Jennifer sat at her desk shuffling through papers for her latest assignment. The sheer scope of the mess she'd created was enough to make her head spin. She'd never get the article finished in time and Jack would be so disappointed in her. But it didn't have to be that way. She might have been a beginning reporter, but she was a good reporter and despite how infuriating she often became with Jack Deveraux, she loved her job at The Spectator. She sighed and returned her attention to her work but was distracted by a familiar voice.
"Hey college girl."
The sight of her almost-boyfriend made her smile. "Emilio what are you doing here?"
"I thought you might be hungry and I was just in the neighborhood so I decided to bring you breakfast."
She could have hugged him and oh how she wanted to. But she knew that hugging wasn't appropriate in the office. And so she simply smiled. "Thanks so much for this, really."
He shrugged. "No problem."
Eagerly she took the paper bag from him and peered inside. "This is so sweet of you."
He shrugged again, but not without a small grin. "Well, yeah, but -."
She began to unpack the paper sack, removing a steaming paper cup of coffee and some pastries.
"Hey why don't you stay and have breakfast with me? There's plenty here for both of us."
But true to his nature, he declined. "Nah, I don't think the boss man would like that."
"Forget about Jack. He's not even here yet."
"Morning, Jennifer. Emilio."
The unexpected sound of her boss' voice made Jennifer's heart race and she quickly forgot about her breakfast invitation.
"Jack, I'm sorry. Um, my story's almost finished, I promise."
"No rush, just go on and eat your breakfast. Looks delicious."
"Well, okay. Emilio?"
"Um, actually I'm in a rush, College Girl. So I'll see you later, all right?"
Her heart sank with disappointment but she smiled just the same. "Oh, well, okay." She rose to her feet but he surprised her by leaning over her desk to kiss her lips. She did her best to avoid Jack's gaze.
When Emilio was gone, she returned to her seat and began working on her story again. But not before she tucked her breakfast back into the bag and folded the flap. It would stay fresh until the afternoon and she put it in her desk drawer for safe keeping. As a reporter who was still learning the ropes, she couldn't let anything stand in the way of her career. Too much was at stake.
"Jennifer, could you come here please?"
She cringed and pretended to be working on her story. "Can you give me just a second, Jack? I-." She froze at the sight before her. Jack stood in the doorway holding a tray of food. And in a small vase was a red rose.
Heart racing, she rose to her feet and went to him. "Yes, Jack?"
He handed the tray to her. "Here."
"Breakfast? But I-."
"Well, you were working so hard and I figured you might be hungry. Good reporters should always start the day with a wholesome breakfast."
She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "This is for me?"
Jack chuckled. "Well, it certainly isn't for Vern. He prefers violets and besides, red just isn't his color."
She tried to contain her laughter but it was impossible. Jack Deveraux, for all of his faults, certainly had a sense of humor.
"Jack, this is… so sweet of you. Thank you."
"It was my pleasure."
She wasn't entirely certain but she could have sworn that she saw him blush.
"Aw, it was nothing."
Impulsively she hugged him, forgetting all about the office rules. "That's where you're wrong, Jack. It's everything."
He drew back quickly and looked away. "Well, just don't spread it around, all right?"
When he walked away she stopped him. "Jack?"
"Um, there's plenty here for two. Would you like to join me?"
"No, that's all right. Just enjoy."
"But next time, right?"
As she sat down at her desk to enjoy her breakfast, she smiled. She certainly hoped there would be a next time.