“It’s a way to make fun of ourselves for pampering our pets and embracing that side of us that treats them like cherished family. Sanders’ is the meaty-bone chow that you can spoil them with every day. The animal ‘judges’ will always choose the Sanders recipe.”
“Yes, but I knew you could do that. I meant the way you pitched it. You reeled me in, caught me.”
I laughed, knowing a Bennett compliment when I saw it. “Thank you.”
“Take me back, Chloe. Tell me right now that you will.”
A louder laugh burst out, and I rubbed my hands over my face. “Always such a bossy ass**le.”
“You’re going to pretend you don’t miss me? You look like hell too, you know. Julia called me last night as I was putting the slides together—”
“—and told me you were a mess and I had to get my shit together and find you. I told her it was already under way. I was going to do it anyway, but her call made it easier to come here ready to beg.”
“Do you even know how to beg?” I asked, grinning outright now.
Bennett licked his lips, dropping his eyes to my mouth. “Probably not. Want to show me?”
“Give it a try. Give me your best grovel.”
“With all due respect, I’m going to have to ask you to suck it, Miss Mills.”
His eyes widened, and before he could say anything else, I took the Papadakis folder from his hand and left.
I entered the boardroom with Bennett right on my heels. The murmuring voices stopped when we appeared.
I handed Director Cheng the folder, and he sifted through the handouts of the Papadakis slides. He smiled. “How on earth did you manage to finish two projects?”
I stammered out a few syllables, completely unprepared for his question.
“She’s efficient,” Bennett said, walking around me and taking a seat at the table. “When she wrapped up the Papadakis account, we suggested she take a short internship elsewhere until she finished her degree. After all, we’re hoping she’ll be at Ryan Media for the foreseeable future.”
I struggled to hide my shock. What the hell is he talking about?
“Fantastic,” said an older man at the end of the table. “On Papadakis?”
Bennett nodded. “Working under my father. He needs someone to manage this one since it will take up an FTE. Chloe was the obvious choice, if she’ll accept.”
I swallowed down about five thousand different reactions. The primary one was irritation, for his bringing this up in front of the board. But tangled up with that were also gratitude, excitement, pride. Bennett would be getting an earful after I was finished here.
“Well, let’s get started then,” Cheng said, leaning back in his chair.
I picked up my laser pointer and walked to the front of the room, feeling as though the floor were made of Jell-O. Two seats away from the head of the table, Bennett cleared his throat, catching my eye.
I’d need to ask him about that too. Because I was pretty sure that right before I began speaking he mouthed the words “I love you.”
They said my presentation would be one for the brochure, the Web site, the company newsletter.
They had me sign some papers, pose for some photos, shake a lot of hands.
They even offered me a job at JT Miller.
“She’s taken,” Bennett said, pulling me to the side. He stared down at me, wordless, while everyone eventually filtered out of the room.
“Yeah, about that,” I said, trying to sound angry. I was still on a crazy high from the presentation, from the discussion, from the entire day. Having Bennett within kissing distance didn’t hurt at all.
“Please don’t say no. I sort of stole Dad’s thunder. He was going to call you tonight.”
“Is he really going to offer me a job?”
“Are you going to take it?”
I shrugged, feeling giddy. “Who knows? Right now I just want to celebrate.”
“You were amazing up there.” He bent and kissed my cheek.
“Thank you. It was the most fun I’ve had in weeks.”
I rolled my eyes. “Yes, but you made one critical error.”
“You admitted that you know how to operate PowerPoint.”
With a laugh, he took my laptop bag from me and put it on a chair behind him, stalking closer with a dark smile. “I used to make slides for my boss. I was an intern once too, of course.”
Goose bumps broke out along my skin. “Did your boss yell?”
“Occasionally.” He ran his index finger up my arm.
“Constantly.” He leaned down, kissed the corner of my mouth.
“My father has always been more of a handshaker, really.”
I laughed, slipping my hands under his jacket so I could wrap my arms around him. “Well, I’m not your intern anymore.”
I hummed, liking the sound of that.
“Yes.” My voice shook on the single syllable, and I understood very clearly the meaning of “drowning in relief.” I was positive Bennett could feel my heart pounding against him.