Authors: Jessica Gray
Copyright Notice and Disclaimer
By Jessica Gray
Copyright © 2013 Jessica Gray
This book is copyrighted and protected by copyright laws.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior written permission from the author.
All characters, names, and places in this book exist only within the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons or locations is pu
Table of contents
Full of Anger
Working on the Project
Another Work Project
Keeping the Rules
Other Books by Jessica Gray
Evelyn looked across the conference table at the two men who had been a part of her life for longer than she cared to remember. Victor Fernandez and Michael Jennings were two of the most eligible bachelors in their circle of friends and her
friends. While Victor was like the older brother she never had, always coming to her rescue and telling her the truth – no matter how badly she rejected it, Michael was the epitome of tall, dark and handsome and had starred in more than one of Evelyn’s late-night fantasies. Evelyn had fallen for him somewhere around her tenth grade year, and the attraction she felt for him had not lessened even a little.
Michael Jennings came from one of the premier families in town. His familial connections had assured him of entrance to the college of his choice, and those same connections had brought their current business guests to the table. Victor, Michael and Evelyn had spent so much time together growing up, that going in to business together as adults had seemed like the natural course of things.
While Michael had majored in business, Victor had gotten his architect degree. Evelyn had stayed close to home and just recently finished her design degree at the state college. Together, they had joined forces with dreams of turning the run down, abandoned industrial park by the river, into a thriving hot spot for entertainment and shopping. They had decided to name their new company, DFJ – the first letters of each of their last names.
After weeks of talking with city officials, they had received the stamp of approval to proceed with their plans. Now all they needed were investors who were willing to take a chance on three young entrepreneurs. Hence, the men sitting across the table.
Michael’s family had offered to finance their project, but all three of them had wanted to see if they had what it took to make it in the real world; without their parents financing it. They had agreed to let the Jennings family invest, but only on a limited basis, and only after they had acquired the majority of their funding from other sources.
“Gentlemen, were there any other questions you had for us?” queried Victor. Evelyn looked across the table at each man and tried to guess how they were receiving the proposal they had just seen.
“Victor, you all have done a wonderful job of putting this proposal together. If I thought you’d be halfway interested, I’d try to convince the three of you to stop this and come work for me,” said Mr. Turnhill. He owned one of the largest real estate development companies in Denver, but his focus was on residential housing, not commercial.
Evelyn smiled, “Mr. Turnhill, coming from you that is indeed a true compliment. “ Looking at both Michael and Victor, she turned her gaze back to Mr. Turnhill and continued, “But I speak for all of us when I tell you that we are passionate about this project and hope that we’ve been able to get you all enthused about it as well.” As she finished speaking, she met the eyes of each man seated across the table with a small smile.
Mr. Turnhill glanced at the men seated next to him, and at their slight nods, he turned back to the three youngsters waiting to hear if their project was being funded. “Well, I think we’re all in agreement that you three have the dream and the drive. I believe we would be honored to invest in this project.”
Evelyn’s smile couldn’t be contained as she watched each of the businessmen nod their heads and smile at each other. Turning to Michael and Victor, she noticed identical smiles spreading across their faces as they rose from their seats to shake each of the men’s hands.
Goodbyes were exchanged with promises of legal paperwork being drawn up in the next several days. Turning to gather up the empty coffee cups, Evelyn pushed chairs in and was just about to turn around when strong arms encircled her from behind.
“Evie, we did it,” Michael emphasized his statement with a hug before letting her go.
Turning around, Evelyn shared Michael’s grin and nodded. “I can hardly believe it. All of those drawings and things we’ve dreamt about are going to happen, “ depositing the cups in the trash can, she turned to find Michael leaning against the conference table.
Looking at him, Evelyn saw the spark of desire in his face, and once again started to put up her guard. Michael’s friendship meant more to her than any romantic fling and she had only recently begun to let he guard down around him. Michael was the quiet type, but never without female companionship.
Evelyn, on the other hand, could claim two relationships that had lasted longer than a few weeks. Both of them had been more platonic than romantic and had ended once the guys had found someone else to hang out with. She was the proverbial “girl friend”; the one guys hung out with when they needed a shoulder to cry on, or advice on how to entice their latest target.
“We need to celebrate. Come out with me tonight.” It wasn’t so much of a question, as a command.
“I don’t know. I have too many things to do at home….”
“Stop making excuses. You’ve been putting me off for weeks now. You like hanging out with me, admit it,” Michael gave her his most endearing smile and raised an eyebrow, daring her to deny it.
“I haven’t been making excuses, there were lots of things to get done for this proposal. “
“And they were fabulous. They helped us get the investors on board, so why not come out and celebrate with me?”
“Who’s celebrating and where?” Victor asked as he sauntered back into the conference area.
“Tell Evie that she needs to come out and celebrate our victory.”
Victor smirked at Michael, knowing he had been trying to turn his friendship with Evelyn into something more for months now, but she kept putting him off. It seemed that he was not above using anything to his advantage. Giving a mental shrug, he turned to Evelyn and repeated Michael’s request, “Evie, you need to go out with Michael and celebrate our victory.”
Evelyn hated it when they ganged up on her. Turning to face Victor, “Does that mean you’re going as well?”
Victor leaned against the conference table and shrugged, “Maybe. I hadn’t really planned beyond this meeting to tell you the truth.”
Michael nodded his head, “I hear you man. This is the first time in weeks I feel like I can take a breath and relax.” Turning to Evelyn, he applied more pressure, “Come on. You know you haven’t been out with us in months. In fact, you haven’t been out with me since we celebrated your graduation and that was…”
“Five months ago. I know how long it’s been. I’ve been busy with work and stuff.”
“Well, tonight you’re going out and celebrating. How about I make dinner reservations at Antonio’s for 8 o’clock?”
Meeting Michael’s gaze, Evelyn decided she needed and deserved some time off for good behavior, and she really did want to spend the evening with Michael and Victor. Nodding her head, she started to speak just as her cell phone vibrated in her jacket pocket.
Holding up a finger, she withdrew the phone and glancing at the caller I.D. grimaced before she could help it. “It’s my dad. I’d better take this.” Turning on her heel, she headed for the door only to be stopped by Michael’s voice, “So, dinner at Antonio’s at 8 o’clock?”
Glancing over her shoulder she nodded as she pushed the receive button and answered, “Hi Dad.”
“Evelyn, I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
Sighing as she walked down the hallway towards her office, she replied, “No. We just finished meeting with the investors. Now’s good.”
“I trust the meeting went smoothly?”
Nodding her head and then realizing she was on the phone, she answered, “It did go well. So, did you have a reason for calling me?” Evelyn was trying very hard not to be rude, but the phone call from her father was putting a serious damper on her good mood. All of her life she had sacrificed to help her father maintain the family appearance of wealth and success. Her mother had left shortly after her birth, and her father had turned to other pursuits to fill the void; mainly, gambling. Unfortunately, he rarely won and by the time Evelyn had entered high school, the family fortune was all but gone.
Evelyn had a trust fund left to her by her maternal grandparents and had used that money to fund the household expenses throughout her teen years until now. Her father had attempted to get things together several times, but always ended up in a jam again. Usually when he called her, it was bad news and he was in another situation that needed her help. She was tired of always having to bail her father out of his latest fiasco. He never learned.
“Well, I was hoping that we could meet for lunch. I had something I wanted to discuss with you and we haven’t spent any quality time together in the last several months.”
“Well, I was just getting ready to grab a quick bite and then get some work done this afternoon. Are you in town?”
“I’m just a few blocks away. I thought maybe I could stop by and pick you up and we could eat together.”
Looking at the clock in her office, she decided she could make time to eat with her dad. “Okay, I’ll meet you downstairs in five minutes?”
“That will be fine. I’ll see you then.”
Disconnecting the call, Evelyn grabbed her purse and headed for the small bathroom off her office. Freshening her makeup and lip-gloss took less than two minutes, and she headed towards the elevator.
Glancing into both Michael and Victor’s offices she found neither of them. Shrugging her shoulders, she decided she didn’t have time to track them down and they knew how to get a hold of her if anything came up while she was gone.
“So you see dear,
Henry would make you an excellent husband.”
Evelyn stared across the table at the man she called “Dad” and wondered if she had fallen into someone else’s life. It was bad enough that her father had a huge gambling problem that had forced her to grow up much too fast. But now, he was intending to ruin the rest of her life.
Looking across the table at his daughter, James Davenport searched her face for some hint of what was going on in her head. “Evelyn, you do see that what I am proposing is the only option left for us, don’t you?”
“Actually dad, I don’t. You just finished telling me how you have gambled away everything to Brad Taylor, and that his son Henry wishes to marry me. If I cooperate, Brad will cancel the debt you owe him and everything will be fine. Is that about it, or did I miss something?”
Evelyn crossed her arms over her chest and stared her father down. How dare he presume to arrange a marriage for her simply to get himself out of a gambling debt? This was by far the worst situation he had put her in.
“Well, I know it doesn’t sound very good, but I’ve met Henry Taylor and I think he would make you a fine husband.”
“Then why don’t you marry him?”
Sitting up straight, James Davenport stared at his daughter, “Don’t take that disrespectful tone with me. After everything I’ve done for you, you should be thanking me for helping make such a good match for you. Henry Taylor is the heir to the Taylor fortune and is set to take over his father’s considerable empire in the next five years. They have houses on several continents, and I have it on good authority that you will never want for anything.”
Deciding that getting into an argument over the “everything” her father had done for her was pointless now, she focused on his latest request instead. “That’s great, dad. However, I’ve never met Henry Taylor. How can you expect me to marry someone I’ve never even met?”
“Arranged marriages used to happen all the time. In other countries they still happen.”
“Dad, this is America. Arranged marriages don’t happen here.”
“Listen, Henry wants to take you to dinner tonight to discuss things.”
Evelyn sat up straight and glared at her father, “What ‘things’ would someone I’ve never met and I have to discuss?”
When her father didn’t immediately answer her, her anger grew and she was on the verge of getting up and walking out when her father said, “The details of your wedding for starters.”