What the Bachelor Gets
by Kristina Knight
* EXCERPT *
“You can’t want to spend your afternoon slinging boxes or unpacking old files,” she said.
Gage leaned against the counter, papers still in his hand. “I live for the days I don’t have to wear a suit and wing tips.”
“You live for the days you get to wear a suit and wing tips.” Or maybe that was just her. He was yummy in Hugo Boss and Gucci. Her gaze slinked up and down his body once more. Almost as good as he looked in Levi’s and Lucchese boots.
Not that she should be looking.
“I have work to do.” Callie reached for her bag, remembering the handful of files she’d dropped inside. She opened one, pretending to read the purchase order and making a few nonsensical notations on the paper. Gage leaned over the counter, arms crossed at the wrists, fingers dangling. He circled his index finger over the purchase order, and although his hands were inches from hers she could feel the heat of him.
Business partners, she reminded herself, business.
“Me, too.” He plucked the purchase order from the folder. “Hmm, a three-month-old purchase order for lavender-scented massage oil. Seems like very pressing business.” He waggled his brows.
Callie bit the inside of her lip, holding in a smile. “I’m finalizing payments.” She snatched the paper back. “No customers doesn’t mean no business.”
Callie blinked. “What?”
He pointed to the invoice. “It’s already stamped paid.”
Callie slammed the folder closed, crushing the invoice. He would have to notice all the little details, wouldn’t he? Gage probably never became distracted from his primary goal, whatever that might be. Spreadsheets, numbers, step-by-step plans with every t crossed and every i dotted. He never would have signed a lease with a bad address.
“What are you doing here, anyway?” She spat the words out, and immediately wanted them back. Her mistakes were her own, not Gage’s. He was helping her, and she might have wanted to do this on her own, but obviously “on her own” wasn’t good enough.
He stepped back from the reception counter, holding up his hands. “Whoa—”
Callie squeezed her eyes closed. “No, I’m sorry. That wasn’t fair.” She took a breath and studied him for a minute. There was a question in his eyes and maybe a bit of hurt. God, she was an idiot. None of this was Gage’s fault. In fact, her business was a blip in his grand scheme. A scheme he’d plotted and planned for a long time. Her big plan blowing up in her face was her issue, not his. “I’m not mad at you.”
“Who are you mad at?”
She sighed. “The world? My inability to get my business off the ground?
My parents buying a frickin’ RV instead of staying in Vegas with me? Take your pick.” She put the folder back in her bag. “Doesn’t really matter.
Since you’re here, I’ll take you on a tour of my new business. Even without the furnishings, you’ll get an idea of what we’re doing here.”
She took a roll of duct tape from her bag, squared off an area for spa chairs and another for a waiting area, and then took Gage through each room, noting the kinds of services to be offered in each. There would be a hot stone-massage room, another for simple oils. She hoped the largest could be outfitted as a couples-massage room or even a room for bachelorette or bridal parties. By the time they returned to the front, the moving trucks were there and Callie felt like she’d gotten her equilibrium back.
She had a plan, and it was a good one. Maybe she’d make a floor plan and really map it all out. Maybe Gage had one she could—
No. She watched him talking with the moving guys outside for a moment.
Not asking Gage. He’d done enough with the funding and the new location.
This was on her. This was her business—her life—and she wasn’t going to fail.
Gage came back in carrying a box, and trailing after him, the movers began hauling tables and chairs and boxes of product. Callie joined in, and soon the truck was emptied and the movers pulling out of the parking lot. And he was still there.
She liked the help, but she needed more space. She needed to do this on her own.
“Well, thank you. I’m sure you have your own work to do.”
Gage glanced outside and then back to Callie. “I can stay. Help you unpack some boxes since Mandy hasn’t arrived yet.”
“She has the afternoon off.” Callie’s eyes widened, and her hand flew to her mouth. Mandy was the perfect excuse to get Gage out of the office.
Because unpacking really was a two-person job. “But this is easy stuff.
Product goes in the closet, and the rest will wait for tomorrow when Mandy comes back.”
“I cleared my day. It’s no problem.”
She took his arm, ignoring the zing of pleasure skittering up her arm at the contact, and started toward the door. He had to go. Now. “Thank you for the unloading help.”
Gage stopped her at the door. “It’s no problem, Cal, and I’m staying.”
Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police — no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way, she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she’s living her own happily ever after.
Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line! www.kristinaknightauthor.com