By: Sadie Black

She did not seem particularly interested in saving me from my embarrassment now. I was a hair’s breadth away from just depositing myself in the walk-in freezer and waiting for her to leave when she took me firmly by the shoulders.

“Look. I’m going to give you some good, old-fashioned, solid advice. And you know you can trust me because I’m a lawyer and I’m wearing a fancy pant-suit,” She smirked.

“Oh really.”

“Yes really. Now my advice is two-fold. One: Get out there and be friendly to your contractor if you want the next two weeks to go smoothly. Two: Stop lying to yourself and get a piece of that ass.”

“Three: Ignore steps one and two and go home with a carton of Ben & Jerry’s and the login to your Netflix subscription.” I tried to walk away.

“Fine. Fine. We’ll table number two for now. Let’s focus on one. Invite him and his staff to our party.”

“Our what?”

“The dinner party we are going to throw to thank everyone who made this possible.” Kaila spun me around so I was looking at the kitchen again.

“We’re throwing a dinner party?”

“Drinks on the house!”

“I’m really not budgeted for that.”

“Budget smudget. You can afford to live a little. Besides, I’ll help.” Kaila spun me back around so I was facing the door to the restaurant floor. “Now go.”

Kaila gave me a shove for good measure and I tripped into the restaurant. I had to admit, it looked good. The sun had started going down, the low light from the windows reaching across tables and chairs on one side. The new lights were on and the stubborn part of me (which Kaila would say is all of me) didn’t want to admit that they worked well. The chrome along the outside matched the décor much more nicely than the antique would have. If Saunders had switched them himself, I might not even have been mad, looking at the way the lights illuminated the space and matched the candle-holders.

Sonia was still slaving over her bar, probably holding herself to a higher standard than even Saunders would have. It made me smile to see how much pride she was taking in the process. You couldn’t find a more dedicated bartender; it was almost scary. I walked over to her and put a hand on hers, arresting its furious motion.

“Go home Sonia.”

“Just this last spot.”

“Go home Sonia. The sun is almost down and you’ve been here since seven in the morning.”

“If you insist boss-lady.” Sonia wiped her hands on a rag and made for the bathroom to wash up. She paused briefly and looked back in my direction. “He’s just outside.”

“Good to know.” I tried to sound sarcastic. I didn’t want her to know I was actually looking for him. That would just be more fuel for her fire.

As I made for the front door, Cole was making his way back inside. We both stumbled into each other in the most ridiculous way. I briefly lost my balance and tried reaching for the hostess podium to steady myself. In the meantime, he reached out with both hands and held my shoulders firmly.

His grip was strong, but it didn’t pinch. I supposed a man who worked in construction would know exactly the right amount of pressure to place on any given object. In this case, I was the object and I wasn’t at all pleased with how ready he seemed to put his hands on me. The podium would have worked just fine. I tried to remember what Kaila said and allowed myself to be grateful.

“Thank you.” I said. I straightening up and taking a step back to let him know the contact was over.

“No problem. Sorry I plowed into you.”

He seemed nice, not the endlessly stubborn man I'd grown used to battling day in and day out. How come this side of him didn’t make a more frequent appearance? As his hands fell from my shoulders I felt a brief flush of heat course through my body. I would never have admitted this to Kaila, and certainly not to Sonia, but for a moment, I wanted those hands back. I wanted to feel his pressure on my skin. Kaila was right; Saunders was undeniably attractive. His perfectly messy blonde hair draped dramatically over blue eyes. His every expression was a gift. However, that was not a road I was willing to go down. I gave my head a shake as if I was trying to erase his gorgeous face from my mind like a picture on an old Etch-a-sketch. Pleasure was pleasure and business was business, after all.