Love Captures the Heart (Sully Point, Book 3) (5 page)

"Ha. You and that gorgeous man did more than look at
property."

Holly sighed. "You know, sometimes you can be a real
pain."

"Come on, what gives? I know you. You never mix
business and pleasure."

"Would you believe that I'm not sure what happened? I
mean, I know what happened, but not the reason why. It was just so primal, so
immediate. We were compelled to do it."

Anna giggled. "Oh Holly, compelled? Really?"

She shrugged. "That's the best explanation I can give
you. But don't worry, it won't affect the project. It won't happen again."

Anna looked surprised. "Why not?"

"Because, he's a client and he may do the project. It
would be too complicated."

"Too bad. He seems like a nice guy. A bit reserved, but
a good person, is my take."

Holly sighed. "Now don't start. Yes, he's a good guy.
No, he is not looking for a relationship any more than I am. Leave it alone,
Anna."

"Okay, okay. You don't know what you're missing,
though, you really don't. Being married to Sam, having Joshua--it's
everything."

Holly reached out impulsively and hugged her sister.
"Hey, what's that for?"

"I'm so happy that you're happy."

"I want you to be happy too, Holly."

"I know. Just try and accept that I'm happy where I am
in my life."

"I hear you," Anna said. "But Dad...he kept
eyeing you two at dinner. I think I saw the matchmaking fever strike."

Holly groaned.

 

Chapter 3

 

The following day, Jason was taken around to the other
properties by Sam and Cody in Sam's SUV. The area of land was large enough for
what they envisioned, Jason decided. He enjoyed the morning with the two men
who were easygoing and yet also determined to make the project work.

Holly had said good-bye to him early in the morning. She'd
decided to drive back to the city right after breakfast, and had come to the
motel just as the sun was rising. She'd been businesslike and still friendly,
setting a tone that was easy to match. Jason had almost reached to kiss her,
the pull to her was still so strong. But he knew it would only complicate
things. He was grateful she was as dedicated to her business as he was, so
there would be nothing messy.

The final meeting involved Sam and Anna, Cody and Julia,
Frank and surprisingly, Mrs. Gilchrest the bank president. When he looked at
her quizzically after the introductions, she smiled and said, "I'm also on
the Town Council."

Jason said, "I should have realized you'd have the
backing of the town in order to proceed."

"Plus, one of the pieces of land is currently owned by
the bank."

Sam said, "Although that will be changing just as soon
as we can finalize the paperwork."

"So what do you think Jason? Can you do it?" Frank
asked.

"Certainly I can do it. The main problem is my
schedule. How quickly did you expect to start building?"

"We're flexible," Sam said. "Although we'd
like to start as soon as possible obviously. We also see this being done in
stages. But the overarching vision is something you'd probably need to have in
place before we start."

"Yes, I agree," Jason said. "We do have a
window of opportunity. I have a month-long gap in my schedule starting in a
week. If I devote all my energies to this project during that time, it might be
enough to start work on stage one."

Everyone looked excited at the prospect. "What do you
need from us?" Frank asked.

"Everything you've got on the land parcels. I'll send
you a list from my office with all the details. Who is handling the financing?"

"Rob Tremaine, Julia's father. Send him anything
financial related to the project," Sam said. "He wanted to be here
this weekend but had plans he couldn't change."

"We're hoping my father will be the first to buy one of
the houses you design," Julia said. "He needs a place to get away
from the city and relax."

"Yes, Rob is a bit of a workaholic," Cody said.

Jason thought having a house in Sully Point might be nice
but it probably wasn't enough of a draw to pull a true workaholic away from the
job. But he only smiled and nodded to Julia.

"Holly will be available in the city in case you need
her for information about Sully Point," Frank said. "Feel free to
call her any time."

Jason wondered if that offer would still be made if they
knew how much he wanted to call her. But not for information. "All right.
I think we're all set then. I'd better head back to the city."

As they all told him good-bye, he thought he'd never met
such a friendly group, especially all in one family. They seemed...happy, that
was it. Contented people, something he wasn't used to being around.

On the drive back, he spent some time thinking of Holly and
all the reasons he shouldn't call her. After that, he spent time thinking of
how much he still wanted her. It seemed to him that as long as they kept it
light and non-committal, and knew from the outset that they didn't want a
relationship, it might work. Like friends with benefits.

For now though, it was back to the city and back to work, to
make time for doing this Sully Point project.

* * * *

Holly woke Monday morning early, after a dream about having
sex with Jason. She shook her head at herself. He kept intruding into her
thoughts yesterday, and now today as well. Getting out of bed and heading to
the shower, she made a firm promise to herself to stop thinking of Jason
Earlington...and his great body with muscles you wouldn't expect, and those
startling green eyes. Right. Getting him out of her thoughts should be no
problem at all.

After her shower she tossed a K-cup into her Keurig coffee
brewer, which she truly believed was one of the great inventions of the
century. Sipping bold, hot coffee a couple of minutes later, she decided to
focus on the assistant she was determined to find for Jason. Spending time with
him over the weekend led her to believe she needed to modify her
recommendation. He didn't need some perky young thing--that would only irritate
him. And what she had been looking for, a man of similar age to Jason was not
the answer either. No, what he needed was a highly competent woman, similar to
her Lana. A woman of a certain age, who had not just work, but life experience,
and who knew the value of efficiency. The loss of his mother played her
decision.

Not that he needed someone to mother him. But there was a
comfort she had found in working with Lana. Someone who was near the same age
as her mother would be now, if she hadn't died. It was strange how they'd both
lost a mother. And for him a father as well. Devastating. It did something to
who you became. Holly knew she wasn't the person she would have been if she
hadn't lost her mother. She had been the oldest child, at age fourteen when her
mother died.

And on some level I do recognize how my sleeping around
and not wanting a relationship is all about fear.
Fear of losing someone.
Someone she loved. Yes, the loss of her mother had changed her. She wondered if
losing his parents motivated Jason into such a work-oriented lifestyle.

Holly made her way down the hall to the bedroom next to
hers. Her apartment had three bedrooms. One, a master suite, was hers, one was
a guest bedroom and the other was a closet. She knew she probably didn't need
all the clothes in her wardrobe, but she did love to shop. And if you were
going to interact with the movers and shakers in the city, wearing last
season's fashions simply wasn't done.

She chose a cream silk suit with a georgette blouse in rose.
Her cream high heels and rose gold jewelry, courtesy of Lucretia's shop,
finished her look. The suit had a feminine cut, with the jacket taken in slightly
at the waist to show off her curves. Curves that Jason had certainly seemed to
appreciate, the way his hands had caressed her body when--
Stop!

It was a shame, though, that the time in the Jaguar was the
end of it. They were so well-matched sexually, it was uncanny. She was looking
for the leather handbag that went with the outfit when it hit her. Why did it
have to end? Nothing said they couldn't get together for some recreational sex
every now and then. It didn't have to mean they were 'involved' or in some kind
of romance, did it? Of course not. A clean, uncomplicated simple sexual liaison,
happening periodically.

The question was--how to bring it up to him?

* * * *

Jason called Holly's number at her personnel agency. A woman
on the other end told him she was tied up but could call him back shortly.
While he waited, he paced up and down the length of his large office. It was a
long room that he'd designed specifically for pacing. He realized that he
couldn't propose his idea over the phone, but instead planned to ask her to
meet for lunch. But where? This was one conversation he didn't want to risk
being overheard. Finally it dawned on him to just have the lunch here at his
office.
You're slipping if it took that long to think of using the office,
he thought, feeling aggravated. If they could come up with an agreement or
something, he could stop being distracted by thoughts of her.

His phone rang and Holly said, "I have good news for
you."

Startled, he said, "Oh? What is it?"

"I think I've found you an assistant. I'd like for you
to meet her today if possible."

"Uh...sure. I could see her." He flipped through
his tablet computer, to find his schedule for the current day. "Yes, I
have a free hour at eleven."

"I'm sure she can be there then. I'll call you back
only if there's a problem with the time. Her name is Mrs. Marla Stone."

"That sounds good. Don't hang up yet though, remember,
I called you initially?"

She laughed. "That's right. So what can I do for
you?"

"Would you have lunch with me today? There's something
I need to discuss with you."

"Lunch? If we can push it to one p.m. I can meet with
you. Where?"

"How about my office? I'll have something sent in. I
need privacy to talk to you about this."

"Hmm. Now I'm intrigued. Okay, I'll see you at
one."

"See you then."

He called a nearby restaurant and ordered salads with
grilled chicken to be delivered for his meeting with Holly.
There,
he
thought.
Now I can get some work done.
 

The rest of the morning passed quickly, until the
receptionist called to say his eleven o'clock was here. He stood up as Mrs.
Stone entered the office. She was an attractive woman in her late forties or
early fifties, with sleek gray hair cut in such a way that it fell naturally
around her face, coming to her jawline. She was dressed in the standard black
business suit, but wore a surprisingly vibrant red blouse. That red said
something, he thought.

He motioned her to a chair and then sat across from her.
"Holly recommends you highly, Mrs. Stone."

She smiled. "I do like her. She's a very perceptive
young woman."

Jason liked the sound of Mrs. Stone's voice. It had a rich
tone, well-modulated. "Yes, that she is. So tell me about yourself."

Mrs. Stone proceeded to give an impressive work history.
She'd been an executive secretary to several names that he knew as big in
business. He had a few concerns. "Here's the thing--you have been involved
in big business and some of your skills would naturally work here as well as
any of those places. But there are other things, such as an awareness of the
design process that would be helpful."

"Then you're in luck. I think Holly chose me because
when I was younger I went to an art school and studied a variety of
disciplines. It turned out I wasn't quite good enough to make a living at it,
but my interests are still there. I'd love to be working with someone who used
a creative process like you must in your design of such innovative
buildings."

Jason sat back and smiled at her. "Now it begins to
make sense to me--her choice." They continued to discuss what he foresaw
the job entailing, while she offered up ways she thought her skills would mesh
with the job.

"What about your personal life? I'm a bit of a
workaholic. I can't promise that the hours would be strictly nine to
five."

She shook her head and he liked the neat way her hair fell
immediately back into place.

"My husband, Hugh, died suddenly from a heart attack a
couple of years ago. It was quite awful, and I took off for almost a year
before returning to work. My children are grown and live across country. I
don't see them very often. In other words, Mr. Earlington, my time is my own. I
enjoy working and have no problem with long hours."

"Perfect. Did Holly discuss compensation with
you?"

"Yes, she did and it's a generous amount."

"In that case, I'd like for you to work as my
assistant, Mrs. Stone. As soon as you can start."

She gave him a smile and said, "I'd be happy to take
the job. I can start tomorrow."

"This is great. Okay, I'll have the parking garage
ready to expect you then--"

"Excuse me, but I won't be driving so there's no need.
I'll be walking since I don't live all that far from here."

She mentioned the street and his eyebrows rose. "You
must have a nice rent-controlled apartment in that neighborhood."

"Yes I do. We were lucky to get it when we did and I've
never moved. It's a great pre-war place."

"Excellent. I'm usually here by eight, after hitting
the gym. I'll see you then."

They shook hands and she left. Jason felt like a huge weight
had been lifted from his shoulders. Finally, he'd have someone mature and
skilled to help him out. He would owe Holly for this one.

* * * *

Holly felt curious about the upcoming meeting with Jason.
Especially since she'd planned to ask for a meeting with him to propose her
idea. She supposed she could bring it up now. She walked into his offices and
the receptionist told her to go on back. She found him setting out silverware
and containers of food on a square wooden dining table.

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