Ethan leaned back against his high-backed swivel seat and made a steeple with the tips of his fingers as he listened to the man seated across from him.
To a stranger, it would seem as though his mind was a million miles away, but in truth, every nerve of him was alert, taking in and processing information swiftly.
Occasionally, he would swing towards the wall of windows behind him, staring out without really seeing the magnificent view of the dusky sky.
He rubbed at his jaw, grimacing as his fingers encountered the rough stubble of less than a day’s growth of beard. No doubt, if he looked in a mirror, he would see the dark stubble on his chin - definitely needed to shave tonight before picking Nicky up for their dinner date or she would tease him endlessly about how much he resembled a Neanderthal.
The thought of Nicky made him smile slightly as he imagined how those lovely green eyes of hers would light up as she talked, her fair hair would no doubt be expertly styled, framing a face that was nothing less than perfect, with full bow lips and the way she carried herself like the classy socialite she was.
She would make the perfect wife for him. The perfect wife and a wonderful hostess to entertain his future business associates and clients.
His construction company was growing fast and Ethan needed to project the perfect image of a polished successful businessman in order to attract the sort of clientele Holbourn Enterprises needed to make it to the big leagues.
Tonight, was the first step in making her his. He would be meeting her cousin, who was also her best friend and confidante, for the first time.
The fact that this cousin happened to be the Erin Gosling, hotel heiress of the prestigious Gosling fortune, gave him a clue of what to expect. Probably some dolled up fashionista, too engrossed in themselves and spending Daddy’s money to care about mundane, silly things.
He mentally braced for an evening spent pretending to be interested in tales of the fabulous and exotic places she’d been to, or the latest fashion. Hopefully, there would be no dogs or cats, peeking out of designer handbags that cost a fortune.
Thankfully, Nicky was different. Her own parents weren’t as rich as her cousin’s, and it showed in her behavior.
A real estate agent, he’d met her at a small party thrown by his buddy, Marcus. Down to earth, yet cultured and intelligent to boot, it hadn’t taken long before Ethan had come to the conclusion that Nicola Gosling was the woman he needed in his life.
He brought his mind back to the present and turned around to face his secretary. Peter Wilson was still engrossed in reading the financial reports, but Ethan had had enough. Besides, he had already gone through the reports himself earlier and every single bit of information was stamped in his brain.
“Thank you Pete, I’ve got it from here.” Ethan said, unfolding his lean length from the chair.
At six four, he easily towered over Peter, the well-tailored dark blue suit showing off his impressive physique.
“Remember to send a reminder to all staff about the meeting tomorrow morning. And draw up the proposal for the Landberg project. I want an estimate of the total costs as soon as possible.”
“Yes sir. Will you be leaving now?”
Ethan grabbed his briefcase and headed for the door in quick strides. “Yeah. I’m having dinner with Nicky and I need a damn shave...again.”
He did not wait for a reply but continued on towards the bank of elevators, grateful to find the hallway deserted. He shared the floor with a law firm and an IT firm, and on most days, the hall was filled with all sorts of people, but it was after hours and the IT firm was closed, while business at the law firm had slowed.
Ethan looked forward to the day his company would occupy an entire building on its own. It was the sort of success he longed for, the success he hoped to achieve one day. Right now, aside from a small crew, he had only four other employees, but soon, he intended for his company to be known as a construction giant.
He was just crossing the lobby when a sultry feminine voice stopped him in his tracks.
He turned in time to see the petite brunette coming towards him. He recognized her as Brittany, a legal secretary for the law firm on his floor. Her impossibly high bright pink heels clicked on the marble floor as she hurried towards him.
Brittany sidled up to him, flashing a bright smile.
“I’m so glad I caught you in time, give me a lift home? My car’s still in the workshop and I’ve been standing outside for ten minutes without so much as a cab in sight.” She pouted up at him with full red lips. “Help a girl out?”
He thought for a minute then shrugged. She lived only a few blocks away from his apartment so it wouldn’t be too much of a problem.
“Sure, lets go.”
She kept up a lively chatter as they walked towards the parking lot where he had left his car, though Ethan listened with only half an ear, his mind on the dinner with Nicky.
He wondered if she would like the ring he’d bought for her, picturing the engagement ring sitting inside the small red velvet box on his bedside table. He made a mental note to pick it up before leaving for the restaurant.
Brittany turned to him after fastening her seatbelt. “Do you mind if we stop for coffee? I promised my mum I’d get a mocha from her favorite place, I won’t take long, I swear.”
He could do with coffee himself, Ethan thought as he started the engine of his battered gray Ford and set the gear in reverse. There would be more than enough time to stop, provided the traffic stayed light.
“No problem, I wouldn’t mind coffee myself.”