Faking Ms. Right (Dirty Martini Running Club #1) - Claire Kingsley

1

Everly

Call me weird, but I didn’t hate Monday mornings.

Every Monday was a fresh start. A chance to shake off the previous week—or in my case, the disastrous events of the weekend—and move forward.

I didn’t want to think about how many Mondays over the last several months I’d felt the need to put a bad first date behind me. But now wasn’t the time to ponder my terrible dating luck—even though it was pretty horrific. I’d dish to my girlfriends about it tonight. Over martinis, of course.

For now, I had work to do. And here, in this office, I wasn’t Everly Dalton, serial dating disaster. I was Everly Dalton, executive assistant. And I was damn good at my job.

“Good morning, Everly.”

I smiled at Nina, the front receptionist. “Good morning. I love your hair today.”

Her smile brightened. “Thank you.”

I walked down the hallway, smiling and greeting my coworkers. They all said hi and smiled in return. Even Leslie—who hated mornings more than anyone I knew—cracked a little grin over her coffee.

“Morning, sunshine,” Steve said. He was dressed in his usual plaid button-down shirt and brown cardigan. He wasn’t that much older than me—maybe five or six years—but his clothes made him look like a grandpa from the fifties. I was pretty sure that after work he changed into another cardigan that had a zipper, and probably brown slippers. But he was super nice.

“Morning, Steve,” I said. He liked to think he’d nicknamed me sunshine, but he was probably the tenth person to do so over the course of my life. Maybe it was because I wore so much yellow—my favorite color—or because I smiled a lot. His desk was near mine, just across the aisle, so we chatted pretty often. “How’s Millie?”

“I think I need to modify her diet again. I might eliminate fish to see if it helps improve her mood.”

Millie was Steve’s cat, and he was forever tweaking her diet, hoping it would make her be less of an asshole. I’d never had the heart to tell him that Millie was just an old cranky cat, and no special diet would ever make her nice. But it would have crushed him to hear that his cat hated him and probably wanted to murder his face.

“Sounds like a good plan. Keep me posted.”

“I sure will,” he said and went back to his desk.

Did I really want to hear all about Millie’s diet? Not particularly. But it made Steve happy to have someone who listened, so I endured a little bit of cat conversation now and then. I figured if more people made an effort to be friendly, the world would be a much better place.

The truth was, I liked making people happy. It was my catnip. Getting someone grouchy to smile? Best high ever. Like Leslie, Miss I-Hate-Mornings. She’d been resistant to my drive-by good mornings for a while. But eventually I’d worn her down. Stopping by with breakfast muffins and strong espresso a few times had done the trick.

Everyone had a chink in their armor—a place I could get in to find their happy side. Even the grumpiest people were no match for Everly Dalton’s sunshine.

Except one man.

Like a cloud passing in front of the sun, casting a dark shadow, a chill spread across the office. I glanced at the time. Eight twenty-seven. Right on time.

His entrance onto the floor created a ripple, like tossing a rock into still water. It radiated out ahead of him, warning everyone of his arrival. The only person I’d ever met who was impervious to my happy-making. My boss, Shepherd Calloway.

Steve looked up at me