My heels clicked in rhythm to my humming as I walked into my office building. I smiled at everyone—the secretaries, the people walking up and down the halls and corridors, and the cleaning staff. This was the Clemming & Corp. building. It was a business corporation that had clientele in the United States as well as other countries. We were the best there ever was, and I was glad to be working here as a trusted business partner.
I walked into my office and instantly my desk phone started ringing. I pressed speaker and my assistance's voice came up loud and clear.
"Ms. Rhodes, there is a caller on line one. His name is Mike Turnage. I believe it is the client that you were after."
"Alright, let him through."
I picked up the phone and smiled.
"Hello Mr. Turnage! Are you ready to do lunch?"
"Oh, hi, Ms. Rhodes. Of course. I’m starved!"
"Well, where do you want to eat at?"
"It’s up to you, Ms. Rhodes."
"Well, there's a restaurant across from our office building. How does that sound?"
"Sounds great! I will be there in ten minutes."
"Alright," I hung up and grabbed my purse. I headed straight towards the elevator. I rode it to the top floor where my boss resided. Mr. Marshall was inside his office, deep in thought on his paperwork. He wiped perspiration off of his forehead and dialed his secretary’s number.
"Mrs. Lula, can you have the janitor turn up the air conditioner up here, please. It’s hot as hell up here." He slammed the phone down without warning and smiled at me. "Kimberly, please do come in!"
I stepped into his office and chill bumps crept on my arms. It was cold in his office—what was he talking about it being hot for? I think he was just naturally hot. He was a very busy man—and I guess the stress of work was getting to him.
"Hello, Mr. Marshall. Mr. Turnage is meeting me for lunch in the next ten minutes."
"Do you need me to help you go over the game plan?"
"Sure, I could use an extra briefing."
"Okay! I want you to let him know all about how much we will benefit him over the other companies. Throw some prices in with it and let him know that we won’t let him down. We need this client to seal the partnership of his business firm. We don’t need any more competition than we already have. The stress is getting to me."
"Alright. I will call with the results. I’m just hoping that he is somewhat of a pushover." I smiled and we shared a quick laugh. I turned around and walked out of his office on my way to lunch.
"Hi, table for two, please." I looked at the hostess and she grabbed two menus. "May I have a seat close to the front, please. It is always quiet up here."
"Yes, ma’am. Where is the second person?"
"He will be here in a little. I am here on business terms." She nodded and led me to a small round table close to the front.
She seated me and smiled. "I will send a waiter here when the gentleman arrive. What is your name so I can know who he need to be led to?"
I stared around at the place. It was cute and classy. There was a feint sound of classical music playing—nothing that I recognized, and everyone in here was so well dressed. The placed looked fantastic. It was decorated in a warm glow of colors—beige and light brown. It had a romantic feel to it. There were flowers all around, and different works of art. It was my kind of restaurant. I loved the classy and low priced places.
I searched the menu, hoping to find something more to my taste. I was starving, which was weird because around lunchtime I really didn’t have that much of an appetite. I smiled when I came across the chicken and broccoli alfredo pasta. I loved pasta, and I had a huge taste for it.
In the distance I spotted Mr. Turnage walking into the place. He had on a nice fitting black suit. He had on some shades and held his brief case close to him. I suddenly felt underdressed. His firm must love dressing up.
I had on a simple cotton dress on and some strapped heels. It was one of my off days, and all I did was get dressed for this arranged lunch. I sighed and hoped that my appearance would not affect his decision.
I stood and greeted him, grabbing his hand tightly. He smiled a toothy grin at me and gestured for me to be seated.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Rhodes. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. I am not going to beat around the bush…let’s talk business over a hot meal."
"Yes, I agree," I smiled at him, taking note of his good looks and business attitude. He most certainly did not play.
The waiter came to our table and took our orders. I ordered my pasta, and Mr. Turnage ordered some filet. He also ordered a bottle of white wine.
"Ms. Rhodes, I have heard nothing but positive things about your firm. How competitive it is—and how dominating it is. I have to agree, we, at our firm, have never had to compete on such high levels. I feel that by us having a true partnership, we can bring in a lot of income."
"I totally agree. I feel like if we merge with partners, we will not only have more money—but, we will establish an elite team and we can gain many of clientele. Don’t you agree?"
The waiter came back with the wine and poured our glasses. I raised my glass up and Mr. Turnage and I toasted to a potential partnership.
"When I heard that Clemming & Corp. would be sending their best representative I was unsure at first, but already I can tell that you are highly recommended for a reason." He smiled and took a quick sip of his drink. "Let’s talk prices…"
"Getting deep within it, alright. I did a lot of paperwork and research on this and I concluded that when partnering with our firm, both of our companies will have a thirty percent increase on income. That's perfect! Do you agree?"
"Of course—that’s a lot! Better than I have seen in the last couple of years."
"I agree—we both have qualities that many people want to have. When they hear that we have partnered, they will no longer have the problem of being in denial when joining one or the other. We are similar in many ways."
"Of course." He looked at me sternly and when the food came, there was nothing but silence between us. Our conversation lasted for a long time. After a while, I stopped eating, but I still had an appetite.
Mr. Turnage was a kind, funny, and sensible man who was straight forward about his business. He had no intention of playing games when it came to money—and I felt the same way. Especially because Mr. Marshall had high hopes for me.
Lunch went by quickly, and by the end of it, me and Mr. Turnage were shaking hands, now officially partners. He was gone now, and I was still here to kill some time.
I felt so much success. I dialed Mr. Marshall’s number and he picked up immediately.
"Well, we signed on with him, sir. It wasn’t hard. He had the same feel as we do about money and how hard it is to keep the competition out of the way. I didn’t have to do much to persuade him, but I did, and we are officially partners!" I couldn’t help but smile.
"Kimberly, I feel a raise coming your way. I'm starting to think that someone is owed a raise. Don't be surprised when you see that your wages have increased!"
"Thank you," I smiled. I could use the extra money to buy Jashayla a few things. The money was never for me and instead was all for her.
I hung up the phone and put a piece of broccoli in my mouth. I chewed slowly, enjoying the taste. I had settled the deal and now I was basking in my enjoyment of another job well done.
I was lost in my own little world—suddenly, the doors of the restaurant opened and a cool breeze flowed in. I looked up when the smell of men’s cologne followed. A man walked into the restaurant and my heart sank.
His scent smelt so sweet—exotic, and erotic. He was the work of perfection…his face perfectly sculpted. His lips, the lightest shade of pink, glistened in the sunlight. His brown eyes were big and round—slightly slanted. His skin was smooth and radiant.
I couldn’t help myself—my eyes slowly traced his face, down to his sculpted body. His muscles bulged from under his white t-shirt. He fit his dark blue jeans perfectly, and he had on white Dunks. He was perfect. His jewelry matched his swag—he had on a single silver chain and a silver watch…pure diamond. He had a single diamond earring in his ear. He was just a short distance away from me, but I could make out that face and smell from anywhere.
My heart sank as the name flooded my memory.
Jason? What is he doing here?
A flood of emotions came over me. Shock, anger, fear, sadness, joy…too many to think of. He couldn’t see me in the crowd of people, but I saw him, as clear as day.
He walked with his head held high, and although many different women crowded around him, he didn’t seem the least bit interested. I had no idea why—those women were beautiful, and he was a model.
He looked around the room calmly as if looking for someone. When I felt his gaze leading in my direction, I quickly turned my head. I didn’t want to see him. Not now…not ever. It had been too many years, and there was no way that I would let him see me. I didn’t want him to recognize me. Nothing about me had changed over the years…and seeing me would be a dead giveaway.
I had wanted a seat in the front of the restaurant, and today had been my lucky day—too bad that Jason strolled up in there like he had been a regular for years. I rolled my eyes and tried to focus on my lunch. I had lost my appetite the moment Jason walked through the door, but I wasn’t about to let it go to waste.
Out of nowhere, a finger tapped me lightly, and that sweet smell entered my nostrils. I grew tense—motionless. I was afraid to turn around…afraid to face the man that had walked out of my life so long ago. I couldn’t look at him. Not right now…I wasn’t ready.
As if reading my thoughts, he walked in front of me with a huge grin on his face. I wanted to melt, or at least turn invisible. His gaze penetrated my very being. He used to know how to read me, and, although it had been more than a few years—I knew he still had the ability to.
He grabbed the chair that was in front of me and sat down. I gripped my fork tighter and held my breath.
His smile widened, and his voice flowed through the air. That deep, familiar voice I had grown to love so long ago…
"Kimberly…it’s been a long time. How have you been?"
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