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The Most Eligible Bachelor Bella Winters 2022/7/22 14:15:34

So, do you agree to the extra budget?” Hank asks me, sounding a little bit annoyed now. “I need an answer today. Do you think maybe you could take a look?”

“Oh, sorry.” I drag my eyes away from my cell phone screen where I’ve been looking at possible auditions for Lola to attend in the city for the past hour. I don’t know many people myself, but my dad does which means the Heath-Smith name will open doors she wouldn’t be able to alone. “Yes, I agree with that budget. Sorry I’m so distracted.”

Hank gives me a look as if he wants to say something, but he doesn’t quite manage to get words out. “Yeah, sure thanks, boss. I’ll get on it right away.”

“Hold on, Hank.” I stop him from going. “Wait a minute. Is there something you want to say? You look like you have something on your mind.” He shifts his feet awkwardly and won’t meet my eyes. Clearly this isn’t something that I’m going to like. “It’s okay, Hank. I won’t get offended. Whatever it is you have to say, just say it.”

“It’s just…” He breathes deeply, steeling himself. “I’ve heard all sorts of amazing things about you, work wise. I’ve heard that you’re a real demon.”

“Okay?” I have no idea where he’s going with this, but I’m intrigued.

“It’s just that you’ve been very distracted while you’ve been here. It hasn’t always been easy to get anything out of you, you know? At first I thought you must not want to be here in this small town. I know that it can’t be a very interesting project for you, but now… well now I’m starting to think that you might be in love.”

At the L word, I grab onto my phone and I shove it back into my pocket so Hank can’t see what I’m researching. I don’t want him to think that I’m trying to help Lola or that I want to bring her into my life more long term. He won’t understand that I’m just trying to be kind, to help Lola do what she so clearly wants to do with her life. It doesn’t mean I’m falling for her or that I want to drag this out.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I shoot back firmly. “But I’m sorry. I will take your notes on board and I’ll be more alert while I’m here from now on.”

Hank nods awkwardly, blushing as he realizes that he might have overstepped the boundary with me then, and he walks off leaving me alone to stew in my thoughts. Yes, I like Lola, but I certainly don’t love her. Just because I’ve spent far more time with her than any other woman in my life, doesn’t mean anything. She’s just the only interesting thing in this town, that’s all. I won’t have Hank stir me up like that.

Ring, ring… Ring, ring… Ring, ring…

I glance at the screen to see Lola’s name there. My initial sensation is my heart skipping a beat, but then I realize that she’s distracting me at work again. I don’t want to speak to her when I’m here anymore, I do need to focus if I don’t want to let my father down, I need to separate her for my fun time, that’s all.

I hit answer, unable to completely ignore Lola. She has a pull inside my chest, a tugging sensation that draws me in, even when I know it’s bad for me.

“Hello?” I ask a little breathlessly. “Lola, everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure.” I cradle the phone to my ear as I soak in her lovely voice. I get so wrapped up in her words that I don’t notice her sad tone for a while. “Erm, it’s just my dad. He isn’t great today and I think I might need to take him to the hospital. I just wanted to let you know so you don’t turn up tonight and I’m not there. I don’t know how long I’m going to be…” She sounds guilty, which breaks my heart. None of this is her fault. I’m so glad I answered the phone now! I would feel guilty forever, if not.

“Oh no, that’s fine. Is there anything I can do for you? Do you need driving or anything?”

“No, it’s okay. Dad’s in the car now and I’m just about to take him.” The concern falls off her tongue. “Just… letting you know.”

“Will you please keep me up to date? Anything I can do I want to be there.”

“Oh yeah of course, I will do, thank you.”

Once she hangs up the phone I start thinking about costs. I know there isn’t much that I can do for Lola and her father, but they might not have health insurance either. If so, that’ll cost them a fortune… I know she won’t want me to, but I can pay it for her. If I do it without her knowing then there’s nothing she can get upset about. Hopefully she won’t even realize, if she has a lot going on it might not even hit her.

I move away from the building site, which is now starting to look a lot more like the pictures than it did last week, and I make another call. Only this one to the local hospital. I speak to a receptionist there about forwarding Mr. Boots’ medical bills to me. Of course she won’t agree to it, since I’m not a family member, but she tells me if I can make my way down to the hospital within the next twenty four hours with a method of payment, she’ll sort it out with me. Relief floods me as she gives me something to work with.

I then ask her if there’s a specialist on board, which of course there isn’t because it’s such a small place, which gives me something else I can focus on. I can help find one, and pay for the specialist treatment to help her dad. I don’t like problems I can’t solve, that isn’t practical enough for me. When I have something I can do, I feel useful.

“Is everything alright, boss?” Again I’m faced with Hank, the man who just told me my mind isn’t on the prize enough, and I’m distracted again. “You look… stressed.”

“I… I’m sorry,” I reply with a sharp shake of the head. “I know I’m not supposed to be distracted anymore, but something has come up and it’s something that I need to deal with.”

“I didn’t mean any offense when I said that, boss. I honestly didn’t.” Hank looks taken aback and I can hardly blame him. “It’s just… well, if you’re in love then we all know what we’re up against. It’s not a bad thing, we just know that boring details about a building can’t compete to that of a pretty face.” He pats me on the arm. “We’ve all been there, boss.”

I can’t stop the smile from spreading across my face. I know I don’t love Lola, and that I can’t ever love her even if I want to, but I can use that as an excuse for now. “Yes, I suppose that is the case. I don’t know why I didn’t just say that before. Now she needs me. She has a family medical emergency to deal with. I think I need to be there. Can you handle everything here?”

“Oh, I can handle it, don’t you worry about that. You just go and make this girl fall in love with you too… if she isn’t already.”

I can’t dignify that with an answer, I just need to get the hell out of here. I give Hank a grateful smile and I race to my car. I probably could walk to the hospital, but I want to get there quickly. I need to speak to the receptionist I dealt with on the phone, I want to catch her while she’s still on the desk so I can get the bill dealt with in a quick and discrete manner.