Authors: Nancy Adams
The Billionaire's Choice
2014 by Nancy Adams.
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Table of Contents
Isabel jumped as coffee poured onto her lap.
“Oh my God, I’m so sorry,” Cara said as she ran over to Isabel’s desk. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Don’t worry about it,” she replied. “My head is just somewhere else right now.”
Cara nodded as she wiped Isabel’s desk with a torn piece of fabric. “Well, where are we at with all of this?” she asked.
Isabel turned around and walked over to the clothing rack behind her. “I just went over the last bit of the collection,” she replied. “I think everything looks good but you should check it out. Honestly, I have looked at every piece here so many times that it’s all just blur.”
Cara shook her head. “Come on, relax,” she said. “We have been working on this for three months solid. You have probably examined every single stitch in every piece. It’s perfect. Really.”
Isabel sighed. “I know. I’m just really anxious. This fall line is major. If we are really going to have a serious fashion show, things need to be better than perfect,” she said.
“And they are,” she replied. “Anyway, I think you have more pressing issues to think about.”
Isabel looked at her blankly.
“Seriously?” Cara asked.
“What?” she asked.
“Do you even remember your life outside of work anymore?” she asked. “Andrew! What about Andrew?”
“Andrew,” Isabel replied with a sigh.
“You are still planning to go away for the weekend, right?” Cara asked.
“Yeah, that’s the plan,” she replied. “I really don’t know what to expect though.”
“Have you been talking to him much lately?” she asked.
“Well, yeah, here and there. It’s been mainly just online chat,” Isabel said.
“Alright, that’s good,” Cara said. “Things are still moving forward. You are still friends.”
Isabel shook her head. “That’s the problem. I don’t want to just be friends,” she said.
“I know,” Cara replied quietly.
Isabel walked away from the clothing rack and sat down on the glossy red leather couch in the corner of the loft. She kicked off her heels and slouched down. Cara quickly came over and sat beside her.
“I know that you’re feeling down about what happened but this weekend could really turn everything around,” Cara said.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “I made it more than clear that I’m interested in him and now he’s acting like nothing happened.”
Cara shrugged her shoulders. “It’s a lot to process. How long have you known him?” she asked.
Isabel smiled. “Since we were in the same math class,” she murmured.
“It’s been 15 years! You know that he loves you. He has probably had feelings for you before but decided it wasn’t worth risking your friendship,” she said.
“Come on,” Isabel said. “Now you are just reaching.”
“No, I’m not. I’ve seen you two together hundreds of times. I’ve seen the way that he looks at you,” she said. “He’s in love.”
Isabel laughed. “Well, he isn’t acting like a man in love,” she said.
“Just give him some time,” Cara said. “You never know what will happen this weekend.”
Isabel leaned her head to the side and rested it on the couch. Cara moved closer and rested her head on Isabel’s shoulder.
“Stop worrying,” Cara said. “We have had enough to worry about getting the fall line ready. Things are good between you and Andrew. You’re just in a transition stage.”
“Maybe,” she replied quietly.
“You did the right thing. You know it,” she said.
“I was drunk! I should have waited,” Isabel said.
“Sure, there might have been a better time to kiss him,” Cara said. “But you can’t always wait for the perfect moment.”
“I know,” Isabel said. “But I’m worried that he just thinks it was a drunken mistake. He hasn’t even wanted to talk to me about it since then so I can’t really explain myself.”
Cara sat up. “Talking is overrated! You have been talking about talking to him. You have been talking about kissing him. Talking doesn’t get you anywhere. You needed to actually do something and you did. I’m proud of you. You know what you want and you did what you needed to do to get it. Why are you regretting this now?” she asked.
Isabel paused. “Well,” she said slowly. “It’s not that I’m regretting it. You’re right. I needed to show him how I feel about him. I’m glad that I kissed him. I’m just not glad that I chose that exact moment.”
Cara shrugged. “But you did,” she said. “And now it’s over and done with. You need to move forward and start looking at the future.”
“I know. I’m just nervous,” Isabel said. “What if it’s awkward this weekend?”
“Oh, stop!” Cara said as she stood up from the couch. “This is exciting. Twenty years from now when you’re an old married couple, you will be looking back on all of this and laughing. You’ll be a hugely successful designer and he’ll be ridiculously gorgeous and everything will be amazing.”
Isabel smiled. “I hope you’re right,” she said.
“When have I ever been wrong?” Cara asked. “Well, don’t answer that. Just know that I am most definitely right this time.”
“Maybe you are,” she replied.
“I am. Now stop talking and don’t move,” Cara shouted as she ran to the other corner of the airy loft. She grabbed her oversized handbag then scurried back over in her heels to where Isabel was still sitting. She gave her a toothy grin and Isabel laughed.
“Alright then,” Cara said as she pulled out a bottle of champagne. “Let’s celebrate.”
Isabel smiled and shook her head. She stood up and walked over to Cara who was struggling to pull the cork off.
“Be careful,” Isabel said quietly.
“I’m always careful,” she said as the bottle popped open and spilled onto the front of her dress.
Isabel shook her head and laughed.
“Not to worry,” Cara said as she gestured wildly to the rack behind them. “I have a million rejected dresses I can squeeze into. One seamstress’ mistake is another woman’s new wardrobe.”
Isabel smiled. “I suppose we can salvage a few rejects,” she said.
“Indeed,” Cara replied. “And when this collection hits the market, we can toss all of our clothes and go on a shopping spree in Paris for all new wardrobes.”
“Always the optimist,” Isabel said.
Cara smiled as she held up the bottle. “We’ll pick up some champagne glasses for the studio then too,” she said.
Isabel shook her head. “We’ll see about that,” she replied.
Cara took a step back and held the bottle in the air. “Here’s to you,” she said. “Here is to our amazing fall collection that is going to knock the critics dead and get our faces on the cover of Vogue.”
Isabel beamed. “I can drink to that,” she said.
“Oh, you will,” Cara said. “But there’s more. Here’s to your romantic weekend away with New York’s most eligible man. Here’s to that billionaire heartthrob finally admitting that he loves you.”
“Yeah, right,” she said with a laugh.
Cara cleared her throat and giggled. “And, finally, here’s to the gorgeous wedding and perfect children that shall follow,” she said.
“You’re insane,” Isabel said as she watched Cara take her first sip from the bottle.
Cara pushed the bottle toward her. “Drink up,” she said. “We need to get you gorgeous and out of here for your romantic weekend in Vermont.”
Isabel took a quick swig from the bottle. “Alright. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” she said.
“Hello, Mr. Davis. This is Andrew Jameson,” he said. “We were chatting at the leukemia fundraiser last week.”
“Oh, hello, Andrew,” he said. “It’s good to hear from you.”
“I’ve been looking forward to talking to you more about your charity,” Andrew said. “Like I was saying earlier, I have been looking to get into some more philanthropic causes.”
“Well, that’s wonderful,” he said.
“I’d love to organize an event for you. I haven’t done a fundraiser before but I do have a lot of connections around the city and I think that I could arrange something,” Andrew said.
“Great,” he replied. “What has caused this sudden burst of inspiration?”
Andrew paused. “Well, it’s just a cause that is very near and dear to me,” he said. “As you probably already know, my parents died when I was quite young. Of course, despite the tragedy, I was still incredibly fortunate. I had family around who could raise me and my parents had left me with a sizable inheritance so I never had to worry about such things. I realize, however, that is rarely the case for other children.”
“Indeed,” he replied. “Many of those children are dealing with unimaginably bad situations.”
Andrew looked over at his vibrating phone. He pushed it off to the side and leaned forward in his chair.
“They most certainly are and that’s why I want to help,” Andrew said. “Actually, I am looking to move away from the corporate world entirely. I would like to get more involved in philanthropic pursuits and I really can’t imagine a cause that is closer to my heart than children in need of permanent homes and families.”
“That’s wonderful, Andrew. As I said last week, our organization is constantly struggling to gain support,” he said. “People care, of course. The public loves children but they tend to focus on orphanages abroad. Young couples are looking to adopt babies from China or Africa, which is great, but they forget that there are children right here in the city who need homes. They need stable families. And, in the meantime, they simply need aid. They need money to help pay for school supplies and doctor’s visits. At this point, it’s hard for us to meet even their basic needs. The demands far outweigh the resources that we have available to us.”
“I know. It truly is heartbreaking to think about it,” Andrew said. He paused and looked down at this desk. “To be honest with you, I feel like I have been wasting my own resources. I have so much that I can give. Sure, it’s great to take a few trips and buy a nice watch here and there but I could be doing so much more.”
“Sure, I think we all feel that way sometimes,” he replied.
“Of course,” Andrew said. “I’ve felt this way for a while now though and I’m ready to do something about it.”
“And that is wonderful,” he said. “I just wish there were more people out there like you. We really need all of the help we can get.”
“Well, I am prepared to do everything that I can. I am really hoping that, beyond just doing a fundraiser, I can start getting involved in a meaningful way.”
“That is great. We would love to find some long-term partners. Why don’t you stop by my office on Monday? I can clear out my morning schedule and bring in our fundraising specialist and we can talk about your future here with us,” he said.
“That would be fantastic,” Andrew replied. “I will plan to be there at 9:00 on Monday morning.”
“Perfect,” he said. “I am looking forward to seeing you.”
“Thanks, see you then,” he said as he reached forward to set down the phone.
Andrew leaned back in his chair and smiled. The phone vibrated again. He sighed and reached forward to pick it up. He looked at the screen then rubbed his eyes wearily.
Two new messages.
“Isabel,” he whispered as he shook his head.
He reached forward and picked up the phone again. He quickly dialed the numbers and Isabel picked up on the first ring.
“What is so urgent?” he asked.
Isabel paused. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bother you,” she said.
Andrew softened his voice. “No, you’re not bothering me,” he said. “Sorry. I’ve just had a busy day. I’ve got a lot on my mind at the minute. What’s up?”
“Oh, nothing, really,” she said.
“You sent me two messages asking me to call you but nothing is up?” he asked.
She laughed nervously. “Well,” she said. “I was just wondering when you might be ready to get going. We are still planning on heading up to Vermont this weekend, right?”
“Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t we still be planning to go?” he asked.
Isabel paused. “Oh, no reason,” she said. “I know you have been really busy so I just wanted to make sure everything is still good.”
“Definitely. We have been talking about going for months,” he said. “I am most certainly not going to cancel on you now. I know you have been looking forward to the music festival. I think it’ll be great.”
“Good,” Isabel said. Her tone perked up. “So, when do you think that you’ll be ready to go?”
“I am just organizing a few things at the moment but I should be ready to get out of here any minute now,” he replied. “Are you still at the studio?”
“Yeah, I’m just packing up now,” she said.
“Alright, then,” he said. “Why don’t I just pick you up from there and we can be on our way.”
“That would be great,” she said.
“Perfect. I’ll be out of here in about 15 minutes. Hopefully the traffic won’t be too bad and I’ll be there in maybe 45 minutes. Is that alright?” he asked.
“Yeah,” she replied. “I’ll be ready to go.”
Andrew paused. “There is one thing that I wanted to mention to you before we go though,” he said.
Isabel was silent. “Oh, what’s that?” she asked quietly.
“Well,” he said. “I hope you’re not too upset with me.”
“Just tell me,” she said quickly. “What’s wrong? Look, if you want to cancel, that’s fine. I understand. I was chatting with Cara and she seemed interested. She and I could always go up together. It’s not a big deal. I was-”
“Calm down,” Andrew interrupted. “I am still planning to go and I’m really looking forward to it. I am just working on a new project at the moment and an important meeting has come up for Monday morning.”
“Oh, I see,” Isabel said.
“So, it just means that we will have to leave a little earlier. We still have Friday, Saturday and Sunday but we will need to leave Sunday night instead of Monday morning,” he said.
“Okay,” Isabel replied. “That’s no big deal.”
Alright, I’ll have my assistant call the hotel and change our reservation then we’re all set,” he said. “I’ll see you in about 45 minutes.”
“Great. I’ll be ready to go. See you then,” she said.