Beguiling the Boss

By: Joan Hohl
One

Jennifer Dunning had always been indulged and she knew it. How could she not? From the day of her birth she had been pampered and cooed over, not only by her parents but by anyone and everyone who saw her. And yet, as far as she could recall, she had never acted out or thrown temper tantrums when she didn’t get her way. She accepted a “no” as final and quietly moved on.

But now she sat on her bed in her room, where she had been hiding for the better part of the past two weeks, searching desperately on her electric-blue laptop for her new life. It was time to leave her parents’ home in the exclusive gated community on the outskirts of Dallas. It was time to leave her parents, period.

Jennifer was stunningly beautiful—she had been as a baby, and was even more so at the age of twenty-eight. Tall and willowy with curves in all the right places, she was blessed with long honey-blond hair, dark brown eyes and classic features.

Jennifer was also restless, frustrated and edgy. She had quit her high-paying job as a personal assistant to the CEO of a large company two weeks ago. She was simply sick and tired of listening to the endless daily pep rallies given by her boss—the son of the company owner—who Jennifer considered unfit for the position he held. She was also tired of him eyeing her up and down every time they happened to be in the same room. He was a creep. So, deciding she had had enough, she had resigned.

Jennifer didn’t actually need to work. Her parents were wealthy and she was their only child. She also had a large trust fund from her departed fraternal grandmother, and a smaller one from her maternal grandfather, who was still alive. But she liked working. She was intelligent, had a bachelor’s degree in science and an MBA, and she enjoyed keeping busy, doing something useful. As a personal assistant, she’d been on her way up the career ladder.

Besides, working was much more interesting than the Dallas social scene. She found the scene boring, as well as pointless. As a youngster she had enjoyed the dancing lessons her mother insisted upon, and she also loved riding, after getting over the initial fear of her horse, which was huge compared to her six-year-old frame. No small ponies for her daughter, her mother had declared. Jennifer would attain her seat while on the back of a full-size Thoroughbred. And she had. Her seat was as elegant by the time she was eleven as that of any expert equestrian.

It was later, as she grew into her late teens, that Jennifer had become tired of the social scene. Lunch with the girls every Wednesday, listening to gossip she couldn’t care less about—it had all started to feel so frivolous, and Jennifer had big plans for herself. She’d been preparing to go east, to the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Business. Her friends all had plans to attend the same college right there in Texas. In short, they were parting ways. But Jennifer decided she’d bear the lunches and the silly talk, as she thought of it, until the end of summer. Then she’d be on her own.

In contrast, her parents had been immersed in the social whirl all her life, unfortunately. It wasn’t that they were uncaring—Jennifer knew her parents loved her. It was simply that they weren’t there all that much. As a kid, she spent most of her free time with the housekeeper, Ida, who taught her how to clean, or with the cook, Tony, who practically made her a professional chef. As it turned out, Jennifer loved doing hard, honest work with her hands. It filled her with a purpose she hadn’t known she’d needed.

After Jennifer finished school, she came back to Dallas and lived in her own apartment with a private entrance in her parents’ house. She could have invited anyone she wanted to her place, but she had never had a man stay over. Not that her parents would have minded or objected. She was an adult, after all. It was just that none of the men she knew affected her that way.

Maybe because of what had happened during her junior year of high school.

She had never told her parents—or anyone else—about being caught alone on campus by a boy. She’d been leaving school later than most of the students following a meeting with her math teacher. It was January and almost dark, and she was distracted by thoughts of her conversation with the teacher. She wasn’t fully alert while weaving through the rows of vehicles in the parking lot as she headed for her car.

The boy was a senior—a clean-cut, all-American star football player. Most of Jennifer’s friends had crushes on him. Jennifer didn’t, thinking him too cocky and into himself. Perhaps that was the reason he had accosted her that afternoon.

Trapping her between two parked cars, he fumbled with his pants zipper, exposing himself to her. At first, she was too shocked to think. But she came to her senses when he shoved his other hand up her skirt, attempting to yank her panties off.

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