Ramona Greer knew when she interviewed Tyler Mann that he was trouble. But she hired him anyway.
Tyler knew who Ramona was before he ever applied for the position. In fact, she was the reason he went for it in the first place. Now, with the captivating widow as his new boss, Tyler's ready to show Ramona how good they could be together.
Ramona is shocked at Tyler's interest in her. Not only is she his supervisor, but she's also a few years older than her gorgeous new employee. And she's just not sure she's ready to take a chance on love again. But maybe Tyler is the right man for the job in more ways than one!
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June 01, 2010
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Excerpt from Second Chance Hero by Shelley Galloway
Second Chance Hero
by Shelley Galloway
She was nervous.
Why was she nervous? Ramona Greer crossed her legs, shifted and smoothed her skirt. Tapped the end of her pen against the spiral notebook perched on her lap. Reread the r?sum? in her hand and weighed the pros and cons of the candidate's qualifications.
Oh, who was she kidding? She wasn't thinking about work experience and reference checks. No, she was thinking how Tyler Mann was one of the most charismatic men she'd ever met.
And that was making her nervous.
Every few minutes Remy found herself examining the way his raven-black hair curled just-so-right over his left eyebrow. And sitting so close to him, she could see his eyes really were a silky chocolate-brown.
And that dress shirt--it was obviously European. The white fabric had a soft sheen to it, and the shirt had a more tailored fit than the ones most men wore in the office. And--what a fit that was. The fabric glided over his arms and chest, making it impossible not to notice that he definitely enjoyed working out. On a daily basis.
He stared at her directly. "Is there anything else you want to know about me, Ms. Greer?"
Nothing that was any of her business! "No." When his eyebrow rose, she tried again. "I mean to say your r?sum? is certainly impressive. But I'm afraid I still don't quite understand why you're interested in working at Carnegie, Mr. Mann. With a background in computer software, you could work somewhere else and earn far more money, not to mention be more challenged."
"I imagine answering the phones could be challenging. And doing any job well can create quite a bit of satisfaction, don't you think?"
The question hung there like a pi?ata hanging from a string, darting back and forth. She searched for a suitable reply. "Yes," she said finally. "I imagine any job could create, um, satisfaction."
"I'm glad we agree on that." He smiled appreciatively. "You know, I've flown all over the country for the past ten years and chased accounts. I've worked more weekends, late nights and holidays than I care to admit. Now I just want a job that I can leave at the end of my shift and forget about." He leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his knees. "I hope you don't find that off-putting."
"No, not at all." What she found off-putting was that his new position gave her yet more interesting angles to look at. Oh, she felt like a dirty old woman.
She straightened, striving to put herself back in professional mode. After all, interviewing call-center representatives for Carnegie Airlines was nothing new. She'd conducted dozens of these in the past four or five years.
Yet--when was the last time she'd shifted so much in her chair that the skirt of her suit edged halfway up her thighs? Fumbling with his r?sum?, she glanced his way again.
Only to see that his gaze had darted to her nylon-covered legs.
Oh, yes. Tyler Mann had noticed the state of her skirt. As discreetly as possible she tugged the hem down to her knees.
Focusing on work once again, she murmured, "I should warn you that although you might find the hours a breeze, the job certainly is not. People who call us want all kinds of information from Carnegie Airlines. You'll handle everything from customer complaints about flight attendants to panicked people needing an emergency flight. Sometimes the calls and requests can be demanding."
If anything, her comment seemed to amuse him. "I can be demanding, too."
The temperature in the room rose another ten degrees.
Remy stood up, teetering only an instant in her black four- inch heels. "Well, then, there's nothing else to do but offer you a job, Mr. Mann." She held out a hand.
He took it. "Please call me Tyler, Ms. Greer." Curving his palm around hers, he somehow managed to combine the perfect amount of firmness with tenderness, as if he was afraid he'd crush her bones. It was disconcerting.
But, of course, so was that smile. "I'm Ramona. Remy." Why had she said that? Hardly anyone at Carnegie called her anything but Ramona or Ms. Greer.
His gazed warmed. "Remy, it's been a pleasure to meet you."
"Yes." She crossed to her desk and hastily picked up a file folder. "This is your new employee packet. You'll find pretty much everything self-explanatory. I won't bore you by going through the employee handbook and insurance information just now. The folks in human resources will walk you through it all. Finally, don't forget to stop at Shawn Wagner's desk on the way out. She'll be in charge of your training."
"I'll do that." But to her surprise, he didn't move. Instead, he looked at her directly. "So, will I see you again?"
"I just wondered if you were the type of woman who stayed up here in your office, or if you roamed the cubicle aisles."
"I roam." Remy looked away. Hoped that he didn't spy her looking completely flustered. Because, well, she was.
After a significant pause, he stepped back. "Well, then, I'll look forward to seeing you later."
"Yes. Goodbye, Tyler."
He turned, visibly catching himself again. "This is inappropriate, but I'm going to ask it anyway. It is Ms. Greer, isn't it?"
He was right. The question was completely inappropriate. "Yes, it is. I'm...widowed." Well, murmuring that little tidbit was a shock, too. She didn't talk about her personal life to anyone. Certainly not to employees.
Certainly not to employees of mere minutes.
But Tyler's posture didn't give any indication that he thought things were maybe a bit too personal between them at all. Concern brushed over his features, making his eyes look far older than his years. "I'm sorry. Was your husband's passing recent?"
"Three years ago. Why?"
"I could say no reason, but since I've already dug myself a hole, I guess I'll go ahead and finish it. You're very attractive."
"I'm forty. Two." Covering her mouth with a cough, she tried again. "I mean, I'm forty-two."
He smiled. "Glad to know it. Have a nice day, Remy. And thanks for the job," he drawled over his shoulder as he walked out of the office.
Glad to know it? Thanks for the job? The minute he disappeared, she sagged against the wall.
And as soon as she closed her door, Remy rushed to the small refrigerator hidden in her back closet, opened a Perrier and chugged it back. She really needed to cool off.
Too bad the icy drink didn't help one bit.
"Tyler, are you sure you know what you're doing? " Keith said as they sat on the edge of his dock and pretended to fish. "In the past six months you've quit your job, moved to Florida from Houston, sold your sprawling house and bought a dinky condo in Bishop's Gate."
His brother-in-law had summed up his life in one sentence. Now, that was pretty pathetic. "Thanks for the update. And yes, I do know what I'm doing."
"I don't think so. I can't believe you just took a call-center job at Carnegie. Are you going through a midlife crisis?"
"If it's midlife, it doesn't sound too promising for my life expectancy. I'm only thirty-four."
"Your age makes it all the more puzzling. Don't get me wrong--Cindy's thrilled her twin brother's finally close by. It's just that none of these actions seem like you."
They weren't. Slowly he tried to explain, though Tyler wasn't sure if any justification would ever be enough. "Ever since our parents died while we were in college, it's just been Cindy and me. When she found you and got married, I concentrated on work. Over the past six years, all I've done is live and breathe for my job. The morning you called to tell me Cindy almost died while she was in labor with April Marie, I was devastated."
"Feeling that way was only natural, Ty. It was scary."
"It was more than that. Keith, when April was born, I realized I'd never even laid eyes on Megan. I'd hardly seen Cindy at all. My priorities were completely screwed up."
"You've been working. She understood that."
"I didn't." Tyler leaned back to the soft-sided electric-blue cooler and pulled out another pair of beers. "Ten years of my life had gone by and I was as far away from your situation as possible. No wife, no family, no real ties. I want those things. I mean to have them."
"Okay. I can get you needing a change of venue. But Ty, a call center? It's going to be a drag."
"I've got my reasons for wanting to be there."
"Nothing you need to worry about. Remember, I don't want a career right now. All I want is to be able to see my sister and my nieces and fish in the afternoon. And maybe one day find someone to settle down with."
"How are you going to find Ms. Right working in a cubicle?"
"Maybe I'll get lucky. There are a lot of women there."
His brother-in-law looked about to argue that point when Cindy called from the house. "Keith, can you help with the baths?"
"I've been summoned," he said, not looking as if he minded one bit.
Tyler supposed that Keith could truly understand what it felt like, wanting a break from the constant traveling. A pilot for Carnegie Airlines, he was in a plane all the time. But Tyler didn't think Keith understood what it was like to have nothing to come home to.
Traveling had a far different feeling when home was little more than just a state of mind. When Keith stood, looking at him a moment longer under the brim of his baseball cap, Tyler waved an arm. "Go on. Cindy's going to be mad if you don't get a move on. I'm going to sit awhile longer, if you don't mind."
"Take your time."
As Keith trotted up the wood planks to the back of his house, Tyler sipped his beer and finally let himself unwind a bit. Now that he was alone, he relaxed and thought again about the woman he'd met that afternoon.
Ramona Greer had been just as striking in person as she was in the photo in the Carnegie Airlines in-flight magazine. From the moment he'd seen her photo, with her long hair pulled up in a fluffy twist and her beautiful smile, he'd been attracted to her.
But when he'd looked at that photo more closely, he'd noticed her gray eyes looked sad, as if she was alone in the world. He suspected there was a story lurking there. And he'd begun to think of those eyes as something of a challenge. If he could make her smile again, it would do a world of good for him and for her. After all, he'd just spent a long time thinking only about sales figures and bottom lines.
The magazine's short bio about her had only piqued his curiosity.
He'd wanted to meet her just to see if Ramona Greer in person affected him the same way.
He hadn't been disappointed.
He'd had no difficulty getting an interview at Carnegie. And it had been just plain luck that she'd interviewed him. From what Shawn Wagner said, that was an unusual circumstance. Usually the staff in human resources or Ramona's office assistant did the interviews.
It also hadn't been difficult to discuss his job experience. But it had been difficult to act professional when Ramona--Remy--had been shifting in that chair and her skirt inched up.
And it had been difficult to seem interested in the position when all he wanted to do was talk to her about life and hobbies and her past. He'd wanted to get to know her.
And when he'd shaken her hand, he'd been tempted to hold it just a bit longer than necessary. Her skin had felt soft and cool, her bones small and so feminine. Her nails were long, carefully filed and painted a creamy pink. She had beautiful hands. Now that he knew for sure she wasn't married, he was going to bide his time. And then he was going to make his move. He wanted to get to know Remy Greer, and wanted to get to know her soon.
"I finished all the performance evaluations for the week," Shawn said on Friday afternoon, just after one o'clock. "In addition, I met with three of our new phone representatives who've been having some trouble. I gave them a little coaching."
Remy was glad Shawn was doing so well in her new position at Carnegie. Just six months ago she'd been one of the several hundred call-center representatives they employed in the Destin office.
Now she was Remy's assistant. She helped Remy with phone calls and managerial duties and helped new hires and probationary employees. All this added responsibility suited Shawn well. She was flourishing, and it was great to see. "How did the coaching go?" Remy asked. "Were they receptive to your advice?"
"I think so." Shawn frowned. "I never knew how much of what I did was based on instinct. It's been hard to fully explain my reasons for doing some things."
"If anyone can do it, you can," Remy said, feeling more certain than ever that promoting Shawn had been the right thing to do. Shawn had a knack for helping customers, and her quick thinking and problem-solving capabilities were certainly impressive. But the best thing was her rapport with her coworkers--no one minded her giving them tips. That was a real gift. "I know I've heard from more than a few reps about how much you've helped them."
Shawn's expression softened. "Thanks for telling me that."
"It's my pleasure. It's the truth." Looking out into the large area on the first floor, Remy enjoyed the bird's-eye view--the maze of call representatives in cubicles. A low buzz slowly echoed its way upstairs, reminding her of bees.
And--not for the first time--she wondered how Tyler Mann was doing. She wasn't going to ask.
She didn't want to ask. But she had to know. "So... how are the new hires?"
"Pretty good, I think."
"There're four, right?"
"Yes. One's on a shift right now." Shawn flipped through a few papers, obviously looking at schedules. "Tyler Mann."
Ramona knew that. She'd seen him enter the building on one of the video monitors. And when she'd done a walk-through earlier, she'd heard that Texas drawl. Careful to keep her voice nonchalant, she said, "Do you think he's going to work out all right?"
"Definitely. Although sometimes I just can't see why he's here."
"He does seem overqualified. Does he seem... happy?"
Shawn's eyes widened. "Happy? Well, yes, he looks happy. I haven't really checked on his stats or talked to him much. I thought I'd better give him some time." Shawn flipped through her notebook with a frown. "Why? Is there something you're worried about?"
"No. Not at all. Forget I asked."