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Authors: C. C. Brown

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

Shattered (10 page)

BOOK: Shattered
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"That cool little coffee bar, Ada's," she said, shrugging her shoulders.

"Ada's?" I questioned. "Why do they need us?"

"The request just said they wanted a consultation to possibly re-do the interior of the building, to include pictures."

"When do we meet with them?" I asked, sifting through papers on my desk.

"Tomorrow afternoon. We're meeting them there so we can take a look at the place."

My look caught Miranda off guard and she furrowed her brow. "What's wrong? This place is hot in the U-District."

"Nothing. I've been there and I'm not really sure why they want the interior re-done. I thought it looked awesome."

"Well, that isn't our concern. If they want it re-done, then we're going to do it," she said, smiling and slapping her hand down on my desk.  

I went back to my work, scrolling through the engagement photos of Bryant and Shana that I had taken the weekend before. They looked so happy, so in love, and I thought back to Colby and me. We'd looked like them in our first year of dating, but hadn't looked that way in the last two. In a way, I felt like our break-up was a long time coming, but contentment had kept us both solidly planted in the relationship. I went on making watermarks of the pictures that I planned to send to them as samples and removed all thoughts of Colby from my mind.

Thursday afternoon, Miranda and I walked over to Ada's Coffee Bar. Our office was close enough to walk and since it was an unusually sunny day, we decided to pound the pavement, and get in some easy, chit chat time in the process. Miranda filled me in on all things Sean, and I had to admit that I was shocked to hear that things were going so well between them. Miranda could be a masochist when it came to relationships, so hearing the level of excitement in her voice as she spoke about Sean warmed my heart a little.

I easily recognized the girl at the front door who greeted us upon entering Ada's, her brightly colored hair was not easy to forget. It was Emily. She looked a little embarrassed when she saw me, but I smiled warmly at her, putting her at ease.

"Hi, Emily," I said, shaking her hand, "I'm Dallis O'Brien and this is Miranda Skon. We're here about the remodel." Miranda looked at me incredulously.

"Oh, yes. Of course," Emily replied, slowly allowing the beet red color that had penetrated her skin to fade away. "I'll be right back."

She scurried away, and Miranda nudged me, softly asking, "Emily? You know her?"

"Yes," I whispered. "She's the girl who spilled the water on Colby."

Miranda puckered her lips and nodded her head, recalling the story of the night Colby and I had broken up. Just then, Emily came walking out with the tatted up barista who had served us that fateful night.

"Hi, I'm Grayson. Thanks for coming."

Miranda's mouth hit the floor and I gently picked it up for her. She stared at Grayson with pure lust in her eyes. He had a perfectly white smile that glistened in the sun, and although we were here on business, I couldn't help but admire the beauty standing before me. The night I'd seen him, he was in a t-shirt, but today he was wearing a tank top that showed off his shoulders, which were covered in the tattoos that made their way clear down to his wrists, and his collarbone that was lined in ink as well. He wasn't overly muscular. In fact, he was lean, but his killer smile and those beautiful aqua blue eyes made up for it. I tried hard to tear myself away from staring at him so I could hear what he was saying.

"… so Ada's needs a slight makeover," he crooned, and I had to shake my head because I hadn't heard the beginning of whatever he had said.

"I'm sorry. I didn't hear you. Where is the manager?" I asked, hoping to get back to business.

"You're looking at him. Owner, Manager, and Barista Boy." His last given title made me blush a little. He was definitely referring to the title Colby had given him and I was slightly embarrassed that he remembered me from that cringe- inducing night. He smirked a little and while I found the humor in his words, Miranda looked lost. "Well, come on into my office and I'll let you know what I had in mind, and you girls can let me know what you can do for me." His last statement sent tingles up and down my spine. He was unknowingly seducing me with his words. Everything I normally stood for told me he needed to be put in his place, but I actually enjoyed it.

Grayson led us to his office that was strategically hidden in the back of the restaurant. The size of the building was very misleading as his office was actually a pretty large size.

"Before we get started, can I get you ladies anything?" he asked, smiling his impeccably perfect smile in my direction.

"I'll have an iced mocha," Miranda answered. "Make that two."

Grayson smiled and exited the office, leaving Miranda and her piercing stare alone with me.

"What the hell was that?" she asked, grinning hard.

"What?" I asked, shrugging my shoulders and feigning innocence. I knew good and well what she was talking about.

"Um, you and
Barista Boy
. Don't think I didn't catch that little flirtation. Spill it."

I closed my eyes and laughed quietly. "Okay, well remember my horrendous night out at Ada's?" I asked, watching Miranda impatiently nod her head. "Grayson was the guy that Colby got all up in arms with."

"Oh shit! Sorry he had to see you with Colby, but he is definitely into you. He's practically fucking you with his eyes."

"Shut up! He is not." I rolled my eyes, but deep inside I knew she was right. The other part of the equation that she wasn't aware of was that I was covertly doing the same to him.

"My ass he isn't," Miranda countered. "If I weren't here, he probably would have brought you into this office and had his way with you."

"I'm here for work, and besides, I have no time for that anyway."

Luckily, Grayson returned with our iced mochas, ending that conversation, and after setting them down in front of us, he took his seat at his desk.

"So what is it you're looking to have done, Mr…?"

"Rivera," he smoothly responded. His voice was smoother than the feel of the mocha going down my throat.

"Mr. Rivera," I repeated, swallowing to contain the excitement that his voice aroused.

"I like the vibrancy of the place," he continued. "I want to keep fun and eclectic, but I also want it to feel sophisticated and sexy."

My heart raced as I listened to his words and watched his delectable lips move to pronounce every syllable.

"Well, that's Miranda's expertise, so you'll have to consult with her on the interior. I just do the picture taking."

"Great!" he exclaimed, his eyes twinkling as he looked my way. "The pictures here are so impersonal. I need some new ones."

"Awesome! Dallis is probably the best little secret in all of Seattle," Miranda threw in, putting me on a very unnecessary pedestal. "What's your budget, Mr. Rivera?"

"I don't really have one. I just know what I want the place to look like. It's dear to me and I'm willing to spend money to make it happen." 

"Well, I will draw up some plans and send them your way. If you like them, we can sign contracts and get started."

"Sounds good. I'm sure I'll love them," he crooned, looking in my direction but speaking to Miranda.

We shook hands and Grayson walked us out to the main room of the restaurant. I waved goodbye to Emily, who politely reciprocated. The lunch time crowd was much more her element, it seemed, and I was genuinely happy to find her looking at ease.

"Thanks for coming by, ladies. I'm certainly looking forward to working with you," Grayson said as he held the door open for us.

Miranda chuckled and thanked him for his time, and I gave a polite smile. We walked out and turned the corner, heading back to our office space when she stopped me, yanking on my arm. "I bet Grayson is looking forward to working with
you.
" She emphasized the word
you
, which put an uncharacteristic, smitten look of approval on my face. I shook my head at her and continued walking, making Miranda run after me.

 

Chapter 7

Miranda and I spent the weekend drawing up plans for Ada's. I helped her with the layout of the place when it was full since I had seen it near capacity and she had not. My artistic flair was on high alert being out in the elements. Even though it rained almost the entire weekend, we worked outside at the Seattle Center, under building overhangs, drinking plenty of coffee. While we were there, I scouted locations that I could use for the photo shoot for Ada's, but unfortunately came up empty.

When I wasn't with Miranda, I spent time out on my balcony writing. So much had happened in the last few days that I felt compelled to get it all out on paper. After countless hours spent thinking and transcribing, only stopping for restroom and food breaks, I had over ten pages written down with my thoughts and feelings. When I was incapable of speaking my deepest thoughts, writing was the next best outlet.

I hadn't heard from Colby and I was actually thrilled with that. Drowning myself in work was doing exactly what I needed it to do -- distracting me. I missed my parents every single day, but I refused to dwell on the fact that they were no longer with me. There were times where I wanted nothing more than to pick up the phone and just sputter on about minuscule things happening with work, but the realization that they wouldn't be able to answer would hit me, so I'd tuck my phone away and pull out my journal.

Monday morning came to the sound of thunderous rain. The typical Seattle mist that usually filled the air had been replaced by a torrential downpour. I dressed in a pair of skinny jeans, rain boots, and my State sweatshirt, then covered myself in my bright orange rain jacket. Driving to work in the rain had a calming effect on me that it didn't have for most people. Slowing down, taking my time, and listening to Hoobastank through the speakers, gave me time to relax and reflect--two things I felt I couldn't get enough of.

When I walked into the office space, Miranda was sitting in the front room putting the finishing touches on the plans for Ada's. Grayson had agreed to come into the office to look them over and possibly sign a contract. I was in no way dressed to impress, and upon entering the office and meeting Miranda's stare, I knew she felt the same way.

"Whoa. I know it's pissing rain outside, but you look like it overtook you."

I gave her a friendly sneer, but continued on to my office and sat my things down. Miranda quickly followed behind me.

"Did you forget that Grayson is coming in today?"

"No," I said nonchalantly, shaking my head.

"And you came into work like that?"

"Yeah. What's wrong with the way I look?" I asked, looking down at myself.

"For starters, this bright orange thing," she said, tugging at my rain-jacket. "It's hideous." I let out a laugh, but she only frowned. "Your hair is in a ponytail, all matted down from the rain."

"Problem solved," I said, reaching into my top desk drawer, handing her a brush. She pulled my ponytail holder out of my hair and began brushing all of the rain induced knots and kinks out. I grimaced as she did it because she worked fast and furiously, throwing any cares for my tender head out the window.

"What time is Mr. Rivera supposed to be here?" I asked, rubbing my fingers through my hair and stopping to tend to my sore scalp.

"He'll be here around one. And what's with the stuffy Mr. Rivera?" she asked, looking annoyed. I shrugged my shoulders. "I have to run over to Marcel's to pick up my fabric order at noon, but I'll be back for the meeting, hopefully in time to keep you two from going at it like rabbits."

I hit her on the leg.

"No one is going at anything like rabbits, Miranda. This is strictly work."

"Yeah, and I was born yesterday," she sarcastically replied. "I have to draw up the rest of this contract. You prepare yourself for this afternoon."

She walked out the door and I turned to look over some architectural photos I had taken a while back. The company I had shot them for understood that I had recently lost my mother, so they weren't pressuring me to get the shots back to them, but since I was throwing myself back into work, I wanted to get caught up with all of my clients. If that meant working excruciatingly long hours, then I was prepared to do it.

At noon, after sending off the proofs to the company head, I walked next door to a small deli and grabbed a sandwich. Miranda left to go and pick up the fabric she had been waiting on, and I went back to my office to eat, listen to music, and write. I listened to nothing but melodic songs, and wrote furiously, stopping only to take bites of my sandwich. On the fourth song, I heard a slight knock on the door. I abruptly turned around and found Grayson standing in the doorway, leaning against the door frame with an adorably cute grin spread across his face.

"How long have you been standing there?" I asked, my tone sounding rude and brash.  But given the fact the he was staring at me, I didn't care.

He chuckled for a minute before responding. "Only a few minutes, but it was long enough to see you were very much into your writing." I rolled my eyes ever so slightly and gave him a half grin. "I had no idea you were such a talented photographer and writer. What are you writing?"

BOOK: Shattered
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