Rowan glanced at the mirrored wall and straightened her top hat. The black jacket with long tails thankfully covered most of the hideous sequined leotard, but there was nothing at all to hide her fishnet clad legs.
She felt ridiculous.
The elevator doors parted and she stepped into the hallway, bringing a giant green balloon bouquet with her.
“This is nuts,” she muttered as she plastered a smile on her face. She stopped at the receptionist’s desk. “Singing telegram for Vance.”
The tiny brunette behind the desk jumped up and rubbed her hands together with glee. “Follow me.”
Not nearly as excited as the receptionist, her stomach gave a queasy flip when they entered a cubicle filled room.
“Oh, Vance!” the receptionist called in a sing-song voice. “Someone’s here for you.”
Rowan felt the bottom of her stomach drop as head after head popped up from the cubicles like human jack-in-the-boxes. She glanced around, wondering which one was the birthday boy when she caught a movement on the far side of the room.
A very tall, very blond, very good-looking man poked his head out of an office door, then came into the room shaking his head and laughing.
Rowan took a couple of deep breaths and stifled the urge to throw-up. She swallowed hard and belted out a lively rendition of Happy Birthday accompanied by Rockette style kicks and dips.
She made her way across the room and finished by removing her top hat and giving a huge flourishing bow that made her long red curls touch the floor.
The room erupted in noisy applause, whistles and cheers as she thrust the balloons at Vance.
His fingers brushed hers as he accepted the bouquet and she gasped as a tingling shot of warmth zinged through her.
His bright blue eyes widened. He’d felt it, too.
All thoughts of ridiculousness fled in an instant and she gave him a genuine smile. “Happy birthday.”
His eyes sparkled as he grinned back. “Thank you. That was really something.”
She gave him a wink, then turned to go, exaggerating the swing of her hips a little bit. Her mouth curved in satisfaction when she felt his gaze on her all the way to the door.
Back in the elevator, she leaned against the wall, vowing she’d find some way to ‘bump’ into him again.
The next day, her boss handed her a new assignment. “Requested you by name,” he informed her.
Curious who would ask for her on only her second day, she looked at it; a kid’s birthday party, asking her to dress as a girl ragdoll along with a time and address.
She glanced at her boss with a lifted eyebrow, but he just shrugged and answered his ringing cellphone, so she headed for the dressing room.
An hour later, decked out in full costume and make-up with her hair hanging in two waist length red braids, she knocked at the given address.
The door swung open and there stood her counterpart, the boy ragdoll.
She recognized the twinkling blue eyes immediately and laughed.
“It’s Rowan, right?” Vance stepped aside, his bright, welcoming smile made even more so by the ragdoll make-up. “It’s my niece’s fifth birthday,” he confided. “You were so good yesterday, I thought this might be fun.”
“I’m game,” she agreed as she went inside.
Under her tutelage they put together a quick little skit and before she knew it they were in the backyard skipping, twirling and dancing to the delight of fifteen five-year-old girls.
Afterward, they both collapsed into a couple of lawn chairs, waving as the kids departed.
“Not too bad for only my second gig.” She grinned at him.
Vance pulled off his red yarn wig and white hat, then leaned toward her. “Can I tell you something?”
His blond hair stood up in absurd spikes and even as she nodded, she couldn’t stop laughing.
“I almost applied for a job at your company, but that seemed a trifle extreme,” he confessed. One corner of his mouth lifted and he gave a charming shrug. “I really wanted to see you again.”
She nodded her approval. “Very clever.”
“You think so?” The half smile widened into a dashing grin. He jumped up from his chair and held a hand out to her.
Rowan didn’t hesitate, tickled by the thrill that flooded through her at his touch.
He pulled her to her feet, his eyes full of mischief. “Well, if you liked that, wait until you see what I have planned next.”