Kaci clicked send, praying her latest client wouldn’t delay sending a payment. Starting her own business had been more of a headache than Kaci thought possible. If she could just get one high-profile client, maybe the business would take off and she wouldn’t have to hold her breath each month, hoping she’d end up in the black. If things continued like they’d been the last two months, she might have to get a part-time job. Again.
She snapped the laptop closed and popped the top of a Topo Chico. Before she even took a sip, someone knocked.
After peeking through the peephole, Kaci pulled open the door. “Sam, hey! What’s up? You’re here late.”
“Don’t hate me. I think in the end you’ll be happy about what I did.” Sam pointed at the glass bottle. “Have anymore?”
“Samantha, what have you done?” Kaci followed as Sam walked to the fridge and grabbed another Topo Chico.
“Remember I told you about that guy at the gym?”
“When you almost fainted because he said hello?” Kaci had heard all about the tall, fit guy from the gym.
“Yeah, the one who I’m convinced will start dating one of my friends because that’s what happens every single time.”
“It happened twice in high school.” Kaci hated for her friend to focus on the negative.
“And three months ago with that guy from work and last year with that barista.”
“Oh yeah. But now that our other friends are all happily attached, it’s just me.” Kaci flashed a silly grin, hoping to lighten the mood.
Sam rolled her eyes. “You wouldn’t do that to me.”
“Of course I wouldn’t.” Kaci perched on the arm of the sofa. “Tell me about the guy.”
“He’s so good looking! Anyway, he spoke to me again. I was flipping through one of your design magazines while I was on the treadmill—”
“I wondered where my latest issue disappeared to.”
“Do you want to hear what I did or not?”
Kaci loved Sam, but sometimes she was a bit much. “Please, continue.”
“When I stepped off the machine, he stopped running and caught up to me. I thought I was going to faint.” Sam fanned herself. “He asked if I was an interior designer because he’s looking for one.”
Afraid to hope, Kaci waited for Sam to finish the story.
“Anyway, I told him that my friend was a great designer and gave him your number. He said he’d call you tomorrow. I think this is my in with him. I mean, it’s a start, right?”
Kaci nodded. “Yeah.” She hugged her friend. “Thank you! Why would I hate you?”
“He’s um . . . I think it’ll be great. You’ll say nice things about me while you’re making his house all pretty, won’t you?”
“Tall, good-looking, and motivational. He wasn’t wearing a shirt last night, and I ran an extra two miles just to gawk.”
“Samantha! What are you not telling me?”
“They say not to judge a book by its cover. I’m just going to let you meet him. I don’t want to put thoughts in your head.”
“But you’ll gush about how much you adore him?”
“I totally do. You’ll put in a good word, right? I really want him to ask me out.”
“I’ll put in a good word if he even calls.” Kaci pulled a pint of Blue Bell ice cream out of the freezer. “One scoop or two?”
Sam grabbed bowls from the cabinet. “Two. I hope he calls you.”
“You and me both. Even if it feels a bit like I’m wandering into a minefield.”
“It’ll be great.” She laughed. “Don’t look so worried.”
Kaci glared at her phone. “Why won’t you ring?” Without a current project, she’d spent all morning staring at the phone and hoping the object of Sam’s affections would call.
Seconds later, the phone rang.
“Hello.” Kaci answered in what she hoped was a warm but business-like voice.
“Has he called yet?” Sam had texted every hour since sunrise.
“No!” Kaci ended the call. When it rang again, she had the sense to look at the screen. “Sam, I’ll tell you if he calls.”
“As soon as you hang up, okay?”
“Yes.” Kaci tapped the screen and laid the phone on the table. “Be calm. You can do this.” She wasn’t in the habit of giving herself verbal pep talks, but it seemed like a good time to start.
A voice caught her attention, and she glanced around the apartment. No one else was there.
“Hello?” A man’s voice came through the phone.
She scooped it up and forced a smile, knowing people sounded different when they smiled. “I’m so sorry about that. Hello. This is Kaci.”
“Hey there. I got your number from a woman at the gym. I need a designer to decorate my ranch house.”
“Ranch house?” She hadn’t meant to say that out loud. “Of course. When would be a good time to meet for a consultation?”
“I’m free right now.” He didn’t have the expected drawl of a rancher type. “But you’re probably booked, so whenever you—”
“I have time today.” She wasn’t risking the opportunity by pretending she had a full calendar. The only thing on her calendar for the next several weeks were empty squares. She needed the job.
“Great. Can I text directions to this number? Or we could meet at a coffee shop. Then you could follow me out to the ranch.”
Some people had internal compasses. Kaci wasn’t one of them. When the map app instructed her to exit the parking lot and head south, it left her frustrated and often lost. Why couldn’t it simply tell her left or right?
She didn’t want to explain any of that to a potential client. “Meeting at the coffee shop would be great.”
“I’m leaving right now. See you soon, Kaci.” He hung up before she asked his name.
That wouldn’t complicate things at all. Good thing Sam had gushed about him. Kaci would watch for a tall, good-looking guy.
She grabbed her sample books and anything else she might need for the consultation before running down to the car.
She called Sam on Bluetooth before backing out. “I just hung up. We’re meeting at a coffee shop and then going out to his ranch house. If there is something I need to know about this guy, now is the time to tell me.”
Sam stayed silent.
“Please. Also, if you happen to know his name, that would be good because he didn’t tell me before hanging up.” Kaci couldn’t believe she hadn’t gotten his name.
“All right. I’ve liked him from the first time I saw him. What I’m about to tell you is not the reason I’m nuts about the guy.”
“You don’t even know him. You like him because he looks good in running shorts.”
“Do you want to hear my info or not?”
Kaci didn’t have time for games. “Just tell me what I need to know.”
“I think he’s really rich.”
Kaci expected a juicier tidbit than that. People without money rarely hired decorators. “How rich?”
“I’ve seen him driving three different cars, none of which I can afford. Now or ever.” Sam cleared her throat. “I should probably have said he’s really really rich.”
Kaci processed the information. “His name?”
“Drake. I don’t know his last name. If I had that bit of info, I’d have Googled him. But you can’t tell him I said that. He’ll think I’m some kind of a stalker.” Sam sighed. “I don’t have a chance, do I?”
“Stranger things have happened.” Kaci wasn’t thinking about Sam’s dating life. She was headed to meet a client that could completely alter the course of her career, and she had to act like she didn’t know his name. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“I want to hear every detail. Okay?”
“Call you later.” Kaci exited the parking lot and turned right. Thankfully, she knew how to get to the coffee shop.
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