Power Play - Tiffany Snow

Chapter One

You’re dumping me?”

I couldn’t believe it—not that it was completely out of the blue—but I hadn’t even had a chance to order dessert.

“Listen, Sage, I just don’t think it’s working out,” Brandon said. “I mean I like you, I really do, but it just doesn’t seem as though you have time for a relationship—”

The buzzing of my cell phone cut him off. I didn’t have to look to know who it was. Fighting my instinct to pick it up, I said, “I have plenty of time for a relationship!”

“Sage, we’ve been dating for three months and we’ve yet to have a dinner that wasn’t interrupted by your cell.”

“That is not true,” I protested, frantically trying to remember a time when I’d had any meal without my phone ringing. My phone buzzed again, and I swear my eye twitched with the need to answer it.

But Brandon was shaking his head, a resigned look on his face. “I’m sorry. I really am.” He took some money out of his wallet and placed it on the table.

More insistent buzzing, as if the person on the other end knew I was there and not picking up. I clenched my hands into fists in my lap.

“Brandon,” I tried again as he stood. He nodded toward my phone.

“Sage, you may not want to admit it, but you’re already in a committed relationship. And he doesn’t share.”

I stared in dismay at Brandon’s retreating back as he left the restaurant. The phone buzzed. Glaring at it, I reached out and snatched it up, knowing it could only be one person.

“What?” I snapped, allowing the hovering waiter to remove my plate. I grabbed the wine bottle and emptied the rest into my glass.

There was a long pause on the other end of the line. “Excuse me?”

I held in a sigh and rubbed my forehead. I felt a headache coming on. “I’m sorry, I thought it was someone else,” I lied, modulating my voice into the usual pleasant tone I used for work. “What can I do for you, sir?”

Sir was Parker Anderson, and Parker Anderson was my boss.

“I need the margin projections on the Layne acquisition. Where are they?”

“Lyle brought them by this afternoon,” I said. “I put them on your desk.”

“I’m looking and I don’t see them.”

“They’re underneath the stack of quarterlies that I printed off this morning,” I guessed.

There was a shuffling of paper. “Okay. Found it. Thanks.” He ended the call.

“You’re welcome,” I muttered, tossing down my phone. Parker never apologized for calling me after official work hours. I thought it was because he worked so much. He never considered any hour as being free from work, for either himself or those who worked for him. Usually, I didn’t mind because…well, it was complicated.

The wind had picked up and I pulled my wrap tighter around my bare arms as I gazed out at Lake Michigan. Brandon had picked one of the nicest restaurants in Chicago to break up with me, a place with outdoor seating and a great view. I guessed that was something.

I watched as the last bit of twilight faded into evening and sipped my wine. Brandon had already paid for it so no sense letting it go to waste. We’d met on Valentine’s Day of all things and over the next three months I’d become more and more convinced that maybe he could be Mr. Right.

Apparently, I was Ms. Wrong.

On that depressing thought, I got drunk. Well at least I think I got drunk. I was vaguely aware of the valet calling me a cab and me stumbling into my apartment. I may or may not have taken a bubble bath—a weird predilection that came out when I was very drunk, no matter the time of night—since I had little memory of anything up to my head hitting the pillow. Some might say I passed out, but I’m a lady and ladies don’t pass out. I just…slept very deeply.

The alarm woke me at the usual time and I groaned, slamming my hand on the button to silence it. My head ached from too much wine and I stood too long in the shower. By the time I was rummaging through my closet trying to find the match to the shoes I wanted to wear, I was already going to be late.

“Damn it!” I yelled in frustration, then heard my mom in my head.

Ladies don’t use vulgar language.

“Ladies probably never have to take the bus to work either,” I groused to no one.

The bus