Bryan knew Holly would be surprised to see him, but he wasn’t expecting the wild-eyed look in her eyes or her bare feet. He knew he shouldn’t be thinking about his assistant the way he was, but her hot pink toes gave him a hint of the woman she was when she wasn’t his assistant, or Bobby’s mom, but was just Holly.
And damn, did he want to know more.
“Whoa,” Bryan said, “it’s just me. Are you okay?”
Her fear was nearly palpable, although he couldn’t imagine why. Who did she think would be in his office?
“What are you doing here so early?” she finally stammered. “I, um, I mean, I’m sorry I wasn’t here earlier. Is this your new schedule? I didn’t realize you were making a change. I can, um… shit,” she swore under her breath.
Bryan stepped toward her, desperate to be close to her again, although her knew she was as off limits as any person could ever be. Still, he was drawn to her, and couldn’t stop himself from moving closer.
“No. It’s not new. I just figured I’d see how early you got here. I was hoping I could beat you in this morning.”
Holly ducked her head. “I’m sorry. I’ve been trying so hard. I have a son and I have to get him to school before I come in but they’re not open for early drop off until seven and then I come right here. If you’ll give me another chance I’ll get someone to stay with him in the morning so I can come in earlier. I just… I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”
Bryan was baffled. She thought he was going to fire her? He was trying to do something nice. Make her morning a little easier. He wasn’t trying to make her feel bad.
“Holly, no. I’m not going to fire you. I wanted to see how early you come in because I know I haven’t been fair to you. It’s Christmas time, but more than that, I ask too much of you-”
“No, please, I need this job. It’s not too much. I can make it work. Just give me a few days to find someone who can watch my son in the morning and I can be here. It’s fine. Please, just don’t fire me.”
Bryan listened to her rambling on, frightened by how anxious she grew with each rapid fire declaration of her dedication. He knew she hated her job, hated him too, but she was fighting tooth and nail to keep it. It cracked his heart, knowing she was so committed to a job she despised for the sake of her son.
“Holly,” he finally stopped her with a gentle hand on her elbow. He guided her to one of the chairs in front of his large desk. When she sat he took the seat next to her. “I’m not going to fire you. Or cut your hours. Or your pay. You don’t need to find someone to get your son to school. I realized this weekend how much you work to keep me going and it isn’t fair to you. All I’m asking of you is to take some time for yourself. Start leaving on time. Come in at a normal time. Spend more time with your son. Go Christmas shopping. Maybe you can even take him to see Santa.”
Holly’s eyes snapped to his and he worried what the look she gave him meant.