Conflict of Interest

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Two weeks had gone by too fast. It’s why she’d wanted the walk to the office to be slow, to savor the quiet, and let her thoughts take over.

Grace’s vacation was over, but her whirlwind romance had only heated up. Since the weekend at Edna’s, they hadn’t spent a night apart. Luke had late nights at the office, and Grace had dinner with the girls and an evening at her mom’s with her brother, William – but they’d made the time. Cherished the moments. Captured the nights. And in that time had added plenty of mind-blowing sex.

It wasn’t a familiar feeling. She’d had the same yesterday – her first day back. It was the same tinge of guilt in not wanting her vacation to end. Her time and attention for Luke would now have to split time with her work.

Yesterday was overwhelming. A Monday that bombarded Grace with work she didn’t even have the time to give her attention to, much less finish. She knew today wouldn’t be any different. It was early so it would be quiet for a bit, and she’d be the only one there, but the work, the emails she didn’t get to from the day before, were there waiting. And, she thought back to her calendar, a meeting with the board was waiting for her.

The black loafers she wore caught her attention as they clicked along the paved walk. They would have reflected the light of the street lamps if they hadn’t been shaded by small leaf piles at her feet. She leaned her head back and took a deep breath.

When she stopped on the corner where she crossed to get to the Bistro, it was the first time she thought the walk wasn’t long enough. She wanted more time. More time in bed with Luke, snuggled in, comforted by his love. She’d never felt that way before. Hell, she used to use work as an excuse to get out of a man’s bed, she thought and grinned to herself. What a strange, bizarre, and happy thought.

Grace looked across the street and saw Aimeé, clear as day. She might not want to go to work, but Aimeé’s fancy little shop had done its job and lured her in. She no longer wanted to be on the outside. She crossed the street and walked in and was welcomed by the familiar, sweet scents.

“You have another love note,” Aimeé sang from the kitchen.

Inside she did a little dance and started toward the front.

“Out in a second.”

Grace slid her jacket off and snooped around the counter.

“I’m sorry to say, there is no cup. Yet.” Aimeé walked in from the kitchen and began her instruction. “You are, however, supposed to order your favorite drink – even if it has too many calories. The message there was, ‘You made it through Monday, and that’s all the excuse you need.’ I tend to agree.”

She continued. “And, though there is no cup, there is this.” Aimeé wafted a note in front of Grace’s face, “And, seeing as you already know there is no privacy between us, yes, I read it. No, I don’t think he’s crazy. Yes, I think you should meet him for lunch. And finally, do you think he happens to have a brother? It would not be terrible if he were rich. I would even take him if he were slightly less attractive.”

Grace heard everything and processed, but all she could do was smile down at the hand-written note. He must have done it before he left the house. He’d beaten her out of the door that morning.

“Of course, I’m going to meet him for lunch.” It wasn’t even a question. Even with the hoard of work that lay before her, she would make time. He was her match in every way. He made her feel incredible.

But there was no brother. “I’m sorry to say, no brother. He does have a recently broken-up best friend.”

Aimeé nodded, wondering if Grace was referring to a certain dapper red-head, Travis Mavens.

“Well, it was worth a try. What will you have for lunch? I’ll have it ready. If you cancel, I’ll just find somebody to eat it.”

“Mmm. Yes. Let’s do the bisque and a Croque Monsieur. Luke can have his pick, or we can split.”

“Oui, your taste is impeccable.” Aimeé completed her show with a chef’s kiss of her fingertips, indicating an ingenious selection.

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