Blush sensuality level: This is a sensual romance (may have explicit love scenes, but not erotic in frequency or type).
Eileen knows her fiance, Alex, is always feeling sorry for the downtrodden assistants at their law firm--and she's worried that he cares more about them than he does about her. But when Alex plans to spike the office coffeepot with a potion that will make everyone nicer to each other, should Eileen play the supportive future spouse, or tell him he's gone too far?
Eileen is convinced that no amount of hocus-pocus could make senior law partners Ann and Duke stop their noisy quarrels. Or change the way sexy, ambitious executive assistant Zoe thinks about laid-back Kevin, the IT guy. Or help timid Connie get a date with her boss, Roger, who's too shy to admit he's attracted to her.
Then the potion actually works...much too well!
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Something in the Coffee by Rose Maybud
They were at it again. Angry treble shrieks and furious bass bellows bounced off the dark wood-paneled walls and pinged against the Chippendale-style reception desk before disappearing into the plush pile of the lobby's Persian rug.
Alex Poindextre stopped just inside the law firm's front door and sighed. At least there weren't any clients around yet. He still had time to do his peacemaking thing.
He straightened his tie, the red silk one that Eileen had given him. First things first. He needed coffee before dealing with the two combatants. Part stimulant, part social lubricant, and occasional meal replacement, coffee was the beverage of choice for the staff and attorneys at Sangazure and Poindextre, LLP. A brief flirtation with green tea, championed by Alex himself in an effort to promote the health of his coworkers, was quickly dropped after a near-mutiny by caffeine-deprived personnel. A pity it never caught on, although he had to admit he thought more clearly after his morning cup of joe.
He strode across the muted reds and golds of the rug, heading for the paneled hallway that led to the kitchen area.
In the small kitchen, a woman in a lime green sweater stopped wiping down the counter long enough to send him a friendly smile. Zoe Partlett, Marmaduke Poindextre's executive assistant. Most of the other lawyers never bothered to learn the names of the support staff. A tactical error on their parts. Human resources experts agreed that employees were happier and more productive when treated as if deserving of equal respect.
To prove his point, Alex smiled back.
Zoe blinked and her smile broadened. Then she bent her head and scrubbed hard at a stain on the counter. There. Just a hint of camaraderie and the employee demonstrated a willingness to do even the simplest task to the best of her ability.
He poured himself a cup of coffee and smiled again at the administrative assistant. "So, Zoe. How's Uncle Duke treating you?"
She straightened up and ran both hands down the sides of her brown skirt. "Fine. It's so nice of you to ask, Alex. Aren't you working on one of your uncle's cases right now? So in a way, I guess we're working together--"
Her comment was cut off as Justin Pender, the firm's star litigator, elbowed his way in front of her. He grabbed the coffeepot, sloshing the black brew into a disposable cup. After downing a swallow, the other attorney flung a cosmetically enhanced smile at Alex.
Alex nodded curtly. Among the male attorneys in the firm, Pender was known as The Face. Tall, athletically fit, with smooth dark hair and gray eyes set under eyebrows that quirked upward in the middle, Pender used his carefully tended good looks on juries and women and usually got what he wanted.
Zoe beamed at The Face. "Good morning, Mr. Pender. How have you--"
Pender never noticed her hovering hopefully behind him. Caffeine acquired, he turned on his heel and charged toward the door. Alex winced as he watched them collide. Coffee splashed out of the cup and onto the green sweater. She yelped.
"Watch out, damn it," the litigator growled.
She stepped back, wobbling as she tried to balance on a pair of brown high heels. Pender dodged around her and disappeared down the hall without a backward glance. Alex caught her just before she fell.
"You okay? Asshole practically knocked you on your butt."
Zoe bit her lip as she brushed at the coffee stain. "Guess he was in a hurry."
He shook his head. "That's no excuse."
This wasn't the first time he'd witnessed someone mistreating a coworker. The lawyers were the worst, but not the only ones. The offenses ranged from the smallest discourtesy to blatant rudeness. A new partner loading his assistant down with extra work and going off to play golf. Paralegals refusing to share important case information with administrative assistants, and then blaming the assistants when deadlines were missed. Employees of all ranks verbally abusing the tech support people. The ill-will was spreading throughout the office, and he was damn sick and tired of it.
"I'll have a talk with him."
Zoe caught his arm, her cheeks pink. "No, don't. I mean, what's the use? He just didn't see me."
He stared at her. "How could he not see you? He saw me."
"Well, yeah." She tilted her head to one side. "You're a lawyer."
That sucked. Alex put one arm around her shoulders and gave her a quick, impersonal squeeze.
"Feeling better?" Ann and Uncle Duke weren't going to like this. They had strong opinions about prima donna lawyers in their firm. That was to say, their opinion was that Sangazure and Poindextre already had the full complement of prima donna lawyers, namely, the two of them. He smiled at her. "Don't worry. He won't get away with it."
She still looked upset, so he hugged her again.
"Who won't get away with it?" A tall, cool blonde stood in the kitchen doorway, wearing a charcoal gray suit that skimmed her elegant curves. Her arms were folded tightly across her breasts, and her finely drawn face wore an expression that could have frozen nitrogen.
Alex's arm was still draped around Zoe's shoulders. He removed it. "Morning, honey. That damn Pender practically knocked Zoe here on her ass, spilled coffee all over her. Then he acted like it was her fault."
Eileen Sangazure's expression didn't warm up. Not even by one degree.