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Saving the CEO

By´╝ÜJenny Holiday


Chapter One


“Ebenezer is here!”

Cassie’s head shot up from the bar, where she’d been methodically slicing lemons. “No way! It’s only Tuesday!”

Ebenezer ate dinner at Edward’s every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Not on Tuesdays. Never on Tuesdays.

“I know!” squealed Sara, one of the servers, the one who was nicest to Cassie. The wait staff knew Cassie hadn’t earned her job as the weeknight bartender—she was a friend of the owner—and some of them resented it. Unlike the rest of them, she did not engage in the bleaching and dieting and grooming required to earn tips at a high-end place like Edward’s, but the servers had to tip her out just the same. Cassie got it. In their shoes, she’d probably resent it too.

“And his table isn’t free!” Sara whispered, “Because it’s Tuesday!”

Cassie didn’t bother stifling a dreamy sigh as she watched Edward’s most reliable customer in discussion with Camille, the hostess—the one who was meanest to her. There was no need to hide her admiration because they all loved Ebenezer a little bit. Probably not least because he was the World’s Best Tipper. Fifty percent, every single time. Even Cassie, who as bartender was tipped out only a small percentage of what the servers took in, saw the difference on an Ebenezer night.

So, a good tipper, yes, but the girls also loved Ebenezer because he was beautiful. A beautiful enigma. A man of habit, obviously, given his regular Wednesday through Friday appearances stretching back almost two years. But beyond that, no one knew anything about him, not really, other than that he was some sort of real estate tycoon. The servers reported that he was perfectly polite. But despite his impeccable manners, or perhaps because of them, he came across as cold. Never said anything more than was strictly required. He’d answer small-talkish sorts of questions, but in a way that made the asker feel she’d stepped out of line, never offering a real glimpse into his life. Sara had been conducting experiments on him, to see if anything she did—or didn’t do—would affect the seemingly inviolable fifty percent tip. So far, no. Whether they spoke only about his order—which, unlike most regulars, was never the same—or whether she shamelessly pried and he doggedly but politely shut her down, the end result was the same. A sky-high bill, thanks in no small part to the glass of ridiculously marked-up single malt scotch he started with, and a fifty percent tip.

“He’s entertaining enough on a normal night,” Cassie whispered with a grin. “On a Tuesday night when his table is taken?” She looked to the sky and made a silly “jazz hands” motion that earned her an answering grin from Sara.

But the truth was that Ebenezer wasn’t inherently that entertaining. Any given night produced a customer who provided more drama—a steak sent back three times, a bottle of 1985 Cabernet Sauvignon three-quarters drunk and then sent back for being corked.

Ebenezer never generated that kind of drama. They all just made it up to fill in the blanks in his mysterious persona. His name wasn’t even Ebenezer. Of course it wasn’t Ebenezer! He had a perfectly normal name they’d gleaned from his credit card—Cassie just couldn’t remember it.

Whatever it was, it was not as exciting as the story they’d made up that earned him his nickname. He always worked through dinner, spreading out papers, tapping through documents on his iPad. That, combined with his expensive, exquisitely tailored suits, and the fact that he was always alone, inspired Cassie to name him. Last December he’d strolled in alone, with his spreadsheets and his devices, and she thought, “He’s accumulating his chains.” But she didn’t say that. She’d just burst out the moniker Ebenezer Scrooge, and the rest of them, who had probably never read the book, embraced the alias. It stuck, even though Cassie protested that the actual Scrooge would never have left a fifty percent tip.

So here they were almost a year later, everything the same—nothing ever really changed at Edward’s—except Mr. Scrooge had appeared on a Tuesday, sending them all into a tailspin.

“Oh my God! He’s coming over here!” said Sara, grabbing a cloth and wiping a nonexistent spill on the bar. Cassie had to restrain herself from snatching the towel out of the server’s perfectly manicured hands—she didn’t like people messing with her bar.

Sara was right, though. Ebenezer was indeed on his way over, leaving an annoyed-looking Camille in his wake. God, he was beautiful, in the way a frozen waterfall was beautiful. He was all angles—choppy, dirty-blond hair slightly longer than one would have expected from a…scrooge. His face was all cheekbones and chin. Pale blue eyes (not that she’d noticed). Six-four at least. He had a rotation of suits—more than most men, she assumed, in that there were a good dozen different ones (not that she’d noticed). Today’s was navy pinstriped. He was always perfectly turned out, bordering on conservative, but there was always one detail that threw off that interpretation. Today it was a lime green tie.

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