Misunderstood by R.L. Mathewson

Prologue


Monday

“I can do this,” Jamie told herself as she adjusted the heavy brown paper bag in her arms and slowly exhaled. That was followed by another, “I can do this,” with a firm nod since the weird looks that the small group waiting for the elevator doors to close was sending her wasn’t exactly helping.

As an older man in a pinstriped suit stepped into the elevator, Jamie nodded once again, opened her mouth to tell herself the same lie that she’d been telling herself since she decided to do this and–

Decided that she could use a few more minutes to convince herself that this was a good idea. With that in mind, she murmured an, “Excuse me,” as she headed toward the front of the elevator and nearly cried when the elevator doors began to close. Before she could panic, okay, so panic more than she already was, a large tan hand suddenly appeared, stopping the elevator doors from closing and giving her a chance to rethink this plan since it probably wasn’t going to end well.

Once she was off the elevator, she pressed her back against the wall, slowly exhaled and wondered why the incredibly handsome man in the expensively tailored suit that had saved her from making the biggest mistake of her life was watching her. Clearing her throat, Jamie pushed away from the wall, adjusted the bag in her arms, and murmured, “I’m fine.”

“And you look it,” he said, nodding as he reached over and pressed the elevator call button.

“I am,” Jamie said, nodding like an idiot and for some reason added, “I’m here to interview someone.”

“Who’s that?” the man with the bluest eyes that she’d ever seen, asked, sounding bored as he checked his watch.

“Sebastian Bradford,” Jamie said, absently noting the curious look he was sending her as she stood there wondering how she was going to pull this off.

“I thought he didn’t do interviews,” he said, sounding thoughtful.

“I was kind of hoping that was just a rumor,” she murmured, feeling her shoulders slump in defeat.

Maybe she should try something else? Jamie wondered as the elevator in front of them opened its doors only to close a few seconds later with the two of them still standing there. At her questioning look, he said, “I got trapped in that elevator for five hours once,” with a shrug.

Nodding, because she wasn’t sure how to respond to that, Jamie went back to trying to figure out how she was going to do this. Besides begging that is, since she was fully prepared to do that just to get her foot in the door and if that didn’t work…

“I’m curious about something,” he said, reaching over to press the call button again.

“What’s that?” Jamie asked even as she debated making a tactical retreat.

“Why you’re here to interview a man that you don’t know anything about,” he said, sending her another questioning look.

Licking her lips nervously, she said, “I know that he doesn’t give interviews and that he’s partial to baked goods,” making his lips twitch.

“I see,” he murmured as his attention shifted to the large brown paper bag in her arms. “And you’re hoping that a bribe will be enough to get your foot in the door?”

“No, I was counting on begging to do that. The baked goods will hopefully help him overlook the fact that I’m in way over my head on this one,” Jamie said, nodding solemnly.

“Still doesn’t answer my question,” he pointed out as the elevator doors to their left opened.

“The editor for a magazine that I’m hoping will give me a chance made an announcement this morning that they’d give a junior writing position to anyone that lands an interview with Sebastian Bradford,” Jamie explained even as she couldn’t help but wonder if she was already too late.

“Well, that explains a few things,” he murmured, reaching over to stop the elevator doors from closing as he glanced over his shoulder.

Frowning, Jamie looked back and–

“Damn it,” she mumbled sadly when she saw the long line of people carrying white bakery boxes and bags waiting to get through security.

“You might want to get in,” he said as several people tried to duck past security and…

She found herself quickly getting into the elevator and pressing the call button for the twentieth floor as she prayed that the doors closed faster when the first wave of rabid hopefuls broke out into a run. Before any of them could make their way onto the elevator, the man who’d taken pity on her was pressing the “close doors” button and saving them both from being trampled to death.

“Thank you,” Jamie said, sighing with relief as she leaned back against the cool metal elevator walls as the doors slid closed.

“You’re very welcome,” he murmured, joining her by the back wall. “Why didn’t you Google him?”

“Didn’t have enough time,” she admitted. “I planned on doing that in the waiting room.”

“What would you have done if he threw you out?” he asked, sounding curious as he gestured toward the heavy bag in her arms. “What’s in the bag?”

“Donuts, pastries, and just in case those didn’t work, about a dozen egg sandwiches. I’m not really sure what I would have done if he had me thrown out,” Jamie said, absently noting that three of the fingers and the back of his left hand were paler than his right hand.