Rowan clapped, of course.
But she also slid her gaze sideways to prevent from rolling her eyes at the hyperbole.
That’s when she saw Jeremy Kincannon, William’s stepson (which everyone knew was the only reason he had a desk in this company). Rowan tried not to look at Jeremy very often. Her reasons were threefold:
- She had zero respect for someone who used nepotism instead of talent to further their career. Everyone deserved a level playing field.
- They’d clashed from day one, always fighting to get put on the same accounts. The biggest, most important ones, of course. As much as Dana was her office bestie? Jeremy was her work enemy.
- The man was…well… Feathered black hair, just a little too long, that always looked like a beach wind had combed it. Eyes the stunning, deep brown of a doppio Americano. Eyebrows with a permanent quirk up in the middle that gave him a mischievous look. A dimple in his left cheek, for crying out loud. And an easy smile that popped it constantly.
Jeremy was rolling his eyes. Not even bothering to hide it. Thanks to the way he’d propped his jaw sideways on his fist, Rowan got the full view.
How could he?
Yes, the Achilles’ heel in her hero worship for William were his over-the-top, rah-rah bonding speeches. He waaaaay overdid them. Constantly. Not every campaign was the best ever created. It actually weakened his praise, because you never fully believed it.
Despite that one flaw, Rowan still thought him brilliant. She just took these speeches with a grain of salt—and counted the seconds until they were over.
But Jeremy shouldn’t. He should have double the respect for the man as both a boss and father figure. Not to mention that he should be bending over backward to toe the line since William gave him this job, this spot in a company that so many other talented creatives competed for and were denied.
“Stop it,” she ordered in a pointed whisper. Rowan even waved her fuzzy white pipe cleaner at him for emphasis. Goodness knows she wasn’t using it for anything else, like the vision board. What were pipe cleaners supposed to symbolize for their coming year?
He leaned back in his chair, eyes wide now and innocent. Stretched out long legs wearing the only pair of blue jeans in the entire room. “Stop what?”
Like he didn’t know? Oh, the man infuriated her. Basically every time he opened his mouth. “Not paying attention. Being disrespectful to our boss.”
“You’re the one who started talking to me. Whose fault is that?”
No. Nope. Jeremy had started all this, not her. “Please. I saw your eye roll. It was as obvious as the neon marquee at the Biograph Theater.”
“You saw it.” Jeremy jerked his chin toward the front of the rom. “He didn’t.”
He had a point. Which set her teeth even more on edge. “You should be more professional.”
“Sure. I’ll do that.” He smirked at her. “Right after you loosen up.”
They weren’t in a frat together. Did he expect her to loll about in yoga pants and offer him a Jevery time William said they rocked?
They were colleagues. Vision-boarding aside, this company had high standards. Was sought after by clients and dreamed of by creatives. He might be Mr. Laid-Back, but the job demanded more.
Which was why Rowan gave it 110 percent, day in and day out.
There was no loosening up. There was only and always being at the top of her game.
“This isn’t a competition, Jeremy.”
“Everything’s a competition between us. Haven’t you noticed?”
Oh, she’d noticed.
Somehow, they’d leaned toward each other. Her pithy remonstration had turned into a full-blown conversation. Now Rowan’s hand gripped the arm of his chair. Jeremy’s hand was slapped flat across her vision board.
Probably for the best that her attempt at putting her feelings to paper were no longer visible.