An American Cinderella:A Royal Love Story(7)

By: Krista Lakes

“Gus?” I grinned as I walked over to the security desk. Gus was the biggest, kindest man I’d ever had the pleasure of working with. He had three daughters at home and he considered me his work daughter. He still sent me Christmas cards every year with a can of pepper-spray attached to keep me safe.

The chair groaned as Gus rose, and he hurried around the desk to give me a hug. He enveloped me in his large arms, wrapping me into a hug that was warm and soft. His crisp uniform pressed into my cheek.

“I guess I don’t need to show you my identification,” I said as he released me from his bear hug. The big man chuckled as he ran a hand over his bald head.

“I still can’t believe you’re here. I thought it had to be a mistake. Why are you back here? You’re supposed to be a senator or something by now. I was planning on voting for you for president next election.”

I chuckled, blushing slightly at his faith in me. “I thought so too. Apparently, the universe has other plans.”

“You mean your stepmother,” Gus corrected me, sitting back down in his chair. The rolling chair creaked with his weight as he began typing my information into the computer.

I raised my eyebrows at him.

“There’s no other reason you’d be back here,” Gus said. “She’s the only one with enough strings to pull to get you here and not have her name on it. I can guess who she has in her pocket. There’s not many who could pull this off without questions.”

“Gus, your talents are wasted as a security guard.”

He chuckled. “Nah. I just read too many of those crime mystery novels.” He tapped a couple of things on the computer, hit enter, and looked up. “You’re in the system again. I’ll have your badge ready when you come back down. Jaqui’s upstairs in her office. She’s got all your paperwork.”

“Jaqui has an office?” I asked, frowning slightly. When I had left, Jaqui worked on a table in a hallway. She’d been an assistant just like me. I was glad to hear she’d moved up in the organization. “Where?”

“Oh, that’s right.” Gus rolled his broad shoulders. He was large, but most of it was muscle, not fat. “She’s the head of the records department now. She’s in Beth’s old office. Second floor.”

“She claimed the good office?” I asked. “She must be important.”

Gus grinned at me. “She’s your new boss.”

“Oh.” I nodded. Jaqui was a year younger than me, but now she was my boss. I didn’t begrudge her the position, but it only added to how far this job was taking me from my goals. “Well, then I have the best boss in the building.”

“Only because you don’t work security.”

I grinned at him. “Obviously.”

I headed upstairs and to my new boss’s office. It still smelled the same here. Musty, but clean. The old building had weathered enough wars and time that it had an old, but peaceful scent. It felt like nothing had changed, even though I most certainly had.

I went to the far corner office. The door was open, spilling afternoon sunshine into the hallway. Jaqui sat at a small black desk, typing away at her computer and looking busy.

She was small with dark hair and beautiful dark eyes. She had the longest eyelashes I had ever seen on a person. Her beautiful dark olive skin glowed in the sunlight.

“Hey, I hear you get to tell me what to do now,” I said, stepping into her office.

Jaqui looked up at me and grinned. “I was wondering when you were going to get here,” she said, rising gracefully from her desk and coming to greet me. She gave me a warm hug.

“I took my time coming from the Senate offices,” I admitted.

“You should have taken longer,” Jaqui replied. I thought of how I could have stayed with Henry and gotten coffee. It was strange, but thinking of him made me smile. I wondered if he was going to remember to bring me lunch tomorrow. I hoped he would, but I doubted it.

“I didn’t want to be inconvenient for you. My stepmother, sure. But not you.”

“If I had my way, you would still be at the Senate offices.” She shook her head and motioned to a chair in front of her desk. “That’s where you belong. I can’t believe you’re back.”

I sat down on the chair and set my bag by my feet. “I was told you have some paperwork for me?”

Jaqui nodded as she returned to her own seat. “I do. For some strange reason, my boss informed me that you will be inputting all the new information on our trade deals into the computer. It’s something that we usually have an intern do, but you’ve been chosen. Who did you piss off?”