Authors: Melissa Blue
Tags: #romance, #beach, #interracial romance, #vacation, #contemporary romance, #melissa blue
Everything You Need Published by Melissa Blue
Copyright 2012 Melissa Blue
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Hazel Garvey readjusted the cell phone crooked
between her ear and shoulder. “Let me get this right,” she said.
“You want to change the theme from Regency to Victorian?”
Hazel glanced at the clock on her desk.
hours and fifty-nine more minutes of my workday to go
“I’m sure it won’t be too much of a problem.”
Maureen’s voice lowered in a conspiratorial air. “My neighbor has a
room in a Regency theme. It’s so déclassé when she does
Hazel placed her head on the pile of mail, both work
and home, sitting on the desk. “No problem at all,” she infused
every ounce of cheer she could muster into the words.
If you didn’t define a ‘problem’ as switching from
one thirty-year period to another sixty-year time period of
different designs, fashions and mores. You know, little things. No
problem things. She lifted her head off the desk and dropped it
back down with a soft thud.
Hazel said, “I can put together—”
“I still want the mantel gold-gilded,” Maureen cut
in. “My neighbor didn’t have that.”
The mantel wasn’t even English Regency or Victorian,
but Hazel bit her tongue to keep from correcting Maureen. Interior
design took the customer is always right mantra to another level.
The customer was right, even if they wanted to keep the carpet with
bloodstains ‘because it gives the haunted house an authentic feel.’
She picked her up head again just to let it fall back on the
“What’s that noise?”
“Construction nearby,” Hazel fibbed without blinking.
“I can meet you later on this week and show you what I have.”
“You came highly recommended. I really don’t want to
This particular client liked to remind Hazel during
every conversation how about the high recommendations. “It won’t be
a problem, Maureen.”
She straightened, rubbed at the stiffened muscles in
her neck. The workday had barely begun.
“How does Friday sound for us to meet?” Hazel
She pushed aside the mail, searching for the
thick-three-ringed day planner. Two binders went on the chair next
to the desk. They teetered on the high pile for a moment and then
stilled. After moving aside the stack of research she’d done on the
Regency period, she found the planner. “At 3:30?”
She closed her eyes and hoped Maureen agreed. 3:30 to
4:30 was the only free time she had until next Tuesday. If she
didn’t count lunch, but it wouldn’t be the first time Hazel axed
lunch to meet with a client.
A dial tone answered in reply. She pushed the end
button on the cell phone without rancor. She’d gotten used to
Maureen’s way of saying goodbye. Relief spread through her and
loosened the tension creeping up her neck.
No, no, no. I love my job. I’m in high demand.
People are no longer saying, “Hazel is an eye color.” Now they say,
“Oooh, I want that designer.
Before she could take a calming breath, the phone
buzzed with an inner office call from her personal assistant.
Weary, she sighed. “Yes, Charlotte.”
“Did you see the mail I put on your desk?” Nerves
threaded through the low-pitched voice.
Hazel glanced down and her gaze stopped on the letter
with a yellow sticky note. “I don’t have time to read junk mail.
For all I know, this company wants me to subscribe to a
“I’ll be there in a second.” A moment later her PA.
waltzed in. “It’s not spam. I called them, the vacation company,
and made reservations for Friday.”
Hazel narrowed her eyes. “You know I have to work all
day Friday. I’m booked solid—”
Charlotte blanked her face again. Hazel’s personal
assistant couldn’t keep a secret to save her life.
Panic started to replace the tension. “What do you
“It’s worth going. I’ve written down instructions and
the number to call to get into the rental home.”
Her heartbeat accelerated. If it was nothing,
Charlotte would have broken by now. Hazel curled her fingers to
hide the tremble.
“What is it? Tell me now, or I swear I will fire
Charlotte’s mocha-colored eyes widened in fear. “She
said if I told you I’d get fired.”
meant only one person. “Thank you and I'm
sorry. Didn’t mean to bite your head off.”
Charlotte didn’t stay to get the rest of the apology.
Hazel knew she hadn’t been the nicest boss lately. All right, a
demon out of the depths of hell might have been nicer. She flexed
her fingers, but the tremble refused to lessen. With an unsteady
hand, she dialed her boss’ extension.
“Good morning, Hazel,” Laura answered.
“Charlotte said she couldn’t tell me or she’d get
fired. What’s the problem?”
Laura’s voice filled with irritation. “I still might
fire her for telling you that much. Can you come to my office? We
need to talk.”
A knot formed in Hazel’s stomach. She’d never gotten
over the instinctive spurt of fear when someone wanted to talk.
Talks usually involved the principal’s office or your doctor not
wanting to give the bad news over the phone.
“I’ll be right there.”
The dread in her stomach turned into nausea, because
Hazel knew what, and whom, the talk would be about. The last three
design jobs would haunt her into an early grave. She sucked in a
fortifying breath and made her way to Laura’s office.
The outer office buzzed like a beehive. Phones rang,
swatches of material were shared, and for a moment the chaotic
activity soothed her. The wispy energy washed over her senses and
reminded Hazel why she loved the job. Why she chose this career
above all others. The subtle reminder put steel in her back as she
entered Laura’s domain.
Her boss was shuffling some papers. The immaculate
bun tightened the aging skin, but the alabaster tone needed no
help. Hard blue eyes took in Hazel’s appearance. The older woman
sighed. “Good. You’re here. Have a seat.”
Hazel and Laura had never been huggy or BFFs, but
this went beyond formal. “I have an inkling this has something to
do with the last three jobs. If they want the work re-done, I’ll do
it at my expense.”
Laura folded her hands on the desktop. “You’ve never
had to redo a job after it was done. Not one client you’ve handled
for my company has ever complained about your work ethic or the
design you’ve created for them.”
All the awards Hazel had won, the years she strived
to make a name for herself and the cushy bank account to prove it,
meant nothing. Getting the you’ve-sucked-lately speech confirmed
her worse fears. To give her boss credit, Laura tactfully refrained
from giving that speech, but it still hung in the air like the
smell of burnt popcorn.
Laura pushed an open magazine forward. Hazel blinked
to focus her blurred vision. She read the first lines and her eyes
Hazel Garvey, designer to the Gods or the dogs?
“She’s gone stale,” says a former client…”
Hazel leaned back not able to read any more. “When
did this come out?”
“Soon after you finished the condo job.” Laura
sighed. “You need to go on an extended vacation. How long you take
is up to you, but I don’t want to see you here for at least a
month, maybe two, until you have fresh ideas and designs. We both
have a reputation to uphold.”
Laura pulled out her day planner. “I can schedule you
in for a presentation.”
“A presentation?” The words whooshed out in a
“Yes, to show me your designs. I’ve already seen your
portfolio, so it’ll be pointless for me to see it again. I want to
see new designs. My only advice is to make use of your extended
Hazel sucked in a breath as if Laura just uppercut
her in the stomach. “An extended vacation?”
She was making a fool of herself repeating
everything, but the words didn’t penetrate the shock gluing Hazel
to the seat. It didn’t escape her notice she wasn’t being asked to
go on vacation, but told to.
“I’m sure this break will be just what you need.
Charlotte has made the plans for you, so it shouldn’t be too much
trouble. I’ll handle Maureen, and I’m sure she’ll understand.”
Maureen would be on the hotline telling all her rich
friends and they’d tell all their rich friends. She hated to be
melodramatic, but it felt like a nail was being driven in a coffin
that had her career in it.
She refused to let the thought settle that she
couldn’t come up with fresh ideas and designs for the presentation.
“Have been rescheduled and given to me.” Laura sighed
again. “When I hired you out of college you were bursting with
ideas and determined to make this career work for you. I admired
the passion you had. I didn’t want to say anything this past year,
but I think it’s time.”
On weak legs, Hazel stood. For a year she’d been
creating stale designs. Three hundred and sixty-fives days of the
same ol’, same ol’? “I won’t disappoint you.”
Laura didn’t deny or confirm the pronouncement. Hazel
stumbled out of the office, back to her own. Charlotte wasn’t
sitting at her station. The coward. Hazel closed the door with numb
The glass awards glistened in the sunlight along the
shelf on the wall, but in that moment they meant nothing. She
plopped in the office chair in front of the desk as she’d done only
just zero hours and minutes of my workday left to
A day hadn’t gone by without Brice Creed witnessing
the vein in his boss’ neck bulge in irritation. Brice thumbed
through the magazine, as Joe continued to yell on the phone. The
ten feet of space, and a cracked open office door separated them.
Still, Brice could see the man was a coronary waiting to
Since Brice sat in the small, hot trailer to get
fired, fortunately, he wouldn’t be around to witness the heart
attack. He had big plans for himself, plans that didn’t involve
Yelling Joe. Although, the job had given Brice the money he needed
to renovate the sweet beach house property he owned.
He placed the magazine back on the end table next to
his chair. Enough time had passed he’d read it from cover to cover.
A man shouldn’t have to wait this long to get the ax.
Joe now stood with both hands braced on the desk as
shouted into the speakerphone. Brice let out a frustrated breath
and glanced down at the next glossy cover. A sound of male
appreciation escaped his lips. It had to be one of Shirley’s, the
Interior Design Today
emblazed over an African
American woman’s head. She posed in a black, gray and white room.
His constructor’s eye appreciated clean lines and curves when he
saw them. A smile didn’t grace her full, plump lips. Ebony curls
framed her oval face, but the glint in her eyes made him reach for
the magazine. Those eyes, smooth as dark chocolate, pulled at him
and he read the information to the side.
Interior Designer to The Gods: How One Woman made it
to the Top
Hazel Garvey also gives ten tips to make the best out
of any space.
Hmm, that’s what he needed to make the house sell for
more—an interior designer. Heck, any selling point to make the
house go for more would be worth a try. He could already hear his
parents: “Where did we go wrong with him?” He squelched the thought
and cracked open the magazine to the story. By the end of it, he
pulled out his cell phone to make note of her name and number.
“Creed,” boomed from the office.
He tossed the magazine down and saved the woman’s
contact information on his phone. He didn’t both to close the door
behind him. The plastic chair groaned when he sat. “You wanted to
talk to me?”
Joe steepled his hands and leaned forward. “I admire
your parents very much, and that’s why I gave you this job. Your
work record is poor though your work itself is impeccable.” Joe
took in a deep breath, and Brice could see the vein twitching. “But
I’m going to have to let you go.”
Joe’s hands balled into fist and said the next words
through clenched teeth. “That’s it? Okay? I’ve worked alongside
your father on many occasions. He takes pride in his work. The best
you can do for me is, okay?”