𝐀𝐧 𝐞𝐱𝐜𝐞𝐫𝐩𝐭 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 SAFE WITH ME by Stephanie Nicole Norris
𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐅𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐅𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐛𝐨𝐱 𝐬𝐞𝐭 (𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝟗𝟗 𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬!)
𝐑𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐞: 𝐅𝐞𝐛𝐫𝐮𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝟗, 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏
“Actually, I’m feeling much better.”
Claudia Stevens, Samiyah’s business partner and best friend closed the office door and made herself comfortable in one of the leather chairs that sat in front of Samiyah’s desk. They owned a small business in the Chicago area and specialized in financial planning.
“You know you can tell me anything, right?”
“Yes, I’m not holding back. I’m fine.”
Claudia didn’t believe her. She studied Samiyah. “Okay, what’s going on?”
Samiyah wondered if she should tell her about Jonas, then opted for another conversation first. She told her about the conversation with her now ex-husband David. Rehashing the details brought tears to her eyes. Samiyah and David had been going through a divorce for over a year. They’d decided to settle out of court, but at the last minute, Samiyah wanted to fight for her marriage. She didn’t know why. She wasn’t even in love anymore, but she felt a sense of duty to make sure she’d done everything she could to make it work. In the end, it was David who wanted to leave.
“Honey, I absolutely don’t know why you’re here. I told you to take some time off,” Claudia said. “We have Selena and Octavia here to fill in. It’s not a problem. I’ve told you this.”
“That was my plan. I could use a little time, but what about the emergency phone call I got this morning? Selena didn’t sound so sure of herself. I had to calm her down and tell her to serve the clients' coffee and croissants until I got here. She should know that much.”
Claudia waved her off. “Girl, Selena had a client in her office and three in the waiting room, and she was the only one here. Since she has no idea what’s going on in your personal life, she wasn’t aware you would be taking time off. I was running a little late, but trust me, I got this.”
Samiyah pursed her lips. “I don’t know. What had you running late this morning?”
“Let’s just say I had a long night.”
Samiyah shook her head and laughed, “What did I tell you about picking up random guys at the club? You’ve got to be over it by now.”
Samiyah was one to talk. Didn’t she just get through seducing a stranger this morning? Had she not woken up in his bed? Samiyah threw those thoughts to the back of her mind.
“Yeah, yeah, I hear you, but you’re not the only one who wants a love life.”
“You can have it; I’m done with it.”
“What does that mean? You’re not crossing over to the other side, are you?”
Samiyah threw her head back and laughed, “That’s not what I meant.”
“Well, let’s just be clear.” They both laughed. “It’s good to see you smile, you’ve been so down lately,” Claudia mentioned.
“It feels good to laugh. Let’s have a quick pow-wow to make sure Selena and Octavia are on top of their game. I can’t very well leave if they’re feeling under pressure.”
Claudia picked up the phone and dialed each of their extensions. “Come see us, please,” she said when they answered.
Selena Strauss glided into the room with a notepad in hand. She was fresh out of college and always willing to learn. During the interview process, Samiyah took an immediate liking to her, offering her a career pending a clear criminal background check. Octavia Davenport was close behind her. Octavia had six years of experience in financial planning before coming on board, but she was used to having her boss breathing down her neck.
Things worked differently at S & M Financial Advisors. “Do either of you have clients right now?” Samiyah asked.
Selena spoke first, “I’ve got one coming in fifteen minutes.”
“My next appointment will be here any moment,” Octavia glanced at her watch.
“This will be quick, have a seat.”
They obliged. “Selena, I know being here is new for you and Octavia I know you’re also getting used to the way things work around here. Do either of you have any concerns or questions?”
“This is about this morning, isn’t it?” Selena inquired.
“Yes and no,” Samiyah confirmed. “Claudia and I want to make sure you ladies are both comfortable with your workload. When everyone is comfortable with what they’re doing, things will work smoothly, and that’s what we all want.”
“I wasn’t sure if I needed to reschedule some of your appointments that came in this morning. When you didn’t show up, I kind of freaked out. Sorry,” Selena said, biting her lip.
“That’s my fault,” Claudia spoke up. “Samiyah will be taking some time off for the next week, and during that period, I’ll be handling her clients.”
“That’s when she can make it to work on time.” Samiyah leveled her with a glare. Selena and Octavia chuckled and cut their eyes at Claudia.
“Okay, Okay,” she repeated, “You got me. I won’t be late anymore.”
“Ladies, I want you to know if you’re not sure about something, don’t panic. Call my cell, tell me what’s going on and I’ll walk you through it.” Samiyah glanced at the wall clock. “You should go check to see if your clients are in. Oh, and relax, we are not going to be breathing down your neck. We trust you’ll get your jobs done right, that’s why we hired you. There are always breakfast croissants in the kitchen. Our longtime friend Larry comes in to bring fresh sandwiches every morning. He delivers to everyone in this office building. Help yourselves.”
“Thank you.” Octavia and Selena smiled.
“Oh, have you ladies picked out your dresses for the auction?”
Selena clasped her hands together, “Yes, I’m so excited.”
“I’ve got mine, too. We went at the same time,” Octavia said.
“Oh, nice! I’d love to see them,” Samiyah said.
“I’ll show you a picture in a minute,” Octavia stuck her head out the door, “We’ve got company ladies.”
They left to tend to their clients.
“What time are you departing?” Claudia asked.
Samiyah glanced at her wall clock, “In about an hour.”
“Oh yeah, I didn’t see your car outside, what’s wrong with it now?”
A pleasant smile fluttered across Samiyah’s face. “About that… after everything that happened with David, I went to a bar for drinks.”
“Oh girl, you were too busy getting your groove back.”
“I could’ve found my groove wherever you were. Don’t try and put this on me!”
“Did you hear what you just said? That’s an indication that you need to stop picking up randoms!”
“Don’t change the subject,” Claudia said, dismissing her last statement.
Samiyah gave details about the bar incident and waking up in Jonas’s bed. She left out the part about her seduction. This time Claudia threw her head back and yelled, “Oooou! Oooou! Oooou!”
“Ssssssh, girl we have clients in the building, have you lost your mind!”
Claudia cupped a hand over her mouth, “I’m sorry I’m just so excited for you. He is just what you need.”
“How do you know that? I don’t even know him, Claudia. He was just mister right now, that’s it! So, don’t get all extra because I know how you are.”
“Listen, you can’t lie to me. A handsome man comes to your rescue. Then, you slept in his bed, and he didn’t take advantage? Are you crazy?” Claudia threw her arms up. “I can’t ever catch a break like that. You lucky girl, I’m so jealous.”
Samiyah cracked a smile and shook her head. “You are a piece of work, you know that?”
“I do, but you know I’m right. You better not let that man slip through your fingers!”
“Claudia, please, I’ve been divorced one day. Does it look like I’m trying to throw myself into another relationship? And another thing, what makes you think this man wants one? He’s some famous ex-boxer anyway. I’m sure he has plenty of women to go around.”
“Famous ex-boxer? What’s his full name?”
Samiyah shrugged her shoulders. “Jonas Alexander Rose.”
Claudia’s eyes almost popped out of their sockets. “As in one of the seven of the Rose brother’s clan?”
Samiyah thought about it for a minute. She’d heard about the famous Rose brothers and some of their ventures, but she’d never given it much thought. She shrugged.
Claudia got up out of her seat and left Samiyah’s office. When she returned, Claudia slapped a magazine down on Samiyah’s desk and pointed, “Is Jonas Alexander Rose this brother right here?”
The Time magazine read,
The 100 Most Influential People in The World, Jonas Alexander Rose, One of Chicago’s Elite Seven of the Rose Brothers.
Seven insanely gorgeous men graced the cover, with Jonas standing in the forefront. They were all impeccably dressed in tailored suits, with Jonas wearing boxing gloves. His pose showed strength and power with his boxing gloves meeting up fist to fist in the middle of his stance. His intimidating glare was transparent in his posture, causing a tingle to run down Samiyah’s spine.
“Girl, your mouth is hanging open!” Claudia said. “I take it by your silence this is him.”
Samiyah’s office phone rang. With Samiyah still speechless, Claudia reached down and hit the speaker button. “Samiyah Manhattan,” Claudia announced.
“It’s Selena, Mrs. Manhattan. You have a visitor.”
Samiyah and Claudia turned towards the glass office windows simultaneously. Jonas Alexander Rose stood in the waiting room, talking to one of the female clients. Claudia turned back to Samiyah and swatted her across the arm. “You lucky, lucky girl!”