Stranded with my Boss for the Holidays by Kaylee Monroe

Chapter One

Sophie

I stood in front of the coffee pot, impatiently watching the fresh brew drip into the carafe. My boss would be here any minute, and I liked to be waiting in his office when he arrived to go over the itinerary for the day. In the past year that I had been the personal assistant of Connor Renshaw, I had picked up a few tricks to make things run smoothly around here.

Number one:Have coffee waiting for the caffeine addict every morning. Two sugar packets and a splash of cold cream.

Number two: Have his schedule straightened out before he started to work. If I didn’t, chaos usually ensued. As the CEO of Renshaw Manufacturing, Connor always had meetings to attend, phone calls to make, projects to oversee…

A huge part of my job was making sure that all of that happened without overlapping or missing anything important. And I was good at what I did.

Finally, the coffee was ready, the rich scent filling the break room, so I grabbed Connor’s favorite blue coffee mug and prepared his brew just the way he liked it. Balancing the coffee in one hand and my tablet in the other, I went into his office and placed the mug on the corner of his sleek, black desk. Then, I settled into the chair across from where he’d sit, crossing my legs and pulling up the itinerary on the screen of my device.

I’d already emailed it to Connor, but I knew the man well enough to know that he wouldn’t read it. He preferred that I go over it out loud with him at the office, allowing him to confirm the schedule or, more likely, make changes. Nothing was set in stone until the day officially began.

I had just opened the document on my tablet when the elevator down the hall dinged its arrival. There were a couple of other offices on this floor, but I heard footsteps heading my way and knew by that sound alone that it was Connor. He was right on time, and his coffee was still emitting steam.

As he walked into the office, I swallowed hard at the swoon-worthy sight of him in this tailored charcoal-grey suit. It fit him perfectly, showing off his lean, muscular body, and making his brown eyes seem somehow darker.

The man was gorgeous, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to keep myself from noticing just how good-looking he was. With short brown hair, a strong jaw, and dimpled chin, he looked like he would be better suited to the cover of GQ than in a boardroom. Then, there was his devastatingly sexy smile that never failed to make my stomach do a little somersault when he aimed it my way.

But none of that mattered. He was my boss. My attraction to him was massively inappropriate. Besides, he had never indicated that it was mutual, which was probably for the best. I was sure that there were rules about that sort of thing in the company. At the very least, it was frowned upon.

“Morning, Sophie,” Connor said, crossing to his desk and taking a seat.

Connor’s office was the biggest one on this level, which was fitting since he owned the company. With floor to ceiling windows, we had an amazing view of the city around us. The St. Louis Arch was three miles away, but being that it was a clear mid-December day, I could see it from here, along with the bright morning sun shining off the Mississippi River just beyond.

“Good Morning, Mr. Renshaw.”

The corner of Connor’s mouth ticked down for a fraction of a second, and I knew it was because he preferred that I called him by his first name. He’d told me so many times, but I felt like I needed to keep some form of professional distance between us, or else I was bound to throw myself at the man.

I shook my head at my own thoughts as Connor picked up his mug and took a sip of the coffee I’d made for him. I needed to stop thinking like this about my boss. I was driving myself crazy.

What I needed to do was find myself a boyfriend. It had been about a year since I’d had a real relationship, and clearly my libido was growing out of control. I’d gone on a couple of dates in the last few months, even signed up for an online dating service, but those encounters never went beyond a dinner or two. I just couldn’t seem to get excited about any of the men I met through the website.

Because none of them were Connor.

No, stop that,I chastised myself internally. I cleared my throat and started going through Connor’s schedule for the day. Everything was going well until we got to the afternoon part of the itinerary.

“The team working on the new football helmet has submitted their design,” I told him. “They want to meet with you this afternoon to go over the features they want to implement.”

“Have you seen it?” he asked, turning to the computer on his desk.

I was sure that he was firing up his email to check the proposal himself. “Yes.”

“And?” he prompted as his fingers clicked away on the keyboard. “What do you think?”

“It has potential,” I said thoughtfully. I had looked over the design first thing this morning, expecting that he would ask for my opinion. Connor didn’t just treat me like someone to answer phones and get his coffee. He always wanted my business insight, which was one of the things I loved about working for him. “The stabilization system and air liner are both great for cushioning protection...”

“But?”

I smiled at how intuitive he always was. “But it’s heavy. It weighs over five pounds. That’s a lot of weight for a football player to wear on his head.”

Connor’s eyes were glued to his computer screen as he nodded. “You’re right. We need to find a way to make it lighter. Cancel the meeting, and I’ll just send an email response. We can meet with the team after the holiday when they’ve had time to figure out a solution. I’ll be out of the office this afternoon anyway.”

“You will?” I asked, surprised.

I’d learned in the past year that I’d been here that Connor didn’t take much time off for himself. He was dedicated to this company. It was more than just a paycheck to him, and I respected that.

He glanced my way and smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, I haven’t completed my Christmas shopping yet, so I’m going to sneak out this afternoon to finish up.”

“Really?” I laughed. “You know you have less than a week left, right?”

“That’s why I’m going on a Friday afternoon,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “I know that if I wait until this weekend, I’ll be fighting a mob of other last minute shoppers, which sounds like a freaking nightmare.”

“That’s not much of a Christmas spirit,” I pointed out, mostly teasing him and his bah humbug attitude.

He shrugged. “I like Christmas well enough. It’s a day to spend with the family, but sometimes I wish it was simpler, you know? Less commercialized.”

“You want chestnuts roasting over an open fire and all that?”

“I don’t know.” He glanced out the window, where we were having an unseasonably warm winter here in the Midwest. “I don’t think I’m getting that white Christmas I’ve been hoping for though.”

“Probably not,” I agreed.

His gaze met mine and he grinned. “But, I think we can make up for it with the retreat this year.”

“Have you finally chosen a location?” I asked eagerly.

“Yep.” He opened the side drawer of his desk and started digging around for something.

I felt a sliver of excitement at the mention of the annual team building retreat. It took place every January and when I was hired last year, I missed it by just a week. All the company’s executives had gone to Nashville, and I’d heard them all talk about how much fun it had been to explore a place with so much culture and entertainment. The year before had been New York City.

This year, Connor was dragging his feet on making a decision, which was driving me crazy. The retreat was supposed to be in a month, and we were running out of time to make arrangements for anywhere decent. Of course, I’d been making suggestions to him for weeks. I was dying to go somewhere warm and tropical with an ocean view.

“Where are we going?” I asked, and threw out a few hopeful guesses. “California? The Keys?”

Connor smiled as he finally found whatever he was looking for in his desk and held it out to me. It was a brochure. I frowned as I took it from him and found myself staring at a man skiing down a snowy mountain, covered from head to toe in bulky, protective clothing.

“Mount Surris Ski Resort?” I read the name on the front of the brochure and met his eyes incredulously. “Are you kidding me with this?”

“What? It’s a great location for a retreat. They have skiing, snowboarding, great views, and a five-star restaurant inside the lodge.”

“It’s cold,” I pointed out, setting the brochure down on his desk without opening it. “Who wants to spend a week freezing their butts off?”

“I do,” he said, flashing a smirk that told me he had made up his mind.

But I wasn’t going to let it go that easily. I was his assistant, but I’d never been afraid to speak my mind. “Are you crazy? Think about it. We could go somewhere with a beach, where it’s warm and sunny. I want to smell salty ocean air while sipping on a fruity cocktail and working on my tan.”

An unreadable emotion flared in Connor’s eyes, and he quickly looked away from me before I was able to figure out what was going on in his mind.

“Sorry, no tan this year,” he said, rolling his mouse around on his desk and giving it a few clicks as he redirected his attention to his monitor. “But the sun shining off the snow is supposed to be quite captivating.”

“And blinding.” I sighed, shaking my head. “You’re hopeless.”

“And you have arrangements to make.”

He held out the brochure again, and I made a disgusted noise in the back of my throat as I stood, smoothing down the wrinkles in my pencil skirt before snatching the stupid brochure out of his hand.

“Fine,” I said, seeing that he wasn’t going to budge on his choice for the retreat.

I guess I can kiss my dream of snorkeling goodbye.

I had also been secretly hoping to have a run-in with a man during the retreat’s downtime. Maybe a sexy surfer, someone with golden skin and drool-worthy abs that would sweep me off my feet and would allow me to finally move past this ridiculous crush on my boss.

Thatclearly wasn’t going to happen.

I left Connor’s office, heading to my own desk just outside his door and taking a seat. The caramel Frappuccino I’d picked up on the way to work was starting to melt, but I sipped it anyway as I turned to the computer and updated Connor’s calendar. Then, I pulled up the website for the ski lodge, going through the various activities they offered and checking out pictures of the rooms. At least they had a hot tub, so I’d get to wear my new bikini, after all.

If I was going to be stuck on a cold, snowy mountain for a week, I was at least going to make the most of it.