Why them and not her? Keri Walker thought about those simple little words ever since her boss' fiancee left him. There wasn't a doubt in her mind she would be so much better for Richie if he only let her in.
Richie Davidson was devastated by the sudden loss of the woman he had been building a future with. Women were coming from left to right offering him comfort, but he wasn't interested in them. Because one unique beauty not seated ten feet outside his office door had already caught his eye.
Keri Walker finished making the coffee while she waited for her boss to arrive at work. This was the third time this week he’d been late and it would probably continue for the rest of the month because so much had happened to Richie.
Richie hadn’t been the same since his fiancé Kristy died in a car wreck driving back from her bachelorette party over six months earlier. Keri remembered vividly the night Richie got the call. They’d been working late on a couple of new clients when the phone rang. She would never forget the devastated look on his face. His usually brilliant blue eyes had gone dark and all of the color drained from his handsome face. It was as if all the life was sucked right out of him
The police had determined that Kristy was reaching for her cell phone in her purse when she lost control of her car, hit a slick spot in the road and was thrown from the vehicle about a hundred feet. She was so badly injured that the police officers wouldn’t even let Richie see the body.
Richie was so distraught over the loss he wasn’t able to be the best man at his best friend Nick Lavery’s wedding. She felt so bad for him because she saw the happiness Kristy had brought into his life. She was his soul mate and nothing else mattered in the world but making Kristy’s every wish come true and vice versa.
It pained Keri even more that Richie would never see her as possible dating material. She knew that Richie was trying to date again because he had gone out with a couple of women recently. She had secretly been in love with her handsome boss for over two years now, but he was too blind to ever notice her as a woman. She knew she was living in a dream world thinking Richie might wake up one day and fall in love with her, but she held out hope that he could see her the way she envisioned.
He was the kind of guy that never thought about mixing business with pleasure no matter how much she wished for it. However, she was going to find a way to be with him. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind, Richie was the man for her and all she had to do was make him see it too.
“This is the second time this week I’ve caught you daydreaming in front of the coffee pot. Does it have some kind of magical powers? Or is there a man in your life I should know about? I want to make sure he’s good enough for you.”
Keri jumped at the unexpected sound of Richie’s deep voice with its hint of an Irish accent that she adored so much. Most people didn’t hear it because he’d lived here so long, but at the right times it was there.
“No, I don’t have a boyfriend. You know that Richie,” she answered turning to face him.
Keri tried not to faint at the delicious sight Richie made. He wore all black, his thick red hair pulled back into a ponytail that hung to his shoulder blades. He had planned on cutting it shortly after Kristy’s sudden death, but Keri had talked him out of it. Thank God! She adored his long hair and would hate to see it gone.
“Why don’t you have a man? You’re a cute girl. Any guy would be lucky to have you as long as he understood I came first. I can’t have him stealing away my best assistant.”
Keri tried not to let her feelings be hurt by Richie’s comment, but they were. She loved him so much and he still only saw her as his capable and trustworthy sidekick.
“I’ll keep that it mind when I find someone,” Keri said. “You look nice today. What’s the special occasion?” She’d looked over his calendar earlier and he didn’t have anything scheduled, so it must be something she wasn’t aware of.
“I have a meeting today with Deborah Lee about getting a loan so we can expand the business. I want to hire at least two more people so I won’t be doing so much of the work. I’m beginning to see how working all of these extra hours aren’t good for me. I need to get a life. I’ve known it for a while, but it’s just so hard to think about it without Kristy to share it with.”
“Richie, you are the most in demand financial planner in town now with the way the economy has been recently. I told you to hire another person six months ago. Isn’t your brother planning on moving here? Can’t you get him to help you out for a while? He does have the same degree as you do. I think he would be a nice addition.”
Moving closer to her, Richie reached above her head and grabbed his favorite black coffee mug, the one he swore brought him good luck every time he drank out of it. She didn’t really believe it, but she wasn’t about to tell Richie that. She would let him believe in it if it made him happy.
“Excuse me,” Richie apologized when his chest brushed against her back. The hint of his cologne stirred her senses making her panties instantly damp. Shit! She had to get herself under control.
“That’s okay,” she replied, hoping her voice sounded stronger than she thought. “So, are you going to answer my question? What about Tate? I truly think he could be a wonderful asset to the business.” Keri secretly thought Richie was too hard on his little brother. Tate did love to goof off sometimes, but he always got his work done and it was flawless.
“No, I couldn’t handle Tate working for me again. Those few months he was here last summer were enough to make me know better. He’s too unpredictable. I need someone I can count on to show up every day.” Moving away from her, Richie poured coffee into his mug along with one sugar and two creams. “That’s why I like you so much. I know you will never disappoint me by not being here on time and doing your job perfectly.”
Keri blew off Richie’s compliment because it was the same thing he told her all of the time. She wondered what he would do if she actually wasn’t little miss perfect anymore. “Is there anything else we need to discuss before I leave for my meeting? You know how much Deborah hates for anyone to be late for a conference with her.”
Deborah…Keri tried not to roll her eyes at that name. Did Richie not see how Deborah had been trying to find ways to get him into her bed since Kristy died? The woman had no shame at all.
“Yes, the event planner called about the St. Patrick’s Day event. She wants to know if you are still thinking about having it as a masquerade ball with the charity auction. I was trying to explain it to her, but I’m pretty sure Taylor would rather talk to you instead of me.”
Resting his back against the counter, Richie took a sip of his coffee. “You’re probably right about that. Taylor has been after me since Kristy died. She doesn’t understand I’m not looking for another committed relationship with anyone at the moment. My fiancée hasn’t been dead a year yet. Sure, I’ve taken a couple of women out to dinner, but that was only because Nick set me up with them. They were okay, but nothing I was looking for in a woman.”
Keri knew this was her chance to find out what Richie was searching for. The couple of women who had gone in and out of his office had seemed to last no more than two weeks at the most. Something was going on and she wanted to know what they were doing wrong, so she wouldn’t fall into the same quick sand when it came to winning Richie’s heart.
“So, what are you looking for?” She determined the direct approach would be the best bet for her when it came to her outspoken boss.
“Keri, I don’t have time to get into it now. Anyway, you have your own life. I want you to stop trying to help me with mine. I swear that I’m doing a lot better now. Nick is almost as bad as you and poor Tasha isn’t far behind the two of you. I promise you that I will know when I meet the right woman again.” Richie took another sip of his coffee before placing it on the counter next to him. “I’ll go and see Taylor after Deborah to make sure she has everything correct for the St. Patrick’s Day charity.”
“Richie, you know that you can talk to me just like you do Nick. We’re more than co-workers. I’ve always considered us pretty close and that’s what friends do. They confide in each other when they’re having problems.”
She already knew Richie was done talking to her, but she had to give it one last shot. This was the longest he had talked to her in days. She enjoyed it immensely when on those rare occasions he did open up and let her get a peek behind the private façade he kept up at work with his clients.
“Maybe later but now,” he answered after a few minutes, “can you have those financial reports done for my two new clients on my desk before you leave for lunch? I want to look at them first thing when I get back from my meetings.”
“Sure, they’ll be waiting for you.”
“Thank you.” Richie smiled at her slightly then left her alone in the small kitchen.
Right at that moment, Keri vowed to bring back the fun-loving Richie that she had fallen in love with. Hurrying to the door, she caught sight of Richie’s back as he walked into his office across from her desk and closed the door.
“I’m going to help you. It doesn’t matter if you want it or not,” she whispered.