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“What’s that?” I said, since he was obviously not going to say any more until I inquired.

“The fifty/fifty rule when hiring an admin,” he said, with a shrug like it was common knowledge.

“This ought to be good.”

Anton slid a hand into his pants pocket. “Make sure she’s over fifty and fifty pounds overweight.”

“I didn’t realize I was coming to work for a chauvinist,” I said, followed by an exaggerated sigh. “Why’s this the number one rule?”

He mimicked my sigh. We’d spoken a few sentences, but I had a feeling I had met my match. “So there’s no temptation,” he said.

Flashing my left hand in front of him, I waited for him to take note of the ring on a certain important finger. “In case India forgot to mention it, I’m engaged. So there’ll be no temptation whatsoever.”

Anton studied the ring for another moment before he smiled broadly. “Forbidden fruit. Wanting what a man can’t have. I don’t think that worked out so well for Adam and the whole fall-of-man thing.” His smile pulled higher as he waited for me to reply. He was enjoying this banter.

Since it was my first day on the job, I decided to bite back what I wanted to say to him.

“Anytime you’re ready to tell me what I’m here to actually do . . .” I said, gesturing at my desk and computer. “I didn’t get all dressed up for nothing.”

“No.” Anton chuckled, coming around the side of my desk. “You certainly didn’t.” Continuing past the desk, he opened the door to his office and sauntered in. When he got to his desk, he glanced back at me where I hovered at the door. “Anytime you’re ready for me to tell you what you’re actually here to do . . .” He gestured at the chair in front of his desk and waited.

“I didn’t realize we were playing tag,” I muttered, just loud enough for him to hear.

He smiled and fired up his laptop.

Anton’s office was posh—if you were into the modern twist on 1960s cool. Like India had said, it was a scene pulled from Mad Men, right down to the fancy crystal bottles of liquor displayed on a shelf behind his desk. Like his little sister, Anton had expensive taste.

I took a seat in the chair across from him and waited.

“Do you know much about what we do here in this office?” he asked, his eyes fixed on his laptop, all business. He could flip the on and off mood switch as fast as I could.

Should I have done research? It was too late now.

“Nope.” Super. Real intelligent-sounding, Lucy.

“I love an honest woman,” he said, his eyes flicking to me. “And one who isn’t ashamed about it.”

From business to banter in two seconds’ time. Anton was going to keep me guessing. “And I love a man who gets to the point,” I said, “sometime today.”

Getting back to his laptop, he started typing. “Here’s the quick rundown on Xavier Industries’ White Plains branch,” he said, typing furiously. His fingers were almost a blur over that keyboard. “We’re a customer-support call center here. We have twenty employees and triage close to eight hundred calls a day.”

“A call center?” I was confused. “Xavier Industries is a board game development company, right?” I could have sworn that was what Indie said.

“That’s right, but developing, distributing, and selling the board games is only half the battle. The other half is keeping those retailers and customers happy.” His war with the keyboard came to an end. Punching one final key, he leaned back in his high-backed leather chair.

Thank the heavens I wasn’t majoring in business, because this made no sense to me. “Happy? Isn’t that the reason they’re buying one of the games? So they’ll be . . . happy?”

“Yes, happiness is definitely a desired side effect. However, humans as a species have this need to report or review or vent or share their opinion to someone who cares.” He waved his hands before folding them over his desk. “That’s what we’re here for.”

“To care?”

Anton looked at me like my confusion was cute. “To pretend to care.”

“Oh-kay,” I said, shifting in my seat. I understood why so many politicians came from business backgrounds. They’d been bullshitting their way to the top for decades. “And my job is to pretend to care?”

“No, you won’t be taking any of the customer calls. You’re working for me.” He leaned forward. “So your job is to enthusiastically care.”

The more he said, the farther down the rabbit hole I fell.

“Can you define ‘care’ in basic job duties?” I asked. “Like sharpening pencils, making copies, that sort of thing?”

Sliding a drawer of his desk open, Anton dropped a thick folder in front of me. “For starters, I’d like you to go through these call sheets and make note of how long each call lasted, along with how many minutes the caller had to wait on hold before reaching an associate.”

I gawked at the folder—it was larger than any college textbook I’d ever seen. “Is this supposed to take me all summer?”

That slow smile of Anton’s slid back into place. “I’ll give you until lunch.”

I was earning my pay here at XI.

I’d been sure I’d been on the receiving end of a good deal, but I realized by lunchtime that it was Anton who’d been on the better receiving end.

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