Can a fun-loving Dutchman convince an uptight attorney to break all her rules?

Book 2 in the Love in the Lowlands Series is here! 🥳🥳🥳 Avery is not looking for love. Like she has time for love. Pff. The woman is the definition of workaholic. And she loves it! Niels, on the other hand, just wants to have fun. Preferably with the sexy uptight attorney who happens to be his boss. Ready to read all about how their love story pans out?

What’s that? You need more before you can make up your mind? I aim to please! Here’s the first chapter to whet your appetite: 

Chapter 1

Den what?

“Avery, can I see you in my office?”

For most people, that question from their boss causes fear and trepidation. Not for me. I have been waiting for this call. I pump my arm and mouth a silent YES! before answering the question in my best professional voice.

“I’ll be right there, Nora.”  

As soon as I hang up the phone, I jump to my feet and do a little dance. Woo-hoo! This is it! Finally! I am getting the promotion I’ve been working my ass off for. When I’m promoted to Head Legal Counsel of North America, I’ll be the youngest head legal counsel this company has ever seen.

Age is but a number. I know I can do this job. I deserve this job. I live and breathe for Petroix Oil.   

Okay, Avery. Calm down. You haven’t got the job yet. I stop my dancing and pat my bun to make certain no wayward hairs have escaped before straightening my skirt. I make an attempt to smooth the wrinkles out of my suit jacket, but it’s a lost cause. This is what happens when you arrive at the office at o-dark-thirty and roll up your sleeves to get to work.  

I reach for the door with a smile on my face. Oops. I’ll freak out the rest of the legal department if I step foot outside my office smiling. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some grumpity grump, but office hours are for working, not laughing and joking around. Laughing and joking around does not get you promoted to Head Legal Counsel at the age of thirty-six.

Head Legal Counsel! I raise my hands in the air and do another celebratory dance before clearing my throat and wiping the smile from my face. Avery Potts, professional and serious attorney, is back.  

“Avery,” my boss Nora greets me as I walk into her office.

Nora is the top legal dog at Petroix Oil. She’s the Director of Legal Affairs of Petroix Oil and my boss’s boss. She’s around sixty and always has a kind word for everyone. How she remains nice and calm while sitting on the board of a male dominated company is beyond me. She’s my hero.

“Please, have a seat.” She gestures to the conference table.

Once I’m seated, I keep my hands under the table to hide how much they’re trembling. This is happening. It’s really happening.

“I’m certain you’ve heard about Denis leaving us by now.”

Denis was the Head Legal Counsel of North America – the position directly under Director of Legal Affairs. He left Petroix for a position at a beverage company clearing the path for me to take his position.

I clear my throat to ensure I don’t sound giddy with excitement when I answer. “Yes.”

“This means we’re forced to do some shuffling around with the management positions,” Nora continues.

I hold my breath as I wait for her to continue. My current position is the Assistant Head Legal Counsel of North America. It’s only natural for me to be promoted to the head legal counsel position. I cross my fingers and hope with all my might.

Nora grins. “I’m happy to offer you the position of Head Legal Counsel of the EMEA market.”

My smile spreads from ear to ear. “Thank you. I’m excited for this challenge,” I say before my brain processes her words. “Wait. Did you say EMEA?”

“Yes, Luther, who is currently the EMEA director, will take over Denis’s position.”

This is not what I was hoping for. Not at all. But I maintain the smile on my face. “I’ve been working as Denis’s assistant for the past five years. I thought him leaving meant I could step into his position.”

Nora studies my face for a moment before frowning. “I’m sorry, Avery, but I don’t think you’re ready for the position yet.”

I bite my tongue to stop myself from arguing with her. Nora may project puppies and cuddles from the outside but on the inside, she’s an astute businesswoman with a world-class legal mind. If she doesn’t think I’m ready for the position yet no arguing will change her mind.

“I understand.” I stand, but Nora stops me before I can leave.

“Wait a minute. Don’t you want to hear more about the EMEA position? It’s a significant raise, and you’ll be relocating to Europe.”

Relocating to Europe? I guess it makes sense since EMEA does stand for Europe, Middle East, and Africa. But a relocation to Europe wasn’t on my radar. Hell. I’ve never even been to Europe. Who has time for vacations when you’re determined to become the youngest director in the history of the company?

“Where in Europe?” I ask.

“The Hague in the Netherlands.”

Of course. The Hague is where our European headquarters are located.

“You don’t think it would be better if I stayed here to help Luther adjust to his new position?” And hopefully steal the position out from under his hands sooner rather than later.

Nora drums her fingers together as she studies me. Can she see right through me? Does she know I’m planning to steal Luther’s position as soon as I can?

“No. I think the position in The Hague as Head Legal Counsel EMEA will be a good fit for you. It will give you a chance to grow into a management position,” she pauses, “since management is exactly where you want to be.”

I don’t deny it. I’m ambitious, and I’m not ashamed of it.

She cocks an eyebrow in challenge. “Unless you have some reason for not wanting to relocate?”

Way to be subtle, Nora. She won’t come right out and ask me about my personal situation, but her meaning is clear. Do I have a relationship that will interfere with my moving? Nora may project a grandmotherly vibe, but she’s not even a mother and she’s made it perfectly clear she thinks women are incapable of combining a relationship with a career.  

“No, there’s no reason. Let’s talk about the position in The Hague.”

When I walk out of her office thirty minutes later, my mind is already processing the million things I need to do to make this move happen. I have a month to transfer my current files to another lawyer and pack my house to relocate overseas. Of course, I can always change my mind and not accept the position, but I’m not an idiot. Head Legal Counsel EMEA may not be the position I was hoping for, but it’s still a promotion with a big, fat raise.

I whip out my phone and begin making a to-do list as I walk into my office.

“Surprise!”

At the shout, I shriek and fumble my phone. I look up to see my assistant, John, standing in my office next to my desk where there’s a balloon bouquet. The balloons say congrats on your new job. I frown. They’re not wrong. I do have a new job. Just not the one I wanted.

“Shit, John. You scared me.”

John isn’t actually my assistant. He’s the assistant for three lawyers in the office, but since my workload is heavier than the other two lawyers, he works almost exclusively for me.

“What’s wrong?”

At John’s question, I shut the door. “I didn’t get the job.”

“Sit. Explain.”

I collapse in the chair behind my desk, and he shoves a coffee into my hands. I take a sip. “Is this a pumpkin spice latte?”

The warm, fuzzy feeling of drinking my favorite beverage disappears when I realize I won’t be getting any pumpkin spice lattes in The Hague.  

“What’s going on?” John takes the seat in front of my desk and settles in for a gab.

If anyone else asked me the question, I’d send them on their way in no uncertain terms. Work hours are not the time to discuss personal situations. Trust me, I’ve tried to send John on his way. With zero success. Every time I shut him down, he puts my work at the bottom of his to-do pile. The sneaky man certainly knows how to get his way.

“They’re sending me away.”

John rolls his eyes. “Stop being melodramatic and tell me what happened in your meeting with Nora.”  

My eyes widen at his words. No one – and I do mean no one – has ever accused me of being melodramatic before. Geez, Avery. Get it together. You got offered a huge promotion. Be thankful.

“You’re looking at the new Head Legal Counsel for the EMEA market.”

“EMEA? As in Europe, Middle East, and Africa?”

“Yep.”

“But Luther is the Head Legal Counsel of the EMEA market.”

“No, Luther is the Head Legal Counsel of North America. I’m taking his position and he’s taking Denis’s place.”

John fast claps with a smile on his face from ear to ear. “Wow. This is exciting. You’re moving to Den Haag! Yeah! You have to take pictures of the criminal court for me.”

“Den what? What are you talking about?”

He purses his lips. “I forgot you don’t watch tv. There’s this great show. It’s a bunch of detectives. They form an international team and chase after—”

I raise my hand to stop him. He’ll go on and on about the show if I let him. It’s not like he can convince me to watch it. I don’t have time for television. Working twelve-hour days doesn’t exactly leave much time for silly things like tv or a love life for that matter.

“As much as I’d love to sit here and chit-chat.” John snorts. He knows the thing I like least in life is chit-chatting. “I have an appointment with a relocation consultant.”

John jumps to his feet. “I am beyond excited. I’m going to search for flights now. If you book early enough in advance, you can get some great deals. You’ll be settled by next summer. I’ll visit then,” he announces before leaving.

Settled by next summer? Summer is nearly a year away. How long will I be banished to Europe? Banished? Talk about being melodramatic. Enough, Avery. This is a promotion, not a demotion or banishment. It isn’t the job I was expecting, but I’ll still give it one-hundred and ten percent.

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