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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Temporarily Yours by Roberta Beach Jacobson

I spritzed on my lucky perfume before heading outdoors. The drizzle prompted me to button up my trench coat. To be on the safe side, I'd given myself an extra hour to travel to my new job, even though the office complex was only a fourteen-minute bus ride away. Nobody chances arriving late on her first day!

Each temporary assignment from my agency felt unique. My last assignment had been covering staff meetings for an overworked junior buyer. This time, I was headed to the regional office of a well-known clothing manufacturer. It felt familiar even before I arrived, as I was one of their best customers at the mall.

I knew the fancy high rise from earlier assignments. Full of sunny thoughts about my new gig, I had to slow myself down before I skipped through the front door in my eagerness. I took the elevator to the fifth floor and headed to the reception area to report in, only to find the place deserted.

I checked my watch. Even though telephones were ringing, not a soul rushed in to answer. What sort of crazy firm was this? When yet another phone announced itself, I could stand it no longer. I jumped into action at the mini-switchboard.

“Extension two-one-four? One moment please,” I said, as I pushed the button to send the call on its way. The blinking lights might have scared off a newcomer, but I knew exactly what I was doing. I was a little uneasy about not knowing the names of the personnel, but in one of the drawers I located a laminated card listing all staff with departments and extensions. One Anthony Parrker was the corporate manager. I'd already transferred a call to his extension.

“Do you always work in your raincoat?” a friendly voice called out.“Is the ceiling leaking or it some sort of good luck charm?”

I think I actually blushed. “I was waiting in the lobby when I heard all the phone activity, so I decided to pitch in and help,” I answered.

The grinning man in a green polo shirt and faded jeans held out his hand. "You're the kind of employee we need around here. I'm Tony, as in Tony Parrker.”

“You're the big boss?” I asked, regretting the question as soon as it escaped my lips.

“You're kidding me, right?” he answered. The charming smile never left the man's face. “My dear Uncle Anthony is well past retirement age. I know it's a dreary Monday morning, but do I look like I'm about to celebrate my 70th birthday? I hope not!”

Embarrassed by my mistake, I introduced myself as Kim Kendro. I explained I was a temp assigned for the next two weeks. I didn't add I found his looks alluring.

“Welcome to the fold, Kim. I can fill you in on all the office gossip.” His expression let me know he was joking. “We're not as disorganized as it might appear," he continued. "The receptionist isn't due in for another half hour. What's your department?”

“Winter clothing,” I answered, checking my assignment letter.

Tony chuckled.

"What room number is winter clothing?” I asked.

“Oh, I get it,” he replied. “It's April Fool's Day.”

It was the first of April, that was for sure, but what that had to do with the room number for a clothing department, I had no idea. Once again, I wondered what sort of kooky place this was. “I don't think I understand,” was all I could manage and then I rescued another ringing line.

“Kim, we're a pet food corporation. I'm sorry to inform you we don't have winter clothes here,” he said. “Or were you expecting little plaid doggy sweaters?”

How could this possibly be a pet food company? I wasn't new at the game of finding office locations throughout the city. Who else besides me carried a city map in her purse at all times? I handed Tony my assignment letter.

“You're early, Kim Kendro from fourteen Market Street!” he announced, as he read. “This says to report at half-past nine.”

“I wanted to give myself plenty of time in case something went wrong,” I answered, smiling at the handsome man in spite of myself.

He handed back my letter and said, “Kim, may I be the first to inform you, something has gone wrong. This is not Eastern Chicago Clothing. You're seated in the lobby of Parrker's Pet Foods. See the kitty calendar over there?” He folded his arms and waited for my response.

I gasped. “I must have read the address wrong,” I said.”I know I'm in the right building.”

“You are,” Tony said, nodding.

“Fifth floor reception.”

“So far, so good,” he answered, eyes twinkling. He appeared to be enjoying our exchange.

“Is this room number five-oh-five?” I asked.

“Let's see,” Tony said. He approached the glass doorway. “Yes, it says so right here. The number's correct.” He put out his hand. “So it's official. Welcome to Parrker Pet Foods, Kim.”

“April Fool, right? I asked, accepting his handshake.

“No, seriously, I'm offering you a chance at a job. My uncle needs someone to start immediately, somebody as efficient as you, to handle sales projection data. It turns out half the world is afraid of spreadsheets. I'll inform your temp agency about the change in venue, but there's another pressing matter.”

“What's that?” I asked, looking into Tony's friendly eyes again.

“Lunch,” he answered. “Since I didn't have time for breakfast, I can't help but notice we've only got three more hours until lunch. Are we on?”

Tony didn't have to talk me into it. In fact, I intended to be a regular at his table.

About the Author: Roberta Beach Jacobson writes for True Romance, True Love and True Confessions magazines. She's an American writer who makes her home in Greece. Visit her at her webpage.

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