Conflict of Interest

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There was not even a slim chance he was succeeding in playing this cool. Did he just fist pump? Luke could feel his dorky, wide grin, and when he exclaimed, “Okay!” it didn’t improve the situation. Oh my God, he thought.

Typically, Luke didn’t have to worry about being corny – because he wasn’t. He liked to think he was skilled in the area of women, but right now, it was mortifying. What in the hell came over him? She was pretty, sure – okay stunning – but he’d seen his fair share of stunning women. He’d taken his fair share to his bed. She should be no different. Besides, he knew who she was.

Luke should have been ready for this. He should have let the night play out how he’d intended. It would have given him time to regroup.

Okay. He tried to focus. He had obligations. Business obligations. If his father taught him anything, it was to follow through. Be on time and follow through, his father’s voice echoed in his mind. He’d have to find a way to make this work, seeing as once he saw her, he had found it necessary to throw all of his plans out the window. Besides, his father tended to be a little strict and believed less in fate than in hard work and dedication. Luke believed the same but thought luck and chance played a more significant role than none at all – or at least he liked to think so. Besides, how often do you run into Grace Thomas?

He waffled and decided that was a bad example. His research told him he could run into Grace at any time. He knew where she worked and that she lived on this street. He knew she was diligent and followed through. He had it on multiple people’s word that she didn’t back down easily, and she always put her clients first. He knew she had the lowest employee turnover rate he’d ever seen. She was efficient, and she was smart. What he didn’t expect, though, was for her to knock him off his feet. He’d have to work on that.

He took her in again. He wondered, was it the glow of the streetlamp that made her eyes that vivid green? He stared as wisps of softly curled hair fluttered in front of her face. It was all he could do to stop himself from brushing them behind her ear, to tuck them away for safekeeping. How long was her hair? He’d seen pictures, but until now he hadn’t wanted to see it down and untamed.

If her personality was even half as beautiful as the face he was staring at, he’d be crazy not to fall in love with her. Then again, that might not be the best idea either. It was a slight conflict of interest. But really, what’s the worst that could happen?

Luke removed his hand from his pocket and held it out. “I can’t remember everything I rambled earlier, but to be fair, I was trying to get you to not sprint in the other direction. You move pretty quickly.” His eyebrow peaked humorously, and the hint of a smile played on his lips.

“I’m Luke.” he said again, making the introduction official with his outstretched hand.

“Hello, Luke.”

Hearing her voice say his name was like walking into heaven. Her smile kicked his heart rate up a notch. He bet that smile had won her more battles in her lifetime than she’d care to admit.

Their hands met, and he felt it. Electricity. A delicate shock, a feminine jolt. He wanted to lift her hand to his mouth and kiss it, but that would be weird. He nearly shook his head to rattle the thought loose.

“Nice to meet you. My name is Grace.”

Of course, he thought. He’d read it a million times, but hearing her say it was something else entirely.

Luke turned his body to stand side-by-side.

As they walked down the lamp-lit street, he mused at the situation. He had known the meeting would happen, but he couldn’t quite believe the chain of events. It was interesting.

Everything he’d read about Grace Thomas had led him to believe she wouldn’t have agreed. She was conservative; she played by the rules. Every clip or piece of information he had found on the internet seemed to attribute her success to her work ethic – doing vast amounts of research and paying excruciating attention to detail. She’d surprised him. Twice now. The first, he mused, when her body had launched into his only a few lucky moments earlier, and a second time when she agreed to drinks. Things could – and probably would – get a little more complicated, but it was going to be a hell of a lot more fun.

He glanced at the beautiful woman walking next to him and grinned.

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