I frown. “You’re right.” Except…Elliot and I don’t have any special event we can attend together while looking like we’re in love. Even if there were one, given his reaction in the bathroom this morning, I don’t know if he’d go for it.
“I just want you to make up with him and be happy. And take better care of yourself.”
I force a smile. “I am taking care of myself.”
She gives me a pitying look. “Come on. I’ve seen zombies with more pep.”
“Don’t worry. Most people wouldn’t have noticed, but who am I? Traci, your best friend since kindergarten, that’s who. And I can tell.”
I swallow and nod.
“Seriously. Multivitamins.” She gives me a small smile and squeezes my hand. “Feel better now that we’ve talked?”
“Like I said, I’m always here for you if you need somebody.”
We finish our lunch while chatting about her job. I’m not interested in what’s going on at OWM simply for altruistic “I’m being a good friend” reasons—although I am curious about how she’s doing under a boss who seems as demanding as Gavin Lloyd. I want to know what’s going on there because of my ex-boyfriend, Dennis, who seems convinced that one, my husband is out to get him, and two, I’m the only one who can stop him. I swear he’s gone paranoid. There were signs when we were living in Lincoln City, but he was never this bad. Is this recent worsening somehow the result of what his father did? Jack Smith joined my dad in the Ponzi scheme, and when it fell apart, he gunned down my parents and then blew his own brains out with the last bullet. And Dennis’s been very careful to hide his true parentage from everyone.
Of course, steering the conversation the way I want it to go isn’t easy. Traci is somewhat stuck on her immediate supervisor Hilary, and Gavin.
“It’s like he can’t live without her. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear they were lovers or something. But they have zero chemistry that way. Besides, they’re both too happily married.”
I tilt my head. “Maybe she’s just good at her job.”
“She is. I’m hoping she keeps me because being so close to the boss comes with some great advantages, even if I’m not that high on the totem pole.” Traci flushes, then sips her coffee, lowering her eyelashes. “I can learn from watching him and then maybe leverage that into getting a more lucrative position at the firm.”
“Right.” I grin. “You are totally crushing on him,” I tease.
Traci meets my gaze straight on. Her eyes are unusually bright. “What if I am?”
I gape at her. “Wait. You’re seriously saying that you are?”
She shrugs, although her mouth is smiling. “He’s a very…charismatic man, and I’m not dead. But”—she sighs—“I know he’s married. So…”
“Don’t they have other unmarried hotties at the firm? It looked like it was full of young, ambitious men the last time I was there.”
“Yeah, but they aren’t the same. Gavin’s the alpha male.” She adjusts her top, smoothing it so it lies perfectly against her enhanced cleavage.
So that explains her outfits. I don’t know if she’s consciously choosing to wear them or not, but I hope she doesn’t do anything stupid. Unless I’m mistaken, Gavin is utterly in love with his wife. I open my mouth to say something, then stop. It seems a bit presumptuous of me to lecture Traci when she already knows about his marital status and we’ve just reconnected after a couple years apart. Unlike me, Traci’s been smart enough to make something of herself, so who am I to act like I know better?
“Although… There’s this guy in accounting with this totally hot look. But I hear he’s gay. Pete’s handsome too, but he’s taken.” She sighs again. “It’s always something.”
Finally. I perk up. “You mean Pete Monroe? Dennis’s boss?”
Traci nods. “He’s Gavin’s brother-in-law. Really yummy, but engaged to some interior designer.”
“What’s he like?” I lean forward. “He’s handling my account, so I’m curious.”
She whips her head my way. “Wait. You’re a client?”
I nod. “Didn’t I tell you?”
“No. You didn’t.” Her eyebrows pinch together as she quickly drops her gaze for a moment. She inhales. When she meets my eyes again, the frown is gone, and she’s smiling again. “He’s pretty amazing from what I heard. Gavin trusts him, and he’s very good at what he does. Dennis is lucky to be doing his internship with him. You couldn’t ask for a better man to mentor and guide you.”
Perfect. “How’s he doing? Dennis, I mean.”
“Pretty par for the course, from what I can tell. I think he’s stressed out because he’s really hoping to make an impression and get hired on full-time. OWM doesn’t take that many new analysts.”
“Turnover’s too low.” She nibbles on her lower lip. “By the way, I asked around about an opening.”
“Oh?” I’d almost forgotten that I asked Traci about a job. “And?”
“There is one. It’s not a great position or anything. A junior assistant to one of the VPs. Her current assistant’s going on maternity leave in eight weeks, so it’s sort of temporary, if you don’t mind that. But she’ll be gone for at least a year—”
“What can I say? OWM has a great maternity leave policy.” Traci pushes her curls over a shoulder. “Anyway, it’s a temporary position, but it’d give you a chance to network and get some office work experience for your résumé. A foot in the door.”
I consider. I want to say yes right now, but things are fragile at home. It’d be better to discuss the matter with Elliot before committing to anything. I don’t think he’ll object, but our fight has been about me keeping things from him. I want to show him in every way possible that I won’t do that anymore. “Let me think about it and get back to you.”
“No problem.” Traci checks her watch. “Oh, shoot. I need to get going. Gotta prep for a meeting.”