He parked himself in a corner, opting to hold up a wall, and crossed his arms over his chest rather than quarrel over a chair. Another quarter hour passed. Finally, the doors opened to let in Mr. Vice Chairman Belling and his entourage. Miss Charlotte Skye was the last to enter, Guy noted. She remained standing at the doorway, perusing the restless crowd, until she caught sight of him. Guy blinked. He could swear she almost did a double-take before she turned away.
"Good evening, gentlemen," Belling began. "You may have noticed the numbers have decreased significantly. That’s because you not only passed the first round of eliminations, but you’ve passed the second round as well."
Guy grunted softly. It would be interesting to know what the second round had been. But it was a moot point, considering he’d gotten this far.
"Starting tonight, we will be interviewing each one of you, starting with a simple set of questions. If your answers are what we’re looking for, you’ll be called back tomorrow for a one-on-one with a member of our human resources department."
As if on cue, two people stepped forward and started passing out papers. A third person had packages of pens for those who needed one. Guy accepted his sheet and a pen with a nod of thanks, and turned to use the wall as backing.
1. Would you be willing to physically test the product?
Physically test? As in copulating? Did that mean there were female testers somewhere he didn’t know about?
Hell, Guy, get a grip. Maybe they’re talking about jerking off. After all, condoms were supposed to be leak-proof, right?
But just in case a female might be involved, Guy wrote "yes" in the blank space.
2. Are you adverse to testing a product that might challenge your manhood?
That one came from left field. What did they mean, challenge his manhood?
"Is there a problem, sir?"
That sinfully husky voice came from elbow level. He didn’t need to turn around to know who was standing behind him. He already knew, and so did his dick. Still, it almost took a crowbar to pry his feet off the floor and get him to turn around to face her.
She came up to his chest, her and that gloriously thick, reddish-brown head of hair that shined like a small sun underneath the recessed lights. Her eyes were wide and whiskey brown in color. And just below a slim nose were a pair of pale pink lips that didn’t sport a hint of lipstick or collagen. Kissable lips. Too damn tempting lips, Guy admitted silently.
"Yeah. Some of these questions. They’re..."
"Too difficult to understand?" Miss Charlotte Skye supplied with a tiny grin turning up the corners of her mouth. Guy nearly groaned. The woman had dimples.
A second before he realized she had almost insulted him, she took the paper from his hand and glanced at his first answer.
"Was it the second question you were stumbling over?"
It was a tease. She was baiting him, but somehow it didn’t bother him.
"Yeah. I was wondering what you meant by challenging my manhood." He frowned down at her for emphasis, to see if she would rise to the bait.
"Exactly what it implies, Mr..."
"Stenson. Guy Stenson."
She stared at him for another handful of seconds, then nodded and gestured for him to follow her. They left the room almost unnoticed, walked back to the reception area, and continued past it, down another hallway until she stopped in front of a glass door. Guy noticed the gold lettering giving her name and title of President/C.E.O. when he went inside.
They bypassed the outer room where her assistant had a desk, and entered a large, expansive inner office. Huge floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked downtown. Guy gave an appreciative whistle at the view.
"Thank you," Miss Skye replied. "It’s the best thing about this office, in my opinion. Have a seat, Mr. Stenson."
He was too damn nervous to sit, and that irritated him to the point of anger. What did he have to be nervous about? Her?
"If you don’t mind, I’d rather stand," he said, hoping it didn’t sound as whiney as he thought it did.
"Ah, that’s right. Back in the meeting room." She nodded as she took her seat in the huge black leather chair that almost swallowed her whole. Immediately Guy knew it had been her father’s chair. In fact—he gave the office a quick once-over—there seemed to be very little in the place that spoke of her. At least, that was the impression he got. Other than the fresh gold leaf on the outer hallway door, Guy wondered how long it had been since her old man had passed away. Faint memory reminded him there had been something said about cancer, but the rest was too vague.
He watched as she picked up the paper and pulled a pen from the desk drawer in front of her. What was she fixing to do? Give him an oral exam?
At the thought of an oral exam, his imagination back-flipped, and an image he wanted to pursue but knew he couldn’t leaped into his mind’s eye. Well, hell. Maybe later, he promised himself, suppressing a grin.
Thank God Miss Skye couldn’t read minds. "Okay, you stated you would be willing to test the products we plan on introducing." She looked up at him with those whiskey brown eyes. "Are you clear about what is intended by that request, Mr. Stenson?"
"Crystal. You want to know if I would be willing to make love to someone to test it fully."
By heavens, the woman blushed, Guy realized. Miss I-Represent-a-Major-Manufacturer-of-Condoms just went a pretty rose pink, although she tried to give the impression of being unaffected.
She cleared her throat. "Good. That’s exactly what it asks. I’m glad to see we’re on the same page. Now, this second question—"
"The one that asks about my manhood? That one I didn’t get," he admitted.
Miss Skye cleared her throat again. "Well, to be blunt, if we had a product that dressed your member up in a costume of sorts—"
Guy interrupted her a second time. "A costume? You mean, with a little hat or vest? That kind of costume?" He suddenly got a visual image of his dick wearing a little overcoat and a fedora, so he could reach over and let it flash itself at its leisure. The idea was ludicrous, yet amusing.
To his shock, the woman gave a small shrug. "In a way, yes. Would you be adverse to at least trying them on?"
Guy knew the wrong answer would automatically drop him from the rapidly narrowing list of candidates. Still, he wondered who all would be privy to his embarrassment.
Miss Skye seemed to read his mind after all. "Mr. Stenson, I can assure you that the only person who would need to inspect the condom for safety and conformity would be Dr. Marling. It won’t be as if you would be required to walk about in front of others," she added with another one of those dimple-producing smiles.
Those dimples were going to be the death of him. And because of that, Guy knew he was ready to go down that chute again full steam. Which is exactly what he didn’t need, this soon after his divorce. Hell, he needed to get involved with another woman like he needed a hole in his head. And a company president, at that!
What the fuck is wrong with you, boy?
As if in answer, his dick leapt to attention. That’s what’s wrong with you, he silently derided himself. You’re horny.
"All right. Yeah. Okay."
"No, you wouldn’t be adverse to testing a product that might challenge your manhood, or yes, you would be?" she double checked.
Guy shook his head. "I don’t mind."
"Very good." She jotted his answer down before going on to the next question. He wondered how many there were, and mentally kicked himself for not scanning the questionnaire before he’d started to fill it out. "Three, would you be adverse to wearing a product made of animal skin or other animal parts?"
"Four, have you ever had to use any chemical means to achieve erection?"
He watched her nodding as she scribbled on the line next to the question. If he didn’t know any better, he would swear she was getting a kick out the whole interview process.
"Five, your application states you’re divorced. If you were required to test one of our products in the privacy of your own home, would that be a problem?"
Whiskey colored eyes stared unabashedly at him. Guy started. "That question is really on the questionnaire?" he challenged.
"Umm, no." She paused, then laid the paper back on the desk and visibly braced herself. "Mr. Stenson, I’ll be honest with you. I’ve been perusing several applications, yours being one of them. Didn’t you wonder why I brought you here to personally question you, when the rest of the crowd is on the other side of the building?"
"The thought crossed my mind, but I wasn’t going to risk being kicked out by asking."
She flashed him another grin and leaned back in that big, overstuffed leather chair. Her tiny figure looked doll size in it.
"Why do you need the money?" she suddenly, bluntly asked. Her unexpected, all-business tone of voice managed to lift one corner of his mouth.
"Getting a little more personal now?"
"It’s the actual question to number five," she snapped.
Sighing, Guy answered, "Alimony."
"Ah. How long were you married?"
Now he knew that question couldn’t be on the paper. In fact, it was obvious Miss Skye had decided to veer away from the questionnaire altogether. For what reason, he couldn’t begin to guess. And why she had singled him out, that part threw him for a loop, too. But she had, and she was, and he had no choice but to be up front and truthful. What other choice did he have?
She almost choked. "Beg pardon? Two months?"
"Technically four months, but we only lived together for two. I moved out two months ago. The divorce was finalized this week."
"On what grounds?"
Guy frowned. "Don’t believe me?"
To her credit, Miss Skye mulled over his statement. "What happened?"
"Hell if I know." He dragged both hands through his hair, missing the admiring gleam in her eyes. "It seemed like a good idea at the time. We met through a mutual friend. In fact, that’s where I’m living now, with that friend, until I can get back on my feet financially."
"She took you for every last dime you had?" the woman surmised.
"Yeah." This time he managed a weaker grin. The shafting was still too fresh a wound.
He threw her a quick frown. "Why what?"
"Why did she do that to you?"
"Because that’s Ramona. Hell, I don’t know why for sure."
"Was she a good lay?"
"Yeah." Guy bobbed his head a couple of times. "A really fine lay, but—"
"But you had to pay for it," Miss Skye finished with him. The woman was marching in step right alongside.
"Exactly," he admitted. Now that he was made to look back on it, he could see how Ramona had used him like a hooker with her favorite john. Pat poor Guy on the head, give him a little nookie, then hold him by the balls until he antes up with the "payment".
"How did she convince the court to side in her favor?"
"She told them she had no skills to enable her to get a job that would support her, but she was willing to go back to college and earn a degree. The judge gave her enough alimony to cover her expenses until she got her paper. As soon as she did, the extra payments would end."
"But in the meantime you’re subsisting on bologna sandwiches?"
"Did you love her?"
For some reason, although he’d half-expected her to ask him that question, having it brought up still managed to irk him.
"I thought I did. Guess I was wrong."
He watched in surprise as the woman removed herself from the depths of the big black chair and walked around the desk, toward him. She stopped less than a yard away and stuck her hand out to shake his.
"Mr. Stenson, I would like to invite you on board as a paid employee of Skye Blue. Feel free to think it over. And if you agree to our terms, please come back tomorrow evening at seven where you can fill out your W-4 and get started working."
A huge weight lifted from his shoulders, leaving him light-headed. What was the old saying that it always got darkest before the dawn? Hell, the sun was just starting to come up!
"I don’t need to think about it, Miss Skye. I accept."
She lifted an eyebrow at him and grinned. Dammit, but he was definitely going to have wet dreams about her tonight.
"Are you sure?" she asked. "You don’t even know what the pay is."
"Rumor said it around two hundred an hour," he told her.
"Umm, not quite that much, but close. A hundred seventy-five. Still interested?"
"What are my hours?"
"Depends on how long it takes you to go through each testing session, but we guarantee two and a half hours per night, whether it takes you that long or not."
"And how long do you think my services will be needed?"
That one got an honest laugh out of her. "We sell condoms, Mr. Stenson. There will always be new products to test. How often and when you choose to come in is up to you."
"Sounds good," he smiled back. "Oh, and you can call me Guy."
They shook hands. Despite her hand being small and amazingly soft, her grip was firm. Immediately Guy wondered how it would feel around his erection that was already burning a hole in his pants.
Once she showed him the door, Guy left the offices with an uplifting attitude he hadn’t felt in years. As he passed one store window, he glanced at his reflection to catch the big shit-eating grin pasted on his face.
Welcome to the company, Guy Stenson. And congratulations on your promotion...to first name basis with the boss!
First name today, first base tomorrow.
Guy wondered what it would take to make a grand slam.