Ashten Brody smoothed his hands down the front of his suit one more time. He hadn’t expected Trent Cole’s security guards to frisk him at the door. The man ran a luxury hotel in North Carolina. It wasn’t like he was a celebrity. Though he had the appearance of one.
As flustered as he was now, Ashten was confident that he was the right person to be Trent’s new personal chef. He was not confident, however, that Mr. Cole would hire him. He’d only just finished his degree in culinary arts and hospitality management. He was young and green, but he wanted this job and would do anything to get it. Well, that was a slight exaggeration, but he would wear a bland, conservative suit complete with a tie and jacket if it helped him beat out the competition.
The elevator pinged, and he took a deep breath as he stepped out, still in awe that he had gotten an interview. The main office was located on the top floor of the ten-story hotel—convenient if Trent ever worked late and needed to crash at the office.
Finding the secretary easily, Ashten stood next to her desk and patiently waited for her to finish her phone call. The lobby area was comfortable, with decor that matched the rest of the hotel. Doors lined the walls, and a few windows revealed the insides of conference rooms and small offices. Ashten rested his hands on the mahogany horseshoe desk. It was large enough to fill his old apartment.
“May I help you?” Annette, as her nameplate said, asked as she hung up the phone.
“I have an interview scheduled with Mr. Cole. I’m a bit early. My name is Ashten Brody.” His voice sounded calmer than he felt. It was important to make a good impression on the secretary, though; they were the ones who ran the whole office.
The secretary raised her brow. She opened her mouth to speak, but the elevator at the opposite end of the room dinged, and Mr. Cole stepped onto the floor, a deep scowl etched on his handsome face. Ashten’s breath hitched in his throat. He bit his lip, pain stopping any reaction his cock might have had to the man capturing his attention. The pictures he’d found in his Internet search hadn’t done the man justice. Trent Cole oozed confidence. Ashten’s eyes followed him as he crossed the floor. A touch of afternoon stubble shaded his strong jaw, and his tailored suit outlined his broad shoulders perfectly. The open jacket revealed lean hips, which brought Ashten’s tongue out to wet his lips. Trent walked directly past the desk, not bothering to glance at Ashten or Annette. Everyone in the office moved faster and looked busier now that the boss was in the room.
“Annette, please send in the applicants as they arrive. The sooner I get these interviews over with, the sooner I can get back to real work. Thanks.” Without waiting for a reply, he stepped inside his office, leaving the door wide open.
Ashten’s face heated, and his heart pounded. He rolled his shoulders back to try to get ahold of himself.
“Go right in, dear. Good luck.” Annette gave him an encouraging grin.
Ashten flashed a broad smile. “Thank you, ma’am.” He turned and walked toward the open door.
* * * *
Trent rubbed his tired and aching eyes before he reviewed the résumé of the first applicant. “Ashten Brody?” He looked up to see an attractive young man enter the room.
He must not have hidden his surprise well, because alarm flashed across the applicant’s face.
The Ashten Brody approaching his desk was far too young to have obtained two degrees from the University of Chicago.
And far too attractive to work near me every day.
“Yes. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Cole.” Ashten reached his hand out to shake Trent’s.
Trent stared at Ashten, hesitating too long. The raw sex appeal of the man standing before him dulled Trent’s reflexes. His piercing emerald eyes matched his tie, and the suit framed his lean shoulders and hips. Trent eyed the man up and down, unable to stop himself. Ashten dropped his hand to his side, and an awkward tension filled the room. Trent hadn’t even bothered to stand up to greet Ashten.
When he finally regained his composure, he said, “Please sit down. How old are you?” He narrowed his eyes at the younger man, hoping for a truthful response to the question he already knew the answer to.
“Mr. Cole, age is hardly an indication of ability. My résumé shows my capabilities.” Ashten spoke with ease, voice holding steady. “And if I’m not mistaken, you were quite young when you started managing the hotel.”
The man was bold, certainly confident. Confidence could be faked, especially when it came wrapped in such a lovely, tight package. “Résumés can be padded.”
“Considering the amount of paperwork I filled out for your company to run a background check, you should know that my résumé doesn’t lie.”
Trent crossed his arms and studied Ashten, watching for any change in his expression. “I have a hard time believing a man as young as you appear has already received two degrees and has the necessary experience to do this job.”
A blush crept up Ashten’s neck, and he shifted in his seat.
“Maybe I just look good for my age?” He settled back in his chair, hands folded in his lap as he smiled knowingly. “You have the background check. You tell me how old I am.”
“Your age wasn’t what I was looking for in the background check, Mr. Brody,” Trent said.
“Please, call me Ashten.”
“Ashten, I’m a busy man. As the owner of this hotel, I’m very involved in its day-to-day operations. I work long hours and will require you to do the same. Not only will you be my personal chef, providing me with breakfast and dinner each day, but you may be required to bring me lunch or even cater my business meetings. There are times when I’ll need you to work with the kitchen staff to prepare for a large conference. This will be a demanding job. I will not have time for—nor will I tolerate—complaints. I need an adult to do this job, not a kid fresh out of college, still wanting to party more than work.”
Ashten chuckled and shook his head. The deep rumble almost brought a smile out of Trent, despite his attempt to maintain his professionalism.
“Mr. Cole, I don’t complain, and I know a little something about hard work. Despite my age, I’m perfectly capable of doing this job and doing it well. I can handle whatever you throw at me.” Ashten ran his fingers through his golden hair—the movement was mesmerizing.
It was all Trent could do to stop himself from reaching out to comb his own fingers through the yellow locks. Clearing his throat, Trent rested his elbows on the table and steepled his fingers against his lips. He didn’t trust himself not to open his mouth and tell the boy exactly what he’d like to see him handle. His libido sure picked a hell of a time to return. Last time he’d been interested in another man… He couldn’t remember. Fuck. Must’ve been quite a while.
Ashten stared back at him in that uncomfortable moment of silence, no doubt thinking he’d said something to warrant it.
Trent let him suffer.
Ashten continued, “And excuse me for finding humor in the situation, but I can assure you that clubs aren’t for me.”
Trent believed that Ashten believed he was capable, but that didn’t mean he was. Though a healthy amount of self-assurance went a long way, it didn’t make up for lack of experience. Trent had no reason to trust what Ashten said, other than a gut feeling. He almost wanted to give him the job based on his gumption alone. Ashten Brody piqued his interest in more ways than one.
“I think that I’ve learned all I can about you. I’ll have my secretary call you with my final decision by the end of today.” Trent stood and extended his hand.
Ashten’s shoulders slumped, though he straightened them quickly.
“Thank you for your time.”
Trent pushed the speaker button on his phone. “Send the next applicant in, Annette. Thank you.”
With a nod, Ashten walked out of Trent’s office.
He had a long afternoon of interviews scheduled, but he was sure his decision had already been made.