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.

~*~*~*~

To read the rest of the story, pre-order now and have the book delivered to your device on Tuesday, April 28th!

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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.

Saddled – Once a Week at Woody’s, Book 1 – Chapter 3

Almost there!

Only three more days until Saddled is released!

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 – today!
April 26 – Chapter 4 (updated)
April 28 – Release day!!

Be sure to pre-order Saddled for 99 cents. The price goes up to $2.99 on April 28, 2020.

Find the third 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 3

“The office staff have kidnapped Michael.” It was the first thing out of Sandra’s mouth when she and Georgia sat down in Hare’s, the most expensive restaurant in Bevershire. Sandra thought the expense was warranted after her horrendous weekend.

“The girls are probably turning that poor man against me as we speak,” Sandra said as she plucked her napkin out of her water glass and laid it in her lap. The sun streamed through the plate glass window and reflected off her silver cutlery.

“Well, after what you did to Norma …” Georgia smirked playfully.

“What? I didn’t do anything anyone else wouldn’t have done. I mean, it was one thing when Myrtle caught them half-undressed amid the cases of lubricant, but the fight …”

“Oh the fight. That was an epic fight.”

“And while she was working reception with a bunch of drug company execs waiting to see the CEO. That shit is why office romances are policied against.”

“Policied?”

“I just made it up. Anyway, you know there’s much more to the decision than that. And it was a long time coming.”

“Very true.” Georgia gave her a wicked look, the one she got when she was about to say something outrageous. “It wouldn’t be fighting with Mr. Thorne at reception that would get you fired.”

Sandra blinked over her glasses at her best friend.

“Oh, come on, Sandra. You need another guy in your life.”

“Even if I did—and after what happened with Larry, I don’t—but even if I did, I’d have to wait until Mr. Thorne’s contract is up before I could date him.”

“But, he’s so hot!”

“And you’re so bad. Thanks again, by the way, for torturing me with a demi-god to drool over at work every day.”

“My pleasure,” Georgia said with a smile. “Speaking of torture, tell me about your weekend.”

The waiter, an attractive young man in a crisp uniform, came over with an icy water jug and asked to take their orders, saving Sandra from answering right away.

After the past couple of days, all Sandra wanted was something fattening, but Georgia ordered a salad, so Sandra did too. She’d get dessert if talking about it didn’t ease the craving.

The waiter walked away, and Sandra sipped her water, stalling for time, knowing Georgia was patient.

“So here’s the thing. I went to Larry’s mother’s funeral expecting to feel something for him. Anything that was slightly … even nurturing. The need to comfort him or something. But there was nothing except pity.”

“Was she there?”

“No. I wanted to ask Larry’s sister if she was still in his life, but she was grieving. And it all seemed so trivial under the circumstances.”

“Whether or not Larry’s affair was worth breaking up a four-year relationship over is hardly trivial.”

“No. But the fact is I couldn’t really care less.”

Her tea and Georgia’s coffee came. Sandra put an unhealthy amount of sugar in before she continued.

“But that’s not the worst part.”

“Oh oh. I figured as much. Go on.”

“At the get-together after the funeral, I expected to hang out with some of Larry’s distant relatives—his sister, his aunt, and all the ones I met when we went on that trip to Italy.”

“And?”

“Larry wouldn’t stop acting like we were still a couple. I don’t know if he wanted to spare them the extra grief of knowing we’d broken up, but he obviously hadn’t told anyone. Not even his father and his sister. So there I was in the awkward position of having to stand close to him all night.”

“You must have been livid,” Georgia said as she shifted her coffee out of the way to lean on the table.

“I was. But when I went to confront Larry about it after the get-together, he jumped in his car and left. We barely said a word to each other all day, and not at all in private.”

“That rat bastard,” Georgia said.

The waiter came back with their salads and they thanked him.

“Well, if it helps any, Michael Thorne’s blue eyes are enough to put Larry’s to shame. And I know how you love a man with blue eyes.”

“Really? Are they really that blue?” She bit the words out, her frustration with Georgia’s insistence building. But her best friend wasn’t deterred; she knew what Sandra wanted, probably better than Sandra did. She always had.

“They’re the color of the sky on a cloudless day in May.”

“You’re terrible. Stop trying to tempt me.” Sandra took a bite of her salad and her eyes rolled around almost to the back of her head. “There’s a reason places like this charge so much.”

“Right?” Georgia said past her mouthful of food.

Despite the deliciousness, Sandra’s mind wandered back to Michael. “So, blue eyes, huh?”

Georgia smiled at her knowingly. “Hunt him down this afternoon and see for yourself.”

She would, she thought. It couldn’t hurt.

But when she got back to the office, Cynthia’s door was closed, and Michael wasn’t at his desk. An online conference took up the rest of her afternoon.

At five to five, when the office was packing up for the day, she decided to go out and introduce herself—it was, obviously, the professional thing to do. But her phone rang just as she was about to pick up her purse to leave. It was Larry.

 

~*~*~*~

Pre-order now!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon AU

See you tomorrow for Chapter 4, when Sandra and Michael will finally meet!

Saddled – Once a Week at Woody’s, Book 1 – Chapter 2

The countdown is on!

Only five more days until Saddled is released!

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 – today!
April 25 – Chapter 3
April 27 – Chapter 4
April 28 – Release day!!

Be sure to pre-order Saddled for 99 cents. The price goes up to $2.99 on April 28, 2020.

Enjoy the second 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 2

Michael Thorne was no stranger to being objectified. It had gotten so bad at his last office placement, he’d had to leave. So when he discovered on Friday that his new job starting Monday would be in the marketing department at the local condom manufacturing company, he’d prayed all weekend that the offices would be staffed by a majority of men, at least in the management positions. And straight ones, at that—he was also no stranger to being objectified by gay men.

No such luck.

And yet at eleven in the morning, all seemed well. Aside from the woman in HR who had eyed him up and down like she’d won the lottery, despite her wedding ring, the ladies in the office seemed to barely notice him. None of them spoke to him, not even to say hello. His new boss, Cynthia, was the matriarchal type with a photo of a family on her desk that included the husband who had, he assumed, given her the numerous diamond rings on her fingers. His co-workers held the same air of professionalism inside the privacy of the office as the one he assumed they projected to the public. Knowing they were human beings, he expected at least a little light humor concerning the products they sold, but there was nothing but a sober, nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic. And so, he was surprised, just before lunch, to hear a laugh come from the corner office, from the occupant he hadn’t yet seen. She sounded young, but then so were at least some of his more serious co-workers.

It was an easy morning—Cynthia had him transcribing a lengthy marketing proposal, so all he’d had to do was type with headphones on. He got lost in his work, as often happened. There was something soothing about having a monotonous, time-consuming but mindless job to do. He wouldn’t have known it was lunchtime if one of his co-workers hadn’t tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hi,” she said, holding out one pudgy-fingered, moisture-less hand to be shaken. Her tight dark curls that were plastered to her head, combined with her dark floral dress with brocade at the buttoned-up neck, made her look like she’d stepped out of a 50s TV show. “I’m Myrtle. I sit over there.” She pointed at a desk at the back corner of the office like she was trying to poke it from afar. “A few of us are going out to lunch. Would you like to join us?”

Michael looked around and saw three more expectant faces studying him. He felt rather like a zoo animal.

“Sure,” he said with a smile, hoping friendliness might beget friendliness. It got a few tight smiles in return.

“What’s your name?” Myrtle asked.

“I’m Michael,” he said.

“Michael,” the three other ladies chorused, as if they’d never heard the name before.

He stood up and reached for his jacket, and all of them looked up at him.

“Do you like sandwiches?” one of the ladies—the oldest of the bunch, judging by the abundance of gray hair—asked him.

“I do,” he replied, wondering if they were just going to stand there all day. “Shall we go?” he asked after a long pause during which they all continued to stare.

“Yes,” said Myrtle. She started for the elevator and he followed her, the other three trailing behind him in single file.

Once they reached the reception area, the four women rushed for the door like they were all eager to be the one to open it for him. It was the older lady who had asked him if he liked sandwiches who made it there first.

Surprisingly, they all seemed to relax as soon as they were out in the bright, sunny early-May day. They led him down the sidewalk-less road to a small café with a pink sign above the door. Sandwiches Smandwiches wasn’t the sort of place he might take a date, but he made note of it since it was close enough to come to every day without having to take his car. He dreamed one day of getting an executive parking spot at a downtown marketing firm—which would be the day he wouldn’t have to consider a second mortgage on his condo just to pay city parking fees. For a small mid-eastern city, Bevershire acted in some ways like it was populated with tens of millions rather than tens of thousands. Still, the city was expanding. When he was a child, all this land had been a forest. He’d played here with his best friend, Cal, catching crayfish in a stream that no longer existed, at least not above ground.

He followed the ladies, as one, to a round table in the corner of the quaint, pink-walled restaurant, and each of them pulled out a chair and looked at him expectantly.

“Please, sit,” he said, and they did. He perched himself upon the remaining chair, ready to run if they decided to slice him up and put him in their sandwiches, for the feeling of being dissected like a new species of animal hadn’t abated.

“We should explain,” Myrtle said, her white handbag clutched in her lap. “We can’t talk in there in case ‘Sandra,’” she lifted her hands and crooked her pudgy fingers as though it was a label she wished she didn’t have to pronounce, “hears us and thinks we’re talking about her.”

Sandwich Lady spoke up. “I guess we should introduce ourselves. I’m Karen,” she said, holding out her hand for the shaking, “and this is Karen.” She pointed to a tall, dark-skinned woman with a blank expression who blinked and nodded but said nothing. “She’s our full-time receptionist. You can call me Quiet Karen, and her Phone Karen.”

Michael looked at Phone Karen and she nodded again.

“She’s saving her voice for answering the phone this afternoon,” Quiet Karen confided. Michael thought he’d always think of her as Sandwich Karen, which made him shudder to think about being sandwiched between the two Karens. They were far too serious for his tastes.

He tried not to recoil as he smiled and said, “Nice to meet you,” to them both.

He turned then to the other woman, who sat on the opposite side of the table. She blushed heavily and stared, grinning, at the paper placemat in front of her. Her forearms moved like she was wringing her hands on her lap.

“I’m Grace,” she muttered. “I’m actually under you …”

If she was blushing before, Michael thought she might start glowing neon, now.

“I—I mean I’m your data entry clerk,” she squeaked. “I’m sorry.”

“No. No need to be sorry. I look forward to working with you,” he said, holding his hand out over the table. She put three limp digits in his hand and lightly squeezed his forefinger with her thumb, then let go quickly and stuck her hand back under the table.

“So, who is this Sandra you’re all avoiding?” he asked to get the conversation moving.

“Oh, we’re not avoiding her,” Sandwich Karen said. “We just don’t like her. Because of what she did to Norma.”

“We can talk about Norma now, because she’s not here,” Myrtle interjected. “It was her turn to work at reception through lunch while Phone Karen has hers. You’ll be trained at reception too, so you can take your turn.”

“I’m not hungry,” Phone Karen said in a voice louder than any he’d ever heard come out of a woman’s mouth before. Quiet Karen it was. Phone Karen continued. “I was just curious about the new guy. Michael.” She stared at him as if he was a peculiar new breed of bug, and so did everyone else in the café, having been alerted to his presence by the woman’s booming sound box. A few of the restaurant’s patrons gawped at him: he’d been told numerous times that he should have been a model. His part-time job had a lot to do with that urging.

“Norma doesn’t like it when we talk about what Sandra the Commander did to her,” said Myrtle.

This Sandra woman must be some piece of work, Michael thought. “What did she do?” Obviously, she hadn’t fired the woman.

Quiet Karen leaned forward on the table. “Norma was dating one of the men out in the warehouse. It was true love, right from the get-go.”

Grace fanned herself with the menu and the other three rolled their eyes.

“It doesn’t matter what we thought about it,” Quiet Karen continued, “but The Commander decided to stick her nose in it and urged upper management to institute a policy that office romances were verboten—forbidden, if you don’t know the meaning of the word.”

Michael just nodded.

Grace fanned herself faster and sighed. “Forbidden love. So romantic.”

“Our opinions of their shenanigans don’t matter,” Myrtle reiterated, and Grace put her menu on the table.

“So, what happened?” Michael asked. “Did they break up? Stop dating?”

“Due to The Commandant’s idea, they were given a choice. Do that, or one of them quit,” Quiet Karen said.

Michael jumped when the other Karen’s voice boomed in his right ear. “Gerry gave up his job.”

Grace shook her head, put her hand on her menu, thought better of picking it up, and sighed again. “And then they lived happily ever after.”

“They’re not married,” Myrtle said with a frown, indicating to Michael that she thought they should be. Whatever they were doing in their off-work time demanded it. This was going to be a fun work environment, he thought wryly.

But if he wanted to get along and not get caught up in office politics, he’d have to play along.

“It sounds like this Sandra the Commander is someone I should stay away from, then,” he said.

They all seemed pleased by that.

“How tall are you?” Grace asked, completely out of the blue.

“I’m 6’4”.”

“That’s tall.” Grace blushed and held her menu up so he couldn’t see her.

A waiter came over with a tray full of water glasses and asked, “The usual?” The four ladies didn’t seem to mind the lack of small talk. They all muttered some sort of assent. “And you, sir?” the waiter asked.

Michael hadn’t had a chance to look at the menu what with all the office intrigue. He took a quick glance and saw a burger that looked enticing. Though he wasn’t one to be pushed around, he didn’t want to get on Quiet Karen’s bad side. “A club, please. And a coffee.”

“Coming right up,” the waiter said. He headed back to the long, pink lunch counter, taking the menus with him, leaving Grace with nothing to hide behind or fan herself with.

“You’re not going to be able to stay away from her.”

Michael looked at Quiet Karen and asked, “Who?”

“Miss Weber,” Myrtle answered. “Sandra.”

“Oh. Right. Because she works in the office. But will I have to interact with her much? I mean, it’s Cynthia I work for …”

“You’re bound to come into contact with her eventually,” said Myrtle. “The marketing manager and the sales manager have to work together sometimes.”

“But we’ve got your back,” Quiet Karen said with an assured pucker of the lips. “We’ll be watching.”

He made to say thank you, but Grace cut in. “Sooo … what do you do in your spare time?”

I take my clothes off in front of hundreds of women every other weekend as Saddle McFleshbomb, cowboy stripper. But that’s not what came out of his mouth. What did, was, “I read a lot.”

“Oh! Do you read non-fiction? Or …”

“Romance novels. I read romance novels.”

That got a new round of eye-rolling from the three that weren’t Grace. The one that was Grace picked up her paper placemat and fanned herself with it. She knew how to adapt. She’d be a good one to work with.

“I didn’t know men read romance novels,” said Phone Karen, and everyone in the café knew his reading preferences.

“My ex-girlfriend got me hooked on them. Now I can’t stop reading them. Love me a good romance.”

Grace and a few of the other patrons sighed audibly. It seemed Michael and the waiter were the only two males in the restaurant.

This male was starting to itch to get back to work. He’d had enough of his creepier-than-usual co-workers. And he’d had a lot of those since he’d started at the agency.

“So … You’re single now?” Grace asked. She blushed and crossed her legs under the table, kneeing it and almost upending all five glasses of water.

“Yeah,” Michael said. He picked up his glass and had a sip he didn’t really want, hoping the waiter would come back soon with his coffee and his lunch so he could get the hell out of there. “I’m guessing you don’t get many men working in the offices at Studletter.” Michael returned his glass to the table.

Quiet Karen answered. “It’s been four years. I’ve been there the longest.”

“Really. So you must know all the ins and outs of the bus … iness.” He let the sentence kind of trail off as he realized that innuendos—even accidental ones—were frowned upon. Literally. “I mean, you have to know by now all the inner workings … I mean … how all the departments work together.”

“Yes, I do. Cynthia is all business, and Betsy did a good job before she went on maternity leave.”

“Well, I’m a hard—Oh look! Here’s lunch,” he said to the waiter just as he was about to say he was a hard worker. That would have to wait until the weekends.

It was getting late, so they ate in a hurry. On the way back to the office, Grace positioned herself beside him. The two Karens walked behind, mumbling to each other; Michael assumed that Phone Karen only cranked up the volume button on her voice when she was inside a building. Myrtle walked on Grace’s other side.

Behind the reception desk in the enormous outer office sat a plump woman of medium height with red hair and dark green eyes. She gave up her seat behind the reception desk to Phone Karen.

“Hi,” the woman whispered to Michael on the way to the elevator. She introduced herself as Norma. “Are you really going to be here for six months?” she asked, still whispering.

“That’s the plan,” he answered.

“I don’t know if we’ll all survive that long,” she said, and with that cryptic message, she scurried to the back corner of the elevator.

Michael returned to his mirthless desk, wondering if she was on to something.

 

~*~*~*~

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See you on Saturday for Chapter 3.

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

Saddled is coming soon!

In the days leading up to it, I’ll post Chapters 1 through 4 here, every other day.
April 21 – Chapter 1
April 23 – Chapter 2
April 25 – Chapter 3
April 27 – Chapter 4
April 28 – Release day!!

Be sure to pre-order Saddled for 99 cents. The price goes up to $2.99 on April 28, 2020.

Enjoy the first 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 1

Sandra Weber looked up from her seat at her desk over the rim of her glasses and knew immediately she was in trouble. She peered around her assistant, Myrtle, but the glimpse she’d caught of a strange, dirty-blond-haired man in a pink button-up shirt with straining fabric at the biceps was apparently all she was going to get.

“Who’s the hot new guy?” Sandra blurted out.

Myrtle pursed her lips and frowned like a mother whose teenager has just come home and announced she’s pregnant.

“Sorry. It just kind of fell out.” At least she hadn’t sworn. The last time that happened, Myrtle had put in a formal complaint.

“He’s the new temp.”

“What the hell, Georgia?” Sandra mumbled under her breath.

“Pardon?”

“Nothing. So, what have you got for me on this fine Monday morning?”

“I noticed you didn’t open the letter I drafted for you on Friday afternoon. You know, the one to the sales reps asking why sales at Drug World were down last month? Here’s a printed copy.” She held out the piece of paper, and it shivered with anger.

“Thank you. I had to duck out a bit early.”

“I noticed,” Myrtle snipped.

It was Sandra’s turn to purse her lips. Friday had been the start of a hectic and rather sad weekend, but Myrtle wasn’t on the need-to-know list of people in Sandra’s personal life, so she remained quiet.

“I’ll read it over and let you know if I need anything changed,” was all she said.

“Thank you.” Myrtle turned on her heel to walk out, only to turn back at the last second. She pulled a pink slip of paper seemingly out of nowhere and placed it on Sandra’s desk. “The committee called again about Mr. Roy’s retirement party. Do you want me to book your flight yet?”

“Yes, please. Just check to see when everyone else is going, first.” Knowing Myrtle, she’d take pains to make sure Sandra sat alone, just out of spite.

“I’ll email you the details when I have them,” Myrtle said with a tight smile.

Sandra turned back to the sales figures on her computer screen before she could swear again.

“Please close the door on your way out.”

Myrtle did, and Sandra immediately regretted asking. There was no window out to the main office. If Mr. Hotness walked by again, she’d be in the dark. Aside from her boss, male presence was rare in the office.

But finding out who he was without the judging opinions of the office staff was top priority. She picked up the phone and dialed the extension for HR. While she listened to the ring tone, she swiveled her chair around to take in the view the windows of her corner office afforded: a field behind the building with backhoes digging holes for new houses going up, and in the not-far-off distance on the east side, a few shops that had recently opened in anticipation of the new residents.

“You’re welcome,” the female voice answered.

“Oh my God, Georgia, who is he?”

“Just call him a present from me to you. A little eye candy to help you get over you-know-who.”

“That was months ago,” Sandra said to her best friend since elementary school. She’d helped Georgia get a job in human resources at the Studletter Condom Company, where they both now worked.

“You had to see Larry on the weekend, though. So the timing couldn’t have been better.”

“True.” Sandra sighed. “But you still haven’t answered my question. Who the hell is he, and why is he wandering around outside my office like some Adonis come to life?”

“His name is Michael Thorne, thirty-one years of age, smart, single, and can type eighty words a minute.”

“You found all that out from an interview?”

“Actually, no. He just came in and signed some paperwork this morning. The single part is totally made up, but it might be true. He’s not wearing a wedding ring. He seemed kinda reserved though.”

Sandra picked up a pen and stabbed her calendar mat that she used as a doodle sheet. “I couldn’t date him anyway. Stupid no-couples-at-work policy. What idiot came up with that idea?”

“You did. Idiot.”

“Ah well. Eye candy is good. I’m not in the market for a relationship anyway.” It wasn’t that she still pined over Larry. She just needed more time before she got her heart broken again. “Myrtle said he’s a temp. Is he only here while Betsy’s on maternity leave?” Betsy was the full-time assistant to Cynthia Bartlett, Marketing Manager.

“Yep, he’s a temp. But my connection at the agency said he’s got an eye on a permanent position in marketing. I just happened to be over there when Michael was trotting out on his gallant steed, and I nabbed him while the getting was good.”

“If he got a position here in marketing, women would be eating condoms out of his hand,” Sandra breathed.

“Or off his d— Oh, hi!” Georgia said, away from the speaker. “Gotta go. Someone’s here.”

“Probably just as well. Lunch?”

“Sure, bye.”

Sandra hung up and walked around her desk to open the door. She looked out, hoping to catch a glimpse of Michael Thorne, but no luck.

She went to work on the email Myrtle had sent her, but throughout the morning, her mind drifted to what she might do to tempt the new guy over to her side of the office. Maybe she could move the water cooler to a spot just outside her door to give Mr. Hotness a reason to come closer.

At noon, having had no further sightings, she went out, anticipating a glimpse of Michael. But the office was deserted. The support staff had taken him, likely for their own nefarious purposes.

~*~*~*~

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See you on Thursday for Chapter 2.