Authors: Natalie Ann
Text Copyright 2015 Natalie Ann
All Rights Reserved
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without a written consent.
Dedication: To my readers! Thanks for helping my dreams come true.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The Road Series
Lucas and Brooke’s Story-
Road to Recovery
Jack and Cori’s Story –
Road to Redemption
Mac and Beth’s Story-
Road to Reality
Ryan and Kaitlin’s Story-
Road to Reason
The All Series
Ben and Presley’s Story –
All or Nothing
Phil and Sophia’s Story –
All of Me
Alec and Brynn’s Story –
All the Way
Sean and Carly’s Story — All I Want (Coming early 2016)
Brynn looked around the reception area while she waited to be called into the interview. For the millionth time she questioned what she was doing here, hours from home…a second time no less.
The first interview weeks ago she attended out of curiosity. She never expected anything to come of it, and was shocked that she walked out the door more excited over the possibility than when she walked in.
Smoothing her hands over her black skirt, she tried to compose her thoughts. Did she really want to start a new career again? Did she really want to put herself in the same position that she ran away from years ago? The answer was yes. She’d worked too hard to throw it all away.
Three years ago, she’d had no choice, at least in her mind. It was too fresh and too hard to return to her old job and think everything could go back to the way it was, so she’d left. At that time, it was the right decision, but now, well…now was the time to start over, or rather begin again. She just needed to find the courage.
She had no problem speaking up to make herself heard. Then again, in her field of study in college—primarily dominated by men—she had to be able to speak up, otherwise, she would’ve been cast aside. Ignored. She had to remember that now with starting over.
She’d always been strong before and she knew she could be again. Enough time had passed and she was ready now. She was going in more confident than ever. Nothing from the past was going to jeopardize this. She was going to pretend it never happened, and was starting fresh. She’d told herself that enough times that she was actually believing it.
She looked down at her watch: twenty minutes early. Another bad habit of hers, but she’d had so far to drive and didn’t want to risk getting stuck in traffic and being late.
Mentally telling herself to relax, she gazed around the room taking in the décor. It was pretty boring actually, but it
a construction company. Still, she would have thought they’d brighten the place up a bit by adding a little color with some curtains or artwork.
Although, the framed pictures of their builds were a nice touch, she had to admit. If it was up to her, she’d use more colorful, bold frames and maybe artistically lay them out in random patterns rather than in straight lines around the room.
She had to stop redecorating the place in her mind. She wasn’t here as a realtor trying to sell the building and she wasn’t working here…yet. But if she did get the job, maybe she’d make some suggestions…
“Brynn, it’s so good to see you again.”
She turned suddenly to see Sean, the Harper’s CFO who interviewed her weeks ago, standing in front of her with his hand stretched out in greeting. She’d been so lost in her thoughts on sprucing up the reception area that she’d never heard him approach.
Standing up, she wiped her hand on her thigh, then cringed over how unprofessional that was and prayed he didn’t notice her nerves. She was never nervous when meeting new people and for the life of her couldn’t figure out why she was now.
Oh, who was she kidding? She was a wreck over this interview. Sometime in the last two weeks she convinced herself she needed this to start her life over. She wanted it more than she wanted anything before in her professional career and she had to stop doubting herself and take the plunge. It was that, or stay miserable and beat herself up over her lost dreams and being too much of a coward to try again.
“Thank you for the opportunity,” she said returning Sean’s handshake.
“Follow me to the conference room. Alec and Phil will be meeting with us today.”
He opened the conference room door, held it for her to proceed and then stood there while he introduced her to the owners of Harper Construction. She knew they were twins, but they really didn’t look too much alike. At least she could tell them apart easy enough.
She shook hands with them both. Phil smiled at her pleasantly, but Alec shut right down. It wasn’t hard to miss, really. He’d stood up, looked her over from her black pumps, to her straight pencil skirt, her pink shirt and black-and-white blazer, right to her eyes. She’d seen the look before, the one that said, “Too womanly to work for a construction company,” and she cursed the fact she wore what she did today. She never dressed this feminine before around the men at work. She knew it diminished her worth in the men’s eyes.
It was an interview though; she had to dress up, but maybe she should have worn black pants and flats. She’d agonized over this for days and could have kicked herself for going with the skirt. After what happened at her last job, she swore she never would dress this way if she ventured back into the construction world.
What could she have been thinking? Right then she figured she blew her chance at this job that she wanted so badly.
“Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?” Phil started with after they gestured her to a chair.
With a deep breath, she began
“I’ll give you a summary outside of what my resume states. My father is a contractor. I grew up swinging a hammer next to him. I think I was holding onto tools before I could walk,” she said, adding a little chuckle, praying they didn’t take it as a nervous laugh. “I’ve always loved building things, looking at scrap materials and picturing in my head what I could make with them. As I got older I would spend summers working on projects with my father and getting a lot of hands-on experience, you could say.”
Phil nodded his head with a polite smile and she felt she was on the right track, but Alec had yet to warm up, she saw, and then he asked, “What’s the first thing you remember building?”
She didn’t think it was an odd question, but she hesitated, not sure if she should actually say the first thing she remembered building as a child, or as an adult. She went with her gut and said,
My mother had been asking my father to build her a bird feeder. It was a simple thing he could have made in no time, but he was busy. I thought I would surprise her with it, so I went out to his toolshed and found a bunch of scrap wood and made it for her.”
Alec chuckled, a not-so-impressed look on his face now. “A bird feeder.”
“I was five,” she said, laughing along with him, trying to stay confident and wishing she hadn’t used that example. Then she saw Phil’s impressed face and breathed a sigh of relief. At least one of them was giving positive signs.
When Alec heard that piece of information, his face relaxed a bit making him look rather attractive to her just then, and then he asked, “How long did the bird feeder last?”
“It’s still hanging outside right now.” Before she could say anything else, Alec abruptly stood up and walked out of the room. What the heck? Was the interview over? Did she mess up so much on his first question? She’d thought he was warming up to her just now, but maybe she was wrong.
He walked back in, dropped three pieces of cut wood on the table, and asked, “What are they?”
“Wood,” she answered quickly, then could have bitten her tongue for saying that. Of course they were wood. Quickly, she clarified, “Do you mean the dimensions?” She held each one up and said, “Two by two, two by four, and two by six.”
Not easily won over, she saw, Alec walked out again and came back with three samples of countertops. “What about these?”
Just as fast, Brynn held them up one by one and answered, “Granite, marble and quartz. This is fun, do you have some more?” Again,
did she say that? Well, she was having fun and relaxing slightly. She was in her comfort zone now. Whatever Alec was doing was working for her, so she was going to just go with the flow.
Thirty minutes later, she was being escorted out of the interview by Sean and shaking his hand. “Thank you again for giving me the opportunity. I really feel I’m a good fit for Harper’s.”
“I know you are. You did well in there. We’ll be in touch soon.”
She walked out of the office and climbed into her SUV, laid her purse on the passenger seat and her head on the steering wheel, taking a deep breath. She wasn’t so sure she did well in there and thought maybe Sean was just being nice.
She wanted this so badly, maybe she tried too hard. Maybe it wasn’t time for her to venture back into this world, no matter how much she felt she was made for it. Maybe what happened three years ago was a sign for her to just hang up her hat.
Brynn was driving down the thruway toward her new home. Well, not her new home actually, but the new city she was going to be living in. She wouldn’t have a home for a while, at least a home of her own.
Looking in the side mirror of the U-Haul truck she was driving, she caught a glimpse of her SUV being towed behind. Everything looked good; only another hour or so before she reached Saratoga and the start of her new life.
Excitement was the least of the words she could use to describe how she was feeling. Giddy, happy, fulfilled. The list went on and on.
In a month or so she would be living in the new model home the Harpers were building. That offer had come out of left field. Not only had they offered her a salary at the top of their range, but a place to live and work out of, rent-free for a year. That would give her plenty of time to buy and flip a place of her own, which she’d been dying to do.
After she left her last construction job where she served as a foreman in her final year, she’d needed a break from that life. Too many bad memories, and ones she didn’t want rushing through her brain while driving to her new job.
Push the fear back
, she reminded herself.
Walking into that first interview with the CFO a month ago, she’d been impressed. Sean Callahan was young and professional, yet funny at the same time. Between him and Mary, the office manager, they made her feel almost at home. She could easily see how close the two of them were and the way they talked about Harper Construction. Like it was a family, and that was something she wanted.
So accepting that interview on a whim and thinking nothing might come of it, turned into desire. Desire to get this job. She had to have it. She wanted it more than she’d wanted anything before.
Thinking of her new job, she’d had some confusing thoughts about Alec. He was just so hard to read. He’d shut down when she first walked into the interview, it was obvious to anyone looking at his face.
Little by little she saw him change though. His face softened—making him look incredibly handsome—his questions became more detailed and by the end she was so comfortable that she realized she was talking with Alec more than Phil or Sean.
And even though she walked out of the interview sweating it and praying she made the right impression on them, deep down she knew she couldn’t have done any better than she had.
Obviously it was good, because they called her the next morning and made a very generous offer to her that she would have been crazy to turn down
She couldn’t wait for her first day. Or to see Alec again.
Alec Harper walked through the model home they were building in the new development. He’d put a rush on this house to get it ready for Brynn Palmer. She would be starting today and he couldn’t wait to get some help.
This was the busiest he’d ever been and he felt like he was sinking in quicksand. Phil was no better. They needed their new hire more than they’d realized. Just being able to take the little stuff off his list would help enormously.
The house should be livable in another month, with any luck. Brynn said she had a place to stay until then, and he hoped she did. They could get delayed; it always seemed to happen in construction.
Satisfied everything was on track, he walked over to the next few properties they were working on. Ten builds at once—he and Phil were nuts to even consider this.
Who was he kidding? He was nuts. It had been his idea to do this, and Phil went along with him, knowing how much it meant to Alec to keep expanding. Not that Phil wasn’t reaping the rewards too, but both of them were burning the candle furiously at each end.
Looking at his watch, he knew his crew would be arriving soon. He liked to start his day earlier than the crew, who started at seven in the morning. He’d been here an hour already taking notes, making decisions and changes, figuring out their timelines and working through everything he needed to do for each day. He had a foreman for a lot of the day-to-day decisions, but this was his baby, and he was going to see every step of it through.
He’d had every intention of getting to the office by eight—nine at the very latest—this morning. Unfortunately he got sidetracked and was rushing through the door a little after ten with his second large cup of coffee in his hand along with a box of donuts.
He had a weakness for sweets, and he hoped he could soften everyone up with donuts being that he was late today on Brynn’s first day. Not that he was worried; there was all sorts of paperwork for her to fill out and keep her occupied. That was Mary and Sean’s domain, and Phil was there too, so he would have greeted her.
But it wasn’t like him to not be present for someone’s first day. They were a team. To be a good working team everyone had to be respectful of each other. That was how Alec and Phil ran their business. Ultimately Brynn was going to be his and Phil’s right-hand man, so they had to work well together. Right-hand woman, he corrected himself.
Setting the donuts on Mary’s desk with a quick apology—which only had her laughing and shaking her head at him—he quickly walked to his office and pulled up short. He’d totally forgotten he would be sharing a space with Brynn. There wasn’t any other room at the moment and she needed an office. He wasn’t in the building much anyway, so he didn’t mind.
Except, standing in the doorway looking at her bent over in a pair of nicely-fitted jeans was giving him a moment’s pause. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea after all…not that Brynn was his type.
Or was she? During the interview, the way she looked and acted, she was totally his type of woman. Soft, womanly—and the exact opposite of what he needed as an employee.
He had spent the last two weeks trying to forget how gorgeous she was. When she’d first walked in for her second interview all dressed up in that sexy suit, he’d had no expectations she would be the one for the job. At. All.
But she’d proved him wrong, at least her knowledge did. Then he had every confidence she was the right person for this position, regardless of the way she looked.
He wasn’t sure what he expected her to look like in the office day-to-day. It’s not like she would have a need for suits and dresses, which was a good thing, because he didn’t need to get distracted by how good she looked in them. Only, he really didn’t expect to see the body she had so impeccably displayed right now either, making his thoughts jump back to her in that suit.
Long legs—not that she was overly tall, not at all. About five foot five maybe, but a good majority of those inches were her legs. Her hips were just about right. Of course bent over like that, he had no choice but to admire how nice they were.
Then she stood up and turned to the side to place something on one of the shelving units, and he saw how tiny her waist was and how well her fitted shirt showed off the rest of her assets.
Shaking his head, he gathered his thoughts. “Good morning. Sorry I’m later than I thought.”
She jumped slightly, then laughed, deep and throaty. “No problem. I’m just rearranging some things.” Then she seemed to think twice and quickly added, “Don’t worry, I didn’t touch anything on your desk. I’m just trying to figure out the best way to set up my space.”
“That’s fine. I’m not here much. Sorry about the mess.” He looked around the office, and then his eyes landed on his desk area and saw papers everywhere. Phil always hated how unorganized Alec kept his space—hated even coming into his office. Maybe he should try to clean up a bit more, if he could find the time.
“I’ve seen worse,” Brynn replied, keeping a straight face.
Well, at least she didn’t come right out and call him a slob. Though, she didn’t deny it either. “Feel free to organize the room the way you want. Just let me know where you move anything and I’ll try my best to put it back in the same place.” He could do that; he did it at home growing up. Of course he had no choice since his mother was a stickler about where things went. That was probably why he was so lazy about putting things away now.
“I’ll label everything so you won’t have a problem finding it.”
“Labels?” he asked, fighting back a wince.
“Yeah, the boxes and binders of materials for projects, everything will be labeled. I like things organized just right,” she said politely.
Great, just like living at home with his mom, he thought.
He walked in and sat at his desk, then turned to boot up his computer. “I just need to respond to a few emails.” He could have done that from his phone but hated typing on the thing any more than necessary. “And then I’ll get out of your way. I’ve got things to do at the site today.”
He noticed her standing there watching him for a second, almost as in thought. “I would love to stop over and see the development. Just let me know when a good time would be. I don’t want to get in anyone’s way.”
“How about when I’m done here?”
“Great,” she said adding an enthusiastic smile. Her brown eyes just lit up, excitement evident. He would have never suspected she would be so thrilled over a construction site when he first met her all dressed up, but now, he had no doubt about it. Then again, she didn’t look anything at all like she did during the interview. Now she was dressed in jeans and a cotton shirt, her long hair pulled back in a ponytail, looking like she belonged more than the last time he saw her.
He glanced at her feet and noticed the flats she was wearing. “You’ll need to change your shoes though.”
She laughed. Soft and raspy, and he felt the heat shoot right from his stomach into his chest. “I’ve got my work boots under my desk. Don’t worry, I’m prepared.”
Prepared, yeah. Too bad he wasn’t.