Kiki hit the enter key on her laptop and smiled. The proposal was done. Sent. And she’d finished it the afternoon it was due rather than waiting until was already late and working all through the night. That was a first. She took a little sip of her hot mocha and sat back, waiting as the wireless connection indicator blinked, sending the file.
The little coffee bar was quiet in the hour before most people got off work. The baristas were working to get things ready for the evening commuter traffic, and they worked in a friendly and efficient way with the one customer who stood at the counter. Most of the tables were empty, but a lone man sat a few tables away, contemplating a newspaper. He was joined by the fellow who’d been at the counter and they sat talking amiably.
The file was not sending. Kiki hit the enter key again, but nothing changed. The little wireless connection thingy just kept whirling around and around. The file wasn’t nearly big enough to account for this extended sending time. She hit the enter key again…and again. She stabbed at it, increasingly concerned and impatient. She lifted the laptop up and gave it a shake, then put it back down roughly. As she watched, horror stricken, a blue-screen-of-death appeared, full of coded gobbledygook and error messages. Her computer had quit working!
“Fuck! Son of a bitch! Damn, damn, damn! You sorry-ass piece of shit!” She smacked the laptop forcefully. “Work, damn you!” Nothing happened. “You goddamn mother-”
“Excuse me, Miss.”
She looked up, a snarl and a frown making her face feel distorted. It was the man who’d been at the counter a few minutes previous. He was a tall man, wearing a black t-shirt and a good quality black suit-a little Hollywood, but appealing. He smiled at her, teeth white in a healthy, tanned face. His dark hair was neatly brushed back in a queue. “What the fuck do you want? Can’t you see I’m busy?”
His eyebrow arched over a twinkling blue eye. “Yes, I can see that you’re having some trouble with your computer. Perhaps I can help?”
“What? Are you with Geek Squad or something?”
“Something like that. My name is Jim Chesterfield.” He said it like she ought to know him, so she looked at him for a moment, narrowing her eyes as she thought.
“Jim Chesterfield…James Chesterfield? The James Chesterfield?”
A slightly embarrassed look washed over his face, followed by a playful grin. “That’s what my mother calls me. Most people just call me Jim, though.”
Flustered, she looked down at the blue screen on her computer then back up to him. James Chesterfield was, perhaps, one of the best known computer geeks in the U.S. He had a huge software business, providing alternative operating systems to hundreds of thousands of users worldwide. It was rumored that he was branching out into hardware in the next few months and that it would cement his place as an international icon. What the hell was he doing in a Coffee Cart store? “It stopped working. I was trying to send an important proposal and it just went dead.”
“Would you mind if I look at it?”
“Well…why the fuck not? Thanks.” She turned the computer to face him as he sat down at the table, smiling at her genially. He was a handsome son-of-a-bitch, finely sculpted and broad-shouldered. She’d read somewhere that he’d been a programming prodigy, but by now he must be around forty years old. Kiki thought it was an amazing thing for plain ole her to be sitting with him, actually having him poke around on her cheap laptop. She blinked and surreptitiously pinched her arm just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. No, she was awake. It still seemed surreal. Her best friend, Madhuja, was not going to believe her.
“Ah, I see what happened.” He pressed a sequence of keys and the screen went black then showed an icon in the middle as the operating system engaged again. “You said you were sending a file?”
“Yeah. It was a proposal I was sending to my boss. He has to present it to the board in the morning and I was supposed to get it to him by close-of-business today. With this fuckin’ broken computer, I’m screwed.”
“You didn’t leave yourself much time.” His blue eyes-really remarkable with his dark hair-were focused on the computer. Kiki wondered what it would feel like to have him focus that attention on her. That thought got squashed vigorously. He is probably married to a super-model or something.
Shaking herself out of her reverie, she responded, “Well, actually, I’m usually late on these things. This is what I get for congratulating myself on being early for once.”
He grinned, looking over at her, and she got flustered again. “I think we can recover your file. Did you back it up?”
Kiki shook her head, feeling fairly stupid. Maddie had told her to get a USB key and keep backups of her files, but she’d been hesitant to spend the $30 on something she figured she’d lose anyway.
“Too bad. You should always back up things you can’t afford to lose.” Jim was focused on the computer once more. “This computer is a little outdated.”
She snorted, perversely realized it was unladylike, and tried to cover it with a cough. “Yeah, but it’s what I’ve got.”
He nodded, looked over at her for a little while, his eyes roving over her face. “Do you want me to recover your data?”
“Yes. For a price.”
Well, that was really the topper. She couldn’t afford another cup of mocha, let alone a fee for saving her proposal. She was doomed. “You’re one of the richest fucking guys in the country, and you want to bill me? I can’t pay you!”
“I think you can.”
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Copyright © 2014 Patricia Green & Blushing Books. All Rights Reserved.