He stood and offered his hand in greeting. “Steve Waltman. Audit.”
Jeanie shook his hand and looked into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. That had to be one of the reasons the girls in the office were all smitten with him. Not only did he fill out his jacket nicely but the sandy-blond hair and blue eyes were a traditionally lethal combination. And so far he seemed to be a nice guy, with a sense of humor to boot.
She could get into trouble if she didn’t tread careful.
“Jeanie Madison. I’m in Accounts Payable,” she said, letting her hand linger in his a little longer than usual.
“Jeanie. It’s nice to put a name to a face. We have been coming and going at the same time these days. Where are you off to this morning?”
“Indianapolis. What about you?”
“Same.” Steve tucked his folded newspaper under his arm. “You going in for the transition?”
“Yeah. You too?”
“Afraid so. Looks as if we’ll be hanging out together this week.”
A little flutter started somewhere deep in Jeanie’s belly. She couldn’t be hungry. She’d had breakfast. But the idea of being nervous just because she would be spending a whole in the same location, probably even the same hotel, as Mr. Hottie muddled her.
“Guess so.” Erotic images of Steve and herself in a hotel room triggered another burst of heat through her body. A little distance might be best before her cheeks burst into flame. “I was just going to get coffee.” As a second thought she added, “I’ll make you a deal. If you’ll watch my bag and save my seat, I’ll grab some for you too.”
Steve checked his watch. “That would be great. Black coffee with a couple of creamers and a sweetener.”
He reached for his wallet but Jeanie waved him away from it. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get it.” She pushed her suitcase up against her vacated seat then turned to make her escape.
“Thanks. I’ll buy next time.”
“All right,” she tossed over her shoulder as she picked her way through the somewhat crowded aisle.
The walk to the café gave her time to settle the butterflies in her stomach. It didn’t however give her enough time to halt the naughty thoughts rolling around in her head. As she waited in line she watched the girl behind the counter decorate the top of someone’s drink with a mound of whipped cream and a swirl of chocolate.
In Jeanie’s mind that mound of whipped cream belonged on Steve’s bare chest.
Or perhaps lower.
With a cherry on top.
“Can I help you, miss?”
Jeanie jerked herself back to reality. “Yes. Two coffees please. Cream and sugar on the side.”
Glancing at the people in line behind her, she made sure no one had been staring. Thankfully they were all too busy checking their phones or looking at the menu to have noticed her zoning out.
She paid for their drinks, grabbed the condiments and headed back to the gate. Along the way she lectured herself about letting her thoughts wander.
Somehow she made it back to the gate without spilling either of the coffees on herself or anyone she passed. Something of a miracle really, since she had not broken in the heels she wore.
Jeanie handed Steve his drink then reclaimed her seat. She fished around in her purse for the cream and sweetener she’d dropped in the side pocket then passed them to him.
“How many of these transitions have you worked?” she asked as she added a packet of sugar to her cup.
“This will be my third this year.”
“Wow. Did you ask to see half of the country or did you irritate someone?”
Steve chuckled. It was a deep, throaty sound that made Jeanie’s insides quiver.
“Neither, actually. Randy and I usually split up the assignments but he asked if I’d mind covering his out-of-town trips when his wife neared her due date.”
“Oh. I don’t blame him for not wanting to be away at a time like that. It is very nice of you to take his out-of-town assignments though.”
He fiddled with the lid of his cup. “I’d like to think he’d return the favor if I were in his shoes.”
“I’m sure he would.”
As Jeanie sipped her java she took a long, hard look at Steve. He was certainly easy on the eyes. But good-looking guys were sometimes conceited and most thought more of themselves than of anyone else. That didn’t appear to be the case with Steve. “Were you planning to try on Randy’s shoes anytime soon?”
He choked on the sip he had just taken. Jeanie watched him over the rim of her cup in case she needed to pound on his back. Finally he sputtered, “Uh, no.”
“The wife not ready for that?” she asked innocently.
Steve coughed and shook his head in the negative as he recovered from choking on his drink. “No wife.”
He shook his head again, still coughing.
Did he swallow his coffee wrong or did her questions make him choke? “Well, no wonder you’re not in a hurry to try on Randy’s shoes.”
He coughed one last time. “Exactly.”
She looked him over again. “You okay now?”
“I think so.” Steve cleared his throat. “Must have gone down the wrong pipe.”
“Hmmm. Must have.”
Steve took a tentative sip from his cup and when it didn’t choke him he took a larger one. “You said you were in Accounting. Do you report to Lorensky or Frampton?”
He grimaced. “Ah. Sorry to hear that.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
“Is he really as bad as they say?” Steve asked.
“Well, I don’t know. What do they say?”
“That he’s self-centered and doesn’t mind stepping on anyone to move up.”
“Then, yes, he’s as bad as they say.”
“That’s what I was afraid of.”
“He’s not all bad,” Jeanie said grudgingly. “He’s actually very good with numbers. If you ever need figures to support a decision, he’s the guy to do the math for you.” She added in a lower voice, “Especially if your decision is going to be a bit, er, unpopular.”
“I’ve heard that about him as well.”
“So, Steve, what do they have you doing on these trips?” She asked, deliberately steering the conversation away from potentially dangerous territory. If Steve kept going the way he had been headed, it wouldn’t be long before he heard exactly what she thought of her boss. It would be best to keep that information to herself. Or at least between her and Trish.
Steve told her about his part in the transitions as well as a couple of funny stories from the last one he had worked. Before she knew it they were announcing the first boarding call.
As they stood in line on the ramp leading to the plane, Steve said, “I have to ask.” He scratched his nose. “Your phone call earlier. Were you serious about what you said?”
She frowned, unsure what he referred to.
“About your boyfriend,” he added.
“Yeah.” He shifted his bag on his shoulder. “You said something about making sure he was, um, appropriately taken care of while you were gone.”
She covered her mouth with one hand to stifle her laughter. “What’s so funny?” he asked.
“You mean GT?” she said between giggles.
“I think that’s the name you used.”
With a cheesy grin she told him, “GT isn’t my boyfriend.”
“No.” She shook her head.
They halted their conversation when they reached the doorway of the plane.
The airline had open seating, so they opted to sit together on both flights. Steve’s stories about audits that had gone very wrong at his previous job were entertaining and so were the ones of his college football days. She marveled at how funny he was. She had always thought auditors were straight-laced and boring. But his voice…His voice made her want to curl up in his lap and purr like a spoiled cat.
His casual manner put her at ease and he eventually coaxed her into talking about herself. Despite her belief that her life had been uneventful, she found herself telling him about the summers she’d spent at her cousin’s farm after high school. Stories even Trish hadn’t heard.
Thanks to Steve, Jeanie didn’t notice the plane taking off or landing even though both usually made her nervous. By the time they descended into Indianapolis she had become addicted to the sound of his voice. It had a deep, soothing undertone that rippled across her skin like a lover’s caress. Steve could have read her the phone book and she would have been happy to hear it.
How was she supposed work closely with him all week? Her libido would be in overdrive long before she finished her assignment.