Just a Number (Downtown #1)

Just
A
Number

by
FIFI FLOWERS

Champagne Girl Studio

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.

Copyright © 2016 Fifi Flowers

Kindle Edition

Cover Design by Kellie Dennis at Book Cover by Design

www.bookcoverbydesign.co.uk

Formatting by BB ebooks

www.bbebooksthailand.com

Edited by Jacquelyn Ayres

Published by Champagne Girl Studios

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

www.FifiFlowers.com

WARNING: This book contains sexually explicit material and is intended for adult readers only.

Other Books by Fifi Flowers

– All Standalone Books –

A Window to Love, (Book 1, Windows Series)

Reclining Nude in Chicago, (Book 1, Encounters Series)

Awakening to You Trilogy: Complete Book

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Epilogue

Playlist

Other Books by Fifi Flowers

Acknowledgements

About the Author

Fifi Flowers Book News

Dedication

This book is dedicated to the loving memory of Simon le Bleu, my inspiration for Mr. Simon… Though you left this world too soon… you will live on in my heart forever. 

Chapter One

Willow

“N
ot looking for love… shopping for labels…” meant it was six o’clock in the morning, time to decide whether to listen to one round of the song or option two: tap to snooze. In favor of the upbeat song, it played on until the last note. With a smile on my face, I then swiped my finger across my cellphone screen to catch up with the latest on all of my favorite social media outlets.

Hearing another set of lyrics chime in with “and I’m all dressed up…” let me know it was truly time to get up. These were my usual morning rituals, but Thursdays were always a little better as I looked forward to what was waiting for me just outside the sliding screen doors of my loft bedroom.

Out of bed, I padded into the bathroom to complete the rest of my regimen. Shower complete. My just-below-the-shoulder length, dark hair was blown out straight. Make-up in place; subtle for the office (except for my signature red lipstick, which I added for a bit of spunk to offset my standard business attire). Chantilly-white lace panty and bra set. Crisp ivory blouse, houndstooth, knee-length pencil skirt with matching tailored jacket. Four-inch black Mary Jane stilettos. Standing before my oversized, full-length mirror, taking in the total look, I slipped on my graduation gifts: a designer watch and simple, diamond-stud earrings. Satisfied with my appearance, I exited my bedroom.

Stopping in front of my home office alcove, I grabbed my vintage Beekman briefcase, raised the shoulder strap up to secure it in place, and proceed across the open space to the kitchen area.

“Good morning, Hazel.” I reached for my on-the-go coffee cup she had ready and waiting for me, as usual, every Thursday morning. Taking my first perfectly brewed sip, I wished that I could have my housekeeper every single day of the week, but for the time being, I was happy with her weekly cooking and cleaning. She was amazing; she cleaned, did laundry, shopped for me, and cooked all of my meals, which she packaged and froze for the week.

Like the 1960s situation-comedy about a live-in housekeeper’s interactions with the Baxter family, her name is Hazel. I was not born at that time, but my parents were and my father sarcastically called my mother “Mrs. B” whenever he found himself roped into a manly household chore. It was a standing joke between them, that when I was old enough to wonder why my mother, in return, would call my dad “Hazel,” I was shown reruns of the old sitcom. I giggled to myself when reminded of that
happy
memory every Thursday as I greeted
my
Hazel.

So, unlike the character on television, my adorable, yet sexy, platinum-blonde, British domestic engineer spoke and looked more like I should work for her. She’s about five foot two—if that—perfectly groomed in a sleek lounging suit, and accompanied by a longhaired, whitish-orange cat attached to a turquoise leash. Did I mention the cat? Mr. Simon was also present on Thursdays, obediently curled up in his portable zebra-striped bed. You would swear he thought he was a dog with the way he loved to go out on walks. If you were to ever find yourself in downtown LA on the weekends, you might see Hazel and Mr. Simon strolling along the quiet city streets. Believe it or not, the downtown area became quite tranquil on Friday nights when everyone abandoned the city after work, unless there was a major event scheduled over the weekend.

I met both of them in my building lobby two years ago on a Saturday afternoon as I was rushing to the elevator, my arms filled with grocery bags and dry cleaning. Right when I was about to hit the button, I lost my balance along with all my items. Hazel and Mr. Simon, holding one of my tiny Mexican limes in his mouth, came to my rescue, helping me gather my scattered items and delivering them to my apartment.

Over a couple margaritas, hence the limes, I learned that she had lived in my building for ten years. She was newly retired from the corporate playground and already bored. By the end of our visit, she had offered her assistance. We had set a day, had agreed upon a rate, and on the following Thursday, she and Mr. Simon showed up ready for work.

“What’s on your schedule today, love?” Hazel loved for me to tell her the latest scuttlebutt. She said it made her feel connected to the business world she had left behind. She was happy to walk away from the demand and aggravation, but she missed the thrill of tasks and accomplishment. I knew that feeling. That exhilaration. It was the driving force that lead me, successfully, up the corporate ladder.

After filling her in on the buzz around the office and gifting her with a bit of gossip—swear she was mentally taking dictation—I tossed Mr. Simon a cat treat, which he caught, and made my way out the door.

Leaving my 1925 art-deco apartment building, I walked a few city blocks to my office located in a skyscraper sitting on top of Bunker Hill. No need for a treadmill or Stairmaster machine, climbing up that slope five days a week. I literally thought I would die the first few months, scaling the incline, but once the gams were accustomed and the burn subsided, I was an expert city-hill-climber, even in high-heels.

Arriving at my building, your basic glass and steel structure, I crossed the stark lobby, furnished with only a security guard desk to obscure visitors from a straight shot to the upper floors. After flashing my badge attached to my handbag strap and saying hello, I made a beeline to a crowded elevator. Shooting up to the fifteenth floor, we made a few stops along the way for fellow passengers.

Stepping into the reception area, I waved to the chair-filler of the month. They never stayed long, though this one was going on sixth months. Perhaps she was a relative in need of a job. Passing a maze of cubicles similar to the one I once parked myself inside of daily, I advanced to my private office. Seven long years of proving my worth and value to the company to have my name proudly etched on a plaque on the door.

When I started working in the public relations field, I envisioned working in fashion. I had a true fashion magazine fascination, but absolutely no desire to leave sunny Southern California for New York City, like my friend Lark. I just knew I’d be like her, loving the glamorous city, but missing the warmth of LA. Lucky for her, she established her name as a designer representative in Manhattan and recently was able to relocate back to the sunshine.

Magazines didn’t work the same for me, so in search of fashion in my home town, I found a position with my current company. First, I worked on a variety of campaigns and launches until I was able to bring in some business with the help of friends in the fashion industry. Working with the clients I enlisted, I rarely worked outside of fashion. However, there were various products we often combined with the fashion world.

Stepping inside my office, I set my briefcase on my glass top desk situated in front of a large pane of glass, removed my jacket, and hung it on a chrome stand in the corner, to the right. Smoothing my skirt, I rolled out my white-ribbed, high-back, leather, executive chair and sat down. Ready to see what the day would entail, I removed my laptop from my briefcase and started it up.

Waiting for everything to load, I sipped at my coffee and took in my office view. I loved it. It was light and airy, decorated fashionably, just as I envisioned: pale grey walls complimented the dark grey industrial carpet that ran throughout the whole company office. Several framed black and white fashion photographs by Paolo Marinelli hung above a white leather, square-tufted Harper sofa. Next to it, a tripod floor lamp with a black lampshade stood. Opposite the seating area was a wall of white laminated bookcases with large storage drawers below. Perfect!

Looking back to my screen I saw a multitude of emails awaiting my attention. Starting with the easiest—or, so I thought—until I read it through. The first request wasn’t a difficult one normally, but the company was located in France, and I was not fluent in French.

From: Ida Dupree

To: Willow Dane

Need A Wine Sponsor – Fashion Show

Today at 6:00 AM

Hello Willow,

As you know, Market Week is drawing near. We would like to team with a few non-fashion brands for sponsorship. We are working on a few. Will give you the details of our needs soon. In the meantime, if you could find a vineyard willing to be a sponsor at our event (preferably, Pinard Vineyard), that would be fabulous. Of course, you would include them in all of our PR promotions. Looking forward to hearing from you.

À bientôt,

Ida

Director, Dupree-Lovingier Showroom

cc: Skylar Lovingier

I promptly replied that I would get busy right away. Then, I brought out my tablet to begin tapping out notes.
Things to follow up:

Wine.

Pinard Vineyard.

Who reps???

As I was finishing up my list, another email popped up in my inbox. The subject
alert
didn’t concern me to begin with, since my boss was often dramatic when need not be.

From: Suze Woodland

To: Willow Dane

ALERT – Things are Going Down

Today at 7:00 AM

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