Conflict of Interest

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CHAPTER 19

“Well?”

“She’s perfect.” Luke walked in, looking around.

“Doesn’t exist!” Mave yelled from wherever he was in the condo when he heard the door close.

“On my life, she’s perfect. Like,” shock set in and it had Luke pausing, holding his keys over the island, frozen, “like, holy shit perfect.”

“I’m assuming she got your coffee. And your lunch went well?” Mave asked while walking down the stairs with his laptop open keying something as he took the steps slowly, one by one.

“Mave! Watch out!” Luke yelled jokingly, knowing nothing was on the stairs in front of his friend.

Mave stumbled two steps down after the yell. His heel skimmed off the level he missed. Luke watched Mave grab his chest with his laptop-free hand and lean against the wall, attempting to prevent a heart attack. Eyeing the steps, he quickly realized there wasn’t anything in his path, and the pounding heart was due to the lack-luster humor of his soon to be dead friend.

With zero playfulness, he turned to face Luke. “I’m going to fucking kill you.”

He made the rest of the way down and perched his laptop on the kitchen island and hopped up next to it. Interested in hearing about the details of the date, he forgot about the steps.

“Honestly, she’s stunning. Sexy, long hair. Sexy, long legs. Sexy and beautiful face.”

“Does she also speak? Or is she more of a sexy, mute type?” Mave rolled his eyes.

“Sexy personality. And she speaks. And she laughs. And I’m still going to marry her. It wouldn’t be a struggle to spend the rest of my life with Grace.”

“Ah, Grace.” Mave swiped the bag of Cheetos Luke had found. “You’re even on a first-name basis. Impressive. Before you know it, you’ll be living together, and she’ll be changing the locks.” He had tried to say it as a joke, but the bitterness crept in.

So, Mave was still bothered. Luke thought maybe after a couple of months he would have gotten over the breakup, but the sting must be sticking around.

“When you meet Grace, you’ll know what I mean.” Curious about the status of the ex-girlfriend, he thought it appropriate to pry since the subject had come up. “You talked to Kat since the lockout?” he said casually, toying with a pen that was sitting on the island.

Mave drew his eyes away from the conversation and tossed the Cheeto bag back in Luke’s direction. He began to get up and walk away, offering little. “We sent a text or two after everything settled down.” And back up the stairs he went.

A few moments of silence followed before Mave’s voice trailed down the stairs. “Don’t forget our meeting on Monday moved to seven. The morning, seven, not the evening one.”

Fuck.

“Yeah, got it.” Walking over, Luke leaned over the railing and yelled, “You’re still working on those numbers, right?” More silence.

“Hey,” Luke yelled up the stairs again.

“I heard you,” Mave called back testily.

“Oh, I almost forgot, I need you to leave tonight. Grace is coming over for dinner.”

“Dude, I hate you.”

Luke huffed out a laugh at Mave’s response. He knew Mave usually headed to his mom and step-dads’ house for dinner unless he made other plans, which would have had him out of the house anyway. It saved him from feeling like a complete ass.

He lingered over the railing for a second and thought about Monday. Morning meetings were the worst. With only two more weeks of crunching the preliminary numbers his dad was going to be on edge. Luke knew his dad would need more than a simple forecast presentation for his idea to take hold – he needed to basically promise the future. And that would take a lot more work.

Looks like he’d be channeling Grace a bit with her early rising. Maybe he could leave her another note on a latte as he passed by the Bistro? He wondered if two times was too much, too close together? He thought on it a minute and decided he didn’t care.

The slightly altered new mission couldn’t leave any room for Grace to be anything but head over heels for him. It seemed he needed to even the playing field in the feelings department. Seeing as she had wholly enchanted him. He needed her to fall for him – and fall hard.

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