Page 56 of Unexpectedly Yours

Font Size:  

It wasn’t Mark, but he’d surely noticed her leaving.

There was a uniformed man standing near a black luxury car and Caroline realized Josh was picking her up. In his way. She made her way toward the car and the waiting chauffeur, and just as she was about to enter the open back door, Mark caught her by the arm.

“Well, look at you. Going somewhere special?”

Cringing, Caroline pulled her arm away. He didn’t miss one intimidating trick, one chance to make a woman uncomfortable. He may have been a crappy manager, but he was good at this.

“I’m meeting someone,” Caroline told him. It was more than he needed to know, but she thought maybe it would keep him from doing anything truly horrible. “He sent a car for me.”

“Ah. Is this someone a client of ours, perhaps?”

“He is on the firm’s client list, Mr. Strickland, but I’m not assigned to the project. If you’ll excuse me, I don’t want to be late.”

Mark stepped back when he saw the chauffeur, who could have doubled for an NFL linebacker, step forward. Josh had sent more than a car.

“Very well.” Mark stepped back. “Please keep in mind that you are to be loyal your employers and to your co-workers. Discretion, Caroline, is always best.”

She didn’t answer because the comment didn’t deserve a response. He was a bastard, and he should take his own advice.

Getting into the car, Caroline’s dark mood was threatening to ruin her evening, until she saw the flowers on the seat next to her, and everything inside her warmed. How did he do it? How did he know exactly what she needed when she needed it?

It wasn’t anything as clichéd as roses, but a bunch of sunny yellow tulips. Perfect.

Everything about this relationship was scrambling her brain and Caroline didn’t know if it was Josh or her own doubts about herself.

Picking up the flowers, Caroline fingered the soft petals and thought about how her life had changed over the last month and a half, and if she could handle it. Could she handle him?

The car wove its way through rush-hour traffic and it gave Caroline a lot of time to think. She thought about herself, about Josh and about her family. Her family who loved her, but didn’t understand her.

Work had been hell since she’d talked to Josh about the site evaluation. If she wasn’t being trusted to do real work before she’d advised him, now it was worse. But the strange thing was that for the first time in a long time she really didn’t care. She truly didn’t. She’d taken steps to change her situation, and once she’d done that, nothing Mark Strickland did mattered.

Confidence was a heady thing.

No one else knew about her job offer, but as she held the bouquet of tulips, Caroline knew who she was going to tell first.

The buildings changed as the car went farther downtown and the towering skyscrapers of Midtown gave way to the shorter residential buildings they passed in SoHo and Greenwich Village. Caroline’s stomach lurched as the car finally turned onto Water Street. Campbell Holdings had been in a century-old building in this area for three decades.

Josh had told her how his grandfather had started the business, and how his father was running it into the ground. Josh’s job, as he saw it, was to save the family legacy.

Of course, just as the car pulled to the curb, her sister called.

“Hi, Meg,” Caroline said.

“Hey, we’re in the city tonight. Meet us for dinner.”

Thankfully, things were much better with her sister, but Caroline still hadn’t told her about Josh, and she knew the longer she waited, the more angry Meg would be. But she didn’t want a lot of questions. Not right now, while she was still figuring it out herself.

“I can’t. I have plans.”

“You have... you have plans?”

Okay, that pissed her off. “Meg, you do realize I have a life, don’t you? I have friends and there are people I see...”

“I know, but I want you to come to dinner.” The woman could pout over the phone. How did she do that?

“Well, I can’t. I’m busy with a project and then I have dinner plans.”

There was nothing. Caroline couldn’t even hear her breathing.