Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pred. & Preach. Daughter - Ch. 12

The Monday after the pool party, Chasity went for her first Bennington job interview. Although the owner of the florist was not currently in need of a store manager, Mrs. Bassett was so impressed by Chasity that a part-time floral designer position was immediately offered at the end the interview.

Chasity wowed Mrs. Basset with her impressive resume which detailed her extensive educational background that showed that she could have been a professional landscaper or architect if she wanted to be. This showed her future employer the extent of her love for floristry since there were no educational requirements for that career and since she could have easily bypassed all that schooling and gone right into it.

Another thing that impressed Mrs. Bassett was Chasity’s pleasant and confident demeanor. With those two things working for her, she would easily become a customer favorite. Lastly, the thing that really set Chasity apart as an exceptional person was the sample arrangements she’d made during the impromptu test run that Mrs. Basset gave her during the interview. The bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, wreaths, and vase arrangements that she crafted showed that she had a creative eye and a flair for design. Mrs. Bassett couldn’t let a talent like that go. Besides, she knew that if she didn’t hire such a person, her competition definitely would.

Chasity was so excited about landing a job so soon that she decided to go for a walk after her successful interview and explore the city awhile before going back to her hotel. Since she was so near the downtown area, she chose that as her sightseeing destination.

Bennington’s downtown area had several large and interestingly shaped skyscrapers that would have definitely been an architect’s idea of heaven. Marcos would’ve love to have designed that building, Chasity mused, remembering college conversations they’d had as she admired a seventy-story edifice with a glass pinnacle. The pinnacle contained an exclusive restaurant that serviced many of Bennington’s rich citizens. Marcos always talked about designing buildings with glass augmentations attached.

Wait, why am I thinking about him? Chasity caught herself and shook her head to remove all thoughts of her child’s father. She didn’t want to remember anything about Marcos. Not his career dreams from long ago and especially not how he’d kissed her on her first weekend in Bennington. She’d awakened with that kiss on her mind again this morning like she had every morning since it happened.

Rounding the corner of the green and white, glass-topped building, Chasity instantly got a reprieve from all thoughts of Marcos as her attention became focused elsewhere. Although it was sunny outside, she didn’t have to shield her eyes to see her surroundings because the gathering clouds above were blocking out the glare. And what she saw caused excitement to course through her veins and hope to leap in her belly. Directly across the street was an empty building sandwiched in between a busy diner and a dry cleaner.

That would be the perfect site for the first of many Bradshaw Bouquets, Chasity mused, ready to run across the street to look at the two-story, glass front building closer. And that’s exactly what she did, too.

Conquistador Realty Company, she recited, reading the name of the realtor that owned the building and failing to make the connection to the Valdez family.

********

So engrossed in looking through the clear windows of the empty building that she deemed perfect for her future business, Chasity failed to see Marcos come out of a restaurant three buildings away. He’d just had a business lunch with the manager of his real estate company (which he housed in a separate building on the north side of town) and was now headed back to his architectural firm right around the corner. Marcos failed to notice Chasity, too, and if it hadn’t been for his companion, he wouldn’t have seen her at all.

“It looks like we have an interested party in one of our properties down the street,” Thaddeus Charleston stated, pointing to the right as they waited for his car to be delivered to the front. Marcos rode with him today and he was going to drop his boss off and return to the real estate office to begin working on the things they’d discussed over lunch.

As soon as Marcos’ eyes lighted upon Chasity, his pulse began to race with thrilling desire and it was as if his very soul demanded that he stare. She looked delicious in the outfit she wore with its white mandarin collar jacket and fitting dark brown pants. Her auburn hair was pulled up in a smart bun with curly ringlets on the sides and in the back. In her ears was a pair of circular brown and white coral earrings. Chasity looked professional and sexy.

Turning to Thaddeus, Marcos said, “Perhaps you’re right. By the way, I think I’ll walk back to the office today. I need the exercise after that big lunch we just had.”

Seeing that the valet had delivered his black BMW, Thaddeus turned to his boss and nodded. “Okay, sir. I guess I’ll be talking to you later then.”

Marcos waved goodbye to his faithful employee who had listened to him with a sense of awe on his olive-skinned face all during lunch. Thaddeus had been in awe as his boss laid out a strategy where they would out bid their competitors for a piece of prime riverfront property, hold onto it for a while, and then later resell it to the highest bidder. Such a plan was a stroke of genius because during that six-month holding period the value of that particular property would have skyrocketed, which meant more profits for the Conquistador Realty Company.

Now through with business, Marcos proceeded to make his way in the opposite direction of his office building, instantly extending his lunch hour even more to make room for a little stimulating encounter with the mother of his child.

********

“Is there a particular reason you’re staring in the window of this building?” a familiar male voice suddenly said from behind Chasity.

She fought not to grimace as she immediately recognized that voice as belonging to the man who’d broken her heart all those years ago. The same man that still had the power to do so today, if she let him. Pasting a neutral expression on her face, Chasity turned around to face her unexpected companion.

“Hello,” she said. Ooo…oh my, Chasity added to herself with sudden appreciation as her eyes swept over Marcos’ highly appealing frame in the expensive black Italian suit he wore. Her body began to instantly ache in previously ignored places at the sight of him.

Chasity cleared her throat and swallowed hard before continuing, despising her body for betraying her with its constant desire for this man. “I was just sightseeing,” she informed, unwilling to share her dream with someone she couldn’t trust. Marcos Valdez had not proven himself to be trustworthy in the past and she wasn’t convinced that he could be trusted now, despite how good he treated his relatives.

Knowing him, he’d probably try to buy the building and hold it hostage until I give in to his advances, Chasity reasoned.

She was unaware that Marcos already owned that building and that if she’d so much as whisper that she desired to have it, he would turn the deed and the keys over to her within the hour. Furthermore, that seventy-story glass-topped building she’d been admiring earlier was also designed by Marcos. That had been his first major job when he arrived in town and its success had placed him literally on the map in elite southeastern society.

“Perhaps I can take you on a tour of the city. I have some free time on my hands right now and I have lived in Bennington for quite some time, so I do know my way around,” Marcos volunteered; ready to cancel every afternoon meeting he had to accommodate her.

Chasity shook her head. “No thanks.” She pointed to the sky. “It looks like it’s going to rain anyway, so I probably should be heading back to the hotel now.”

Marcos looked up and realized that gray clouds had formed overhead. When did that happen? he mused, wondering why he hadn’t noticed that the sun wasn’t shining anymore before now. Maybe it was because he considered Chasity to be his own ray of sunshine and seeing her had kept his day illuminated.

“It does look like rain. In fact, it looks like it’s going to pour down any minute now. I’ll be glad to give you a lift back to your hotel. That’s if you don’t mind walking up the block and around the corner to my office.” Marcos waited, wondering if Chasity would turn him down yet again. One had to admire the man’s tenacity.

First looking at the sky that seemed to get darker with each passing second and then back at the man in front of her, Chasity finally nodded her consent. After all, even though Bennington was a fairly large city, it was not so large that a taxi was conveniently waiting on every corner. Therefore, she’d probably have to call for one and by then the sky may have really opened up its fury. Besides, Chasity was kind of curious about where Marcos worked which is why she didn’t take the other option available to her. Truthfully, she could have simply waited inside of one of the downtown businesses for her taxi.

********

Marcos and Chasity made it inside of the Valdez Architectural and Design Firm right before the sky opened all the way up and began to pour down sheets of rain. “Follow me,” Marcos said, after stepping over the threshold of the automatic glass doors that led to the first floor of his workplace.

As soon as Chasity entered the red brick and glass constructed building, she noticed the beautiful floral arrangements sitting upon the large red granite pedestals that were strategically positioned every seventh tile along the walls. The colorful flowers seemed to welcome her into the lobby. As a result, she felt compelled to comment on them.

“Who does your floral arrangements?” Chasity asked as she proceeded to follow him up to his third floor office since that’s where his car keys were located.

“A local florist by the name of Stockard Bassett,” Marcos replied, acknowledging the middle-aged first floor receptionist with a nod as he passed by her. Mrs. Ulrich had been with him from the beginning and her elegant appearance and professional demeanor gave his firm that refined aura that he required. Plus, she knew her job like nobody’s business and she could work circles around the younger receptionists upstairs.

“If that’s the same Stockard Bassett that owns the Bassett Florist & Gift Shop not too far from here, then I’d say you’ve just called the name of my new boss,” Chasity said, trying not to be unnerved by how attentively the first floor receptionist looked at her. It felt as if she was under a microscope.

She certainly looks more wholesome than the others, Mrs. Ulrich mused, waving courteously to her boss and his female guest. Inwardly, she hoped that her bachelor of a boss would finally settle down soon. Over the years she’d seen too many women to count accompany Marcos to his office from lunch dates. Fortunately, Mr. Valdez had the good sense not to date any of the ladies that worked at the office, even though many had given him the eye of interest on several occasions.

Yeah, there’s definitely something different about this one, Mrs. Ulrich thought, noting how adoringly her boss looked at the woman walking beside him towards the elevators. In fact, Mr. Valdez seemed absolutely smitten by the auburn-haired woman with him.

Marcos pressed the white ‘Up’ elevator button and then turned to look at Chasity, leisurely perusing the features of her face and especially that delicious hair of hers. She’d never looked more beautiful to him than at this very moment.

Baby, I love you so much, Marcos mused, wanting to declare his feelings so badly, but knowing that now wasn’t the time or the place.

“Yes, that’s the same one,” he said, finally replying to Chasity’s previous inquiry about her new employer. “I’m pleased to know that you’ve found a job so soon. I would have offered you one here, if I’d thought you’d take it. After all, you were one of the top students in that design class we took together.” The steel elevator doors opened and Marcos stepped inside first, placing a hand on the right side grooves so that the doors would remain open no matter how slowly she chose to enter the lift. With the other hand he pressed the number three.

Chasity stepped into the open elevator behind him and pushed all thoughts of that first architectural class that they’d shared out of her mind, for it was in and through that class that she first met and fell in love with Marcos. The homework and class work assignments they’d discussed, coupled with the group meetings they’d attended had all been the vehicles that he’d used to inch his way closer to her.

“You’re right. I probably wouldn’t have taken it. Besides, we wouldn’t have made a good team anyway,” Chasity stated, thinking that she couldn’t even imagine having Marcos as her boss. I’d probably have to file sexual harassment charges, she mused as she stared straight ahead, waiting for the elevator to stop and the doors to open again.

Marcos reached over and gently turned her face to his. “We both know that that’s a lie, Chasity. You and I make a great team,” he said huskily, slowly perusing her features again and licking his lips in the process.

Then as the elevator signaled that they’d made it to the third floor with a ding, Marcos discreetly released Chasity’s face and waited for the doors to open. She would never know how much effort it took for him to release her just then when everything in him wanted to stop the elevator mid-floor and ravish her body. Yeah, it was a good thing that she wasn’t working for him. Otherwise he’d definitely break his no fraternizing with the help office rule.

Chasity stood beside Marcos trembling with delectable desire from his gentle touch and from the succulent memories that he’d provoked within her with his heated words and actions. He was exactly right. They did make a great team on so many levels. Or rather they had. As long as I keep it in the past tense, I’ll be fine, Chasity told herself, just as the elevator doors opened and she was ushered down the gray carpeted hallway towards his private office.

Fortunately, Marcos remained professional the whole time she was there, even introducing Chasity to several of his employees before driving her back to the hotel in the pouring rain. Just like Mrs. Ulrich had noticed the difference in their boss, many of Marcos’ other employees had noticed his intense attraction to Chasity as well. In fact, several of his single female employees were convinced and a bit disappointed that they’d just met what had to be the future Mrs. Marcos Valdez.

After dropping Chasity off, Marcos drove around the city for a while in the rain before going back to work. It had taken everything in him again to keep from asking if he could accompany Chasity up to her suite. But he’d done it and he was so proud of himself for exercising such restraint. After all, a one-night-stand wouldn’t be enough for him anyway. Marcos wanted the whole enchilada with the mother of his child and some way, somehow, he intended to have it.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

2 comments:

kris said...

im really starting to like this guy. hebdoesn't seem to be the same "predator" as before. i can't help but wonder though, where is Pastor Bradshaw? what's taking him so long?

Suprina said...

Rev. Bradshaw returns later in the book. Unfortunately, this month is running out and we might not get to that chapter before the sample expires out and we're on to another book.

Email me privately with your questions and I may whisper a few spoilers in your electronic ear. smile.