JAMISON WOLFE WAS shouting again.
He did that a lot. On the phone, mostly, though Caite had heard him hollering in the lobby a few times when some particularly aggressive paparazzi had managed to get past the building security and find their way to the Wolfe and Baron offices in pursuit of a few of the company's clients. Jamison lived up to his name when that happened, snarling and growling in defense of those he considered to be under his protection.
It was totally hot.
So far, Caite Fox had avoided being the recipient of Jamison's fury, though she'd often thought about poking him to see if she could taunt him into losing control. The thought of it had been the subject of more than a few late-night fantasies, but she hadn't done anything about it. First of all, teasing your boss into a hatefuck, no matter how exciting it seemed, was definitely a bad idea no matter where you worked. Second, it was super hard to seduce a guy who barely seemed to notice you existed. She worked mostly with Elise, scarcely saying more than a word to Jamison, despite her constant surveillance of him. So she bit her tongue and focused on staying under Jamison's rage radar, doing her work the best she couldwhich was pretty damned well. She could say that and not be bragging. She'd been with Wolfe and Baron for only eight months but had already managed to accumulate an impressive client list of her own even while working on everything else her two bosses had delegated to her. This was the best job she'd ever had. Great perks, decent salary.
She considered the chance to surreptitiously ogle Jamison Wolfe one of the perks, and since he barely gave her the time of day, she had a lot of chances to check him out without him noticing. Now the rough, deep rumble of his voice rose through the office walls and sent a shiver creeping deliciously through her, and for a moment, Caite sat back in her chair to see if she could catch a peek at him across the hall. He often paced while he hollered, and she wasn't disappointed now when he passed by his open door. Today he wore the charcoal suit with the deep pink shirt and silver-and-pink tie. One of Caite's favorites.
Jamison pivoted on one perfectly shined black shoe, running a hand through his dark hair and rumpling it as she watched. When he turned, the light caught the glint of silver at his temples. With the phone clamped to his ear, his brow furrowed, he looked both formidable and regal, even when he started shouting again. That was the thing about him. Unlike a lot of men, who sputtered or turned red-faced and ugly in their fury, Jamison Wolfe never looked anything less than perfect.
Startled, Caite swiveled in her chair to fully face the door, where her other boss, Elise Baron, had appeared. In contrast to Jamison, Elise looked anything but perfect. Her fair hair, usually pulled into a sleek French twist, had come loose around her face with pieces stuck lightly to her glistening forehead and cheeks. In the past month, her pregnancy had really begun to show, and her maternity suit wasn't as tailored or flattering as the ones she usually worenow her blouse had come untucked from the elastic waistband of her skirt. She'd taken off her shoes to reveal swollen feet and ankles, and her pale skin looked not only threaded with blue and red varicose veins but also oddly dimpled, as though she'd poked a finger into rising bread dough and left behind an indentation that was only slowly filling in. "Elise. Hey. Are you okay?"
"No. I don't think so." Elise swallowed heavily and gripped the doorframe as she swayed. "I don't feel well at all."
"Sit." Caite was up at once, taking Elise by the elbow to lead her to the futon across from her desk. Elise gave a grateful sigh as she sank onto it. "What's going on?"
"I woke up with a headache today, but I figured it was just my normal sinus stuff going on. Allergies. But it's been getting worse and I'm noticing a lot of swelling in my ankles." Elise blinked rapidly, her normally implacable demeanor shaken. "I should call Steph."
"You sit. I'll do it. I think I should call your doctor, too. You don't look good." Caite knelt in front of Elise to chafe her hands. Elise's cheeks, plump with pregnancy, nevertheless looked hollowed, her skin gray and clammy. Caite didn't know much about pregnancy beyond the fact she had no desire to get in that condition herself for a long time, but something was clearly not right. "Let me get you some water, too."
With a nod, Elise sat back against the futon's rigid cushion and closed her eyes. Caite got up and went to the water cooler in the hall. She drew a paper cup of cool water and paused in Jamison's doorway on the way back, but he was still on the phone facing away from her. He'd moved beyond the yelling to the coldly determined negotiating portion of the conversation, which meant he was almost finished. Poking her head around the corner to the reception area, Caite motioned to Bobby, who was busy at the front desk dealing with the mail.
"Hey. Get Steph on the line, Elise isn't feeling well. Get the number of her doctor, too. I'm going to go back and sit with her, make sure she's okay. She looked really bad."
Bobby looked surprised. "What's wrong with her?"
"Don't know. Phone, Bobby," Caite said firmly. For a guy who worked for a company that dealt in handling the media affairs of celebrities, he hadn't yet mastered the art of not being nosy.
She took the water to Elise, who didn't look any better but sipped slowly from the cup. Caite looked her over, cataloging the symptoms she could see so that when she got the doctor on the phone, she'd be ready to describe them. The phone on her desk rang with the distinctive one-two beat of an internal transfer. That would be Steph.
"Hey," she said, wasting no time with a greeting. "It's Caite. Elise isn't feeling well. She asked me to call you."
Steph reacted immediately. "What's wrong? Is she sick? Oh, God. Is it the baby? Is the baby coming early?"
"I don't think so." Caite quickly described the symptoms she'd noted, listening to the rapid sound of Steph's breathing. She was going to hyperventilate at this rate. "Did you give Bobby the doctor's number?"
"Yes. Oh, God. It sounds like it's preeclampsia. I told her not to go into work today!"
"It's going to be all right." Caite looked over at Elise, whose color was slightly better, but nothing else seemed to have changed. "Do you want to talk to her?"
Elise opened her eyes then and shook her head with a small smile. "Bathroom," she mouthed.
"Steph, she went to the bathroom. Listen, when
Bobby's putting a call through." Caite transferred to the other line, where she ran through the symptoms again with the doctor, who determined that it did indeed sound as if Elise was suffering from preeclampsia and who told Caite she needed to be brought into the hospital immediately.
After handing the phone to Elise so she could speak with the doctor, Caite ducked back to reception, where Bobby was busy dealing with an increasingly hysterical Steph. He was good at this aspect of his job, and he handled Elise's wife with easy efficiency. Fortunately, none of them had any scheduled appointments yet this morning, and the reception waiting area was empty.
"She's going to come here," Bobby said with a hand over the mouthpiece.
"No," Caite countered. "Tell her to meet us at the hospital."
She could hear Steph's shriek of dismay all the way from across the room, but there wasn't any time to deal with that. Caite went back to rap on Jamison's door. He still had the phone pressed to his ear and gave her an irritated wave, dismissing her. Not sure how important it was to interrupt him at this point anywayit wasn't as if the doc were calling for an ambulance or anything, right?Caite went back to her own office to find Elise on her feet. Unsteady, still pale, but looking determined.
"I need to get my stuff."
"I'll have Bobby call us a cab." Caite put out a hand to help keep Elise on her feet. "It's going to be all right."
Elise nodded, mouth wobbling as she managed to find a small false smile. "I hope so."
Caite had no idea if everything was going to be okay or not, but one thing she was really good at was holding the hands, both literally and figuratively, of nervous people. She took Elise's hand now and squeezed. "It will be okay. You'll see."
* * *
Part of the reason Jamison liked working with Brett Denni-son over at Ace Talent was that the other man knew when to stop negotiating. Not that Jamison didn't love digging down deep to figure out the right angles for the contract and getting the other guy to agree to what was best for Wolfe and Baron and nobody else. Jamison liked the power of getting someone to do what he wanted them to do
but there was also that perfect, sweet moment when the other person at last capitulated, and everything could move on from there.
"I'll have Caite work up the final agreements and send them over," Jamison said now. "Good to be working with you again, Brett."
Brett laughed. "Yeah, yeah, that's what you say when you're riding in that Beemer on my dime."
"It's not your dime," Jamison said, not bothering to point out that he did not, and never would, drive a BMW. Jamison had a '64 Mustang that had been his old man's. Completely restored. "It's the blood, sweat and tears of your clients."
"Fair enough. Lunch next week?"
"Call Bobby. He'll set it up."
With the pleasantries out of the way, both men disconnected. Jamison sat back in his chair, finally, to put his feet up on the desk and take a breath. He'd been so caught up in his negotiation with Brett that he hadn't been paying much attention to the passing of time, but damn, the office had gone quiet. The blinking light on his desk phone told him he had messages waiting, but he didn't bother to check them. Anyone he really wanted to talk to had his cell number; anyone calling him on the office line was going to have to wait until he felt like checking in.
His stomach rumbled, and the hunger he'd been fending off since lunch, when he'd taken the time only to grab a protein bar, roared into full life. The headache followed after, poking at his temples like a dozen tiny devils dancing. With a muttered invective, Jamison pulled open his desk drawer to grab another protein bar, but the bin held only dust and disappointment.
"Dammit." He got to his feet and went to the front desk, where Bobby usually kept a basket of candy, but a few mints weren't going to do the trick.
Where the hell was everyone? Bobby might've been out the door on the dot of five, but Elise and Caite certainly should've still been finishing up some work. Elise especially, since her plan was to get as much done as she could before she went on maternity leave. She'd planned to work from home for the first couple of months but even so needed to get everything settled before then. Caite, on the other hand
Jamison frowned. The girl had worked in the office for all of a few months, not long enough to start slacking off, in his opinion. And dammit, there wasn't even any hot coffee in the pot Bobby was supposed to keep fresh for waiting clients. Grumbling, Jamison strode back to his office to shut everything down before he headed out.
He'd missed the ding of the elevator door opening but looked up as the scent of pizza wafted toward him. Not pizza. Stromboli, the best kind, from Gino's down the street. He found Caite in the conference room, setting out the familiar cardboard takeout box, along with a couple of paper plates and napkins. A six pack of Troegs Pale Ale, too. She looked up when he came in.
Jamison paused in the doorway. "I thought everyone was gone for the night."
Caite straightened and put a hand on one hip, her head tilting to study him for a second, lips pursed. "And you were pissed off, huh?"
"No." Well, he had been, hadn't he? At least a little. "Okay, annoyed."
She laughed, shaking her head. "You have no idea, do you?"
"About what? That everyone else around here seems to think that it's okay to skip off, whatever, just because the clock says it's time?" He frowned at her, trying to remember what they'd gone over in her initial interview, but Elise had handled most of that. "I thought we made it clear when we took you on that this wasn't going to be a nine-to-fiver."
"For your information, Mr. Wolfe," Caite said coolly, going back to setting out the food, "I was a little busy this afternoon, helping Elise."
"And that's an excuse?" The words spilled out of him, tasting irrational, and he knew it, but still a little high from his fierce negotiations with Brett, Jamison was having a little trouble coming back to the world of getting along with other people.
"You skipped lunch today, didn't you."
Jamison frowned harder. "What the hell does that have to do with anything?"
"I had to take Elise to the hospital because she was having preeclampsia and possibly going into an early labor," Caite said, voice hard, "which you'd have known if you paid any attention to what goes on in here aside from ragging on people for not living up to your kind of asinine expectations. But if you'd eaten lunch today, I bet you'd have at least asked me what was going on before you launched into a tirade about my lack of work ethic, so sit down and eat something before your
blood pressure gets too high."
He froze. "Elise? What? Is she all right? What the hell? Why didn't someone?"
"Sit. Down," Caite commanded in a tone that sliced right through him. "Now."
They stared at each other for a moment before she pushed a plate of stromboli toward him. "Eat."