Authors: Shadonna Richards
“I’m Venus, by the way.” The woman extended
her hand over the desk.
“Nice to meet you, Venus.”
“Blue’s a nice name. It’s unusual.”
“Thank you. Right before I was born, my mom
had a fascination with Picasso's Blue Period. So, how long have you worked
here?” Blue asked genuinely. May as well start her profile of Zack Romero and
his roster of employers.
The woman sighed. “Cute story. Inspiration
comes from the oddest of sources, doesn't it? Anyway, to answer your question,
not long enough. Wish I started out here. I’m doing my masters degree in business
on entrepreneurship. I have a
two-year-old so it’s really hard to juggle time elsewhere. The Romeros are
really sweet about letting my son come by when I can’t find a babysitter. Mr.
Romero’s wife, Toni’s wife, she’s so sweet and helps out a lot. I hate to sound
cliché, but it's like one big family. Zack is so cool with my little guy. Most
employers would try to get rid of you or make it an issue but he tells me I can
bring my son any time I need to and they’ll have someone look after him. How
cool is that?”
Blue was beyond impressed. Her eyes
widened. She’d heard of Zack-the-smooth-operator, lady’s man. But she’d never
seen this side to him or read about his compassion towards his employees like
this. Wow! Just wow!
“Wonderful. That’s…wow. Just amazing!”
“I know. I’m so grateful to be working
“So you’re starting off as a receptionist? Gaining
experience in the winery business?”
“Oh, no. Well, yes and no. I’m one of the
vineyard workers. That’s what I applied for. My great-uncle back home where I’m
from used to have a small grape garden, we used to call it. He died a while
back and the estate was sold but since we moved to the US when I was a kid,
I’ve always been fascinated by farms and home-grown produce.”
“Good,” Blue nodded her head, equally
“Mr. Romero…I mean, Zack is awesome. He
gives all of us experience with every facet of the business. I’ve never seen
anyone like him before. He’s like mega rich but he's so down-to-earth. Well
there’s a lot of rich, self-made businessmen who sort of stay in touch with
reality these days. He’s one of them. You’ll love him.”
“Miss Monroe, good of you to come.” The
silky, deep voice that interrupted their conversation caused a tingling
reaction to course through Blue's blood.
Blue’s mouth fell open for the first time
The man approached her was not really the
businessman she expected. He appeared to be something else.
Her breath paused.
He was more stunning than she remembered. His
dark, shiny, thick hair was brushed off his face with a few tendrils loose at
the front. He had
groomed stubble framing his
luscious lips that caused her belly to flip flop. The man had the most
beautiful face she’d ever seen. Could a man be considered beautiful? This man
could. His dark,
eyes, complemented by
his long, dark lashes, gleamed with awesomeness.
He was taller than Blue remembered, seeing
him up close now. He was inches from her. His hands were in his pockets. He wore
a crisp dark, Italian cut suit. It was an expensive designer inspired suit. She
guessed, maybe Armani, or maybe it was tailored only for him. It had to be.
Look at that broad, muscular frame. He looked like a pro athlete filled out in
the suit. She could see the firmness of his sculpted build under his suit. His
arms must be ripped with muscles she could certainly tell by the way he filled
out in the expensive fabric. His posture was erect as a drill sergeant.
Confident and powerful.
No way in hell could she work under this
man and keep herself under control. Maybe she should turn around and leave. He
was already causing her brain to freeze up.
Too much of that
hormone rushing through her frontal lobe.
a deep breath. He’s just a man. Really.
He’s a sex god and you know it.
Never had Blue reacted that way over a man.
He literally stole her breath away. She forgot who she was or why she was
there. She’d almost forgotten that Venus was there, until Venus cleared her
your mouth, Blue. Stop drooling.
Romero. Romero men can do that to a woman.
Yes, she’d heard of the Romero men having
that type of magical, sexually potent effect on the feminine gender. It was no
wonder they were always in the tabloid for naughty behavior despite their remarkable
accomplishments in various industries.
“Th-th-thank you,” Blue managed. Okay, why
was she acting like such a love-struck idiot?
Snap back to reality, girl. It’s a job.
Only a job.
“Would you care to follow me outside?” he
commanded more than questioned. His sexy gaze held hers and she felt giddy all
of a sudden.
Zack escorted her outside of the building. Blue
was actually quite grateful. She needed fresh air to level her head. The
sweet-smelling fragrance of the vineyard and surrounding land was perfect for
her senses. Maybe it would clear the way for her sanity to come back.
She held tightly to her recorder and her
notebook, hugging it to her chest. Blue licked her lips, out of nervousness.
For heaven’s sake, she was a grown woman. A professional.
A highly educated journalist.
needed to get herself together. But how could this man’s aura and presence
cause this sort of reaction inside her?
“I was about to fire you, Miss Monroe.”
Blue halted. Zack, who was walking beside
her, had a smooth grin on his face as he followed suit and paused. “Something
the matter?” he asked casually, looking more amused than anything.
“You were about to fire me? W-why?” Blue
could not control the flutter inside her belly. Her heart was beating erratically.
“Because I didn’t think it would be a good
idea for us to work together. I didn’t think we’d have the right…working
“And what changed your mind?” Blue asked,
as they both continued to walk through the vineyard pathway.
“I overheard your conversation with Venus,
one of our finest workers. I was impressed as to your interest in her knowing
she was working at reception, before you found out she was working on her
masters and working in the vineyard.”
“Oh?” Blue flushed. She felt heat rise to
her cheeks, yet it had nothing to do with the summer sun beaming overhead.
“You can tell a lot about a person by not
how they treat the wealthy and perceived powerful, but how they treat those who
aren't. Some, probably most, people don’t even think of talking to the cleaners
or frontline workers with such intrigue and respect. I like that about you,
Blue.” His voice was authoritative and sharp. She could not quite read his
emotion but he was impressed with her.
“Wow, you really do sum up a person rather
“In life, you have to. It’s too short to go
through a long haul. I’m a
person. I’ve no time to waste.
I want something
I get it now
“My grandfather always taught us that
personality can open many doors, but it is character that will keep those doors
Inwardly, Blue felt relieved. So she wasn’t
going to be fired from this job after all. That was a good thing. She would
certainly be able to pay for Courtney’s tuition this fall.
Oh, thank you, God!
But now she had another matter to deal
with. Sexy-as-sin Zack Romero.
Officially, her new boss.
“I was also intrigued by what you did what
covering that Eli Christopher case.”
Blue felt her heart turn over in her chest.
She remembered that case. A young man had gone missing and so had a few
thousand dollars. They suspected he had stolen the funds from his employer and
left the country. But her gut was telling her otherwise. She dug up a lot of
information on Eli's background and realized the man had a hard life and had
been in and out of the foster care system, but there was something in his eyes
that touched Blue when she interviewed him once before the fiasco. She kept digging
for the truth. Even after his arrest, by doing some investigative reporting,
what she uncovered was that he was an immigrant who was set up by his employer
to take the fall. The poor guy thought he wouldn’t stand a chance and fled. He
had been taking care of his disabled mother and little brother on his modest
income. Because of what she uncovered, the truth was revealed and Eli's employer
went to prison for embezzling funds.
“Well, you know me,” she said, sheepishly.
Embarrassed that Zack had taken the time to do his due diligence as to her reporting
history and background. But she also felt a pang of longing. Deep,
loneliness settled over her heart for far too
long. One could be in a relationship as she had been with Elliot and still feel
alone. Elliot never really cared for her or cared much about how her day at
work went or how she felt. They never truly conversed.
He was only her boss, yet Blue felt that ease around her heart
that he actually, genuinely cared about her work and how she felt. It was odd
to think it but she felt a little connection with him. She was comfortable and
satisfied in telling him about the things that mattered to her. That meant the
“I try to get to the heart of the story,”
“And that’s what makes you unique. Most
reporters would have just left it at that. Why did you probe further?”
“Because I always believe that news is
about people. I care about people, I guess.”
“You guess? You need to sound, no,
more confident in your convictions,
“I care about people,” she grinned, cocking
her brow. “A lot. And justice.”
Blue flushed. This was nice, she thought.
Why was it when a man treated her well, she reacted this way? Her ex, Elliot,
was nothing like Mr. Romero. Elliot and she had worked at Channel 31 together
but instead of commending her on her efforts, he would often try to pick out a
fault in the situation. “Oh, you didn’t cover this angle of the story,” or “You
should have asked one more question.” Blue wasn’t an approval seeker, but
neither did she feel any better when her own boyfriend chastised her every move
and never missed an opportunity to berate her.
“We have that in common,” Zack continued as
they strolled through the vineyard.
“Yes. I like to see people do well in life”
was all he said in a sturdy, richly deep voice.
“It’s good what you do for students and for
a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs from the Humanity Program. You help people from
all reaches of economic background. That’s wonderful.”
“What’s so funny?”
“Oh, nothing. I was briefed about your work
before you got here, just so that we are clear. I wanted the people at human
resources to gather as many clips of your work for me to peruse.”
“Oh?” Blue felt morbid. What else had he
footage? Of course, a man of Zack’s
stature would never just trust his grandfather’s preliminary interview to agree
to work with her.
“There was a clip of you covering the
Anti-Poverty Rally at Queen’s Park.”
“Oh.” Her stomach lurched. She was
practically inadvertently tossed around from side to side as the protesters rushed
to the picket line—it looked comical at first. Then when she got out of
their way, she’d backed away slightly…into the water fountain. She came out
dripping wet but continued her story as if it was nothing out of the ordinary.
All in a day's work.
When she looked at Zack, she noticed his
grin fade. “You were not harmed, so that’s why it was amusing. You are
tenacious. A lesser woman would have stormed out or backed down. I love a woman
with tenacity. You stuck it out and you made light of it later at the news
desk. It takes a strong, confident woman to humor herself in a…difficult
She sure didn’t feel like it that day.
She merely got on with the job the best way she knew how. Yes, it was comical
and it was the only time that a few of the protesters actually grinned when
they learned she was okay.
“Everyone falls some times,” he continued.
“But getting back up and back into the game takes courage.” His silky tone rang
with seriousness. Blue captured raw hurt glinting in his eyes. What had his
heart gone through in the past? Blue wondered. Zack was a mysterious man. But
she was somehow in awe of him. She felt connected to him.
She loved the way he took a spin on life. Sure, he had taken
some hard knocks according to what she knew about him, but there he was, a true
Romero. Those men always seem to get back up fighting. No matter what life