Smokey's Distraction - Chiah Wilder Page 0,1

tell me how much he likes working with you. You’ve briefed Chandra on the project, right?”

“Yes, why?”

He shrugged, then glanced at his watch. “Rich, Jeremy, Connor, and I are very impressed with the way you’ve been handling a lot of the difficult clients and projects at the firm.”

Ashley smiled. “Thank you. I thrive on challenges.”

“That’s what I like to hear. I just signed a new contract, and I’d like you to run with it.”

“Sure. What’s the company?”

“A+ Construction.”

Her eyes widened. “That’s a turn in a different direction.” Innovative Marketing Group worked primarily with hotels and tech corporations. “I’ve never heard of that company.”

“It’s pretty small. A buddy of mine owns it. We’ve been friends since we were kids. Anyway, he wants to start marketing in hopes of acquiring some lucrative contracts in Aspen and Vail, as well as several of the other affluent mountain areas. I think you’d be perfect for the job.”

“I don’t know much about construction, but I’ll research it.”

“That’s what I like to hear. The job’s in Pinewood Springs.”

Confusion swirled inside her. “You want me to commute that far?”

“Of course not. You’ll relocate there for a few months. The firm has some other contracts you can work on in the area.”

“I have to live there?” She groaned and leaned back in the chair. “Zach, I’m a city girl. How am I going to make it in a small town?”

“It’s not that bad. There’re a lot of outdoor things to do—I grew up in Pinewood Springs. Aspen is only forty miles away, and Denver’s a short three-hour drive, so if you’re dying for the city vibe, you can come home on the weekends.”

Ashley thrummed her fingers on the desk. “Why me? Chandra is fantastic and loves mountain towns; Maryann is a top-notch employee, and I’m pretty sure her uncle’s a contractor”—she pointed a manicured nail at him—“and there’s also Tyler. He loves mountain climbing.”

Zach shook his head. “You’re one of the best marketing people we have at Innovative. You know that. And you’re perfect for this job because you don’t put up with bullshit. You’re all work and no play. My friend’s a bit rough around the edges. Maryann wouldn’t last a week with him, Tyler isn’t a good fit, and Chandra would end up falling hard for the client.”

Ashley rolled her eyes. “Oh … please. Do you know how sexist that last remark was? Chandra’s a level-headed marketing pro.”

“I’m not disrespecting Chandra, but I know my friend. He’s a real ladies’ man—a charmer.” Leaning forward, he steepled his fingers and stared at her. “I know you’re all business and you’d get the job done. I wouldn’t be worried about you. I considered Tyler, but I think there would be too much friction. Daniel is rather … uh … unique. He doesn’t trust many people. Anyway, my understanding is that he’s out of the office working with his crew most of the time. Your interaction with him would be minimal.”

“Is this a done deal, or can I think about it?”

“You can think about it, but the partners and I hope you’ll see this as an opportunity toward adding your name to the firm.” Zach rose to his feet. “If you decide to take on the project, you can still work remotely on your current campaigns.”

“Not too much pressure, right?” She laughed dryly.

“In the end, it is your choice, Ashley. If you decide to take the project, I’d like you there in a week.”

Ashley watched as Zach walked out of the office, then she shook her head. He’s trying to blackmail me, and I won’t put up with it. There’s no way in hell I’m moving to some town in the mountains to deal with a cocky, womanizing jerk. I’ll give it a few days so Zach will think I considered the offer, then turn him down. And if I don’t make partner because of this, I’ll just have to find another firm. Ugh … Men! She swiveled the chair around, then turned back to her computer screen and began tapping at the keyboard.

“Are you still here?” Jeremy said as he poked his head into Ashley’s office.

She glanced up. “I have some work I need to finish before I leave. I’m trying to come up with a catchy slogan and interesting marketing plan for an otherwise dull product.” She chuckled.

“Not an easy feat,” Jeremy replied. “If you need to bounce some ideas off me, hit me up tomorrow.”

“I may take you up on the offer.”

He smiled. “My door’s always