Natalie looked at the clock on her computer. It was almost six. The rest of the facility was dark and quiet. It was Tuesday, so the others were all off today. Natalie was supposed to be off, too, but she usually came into the office anyway. When it was quiet, she could catch up on paperwork and filing, talk with their vendors and answer the phone in case a client called. Or stopped by, as the case was tonight.
She slid open the desk drawer where she kept all her toiletries. Pulling out a small hand mirror, she checked her teeth for lipstick, smoothed her hand over her hair and admired her overall look. She found her compact to apply powder to the shinier areas and reapplied her lipstick. She may have put a little extra effort into her appearance today. Not to impress Colin. Not really. She did it more to torture him. Her pride stung from his rebuffing and she wanted him to suffer just a little bit, too.
Satisfied, she slipped her things back into the drawer. A soft door chime sounded a moment later and she knew that he’d arrived. She stood, taking a deep breath and willing herself to ignore her attraction to him. This was about work. Work. And anytime she thought differently, she needed to remind herself how she’d felt when he rejected her.
Natalie walked quickly down the hallway to the lobby. She found Colin waiting for her there. At the party and at their meeting yesterday, he’d been wearing a suit, but tonight, he was wearing a tight T-shirt and khakis. She watched the muscles of his broad shoulders move beneath the fabric as he slipped out of his winter coat, hanging it on the rack by the door.
When he turned to face her, she was blindsided by his bright smile and defined forearms. When he wore his suit, it was easy to forget he wasn’t just a CEO, he was also a landscaper. She’d wager he rarely got dirt under his nails these days, but he still had the muscular arms and chest of a man who could move the earth with brute strength.
Colin looked down, seemingly following her gaze. “Do you like the shirt? We just had them made up for all the staff to wear when they’re out on job sites.”
Honestly, she hadn’t paid much attention to the shirt, but talking about that was certainly better than admitting she was lusting over his hard pecs. “It’s very nice,” she said with a polite smile. “I like the dark green color.” And she did. It had the Russell Landscaping logo in white on the front. It looked nice on him. Especially the fact that it looked painted on.
“Me, too. You didn’t call to say there was an issue, so I assume you have the wedding plans ready?”
“I do. Come on back to my office and I’ll show you what we’ve pulled together.”
They turned and walked down the hallway, side by side. She couldn’t help but notice that Colin had gently rested a guiding hand at the small of her back as she slipped into the office ahead of him. It was a faint touch, and yet she could still feel the heat of it through her clothes. Goose bumps raised up across her forearms when he pulled away, leaving her cold. It was an unexpected touch and yet she had to admit she was a little disappointed it was so quick. Despite their years apart, her reaction to Colin had only grown along with his biceps. Unfortunately, those little thrills were all she’d allow herself to have. She was first and foremost a professional.
They settled into her office and Natalie pulled out the trifold portfolio she used for these meetings. She unfolded it, showing all the images and options for their wedding. Focusing on work was her best strategy for dealing with her attraction to Colin.
“Let’s start with the menu,” she began. “Amelia, our caterer, would normally do up to three entrees for a wedding this size, but with such short notice, we really don’t have time for attendees to select their meals. Instead, she put together a surf and turf option that should make everyone happy. Option one pairs her very popular beef tenderloin with a crab cake. You also have the choice of doing a bourbon-glazed salmon, or a chicken option instead if you think fish might be a problem for your guests.”
She watched Colin look over the options thoughtfully. She liked the way his brow drew together as he thought. Staring down at the portfolio, she could see how long and thick his eyelashes were. Most women would kill for lashes like those.
“What would you choose?” he asked, unaware of her intense study of his face.
“The crab cake,” Natalie said without hesitation. “They’re almost all crab, with a crisp outside and a spicy remoulade. They’re amazing.”
“Okay, that sounds great. Let’s go with that.”
Natalie checked off his selection. “For the cake, she put together three concept designs.” She went into detail on each, explaining the decorations and how it fit with the theme.