Fuck, this has been one unproductive day so far. Three intern interviews this morning and not a single applicant I’d even consider as a temp while I look for someone to take the full-time graphic design and marketing position. Unless I settle for the guy who called me maaan every time he addressed me, showed up an hour late, and smelled like he had just smoked weed in the car before he came into the brewery.
Liked his designs. Hated the zero-fucks-given attitude.
I pick up the application of my one o’clock interviewee. “Frances Ameline Dawson. Sounds like someone’s grandmother.”
I scan her application and quickly discover that she’s only twenty-one years old… and not even a student. She’s already a college graduate. Shit, this girl’s confused about the position we’re offering. Which means this is another interview that will be a waste of my time; I’m not hiring a new grad for the full-time position.
I scan lower to have a look at her education; I’m curious about what someone so young could have already accomplished.
Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alabama. Driven. 3.9 GPA. Intelligent. Recipient of the Howard B. Jones graphic design award. Talented. They don’t give that bastard to someone with mediocre skills. She must be a good artist… no, make that a damn good artist.
Miss Frances Ameline Dawson has captured my attention.
I look up when I hear Tap knock on my open door. “Hey. I’ve got to make a delivery to BCC. Want to ride out there with me and grab a late lunch afterward?”
“Love to but can’t. Got an interview in ten minutes.”
“Oh, yeah. Forgot you had that going on today. Haven’t found anyone yet?”
“Not even close.”
“Maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for soon.”
“Hope so.” I’m taking care of all the graphic design and marketing, plus working on the winter seasonal recipe with Stout. I’m up to my ass in alligators and in desperate need of someone to take up some slack.
Molly—our office manager, head of human resources, and second mom to all of us—leans around the doorway and pokes her head into my office. “Next… applicant… is… here.” Why does she sound like she’s singing a song? Is she that happy it’s the last one for the day?
Frances is early. I like that.
“I can see that you have things to do so I’m outta here,” Tap says.
Molly slides her arm around him. “Tell Lawrence I said hello and to stop being a stranger. We miss her face around this place.”
“Don’t worry, mama. I’ll tell her.”
“Are you ready for me to send her back?” Molly has this huge grin plastered across her face.
Why is she so giddy? “Send her in.”
I’m taking another glance at Miss Dawson’s application when she taps on the door. “Hey Beck.”
Beck? Well, hell. There goes any hope I had for this one acting more professional than the three I saw ahead of her this morning.
“It’s Beckman.” I lift my eyes to Frances Ameline Dawson at the same time I correct her.
Long, dark loose curls. Vivid ocean eyes. Flawless porcelain skin. White teeth behind a lovely smile.
“Come in and have a seat.”
She and her four-inch fuck-me pumps cross my office and she lowers herself into the chair across from me, placing her black portfolio by her feet. “It’s good to see you again. Been a while, right?”
What. The. Hell?
This girl knows me.
And I have no idea who she is.
Have I fucked her? No. I would remember being between that pair of legs. Unless I was shit-faced. But even then, I don’t think I could forget this one.
Her eyes. Something about them seems familiar. But that body… I’ve never seen it before. And I’m certain I’ve never seen it naked. I would remember.
“How long has it been?” Maybe I can put the pieces together if I have some kind of time frame.
“Three years.” She’s only twenty-one. Three years ago, she’d have been eighteen. A kid. Barely legal. No way I fucked her… unless I had no idea how young she was.
Dammit. I cannot recollect Frances Ameline Dawson. Not even a little. And I really, really, really want to.
“You don’t recognize me?” Her voice is low. Childlike. Am I imagining a pang of hurt in it?
I wish I could place her. But I won’t pretend I do and risk looking like a fool. “I’m sorry, Frances. I don’t.”
“Frankee. Not Frances.”
Frankee… Frankee… Frankee Dawson? Oh, Scott’s daughter. Kiddo. I’ve known this girl since her father came to work for us when we opened Lovibond’s doors five years ago. “Kiddo.”
A broad smile spreads when I call her by the nickname I gave her years ago. “You remember.”
“Took a minute but yeah I do. In my defense, you’ve… changed.” Changed? Huge understatement. Developed. Matured. Bloomed. Blossomed. All of those would be much better word choices.
Short hair. No makeup. Baggy clothes. Straight, gangly body. Those are the things I remember about Frankee as a teenager. But no more. Kiddo is no longer a kid. She is a woman. A beautiful one.
Seems like only yesterday when she was here sweeping the warehouse and doing odd jobs around Molly’s office. Until she’d find her way to the art and marketing department. My territory.
She took an interest in what I was doing. Watched me. Asked questions. Doodled more than she swept. She was quite the little artist even back then.
I once found a crumpled sketch of a beer label in the trash when I was digging for something I had lost. I had no idea who had drawn it until I looked at the name signed in the lower right-hand corner of the page. Frankee Beckman. Not Frankee Dawson.
She was only sixteen, maybe seventeen but was apparently crushing on me since she was toying with the idea of being Mrs. Beckman. Typical behavior for a silly teenage girl. But Frankee was no typical teenage girl. She was a tomboy to the nth degree.
But not anymore.
“It’s okay that you couldn’t place me. I know I don’t look anything like I did the last time you saw me.”
“Not at all.” My eyes are tempted to leave her face and roam her body, but I force them to stay on her eyes… and full pink pouty lips.
Get on with the interview, Beckman. “You graduated from the University of Alabama in three years?”
Damn. That’s an accomplishment. “Impressive but why the rush?”
“The twins graduated from high school this year and they’ll be going to Alabama in the fall. My parents were going to have three kids in college at the same time if I didn’t push to finish early. I couldn’t do that to them because I wanted to take it easy.” Selflessness. A quality you don’t find in many these days.
“I’m sure Scott and Tara appreciated that.”
“It was brutal at the time but completely worth it. I can say that now that it’s over.”
It took five years for me to graduate but not because I was a slacker. Stout and I were concentrating on brewing and how we were going to build a company from nothing. Classes took a backseat to that. And I haven’t spent a single day being sorry about it.
“Let’s have a look at your portfolio.” I’m eager as fuck to see the designs of a Howard B. Jones award recipient.
She leans forward to pick up her portfolio, giving me a clear view down her blouse. Damn. She’s wearing a black lace bra. And I can’t help but wonder if the panties beneath her skirt match.
I quickly divert my eyes back to her application and remind myself that this is Frankee. Kiddo. My warehouse manager’s daughter. Having thoughts like that about her makes me a total dick.
One. Hundred. Percent.
She opens her portfolio case on the sofa and bends forward to take out her work, giving me the perfect view of her ass and legs in that skirt. So I do what men do. I look… despite knowing how dead I’d be if Scott saw me checking out his daughter.
Is Kiddo aware of what she’s doing? Or is she still so innocent that she doesn’t realize she’s presenting more than just her designs?
“This was my senior project. I consider it my best work.” I quickly divert my eyes to hers when she turns around to present her work. I hope like hell she didn’t see me ogling her ass.
“My assignment was to build a start-up business from scratch. I chose a hard cider company. My research stated that men and women are drinking cider equally so my design needed to appeal to both sexes. The cider drinker is between the ages of twenty-one and forty so I knew I needed to keep it modern and fresh.”
She removes the poster cover and it isn’t possible not to instantly be sucked into her design. The font. The colors. The artwork. They’re… perfection.
“For my advertising posters, I chose a different couple for each cider—each with a sexy, classic pinup-style girl and a devil-like man. The play on design concentrates on fruit from the Garden of Eden, depending upon the flavor of cider. The design is reminiscent of sex and sin.” Her smile deepens. “And who doesn’t love that?”
She goes through her posters, explaining them in great detail and then the product label itself. Everything about her design, her strategy… brilliant. “I would never have thought to take this route. My man brain doesn’t function this way, but every little detail about your campaign works.”
“A sexy woman and a bad boy. No one hates that.”
“These are really great.” I’m pretty sure Tap and Lawry would pay big bucks to have these images on their cider products.
“Got an A on this project.”
“You should have gotten an A-plus-plus.” Her work is that good.
She returns to her case and takes out several foam-core posters… while bending over in front of me again. “I have lots of other beer label designs if you want to see them.”
Ales. Stouts. Porters. Lagers. Malts. There must be at least twenty-five labels here for all different styles of beer. And not one of them is less than superb. “I’m impressed, Kiddo. Not only in your designs but the way you grasp the marketing side of this business.”
“That means a lot to me. Thank you.”
“Are you aware that this position is for a summer intern and not full-time employment?”
“I am. I’m moving to Austin in September. There’s no point in finding a job in Birmingham only to turn around and quit three months later. A summer internship is perfect for me. I think the experience I’d gain here would look great on my resume when I apply for jobs in the fall.”
I need temporary help. Frankee needs experience. I think this could work out perfectly. “How many hours a week could you work?”
“As many as you need.”
Frankee is already Lovibond family. And the perfect candidate for this summer job. This is a no-brainer. “It’s your position if you want it.”
“Of course, I want it.”
“Can you start Monday if Molly can push the paperwork through in time?”
“I sure can.”
“Stop by and see her on your way out. She’ll take care of everything.”
“Thank you for this opportunity. I really appreciate it.”
She gathers her artwork and returns it to her portfolio. One last look at her ass and legs. After this, no more. I swear.
“Dress code around the office?”
She looks sexy as fuck in what she’s wearing. I’d love to see her in more short skirts, blouses with low necklines, and black lace bras but that ain’t Lovibond brewery style.
“We’re casual around here. Jeans or shorts and a T-shirt are fine unless we have a big client coming in. But you’d never be expected to dress up for them. That would fall on Tap, Stout, and me.”
“Okay. Then I guess I’ll see you on Monday at…?”
“I get here around eight.”
“All right. Eight o’clock, Monday. I’ll be here.”
She stops in the doorway and looks back at me. “Working together again will be like old times. I look forward to it.”
“Me too.” I say the words but I already know that nothing about working side by side with Frankee is going to feel like old times. It isn’t possible with this grown-up, hotter-than-fuck version of her.
It’s only for the summer. Twelve weeks.
No big deal. I’ve got this.