©2018 Ahren Sanders- Subject to editing,revisions, & changes.

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MEET LAWSON HALL—

I finish explaining the design and find Janice’s looking at me with an unfamiliar gleam in her eyes.

“Who is she?”Her question takes me by surprise.

“Who?”

“Lawson Hall, don’t play coy. I hear it in your voice, see it in your face—it’s the kind of change only a woman can bring to a man.”

“Janice, I just gave you a glimpse into the largest project of my entire career. I’ve slaved over every single thought and idea. How the hell did you jump to the conclusion there’s a woman?”

“There’s not doubt this has consumed your life, but there’s a woman in there somewhere.”

“Have you been watching the Hallmark Channel again?” I try to deflect her interest.

“How about the fact that I’ve been standing close enough to smell the scent of her perfume, and your cheek has the faintest sheen of lip gloss in an outline of a kiss? Or that you’ve just presented me with your most brilliant piece of work ever, and not one word out of your mouth was clinical, statistical, geometrical, or mathematical? There was a passion in your voice unlike the Lawson I know. That is most definitely from a woman.”

I attempt to block out her prying eyes but it’s useless.

“I may have met someone.” I grumble.

“I knew when you strolled in this morning something was different. Now I see it written all over you. You’re falling in love.”

My heart stammers in my chest at her statement and the breath leaves my lungs. I lean my hip into the table for support. Where the hell did she come up with that?

“Maybe a little premature to call it love, Janice. I just met her.”

“She’s special isn’t she?”

“She is.” I admit.

“Don’t screw it up. The look on your face says a lot.”

“Hey, why would you think I would screw it up? I’m a saint.” I raise my hands in the air, pretending to be offended.

“Need I remind you of Kyra? You are what my generation would call a playboy.”

My cheeks burn at the mention of Kyra’s name, and the fact that my grandmotherly assistant just referred to me as a playboy.

“I’m a reformed man. Learned my lesson with Kyra.” I defend myself.

“Glad to hear it. Hopefully this one you have now will continue to reform you. I’d like to retire in a few years and know you’ve settled down.”

“Jesus Christ, settle down? I told you we just met.”

She pats me on the shoulder with a knowing smile. “Don’t act so scared. The harder you fight, the harder you’ll fall.”

“This conversation is done.”

She laughs, turning to leave. When she’s at the door I call her name. “Janice, this is not something I want shared. Like I said it’s new and the last thing I need is Dad and Clay on my ass.”

“Secret is safe with me.”

My door shuts and I sink down into the nearest stool, her words tumbling in my mind.

Falling in love? A man like me doesn’t fall in love. Greer’s face fills my head and a warm feeling slides through my body. After our rooftop date Friday night, we spent most of the weekend together. Exploring the city, watching TV, making out on her sofa until I forced myself to say goodnight and return to my apartment alone. My lips twitch with the memory of stopping by to kiss her this morning before I came into work. Even at six am, she had a glow of brightness that set my heart racing.

It can’t be love. She’s an end to a means… a pawn in my game… the gateway to getting me a seat at the table where I belong. Everything I’ve done so far has been carefully calculated to make her fall for me, to trust me enough to keep providing me with information that will bleed through in my design.

She’s a product of Kevin Palmer, that’s all.

Coming Spring 2018…

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