“Nope. I just feel sorry for any women who have to put up with you two clowns.” She pulled a box of Pop-Tarts out of her desk and sighed when she realized it was empty. “Who was supposed to buy groceries for the lodge?”
“You,” Colt said.
“Oh crap. That’s right. I forgot.” Brenna tossed the box over onto Grant’s immaculate desk and shrugged. “Anyone for a donut run?”
Two male hands went up.
“Ok. I’ll get my keys.” She dug through the messy drawer of her desk until she located her keys, held them aloft, and then bounced out of her chair. “Be back in ten minutes.”
“Hey, Bren,” Dane called. “Aren’t you forgetting something?”
She turned and snapped her fingers. “Right. If Pop asks, one of the four-wheelers looks a little low on two tires. Can you get him to take a look at it?”
“I think he meant your pants,” Colt drawled.
She glanced down at her legs. She wore a pair of men’s boxer shorts. SpongeBob SquarePants. “What’s wrong with my pants?”
“They’re missing,” Colt pointed out dryly. “Along with your shoes.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’m going to the donut store, not the prom. Like I said, I’ll be back in five.” And she made sure to wiggle her bare feet as she left.
BY THE TIME SHE RETURNED with a box of fresh donuts and a tray of hot coffees, she was disappointed to see that Grant was up. He frowned at the sight of her bare legs and boxer shorts and ratty T-shirt. Hey, at least she’d brushed her hair. She gave him an arch smile as she entered the room, setting the donuts down in front of Colt on the coffee table and snagging a coffee.
“Morning, boss,” she said in her sweetest voice, because she knew it would drive Grant crazy. She grabbed a donut and headed back to her desk.
Grant frowned over at her as she sat down. “Don’t eat that at your desk, Brenna. You’ll get crumbs into your keyboard.”
She deliberately took a messy bite of donut, half the food falling out of her mouth and dribbling crumbs all over her desk.
He sighed and turned away, his hands going to the pockets of his slacks as he paced before the fireplace. It was before nine and the man already looked immaculate. Sheesh. She gave him an annoyed look as she ate, noting his dark gray slacks with a pleat pressed into them, the lighter gray sweater he wore over a black collared shirt. Even his hair looked perfect. Tousled, perfectly styled waves that probably wouldn’t look that way without a ton of product. He was perfectly shaven, not a hair out of place. And he was frowning as the two other men attacked the donuts as if they hadn’t eaten in weeks.
“Have you two looked at the schedule for today?” Grant asked them.
“Schedule?” Dane said in a deliberately blank voice, then scarfed half a donut in one bite. “We have a schedule?”
“I have a schedule today,” Grant said. “We have a carpenter coming out to look at the area we’ve roped off for the paintball course so we can see what needs to be built. I need one of you to be here.”
“I can’t,” Dane said. “Miranda wants to go in to Houston so we can talk to someone about flowers for the wedding.”
Colt raised a hand and made a noise that sounded like a whip, but Dane only gave them the same good-natured, lovesick grin.
“So you’ll do it, Colt?”
“I can meet with him,” Brenna volunteered, putting down her coffee. “Just show me what needs to be done and I can get with the carpenter.”
Grant glanced over at her and then turned back to Colt. “So you’ll do it, Colt?”
She was tempted to throw her donut at the back of Grant’s immaculate head. Jerk.
Colt shrugged. “Fine.”
“Good. I have to be at the airport this afternoon to pick up family, otherwise I’d take care of it.”
Brenna choked on her coffee. She began to cough, grabbing a wad of napkins and covering her mouth as she struggled to get her breath. Dane came over to her side and began to pound on her back with one of his big meat hook hands, nearly knocking her back off the chair again.
So now was probably not the best time to mention to Grant that she’d sabotaged his car.
Without the fuel pump fuse, it wouldn’t start. She’d figured it’d be a lot of fun to see him get all flustered and irritated, and then Pop could spend the afternoon trying to figure out what was wrong with the car. It was two birds with one stone, really. She’d keep Pop busy and annoy Grant at the same time.
Except, well, she hadn’t looked at the calendar either. She glanced over at it. Sure enough, it was circled in red and said very clearly, airport.
“Something wrong, Brenna?” Grant’s frown was directed at her, as if he could sense what she’d done.
She decided to take the heat off her. Between coughs, she said, “I think we should have a company meeting to discuss what we’re going to do when Colt leaves for two weeks.”
Grant immediately turned his frown to Colt. “You’re leaving?”
Colt glared at Brenna. “You suck.”
She gave him a thumbs up between coughs. Right back atcha.
“Where are you going?”
Colt leaned back on the couch until he could see Grant’s head. “Beth Ann wants a honeymoon and we’re low on cash, so I thought I’d take her up to the cabin in Alaska for a few weeks. Just the two of us. She likes alone time.”
“But what about classes?”
“Dane can do ’em. This is our slow period anyhow.”
“That’s why we’re setting up the paintball course,” Grant said, frowning and moving to snag the last coffee. “So there wouldn’t be a slow period. We’ve already advertised it in all the nearby papers that it’s going to be live as of December first. I’m already getting calls about it. I need you here.”
“It’s paintball,” Colt said patiently. “Can’t Pop handle it?”
“Pop’s already pretty busy,” Dane said, earning him a scowl from Colt. “Don’t look at me like that. He is always busy. Brenna keeps him hopping.”
Colt glanced at Grant. “You going to run it for us, then?”
“My family’s in town, so I’m going to be busy with them for the next few weeks.” Grant tugged at his collar as if it were too tight. That was impossible. The man probably had his clothes tailored so he could look perfect at all times. Brenna rolled her eyes at the thought and wiped the crumbs off her keyboard. “And Dane’s going to want some time off around the holidays, too. It’s like we need another set of hands.”
“Maybe you should take over some of the classes,” Brenna said to Grant.
This time, three sets of eyes turned to glare at her.
Brenna hid her smile behind a look of mock-innocence. “What’d I say?”
Grant shook his head, dismissing her comment. “I’m needed in the office to organize things since my assistant is so very lacking.”
She stuck her tongue out at him.
He ignored her and turned back to the two guys. “Do you think Pop can handle an extra workload?”
Dane shrugged. “Why don’t we hire another trainer? I’m getting kind of tired of having back-to-back classes. Throw in the paintball and it doesn’t sound like we’re ever going to get a day off.”
“Where are we going to find another survival expert?”
“I’ll do it,” Brenna volunteered. When they turned to look at her again, she shrugged. “I’m the assistant. Let me assist.”
“We need someone with certifications,” Grant said, warming up to the subject. He stalked over to Brenna’s desk. “Write this down, Brenna. We need someone physically fit, preferably in top condition. Someone who’s personable and good with all kinds of people, from kids to businessmen. Someone with a lot of background in survival training. We’d need a list of what classes they’ve taken and what teaching skills they have. And we’ll pay for relocation.”
She nodded, and then took another sip of her coffee, watching Grant.
“You could probably put an ad in one of the Outdoor magazines. I—” He stopped and turned back to her. “Are you writing this down?”
She fluttered her eyelashes at him. “Oh, did you say to write this down? I must not have heard that.”
“Write it down,” he said between clenched teeth.
She took out a green notepad from under a pile of papers and wrote notes. “Young. Hot. Certifiable. Outdoorsy.”
“Maybe we should look for a new assistant, too,” he said in an unpleasant voice.
“Time for a vote,” Brenna said, ignoring Grant’s tone. “All those in favor of hiring someone new for classes, raise your hand.”
All three men’s hands went up.
“All those in favor of firing Brenna?”
Only Grant’s hand went up.
She stuck her lower lip out at him, mock pouting. “Sorry, Grant. You lose.”
“I’m the one who writes the checks here,” he said in an annoyed tone, moving back to his desk.
She shrugged and glanced back at Dane and Colt. They were her yardstick that she went by. If they were frowning, she’d gone too far. If they were laughing and smirking, she was just giving him crap like one of the boys, and it was tolerable. And both were still grinning with amusement.
Good enough for her. She wiped the crumbs off her desk and then moved to go grab one of the few remaining donuts. “I’ll go wake up Pop and tell him that breakfast is here.” As she walked to the door, she added, “He’s going to be so upset, though, once he finds out that Grant drank his coffee.”
As she shut the door behind her, she heard Grant protest. “How was I supposed to know it was his drink? She only bought four damn coffees!”
Brenna grinned to herself. Whistling, she skipped over to Pop’s cabin.
Later that afternoon, she found herself working alone in the main cabin with Grant. This was normally enough to make Brenna want to run screaming for the hills. Or better yet, to find a task—any task—that would get her out of the building and away from his nitpicking. You’re doing this all wrong, Brenna, he would say. You need to catalog the receipts in date order, and then alphabetically. You can’t just throw them all into a big pile.
She made a face just thinking about that. Nothing she ever did pleased him and his anal-retentive ways.
“Do you have the flight info?” he asked her for the third time that day.
Resisting the urge to roll her eyes, Brenna glanced over at him and kept her voice neatly controlled. “For the third time, yes. I printed them out and put the arrival and gate information on your desk.”
“Do you want me to print it out again?” She gave him an innocent look. “You know, just in case one copy isn’t enough?”
Behind his designer glasses, Grant gave her a sharp, narrow-eyed look. “One is fine. Thank you.”
She nodded and went back to emailing one of her friends. Email was really her best friend when she was at work. It made it look like she was busy and if she was busy, then Grant would leave her alone. Theoretically.
He sighed heavily. “I’m sorry, Brenna.”
She froze. That did not sound like Grant. Glancing over, Brenna kept the frown off her face and managed to look only mildly concerned. “Sorry?”
Grant took off his glasses and ran a hand down his face. “I know I keep asking you for the same information over and over again. I’m just a little . . . out of sorts with family coming in to town.”
“Oh,” she said, and then added, “no sweat.”
Okay, he was officially weirding her out. Grant never apologized to her. Like, ever. She typed a moment longer, then fired off the email.
“You put in the ad for the new instructor?”
She nodded and lifted a piece of paper without looking over at him. “Do you want to review it again?”
“Huh? Oh. No, that’s okay.” He lifted the picture on the corner of his desk and then sighed heavily. “Are you going to get dressed at any point today?”
This was more like Grant. She felt a little better. Brenna glanced down at her T-shirt and SpongeBob boxers. “I’m pretty sure all my body parts are covered. Did we get a dress code that I didn’t know about?”
“No. It’s just that my family’s coming in.”
“Should I hide under my desk so I don’t appall them with my hideousness?”
“Very funny. No, just straighten up while I’m gone, please.” He grabbed a stack of envelopes and began to arrange them into a neat pile. “Make sure the magazines are all lined up and if you could dust, that would be terrific.”
“Oh wow.” Brenna mockingly touched her shirt. “I didn’t realize I dressed up as the maid today.”