Broken Wings

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Chapter 24

She paced her office the next day. Morgan was off to school, so he wasn’t distracting her. So, why couldn’t she figure out what to do with the Walker’s unit? Every idea she tried ended up in the trash can.

Leaning up against the front of her desk, notebook in hand, pencil tapping her lips. Why can’t I create?

Her tired mind from a restless, sleepless night took her away…

Noah stepped into her office, bringing her from her thoughts on the Walker plans. “Eden, got a minute?”

I’m in the middle of something, Noah,” her voice nervously answered. “I thought you were on site all day.”

He now stood close. In front of her. “Are you alright?” His voice swam over her. His eyes pulling her in.

She cleared her throat. “Noah, about last night.”

I know why Lawrence was there,” he told her.

Oh Noah,” she sighed. “I’m not with him.”

I know,” his voice soft as he stepped even closer.

Her eyes couldn’t get enough of him. She set her note pad down on the desk and stood.

Eden?” he asked confused. She remained silent. “Are you okay?”

No,” her voice husky.

Her hands now flat on his chest. “Eden?”

She slid her hands up and looped them behind his neck. She saw the confusion in his eyes. She could see he didn’t know if he should pull away or not.

What do you want from me?” he asked softly.

She tugged him closer and brought his lips to hers. Once her lips touched his, an eruption of need shot through her. Her hands tangled in his hair, holding him to her as her kiss became more urgent.

After a moment, he broke free. Both of them breathing heavily. His hands held her face, his thumb sliding back and forth along her bottom lip.

Whoa Baby, slow down,” he said when she tried to nip at his thumb.

I can’t.”

Then, let me help you,” he smiled as he brought his lips to hers delicately. Again. And again. “That’s my girl,” his whisper flowed through her as he teased with too brief kisses. She was powerless to stop him. She craved him with every fiber of her being.

Mr. C?” Trisha called to him from her office door.

His hands still cupped her face as he gazed into her eyes. “Yeah,” he answered Trisha, never taking his attention off Eden.

Mac’s holding for you. Said he can’t get through on your cell.”

Another delicate kiss. “Tell him I’ll call him back.” Another kiss, this one he ran the tip of his tongue along her bottom lip. “In a few minutes.”

Okaaaay,” Trisha responded.

His kisses back to a pleasant torture.

Eden?”

How was he able to call her name and kiss her at the same time?

“Eden!” his call more urgent.

She startled at the feel of his hands on her arms. “Noah!” she shrieked, coming out of her fogged state, dropping her notepad on the floor.

“What the…” he started. “You okay?”

She pulled free from his grasp, bent down and picked up her note pad.

“I’m fine,” she nervously answered, stepping away from him.

“Mr. C,” Trisha called. “Mac’s on the phone.”

Oh God, what was real and fantasy?

He didn’t take his attention off Eden. “Yeah, tell him I’ll call him in a few minutes.”

Eden brought her fingers to her lips. Slowly she brought her gaze to meet up with his. “Noah, did you just …”

“Did I just what?” he asked when she didn’t finish her question.

He seemed perfectly fine. She was the one a jumble of nerves.

“Nothing,” she answered and turned away from him.

He gave a shrug trying to figure out what was going on. “I asked if you had a minute,” he told her.

“I’m in the middle of something,” she answered, stepping away from the desk. Oh this wasn’t good.

He reached for her arm to make her look at him. “Where were you just now?”

She laughed nervously. “I’m right here.”

“Nooooo, you were definitely somewhere else.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Eden, you either had a whole pot of coffee, or something’s got you on pins and needles.”

“I didn’t sleep well last night,” she answered. “So, can we just drop it?”

He furrowed his brow and shook his head. “You sure you’re alright?”

“Positive. Now, what did you need?”

He handed her a piece of paper. “I came across this invoice and didn’t know if it was one you need to follow up on.” He waited while she looked it over. “It’s one of Lorraine’s.”

She ran her hand through her hair. She liked that it was finally getting longer. Her mind drifted to Noah’s hands sifting through it.

“Eden?” he called. She shook her head and rubbed at her face. “What is going on with you today?”

“Nothing. I’m just tired.” She turned away from him, reading over the invoice. “I thought I dealt with all of them, but I can circle around and double check on this if you want.”

He now stood close behind her. His cologne and a scent that was pure Noah wafted over to her. “Are sub-standard supplies still arriving on the Montgomery site?” her voice anything but calm.

He walked around to stand before her. His right hand came up to touch her face. Her breath hitched as soon as he made contact. “Eden, you’d better lie down.”

“Noah, really I’m fine.”

“Well, I need to sit down, so come with me,” he said as he took her hand in his and tugged her toward the sofa.

Once seated, she felt way too close to him. She scooted further away.

“Eden, seriously, what is going on with you?” His hand rose and felt her forehead. “You’re all pale.”

“I just have a lot on my mind, I guess.”

“Maybe you should go home.”

“I’m fine,” she told him then called for Trisha. “Trish, can you call on this invoice and see if it’s been cancelled? If not, cancel it.”

“Sure,” Trish answered, taking the paper from her and looking at her skeptically.

“Okay, now that you’ve handed that off, what’s going on?” he pressed.

Her hands nervously fidgeting, she didn’t take her gaze off them. “Noah, about last night.”

“Eden, you don’t have to explain.”

She lifted her head and looked into his eyes. For thinking so poorly of her, it sure didn’t show in his eyes.

“I asked Lawrence to come back.”

“Come back,” he repeated.

“Here.”

He lifted his eyebrows. “And…”

“And, he said no.”

“Okay.”

“Noah, you don’t understand.”

He took her hands in his and felt her flinch. Not letting go, he looked into her eyes. “Then talk to me.”

“I knew what Lorraine was doing before the accident,” she confessed. He just looked at her, waiting for her to continue. “I think I was going to tell you the night of the accident.”

“But, you don’t know,” he stated.

He figured she didn’t realize it, but as she spoke to him, she grasped his hands tighter, then relaxed, then tighter again.

“I can’t be sure. But…” She looked down.

“Eden?”

She looked back up at him, that bottom lip between her teeth for a moment. “I didn’t think you’d believe me.”

He let a breath go. “Baby, I don’t know if I would have or not. There was so much going on then.”

“I know,” she said softly, lowering her gaze to their intertwined hands.

“Hey,” he softly called. She lifted her gaze to his. “It doesn’t matter now. We’re past it.”

“But what I did to Lawrence.” She looked down again. “You guys were best friends. I took that away from you.”

He took one of his hands from hers and cupped the side of her face. “We all played a role, Eden. Yeah, Lorraine’s was bigger than the rest of us, but we all made the decisions we did.”

“I just want to make it up to him.”

“I know you do Baby. But, it’s his choice.”

“But, last night…”

“Don’t worry about us. We’re big boys.” He watched her silently for a moment. Taking it in. Agreeing with him to let it go. “You okay?”

She nodded, “Yeah.”

His smile soft as he leaned forward and brushed his lips over hers. “That’s my girl,” he said softly before standing. “I need to get back to Mac. You sure you’re okay?”

She nodded and he turned and made his way to his office.

Progress, he thought. She’d been so wrapped up in whatever was occupying her mind, she accepted his kiss. He wasn’t sure she would. Now, if he could only figure out where she’d wandered to when he first went into her office.


Eden spent most of the next morning making phone calls. The outer office had been an active place all morning. Trisha closed the door to give Eden some quiet. She was grateful. Paradise Designs had gotten quite busy with the housing project. As soon as she’d finish with one phone call, she began another.

For as bustling as the office had been all morning, when Eden opened her door close to noon, it was eerily quiet. Trisha wasn’t at her desk. Morgan wasn’t in his play room with the sitter. Hell, even the phones were quiet.

She looked into Noah’s office. She didn’t expect him there so wasn’t surprised to find the office empty.

She should take the opportunity to get more calls made. If only she weren’t curious. She’d always been curious. Drove her siblings nuts when she was younger. Drove her father nuts with her constant why? to everything he’d say. Her curiosity always getting the better of her.

“Just turn and go back into the office,” she told herself. And she did. But, she might as well get a cup of coffee first.

“Eden, wait up!” Noah called to her as he entered the front door just before she reached the kitchen door.

“Noah?”

He reached her. “Holding down the fort?” he asked.

“There’s nothing to hold down at the moment,” she told him.

“Where is everybody?” he asked, looking around at the empty space.

“I have no idea. It was busy all morning and then suddenly, you can hear a pin drop,” she answered.

“Have you had lunch?”

“No, I’m just going to grab some coffee and get back to making some calls.”

They talked the entire walk to the break room. She briefly thought it odd when they reached the break room and found the door closed. She shrugged it off and opened the door.

“Surprise!” was yelled into the air from at least fifteen occupants.

Eden gasped in surprise.

Noah leaned forward from behind her. “Happy Birthday,” he whispered.

She turned to face him. “You did this?”

“I know you don’t like to make a big deal out of your birthday. Especially since it’s so close to Morgan’s. But, these guys insisted.”

“Yeah, sure they did,” she returned, not believing it wasn’t his idea.

Everyone had brought in something for a pot luck lunch. Trisha had gone all out including a birthday cake and decorating the room with streamers and balloons. This was what was making so much activity in the office all morning.

Morgan sat on Eden’s lap as she blew out her candles.

“Are you five now Mommy?”

“No Baby. Mommy’s a little bit older than that.”

“How old?”

“Mommy’s twenty-five,” she told him.

“Wow!” he said with his toddler amazement.

“I got you a present,” Morgan proudly proclaimed.

“You did?”

Morgan scooted off her lap and went to find his prize. He beamed as he presented her with a mass of wrapping paper and tape.

Everyone watched as she pulled the tape and tore away at the multitude of tissue paper beneath the wrapping paper.

Inside was a necklace made of colorful beads.

“Morgan, this is beautiful,” she felt her heart tightening.

“My teacher, Miss Jenny. She helped me. I told her you like pink and purple and blue and yellow.” He took the necklace from her and hung it around her neck. “Pretty.”

She gathered him close as not a dry eye in the place looked on.

“Oh Morgan, this is the bestest gift ever,” she told him.

Noah stepped up to them and handed her a gift. “Not that I can ever outdo this little guy,” he said. “Happy Birthday Eden.”

“Noah, you shouldn’t have.”

He knew she was serious. “Hey, how’d I know the little guy already had plans?”

She cautiously opened the wrapping. Just as she thought, a jewelry box. She lifted the lid and saw the charm bracelet inside.

“Noah, I can’t…”

All eyes were upon them, preventing her from continuing.

Noah took the bracelet from the box and hooked it around her wrist. Leaning forward, he kissed her cheek. “Happy birthday,” he said again.

Everyone enjoyed a piece of the birthday cake before Eden reminded all of them they had work to do.

Later, she sat in her office looking at the charms on the bracelet. A blue baby bootie. A rocking horse. A race car. And an apple. That one intrigued her.

“I’m glad you like it,” Noah’s voice said to her.

She looked up and saw him leaning against the doorjamb of the adjoining door. From the look of him, he’d been there a while.

“Noah, you really shouldn’t have.”

“But, you like it,” he said as he walked into the room.

She smiled before looking down. “Yes, I do. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“What’s with the apple?” she asked.

“They’re all things Morgan. The apple is for him starting pre-school. It even has this year imprinted on the back.”

He knew her curiosity. He watched her turn it over and see the year there.

“It’s still a very intimate gift Noah.”

“Look, I was going to have Morgan give it to you, until he told me last night he had his own gift. Eden, don’t make more out of this than there is.”

He hoped she didn’t see straight through him. During their lean financial years, he couldn’t get these gifts though he’d wanted to. Then, things got too tense and distant between them. He’d felt just like Morgan had when she’d opened his gift. The look in her eyes betrayed her.

“I really need to get some calls made,” she said over the lump that formed in her throat.

When she looked into his eyes, she didn’t see lack of trust. Knowing how he felt about her, still believing she’d been unfaithful, though she could never imagine being with anyone other than him, hurt. He trusted her in the office. She had the same level of authority as he did. They communicated well…when it came to work.

“Eden,” he called and waited for her to look at him. “I know you don’t like celebrating your birthday.”

“It’s alright Noah. Really.” She paused. “We didn’t have birthday parties growing up. It’s just what I’m used to I guess.”

She hadn’t been so adamant about not celebrating her birthday until Morgan’s first birthday. At least now, he knew why.

“Don’t tell Trisha I ratted her out, but once she found out, it really was her idea for the cake, balloons, and stuff,” he said with a smile.

“I’ll thank her later.”

He simply stood silently looking at her looking back at him for a moment before smiling and nodding before making his way back to his office.


Another couple of weeks. Eden began going to the senior housing site more often. The crew gave her a pink hardhat and she was getting used to wearing steel-toed work boots. Definitely different from what she was used to wearing.

Noah was rarely there. She thought it odd, but didn’t want to pry. They were getting along as partners. No need to ripple the waters.

Eden entered the sports bar feeling a bit apprehensive. Why did I let Lawrence talk me into this?

It took her a few minutes to locate him. Thankfully in time to get away from the man hitting on her at the bar.

“Thanks, but I’m meeting someone,” Eden told her admirer before sliding from the stool and walking toward Lawrence.

Lawrence smiled wide when he turned and saw her approach. His arms wrapped around her in a hug. “Thanks for coming,” he whispered before releasing her and she stepped back.

Just then, a woman approached Lawrence from the side, sliding her arm along his waist and snuggling up close. The women made eye contact after Lawrence received a kiss on the cheek.

He cleared his throat, “Eden, this is Holly,” he introduced the new woman to her. “Holly, this is Eden Carrington.”

Holly extended her hand, “It’s so nice to finally meet you. Larry’s told me so much about you.”

Eden accepted her hand and shook it, then turned to him and smiled. “Larry?”

Oh my God, he blushed!

“Lawrence is so stuffy,” Holly answered, her arm back around his waist. Holly was in complete contrast to Lorraine. She had short dark hair and emerald eyes. She was a few inches taller than Eden, but a similar slender build.

The three of them sat at a nearby table. It didn’t take long for Lawrence to get a dart game going.

Eden surprised even herself that she was having a good time. Lawrence was obviously smitten with Holly. A tinge of envy toward them for the newness of their relationship. After all the hell Lorraine had put them through, he deserved this.

Two margaritas under her belt and Eden was feeling it. She normally didn’t drink much, so what might not affect others did her.

She got a severe case of the giggles when her first dart of the new game hit the wall. As she tried to contain herself and aim her next dart, a man’s hand came to hers from behind. She didn’t need to turn to see who had taken her hand. Only Noah caused tingles to flow up her arm.

“Relax Eden,” he whispered near her ear as he assisted her throw. The dart connected near the center.

“Hey Buddy!” Lawrence greeted, slapping him on the shoulder. “What took you so long?”

Eden turned, “You invited both of us?”

Lawrence looked from Noah to Eden, Holly taking her place at his side. “Thought you guys were gettin’ along.”

Eden stepped closer to him. “It’s alright Lawrence. I just didn’t expect…” to see you guys friends again.

“What d’ya say we leave all that stuff in the past,” Lawrence suggested.

And, they did. The four of them sitting together. It felt like forever since it had been so carefree. Noah sat back in his chair relaxed most of the time, his right arm draped over the back of Eden’s, giving the message to any man who may entertain the idea of coming up to her that she was off limits.

“So, I have to ask,” Noah said. “Where did you meet this clown?”

This was what Eden missed with Noah and Lawrence. The brotherly teasing back and forth. Where had that memory come from?

“I’m the hotel manager,” Holly answered.

This hotel?” Noah asked. They were in one of the first buildings erected by Noah’s Ark.

“Yeah,” she answered and blushed before sipping through the straw of her drink.

“I was a guest here,” Lawrence added.

From the tone of his answer, Noah and Eden picked up on the fact it was where he stayed when he first left Lorraine. Not wanting to spoil the mood, they let the subject drop.

Eden had moved on to soda. She knew she would feel the effects of the alcohol for a while yet anyway.

“Holly, I have to be honest with you,” Lawrence leaned in close to her while looking at Noah and Eden across the table. “I’ve been in love with Eden since college.”

Eden began coughing on her drink. Noah sat forward, patting her back. “You okay?” he asked after she didn’t stop soon enough.

Catching her breath finally, she looked at Lawrence with watery eyes from her coughing fit. “Lawrence, why would you say that?” she asked him.

Holly tilted her head and smiled, “Eden, Larry and I are honest with one another. I know he cares for you. I also know all about Lorraine.” She turned to look at Lawrence and punched him in the arm. “And, you shouldn’t scare her like that!” Holly scolded.

Noah chuckled as he took his relaxed pose again. “That’s our Larry,” he said before taking a swig from his beer bottle.

Later, Lawrence convinced Eden to take a spin on the small dance floor.

“She’s nice,” Eden said to him.

“I’m glad you like her. She likes you too.”

They smiled at one another and continued dancing.

A short time later, Noah had convinced Eden to dance. To give Lawrence and Holly some time alone at the table, he told her.

Holly snuggled in at Lawrence’s shoulder, both of them watching Noah and Eden sway together.

“I thought you said they’re divorced?” Holly asked.

“What’s more important is they’re in love with each other,” he answered.

“Has anyone told them that?”

Lawrence turned his head and kissed Holly’s forehead. “As long as she stays under that tree, he can pull this off.”

Holly sat up and looked at him confusedly. “What tree?”

Lawrence simply smiled and took a swig of his beer as Noah and Eden walked back over to the table.

Eden leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Lawrence, I’ve never been a party girl.”

“Eed, c’mon, it’s a Friday night,” Lawrence pouted.

“Buddy, I gotta go too,” Noah came up and slapped his shoulder.

“Was it something we said?” Lawrence joked.

Outside in the parking lot, Noah walked Eden to her car.

“You sure you’re okay to drive home?” he asked her.

She hated that he knew her so well…still. She would feel better, and safer if she had more time for the alcohol to wear off.

“No,” she admitted and hung her head.

She slapped her keys in his outstretched palm. He stepped around the hood of his truck after she was safely in the passenger seat.

He closed the door behind him after entering her townhouse. She turned and looked at him.

“Noah, thank you for getting me home safely. I think I’ve got it from here.”

He stepped closer, her eyes glassy as they looked back into his.

“Thanks for letting me bring you home,” he told her.

He knew she hated to rely on anyone else. For anything.

“You need to get back to Morgan,” she told him as she stepped back away from him.

“Not really,” he told her. “Because we’ve been working things out so well the past few months, Michelle’s kinda missed the little guy.”

Eden walked over and sat in the corner of her L-shaped sectional sofa, tucking her feet beneath her after removing her boots.

“Thanks for being so good about all this, Noah. For Morgan.”

Noah walked around and sat on the sofa, removing his jacket and draping it over the arm of the sofa.

“Eden, I’d do anything for that little boy. He needs us to get along.” He looked at her looking back at him. “And, quite honestly, it hasn’t been a hardship at all.”

Noah would do whatever it took to make sure Morgan wasn’t affected by all the turmoil Lorraine had caused. He’d even agreed, with himself, no matter how much it might hurt him personally, if divorce was the answer, he’d do it. He was doing it. But with each passing day, it felt more and more like the wrong answer.

“No, it hasn’t,” she confirmed. “Maybe we’re just not meant for the whole marriage thing.”

He was in his usual relaxed pose. Leaning back, turned slightly toward her, his arm draped along the back of the sofa just behind her. Whenever she’d rest her head down, it would rest on his arm.

For a couple not meant for the whole marriage thing, they certainly didn’t look like it to him. They were almost too comfortable with one another.

As if confirming it for him, she rest her head back and closed her eyes. Completely at ease with his nearness.

“Noah, I think I had a memory tonight.”

He shifted his position to turn more into her, his hand absently playing with her hair. She turned her head and looked at him.

“What kind of memory?”

“Well, maybe not a memory. A feeling.”

He furrowed his brow, causing her to giggle. Okay, so she was still feeling the alcohol.

“For a minute, when you and Larry were …”

“You’re calling him Larry now?” he interrupted and chuckled.

“Holly was right. Lawrence is so stuffy. I always thought so, but everyone called him Lawrence…” she let it hang open ended. “Anyway, when you two were teasing each other back and forth, I thought ‘how nice to see them like this again.’”

“Really?”

“Noah, I think you guys were really close before. Sitting there with you guys felt familiar.”

“Yeah, it did feel good,” he confessed.

“You’ll never know how sorry I feel for you and him. God, how could Lorraine do that to you guys?”

“Uh, you were included,” he reminded.

“But, you guys are getting past all that garbage. I’m happy for you guys. It’s just too bad it wasn’t enough for her.”

“Lawrence did love her,” Noah said as he looked into her eyes.

“But Larry is doing fine,” she teased back.

“Okay, Eed,”

They both laughed. Noah didn’t want to think about Lorraine. Eden was right, she’d done enough damage. It was time they all moved past it.

As their laughter died down, her eyes grew darker as they looked into his. His mind filling with questioning what he should do. What he wanted to do was taste her.

Painstakingly slow, he lowered his head toward hers. Hovering a breath away.

“Noah,” she sighed, slamming into him with the force of a jackhammer.

Yeah, they definitely had a problem with marriage. Not for them. Nope.

And then her hand reached up to tug him that last millimeter. Her hand sliding behind his head to tangle in his hair.

The taste of him overwhelmed her. For the life of her she couldn’t figure out how to stop. He opened to her and she dove right in.

Her breathing became more rapid. Her kisses more desperate. Her entire being craving this man.

She was pulling him under her spell. And, he knew that would be the wrong thing to have happen right now. Oh, he knew it would be so easy to make love with her right now. His body would be angry with him, but it was the right thing to do.

He pulled away.

His hand at the side of her face. Looking into the dark passionate eyes confusedly looking back at him.

“I’d better go,” he hoarsely said. He tapped his finger at her lips. “When we make love Eden, it will be when we’re sober and not when we’ll regret it.”

Yes, he’d said when. Because with every fiber of his being he knew they were going to get back together and make this work. She just had to come to that conclusion as well.

He stood on the outside of her townhouse breathing deeply to get his body back under control. It took every ounce of control he had to walk away from what he truly wanted.


Eden woke the next morning on the sofa. Her head pounded so loudly she thought she’d go deaf. And then her stomach rolled. She didn’t have time to think. All she could do was make it to the bathroom before she got sick all over her living room.

Thank God Morgan wasn’t here. As she sat on the cold bathroom floor, she tried to distinguish fact from fiction in her mind. Apparently, she did meet up with Lawrence … Larry … it hurt to smile … at the bar. Noah had also been there.

Her stomach rebelled again. Oh this was going to be a long day.

Had Noah driven her home? Or was that a dream? Once she was upright and walking, she checked the garage. Her car was there. Maybe she did dream kissing him. She sure as hell hadn’t dreamed wanting him.

Eden entered the office Monday morning. After checking the play room, she approached Trisha.

“Have you seen Morgan and Noah this morning?” she asked her.

“Noah called in a little while ago. He and Morgan are on a site. They’ll be in around ten.”

“He took Morgan to a site?”

“He probably forgot to mention it to you this morning. At least you got to sleep in a little.”

As she sat in her office, she wondered if it would just make things easier if the staff knew they were separated. Surely they’d all give them the privacy they needed to get through this. Especially with Morgan around as often as he was. She added it to her list of things to do: discuss separation with staff.

Noah returned to the office mid-morning and was meeting with foremen in his office. The housing project must be bringing in more work because Noah now spent more than half his days on sites. Now, if Eden could just stop noticing how his biceps showed the increased physical labor he was doing.

Eden, it was a dream. Stop fawning over him like a lovesick teenager!

He stood in the adjoining door watching her while she spoke on the phone. Instead of her usual faded jeans and sweater, she had on a very nice navy business suit and pumps. She noticed him and lifted a finger letting him know she’d be a minute.

Once she was off the phone, she gave him her attention.

“You’re looking … all businessy today,” he said.

“Thanks, I think.”

“Maybe this would be a good day to go to battle.”

She did a double take, which made him smile. He had a feeling he was going to have more fun with this than she was.

“Battle?”

“Yeah, I need to meet with our designer.”

“You need to what?”

“It’s time to get the next phase going.”

“You’re not done building the housing complex.”

“My guys need to know if there’s anything special they need to do. Some of the stuff for the senior housing will have needs a regular home or office doesn’t.”

“Noah, I think it’d be better if I try to find another designer for you to work with.”

“Why?”

“Your regular designer is very busy right now.”

“Busy? Or doesn’t want a big profitable job?”

“Noah, money isn’t always a motivator.”

“How about a law suit then,” he shot out and almost couldn’t contain the smile from forming at the shock that ran across her face.

“Noah, you aren’t thinking of suing Paradise Designs!”

“Look, you seem to be the only one they’ll talk to. The Ark got this project because of his design work on our other buildings. I think I’ve been pretty patient so far.”

“Well, you aren’t sounding very patient right now.”

“I know you’re going to the site Eden. They’re already working on the job. I just want to be part of this with them.”

“Look, I told you I can work this out for you. There’s no reason for you to take time away from what you need to do.”

He reached for her arm when she tried to turn. “Eden, this is a business deal. I don’t have time for this guy to play games with us. He’s been a very good partner for the past couple of years. He’s the one making it difficult, not me.”

“Fine!” She pulled her arm away and went to sit behind her desk. “I’ll try to work something out with him.”

He stood on the other side of her desk, arms crossed, looking down at her. “Noooo. You will set up something where you and I can meet with him together.”

“Noah, you’re asking the impossible.”

“How?”

“You aren’t here most of the day. You’re on site. Let me work out the designer issue.”

“No,” his tone flat.

“What d’ya mean, no?”

“Eden, I know you aren’t used to how things can be in the business world. You’ve been a stay-at-home mom for a while and…”

That got her temper going, as he knew it would.

“Don’t you dare!” she yelled at him, not caring the whole office could hear them through open doors. “I am quite capable of handling business issues Noah Carrington!”

“Dressing in a nice suit and dealing with uncooperative businessmen are two different things,” he responded calmly.

“I am more than capable of handling tough businessmen!”

“Good. Then set up a meeting for us. You can show me.”

He turned to leave because he wasn’t going to be able to hide his amusement much longer.

“Scare tactics don’t work on me Noah!”

She watched as he took in a breath before turning back to her. She thought it was to rein in his temper. She had no idea how amused he was with this.

“I’m not trying to scare you Eden. Paradise Designs needs to know they’re a part of this project.”

“They aren’t part of the proposal you provided Mike Ashton. It’s a totally separate deal.”

He stepped closer. God she was hot when she got angry.

“That was because they convinced the senators to give them a separate contract. Paradise Designs was never taken off the deal.”

“But…”

“No buts. They meet with us and go over specifics and tour the site or I take them to court.”

“Maybe this is why they don’t want to work with you!”

“Too bad.”

She grabbed his arm just before he left her office. “Noah, please. Just let me work with them.”

“No.” Final. No room for challenge.

“You don’t trust me!” He heard the desperation in her voice.

“I trust you implicitly. I have a time table to keep. I don’t have time for games.”

“Noah, don’t do this to me.”

His hand rose and slid to her nape. As heightened as her emotions were, she couldn’t prevent reacting to his touch if her life depended on it.

He stepped close, his thumb caressing her cheek as he looked into her dark eyes.

“I’m not doing this to you Eden. They are. If you’re gonna work with me, work with me.”

She pulled from his touch abruptly. “Fine!” And then she stormed out of the building, slamming the outer door in her wake.

Trisha looked up at him. He stood in Eden’s open door, a smile across his face.

“Mr. C?” she called.

“Trisha, get Mr. Ashton on the phone for me,” he said before making his way to his desk.

“Noah, is there a problem?” Ashton asked once connected with him.

“No. Why do you ask?”

“Seems your receptionist is a bit anxious. I thought maybe there was a problem with the project.”

“No problem. But I do need your assistance.”

“If I can,” Ashton answered cautiously.

“Eden is going to try to get in touch with you. I need you to make sure she doesn’t let our designer off the hook.”

“Still having trouble connecting?” he asked.

“Nothing that can’t be worked out. Can you be firm on this when she tries to connect?”

“I think I’m about to find out. I hear she’s holding for me on another line.”


Two days passed. Eden was frustrated. Noah may not be in the office, but his request hung heavy in the air.

He was being totally unreasonable. He didn’t need to meet with the designer. He’d never met with them before. What was he trying to prove? Was he angry over her involvement in the business? How could he? She really didn’t do much.

An afternoon of phone calls. Life was so much easier before. Noah didn’t question her abilities when she’d been home. Of course, he had no idea she did more than cooking and cleaning.

“I’ll show him,” she quietly promised.

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