Saddled – Once a Week at Woody’s, Book 1 – Chapter 4

They meet!

Only two days left! Saddled is out April 28th, 2020!

But you can order it today for the special pre-order price of 99 cents!

In the days leading up to it, I’ll post Chapters 1 through 4 here, every other day.
April 21 – Chapter 1 – click here!
April 23 – Chapter 2 – click here!
April 25 – Chapter 3 – click here!
April 26 – Chapter 4 – today!
April 28 – Release day!!

Find the fourth chapter below.

Will an office no-dating policy stand in the way of love?

Since her breakup with her cheating ex, Sandra Weber has been just going through the motions as Sales Manager at Studletter Condom Company. But when Michael Thorne is hired as an assistant, sparks in the office begin to fly.

Though Michael, aka Saddle McFleshbomb, loves dancing at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub, he’s looking to move up in the world. His schooling almost finished, he lands a plum job as the only man in an office filled with women: four so exasperatingly humorless that it’s funny, and one stunning beauty with a laugh that warms the cockles of his heart.

When Sandra shows up at Woody’s on a rare night that he’s dancing for men, she assumes he’s gay, and therefore the no-dating policy doesn’t apply. But he’s not. He’s intensely interested in her. And he’s afraid to tell her he’s straight.

If you like light romantic comedy, hot office flirtations, and a long slow burn, you’ll love Saddled, the first book in Linda G. Hill’s “Once a Week at Woody’s” series.

Score a seat at Woody O’Flanagan’s Pub today!

CHAPTER 4

Michael wore another pink shirt to work on Tuesday, hoping it would have a calming effect on his co-workers. In theory, it worked with painted walls. But the moment he arrived, Quiet Karen rushed up to him and pulled him aside.

“We need your help,” she said urgently. Obviously, the pink shirt wasn’t working yet. “Sandra The Commander has an event for us all to go to, but we don’t want to go. She’s been threatening us with it for months.”

Michael’s heart pounded with nervousness for his co-workers. “Oh my God, what is it?”

Quiet Karen’s thin lips tightened as her wrinkly brow knotted. “I’d prefer it if you didn’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”

“Sorry,” he said, making a mental note to not let it happen again. “What is it she wants you to do?”

“Not just us. All of us. You included. She wants us—and keep in mind, I have it from a reliable source that she’ll pay the money to the charity anyway—but she wants us all to participate in a golf tournament.” She spat it out like a wad of chewing tobacco, then she went on. “To raise money for libraries. Can you believe it? Libraries! She wants us to do this as a team because she thinks it will be fun.”

“And you and the others don’t think it’ll be fun?” It sounded rather fun to Michael.

None of us do. Because we can see through her. She’s trying to make up for what she did to Norma.”

“Hmm. So, what are you going to do about it?”

“Not us. You. We want you to go and talk to her. Tell her flat out that we’re not doing it.”

“But … I’ve never even met her. Why don’t you—or I—talk to Cynthia about it?”

“Because it’s about time we put our foot down to this B-I-T-C-H. She’s walked over us enough. Will you do it? Will you stand behind your fellow support staff on this?”

“I’d feel much better standing behind you with you going in there and telling her.”

Quiet Karen put her hands on her hips, and Myrtle appeared behind her in the same pose.

Rubbing the back of his neck, Michael thought about going back to the agency to see if they could find him another placement. Ones as good as this one—a six-month contract in a higher-up position—were few and far between, though. “So you want me to introduce myself by telling her the office staff is mutinying against her.”

“I wouldn’t put it that way, but yes. We don’t want to play golf, and we certainly don’t want to go on an outing with that woman.”

“What if I tell her I’ll do it if you get to stay out of it?”

Myrtle spoke up then. “You’re either with us or you’re against us in this.”

Michael pinched the spot between his eyes. How bad could she be? Maybe he could charm his way through it. Though, if this Commander lady was as humorless as the rest of them, let alone as bitchy as they said she was, likely all the charm in the world wouldn’t cut it.

“Fine. Can I at least have an idea of what you want me to say to her exactly?”

“Just tell her we had a meeting and we all agreed the tournament would be a bad idea,” Quiet Karen said.

“Can I mention that she’s going to give the money to charity anyway?”

No. Don’t say that. It will give away my source.”

Michael grunted and turned in the direction of Sandra’s closed office door. As he strolled toward it, still wondering whether his improvisation skills were up to snuff, he stifled a chuckle at the thought of dancing for her to win her over. She’d probably die of apoplexy.

He stopped in front of the door and poised to knock. He could afford a couple of month’s mortgage on unemployment and the extra money he’d earn stripping at the bar.

Here goes nothing.

Michael rapped on the door and heard a young, feminine voice—the same one he’d heard laugh yesterday—call out for him to come in. Far from his usual calm and collected self, he placed a sweaty palm on the doorknob and turned it.

The bun atop the head that slowly looked up from the desk was blond. She wore large, black-framed glasses, and her lips were the color of ripe cherries. But her eyes …

He’d seen it a thousand times. Her eyes said Take your clothes off.

He was so stunned, so in tune with the look, and so used to actually doing it that his hand went to the top button of his shirt. He caught himself just in time and opened his hand, placing that same sweaty palm on his chest, just below the collar bone.

“Yes?” the beautiful creature named Sandra squeaked.

“Golf.”

“Golf,” she repeated.

Michael swallowed and tried again. “The girls have …” Someone cleared their throat outside the office, just off to the right of the door. “The girls and I had a meeting, and we don’t see how it will be possible to take time off work to go to a golf tournament and still get everything done.”

He heard a growl from outside.

Sandra smiled slightly and the movement of her lips made his change rattle in his trouser pocket. “The tournament is on a Saturday. And it’s for charity. Surely you and the girls would like to help the local library raise some money?”

So many conflicts, so few choices.

Her gaze flicked minutely to his crotch and he was glad he didn’t have a lighter in his pocket. The dance in his pants might have struck a light. There was nothing he could do about it.

It might have been that she saw his discomfort below the belt, or she might have seen it in his eyes, because she suggested he have a seat. “Close the door first,” she said.

He sat and opened his mouth to speak, but she held up a finger. “One second while I finish what I was doing.”

He watched her pull a notepad out of a drawer, pick up a pen, and write something. She turned it around so he could see it: THE WALLS ARE THIN. THEY’RE LISTENING.

Michael nodded, still not sure what he wanted to say anyway. Again, Sandra came to his rescue by speaking first, quietly, so they couldn’t be overheard.

“What have the girls been discussing regarding the tournament?”

“I’m not sure, other than they would rather not, if it can be avoided.”

“I see. Would you like to go in their place? Perhaps you could bring some friends along to make it seem like we’re a team.”

“I—I can’t really do that.” He stared at her, hoping his expression looked helpless enough.

“Well then,” she said, raising her voice, “I suppose that’s it, isn’t it? I know Cynthia will be disappointed. It was her idea.”

There was a thump on the wall outside, presumably someone hitting their head against it. Maybe the girls hadn’t thought about that. Or maybe their inside source wasn’t as good as they’d thought.

“I’ll have another meeting with the staff,” Michael said, stifling the urge to laugh hysterically at the situation: being caught between those he felt compelled to help and the one, here, he wanted to help. “Maybe I can bring them around.”

Sandra wrote another hasty note: WAIT.

She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and punched something into it. Her office phone rang almost immediately.

“One moment, I have to take this call.” She picked up the receiver and said hello into it. Satisfied, she placed it on the desk in front of her. “Oh hi, Steve,” she said out loud, staring at Michael as she did. “Yep, go ahead. I’m ready.”

She wrote another note: I HOPE I’M NOT WRONG. YOU’RE NOT REALLY WITH THEM ON THIS REBELLION THING, ARE YOU?

Michael took the pen from her. I’M CAUGHT UP IN THEIR POLITICS. IF I GO AGAINST THEM, THEY’LL MAKE MY LIFE A LIVING HELL.

Sandra nodded. She took out another pen and another pad. “Oh right,” she said out loud to the imaginary phone call. “Keep going with the list, and I’ll see what I can do.” She wrote: CAN WE TALK OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICE? She looked at him again with her “undress-yourself” eyes, and he wondered exactly what she wanted from him. Though he hoped her intentions were honorable, it was probably best to be cautious. His part-time job had taught him a lesson or two about hooking up with the wrong people.

A rock and a hard place. He had no idea how to answer her request.

She scribbled something else down and handed it to him. It was her phone number. “Call me,” she mouthed.

Michael nodded and discretely adjusted himself as he stood and put the note with her number into his pocket.

Sandra picked up the phone and put it to her ear for appearances. She winked at him as he went out.

Quiet Karen was right there, waiting to pounce.

“I take it you didn’t know this was Cynthia’s idea,” Michael said to her accusingly.

“I don’t believe it for a second.”

“Well I’m not sure what else to do. It’s in your court now.” He turned to go.

“Would you like to go out for sandwiches today?” he heard from behind him.

“I might be busy,” he replied without turning around. He needed time to think.

~*~*~*~

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Thanks so much for reading. If you’ve enjoyed it so far, please be sure to tell your romance-loving friends on social media.

Cheers!

Linda

P.S. The prequel to Saddled is coming soon! If you’re already receiving my newsletter, you’ll get it automatically as an exclusive download, unavailable anywhere else. If you want to sign up, click here.

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