this interview was easy. "To judge how good my writing is. But I don't think three is enough. Anyone can write three good articles, it's writing that many every week that's harder."
He shook his head. "It is to assess the quality of your writing. But I didn't want more than three because I have a job to do, as well as filling this role. I don't have time to read that many articles."
"You don't have to read all of them."
He leaned forward across the desk. "And I wanted to see how well you could follow instructions."
"Oh." She frowned. "You could have said."
He put his glasses back on and picked up the next sheet of paper in his in-tray. "Please send in the next candidate."
She stood, but asked, "So do I have the job?"
"The next candidate please, Lynda."
She had no choice but to do as he said. Waiting outside his office was Spike, holding an old ice cream tub containing one cupcake. The chewing coming from other people around the office told Lynda it hadn't originally been the only cupcake in the box.
"Aiming for bribery, I see."
He smiled. "Getting people to like you isn't a bad thing."
"Next time I'm going for a job at a bakery, I'll remember that." Lynda made to walk away and then took a step back towards Spike. "Oh, Oliver's lactose intolerant. Didn't anyone tell you that?" She took the cupcake from the box, bit into it and walked off.
When Lynda left Oliver's office the next day it was with confusion. She went to find Spike. "What just happened?"
Spike looked up. "You came over here and loomed over me." He pushed his chair back a little, but Lynda followed, leaning on the arms of his chair so she could loom better.
"I've just spoken to Oliver."
She could tell his ignorance was feigned. She might not have seen it for a while, but she remembered his expressions. "He told me I've got the job."
"Congratulations." Spike ran out of space to back into when he fetched up against a wall.
Lynda leaned over him. "Because his first choice turned him down."
"Lucky for you."
"No." She shook her head. "His first choice was you." She stared at him until he became uncomfortable and stared at his lap.
"Can we not talk about this here?" he asked softly.
She looked around. No one was obviously listening to them, but there were quite a few people nearby. Usually she wouldn't care, but this wasn't the Junior Gazette and she didn't want to be the subject of gossip. Not so soon after the last time. "All right." She stepped back, waited until he'd stood up, then followed him out into the hall.
She stood by the door while he paced up and down a couple of times. Eventually he leaned against the wall opposite her. "Vegas was..." He waved an arm, before sticking both hands in his pockets. "I really liked it."
"You never were good with words. Must have been all that American education."
He ignored that. "And you liked it too. At least you seemed to at the time."
"Yes, I did." She folded her arms. "What has this got to do with you turning down the promotion?"
"Because I thought it would be nice to do more of..." He waved a hand in lieu of whatever words he couldn't quite say. "You know, what we did in Vegas. And I knew you wouldn't if I was doing the job you wanted."
She frowned. "You turned it down for me?"
"You're going places. You're going to be editor one day. At a newspaper, if not this one. And I...." He shrugged. "That's not me. I don't need the big features reporting. I'm happy with the job I've got."
She stepped closer and put a hand on his arm. "Spike," she said softly.
He turned his gaze from the floor to focus it on her. "I know it's crazy and I'm only going to get hurt. Again. But I just can't seem to get you out of my head. Or my heart."
Lynda, who was always trying to get the last word, exchanged it this time for the first kiss.