Read Change of Heart (The Flanagan Sisters, #2) Online

Authors: Claire Boston

Tags: #interracial romance, #hispanic romance, #latino romance, #competent heroine, #modern romance, #romance series

Change of Heart (The Flanagan Sisters, #2) (6 page)

BOOK: Change of Heart (The Flanagan Sisters, #2)
8.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

“Evan.”

“Hayden is Carolina’s personal assistant,” Basil told him.

That was interesting.

“What is it you’re developing, Evan?” Hayden asked.

“I’m doing the artwork for Basil’s project.”

“Fantastic. I know Carolina is really excited about it.”

“She recommended Evan to me,” Basil said.

“Really? How did you two meet?”

Evan didn’t like the prying. He didn’t know this guy, didn’t know what his relationship with Carly was like, and he wasn’t going to give him more information than he had to. “We met at an exhibition on the weekend.”

“Ah. She mentioned there was a good artist there. It must have been you.” He checked his watch. “I’d better get going. I’ll see you around.”

Evan watched him go. What the hell was that about?

Basil cursed quietly under his breath. “Do you think she’s going to pull the plug on her sponsorship?”

“Why? Because her PA came down?”

Basil nodded. “Hayden never comes down here unless he’s doing something for Carolina.”

“I got the feeling he was checking me out,” Evan said, hoping to allay his fears.

Basil snapped his fingers. “Of course. You asked her out. I bet he wanted to see who you were.” He sighed. “That’s a relief.”

Was it? Who did this PA think he was – Carly’s minder? Evan shook his head, not sure what he was getting himself in for. Did he want to put up with this kind of shit?

In his mind he saw Carly standing on the podium of the gallery, controlling her nerves, and then today, smiling so happily when she’d helped someone with their code. She was an enigma.

Yeah.

He definitely wanted to know more.

***

C
arly shut down her computer at six o’clock. She only had an hour before she was meeting the organizers of a charity fun run to discuss details. They had chosen the location – The Wooden Spoon – and she had no doubt she’d be expected to pick up the bill. She sighed and took her change of clothes into her private bathroom. She wanted to have a shower, but she didn’t have time to straighten her hair again. She’d have to make do with refreshing her makeup.

She braced her hands on the sink and closed her eyes. What she really wanted to do was go home and go to bed.

The lunch meeting with the owners eager to sell their software had gone nowhere. They had set a ridiculous sum on the sale price and weren’t going to budge. They’d been reading too many stories of developers making it rich, but the fact was, their software wasn’t different enough to warrant spending so much money. When she’d told them she wasn’t interested, they’d become nasty, effectively ensuring she’d never do business with them again. On returning to her office, she’d had Hayden put them both on her blacklist.

She sighed. Some days she couldn’t figure out how she’d come to this. It seemed like one day she was happily programming her software, and the next she was running a billion dollar company.

Her. The shy little no one from El Salvador.

After changing her outfit, she reapplied her makeup and then checked the time. She’d catch a cab to the restaurant. As she was about to call the number, her cell rang. She answered without checking who it was.

“Carly, I hope I’m not disturbing you.”

She closed her eyes at the sound of Evan’s voice. She’d forgotten he had her cell number. She’d have to have a word to Zita about who she gave her number to. “I’m just on my way to a work dinner,” she said and then cringed. Why did she have to add “work”? She should have given him the impression she was a serial dater. That would scare him off.

“I won’t keep you then. I wanted to organize our own dinner date. How about Saturday night?”

“Let me check.” She reached for her tablet and opened her calendar. She was free. Her first free Saturday in months. What were the odds? She sighed. What should she do? Lie to him?

“With the weather cooling down, it might be nice to go on a picnic,” he said.

“A picnic?” She couldn’t remember the last time she went on a picnic. She wasn’t sure she had any appropriate clothing.

“Yeah. How about I pick you up at five thirty?”

The idea was intriguing. She yearned to say yes. But could she really risk it?

“I’ll organize everything,” he persisted.

That was the tipping point. The hope she was holding down bubbled up. The idea of not having to do anything was appealing as hell. “All right.”

“Great. I’ll see you then.” He hung up.

Carly lowered her phone. Was she finally going mad? There was no way she should have agreed to the date. At a bare minimum, she should have put him off for a couple of weeks to check if he was really interested. But no, she’d agreed to go on a
picnic
of all things. She would definitely have to dig through her wardrobe to see if she had anything casual enough to wear. She wasn’t sure she even had any flat shoes, except her tennis shoes. She’d got rid of anything without a heel when her stylist had told her she looked diminutive without them.

Her chest was already tightening at the thought. She’d just have to cancel. She’d call during the week and make some excuse.

But right now she had to get to dinner.

***

E
van hung up the phone and chuckled. Carly hadn’t been expecting his picnic idea. He was pleased he’d thought of it. When he’d debated where to take her on their date, he’d immediately ruled out all the high class places. She’d be used to going to those, and anyway his budget didn’t stretch quite that far. He’d also considered taking her to one of his favorite little restaurants, but he wanted to be alone with her. He had the feeling she wouldn’t open up if she was surrounded by people. Which made a picnic the perfect idea.

The only problem was, he had no idea what food to take. Carly could be vegetarian, or allergic to something. He debated for a brief second about calling Zita. He could do with all the help he could get.

“Z, I need some help,” he said when she answered.

“What’s up?”

“I’m taking Carly on a picnic on Saturday and I forgot to ask her if there was anything she didn’t eat.”

“Wait. What? Carly agreed to go on a date with you?” She sounded incredulous.

His back stiffened. “Yeah. You got a problem with that?”

“No, not at all.” She laughed. “That’s fantastic. I can’t remember the last time Carly had a date – at least one she told us about.”

Evan relaxed. She didn’t have a problem with him. “So, is she allergic to anything, or vegetarian?”

“Nope. She loves fresh, crusty white bread, but she doesn’t allow herself to eat it very often. Oh, and you should definitely throw in some pâté and those little red pepper things stuffed with cheese. She loves those.”

He grabbed a scrap of paper and made notes. “Does she have a favorite drink?”

Zita was quiet for a moment. “Go non-alcoholic. She often drinks at her lunch and dinner meetings and she likes to have a break from it. When we were kids, she used to love apple cider.”

He could manage that. “Thanks, Z. I owe you one.”

“Where are you taking her?”

“Hermann Park.”

“That’s nice. Find somewhere away from the crowds.”

“Will do.”

“Oh, Mama wants to know when you’ll be around to paint the garden.”

He wanted to stay on Carmen’s good side, but with the work for the game it was going to be difficult. “How about Sunday?”

“Come around after church, say about ten?”

“I’ll be there.” He hung up and reviewed the list in his hand, an idea beginning to form. He’d do a tapas-style picnic. He wouldn’t have to cook and they could eat whenever they got hungry.

He smiled. He hadn’t been this excited about a date in a long time.

Chapter 5

C
arly was a fool. She should have canceled the date
days
ago and then she wouldn’t be having this conundrum. She had nothing appropriate to wear.

She checked the time again. Five o’clock. Not enough time to run out and buy something. She should have done that during the week, but she’d been meaning to cancel altogether. She’d run out of time. Forgotten. Whatever.

Huffing out a breath, she scanned her clothes. This was ridiculous. Surely she had a pair of sandals and a casual dress, or a pair of jeans buried somewhere in her closet. She kneeled down and sorted through her shoes, until finally she found a pair of flat sandals with cute diamantes on the straps. She’d bought them pre-stylist and had loved them, but had relegated them to the back of the wardrobe afterward. And from memory she had a couple of outfits she’d loved too much to throw out as well.

She stood and went to the back of her closet where she’d hidden her outfits. There was a cute floral dress – white, with huge red hibiscus flowers on it, which would work perfectly.

A small voice in her mind told her she couldn’t possibly go out in public in anything less than her normal Carolina outfits, but the problem was, Carolina didn’t do picnics. She did dinners and lunches in five-star establishments. She could hardly go on a picnic in her four-inch heels. It wasn’t practical. Besides, she wasn’t likely to run into anyone she knew.

Shutting out the voice, she slipped on the dress and shoes and turned her attention to her makeup. Just as she was finishing, the buzzer sounded. Her hand froze as she applied her lipstick and she slowly breathed out. Checking her appearance one last time, she hurried over to answer.

“There’s an Evan Hayes to see you,” Harold, her doorman, said.

“Tell him I’ll be right down.”

Nerves humming all across her skin, she grabbed her purse, locked her door and headed downstairs.

When the elevator doors opened, Evan turned from where he was chatting with Harold and looked her up and down. She braced herself, but he gave her a small appreciative smile. Her body heated. Ignoring it, she walked over. Evan was dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a blue T-shirt with some kind of image on it. It was sexy casual. “Ready to go?”

“Absolutely. I’m parked out front.”

His car was an older model white station wagon that had seen better days. He held the passenger side door open for her as she got in. It smelled like paint and she smiled. She appreciated that he hadn’t fussed over cleaning the car or hidden the smell with one of those way too strong air fresheners. Perhaps he didn’t even realize it smelled.

As he got into the car, he said, “I thought we’d go to Hermann Park. Is that all right with you?”

“Sure.”

He pulled into the traffic. “How was your dinner the other night?”

“Which one?”

He chuckled. “Monday night. How many dinners have you had?”

“Four.”

He glanced at her, seeming surprised. “You sure are popular.”

“My money is at least.” She snapped her mouth shut. She shouldn’t make comments like that to him. She didn’t know if she could trust him yet.

“I’m sure that’s not true. What were the dinners for?”

She sighed and then decided to tell the truth. Better he understood he had little chance of getting money from her now, than before she had a chance to get attached. “Monday’s meeting was with a charity. I’m sponsoring a fun run and they wanted more money to buy bibs or shirts or something. I told them the amount I’d sponsored them was more than enough to cover all that and they weren’t getting any more.” They hadn’t been happy. “Tuesday was a meeting with a very big company who want to buy Comunidad. I told them it wasn’t for sale. Wednesday was another arts group – sculptors this time – who’d heard about the exhibition and wanted me to sponsor them as well. And last night was a session with a group of developers who have designed an interesting platform that could be used at Comunidad. I’m still considering it.”

“Hell. So what did you do on your night off – sleep?”

She smiled at his disbelief. “I don’t sleep much.”

“I can see why. Thanks for spending time with me tonight. If I were you, I would have told me to try again next month.”

She glanced at him. He was serious. “It was tempting.” She chuckled. “But the schedule next month isn’t much different from this month.” It was nice he appreciated her time.

“Has anyone told you that you work too hard?”

“Only my family and Hayden.”

“Hayden’s your PA, right? I met him the other day.”

She was surprised. “When?”

“Monday, when I was at the indie hub. He came down, I’m not sure what for. It almost looked as if he was checking me out.”

Carly stifled a groan. She shouldn’t have mentioned Evan to Hayden at all. She never expected he’d go and check him out though. “That’s probably my fault. I mentioned you might call to set up a date. I forgot you had my cell number.”

“Is he your gatekeeper?”

“He keeps the more annoying people away.”

“Was he meant to keep me away?” Evan asked as he pulled into the parking lot at Hermann Park.

“Of course not,” she lied, unstrapping her belt and getting out of the car.

Evan took a picnic basket and rug from the back seat and joined Carly on the grass. “Would you like to go anywhere in particular?”

“No. I’ve not been here before.” Was it sad that they had a beautiful park in the middle of the city and she’d never been there?

“All right. I know a good place.”

They walked in silence as she followed him around the lake to a quiet spot. It was a beautiful evening – still, and with enough warmth in the air that she didn’t need a cardigan. There were a lot of people taking advantage of the weather: joggers on their evening run, a few people walking their dogs, and a couple of families gathered around the barbecue facilities. Evan continued on until they came to a big shady tree away from everyone else. It had a lovely view of the lake, but was at a distance from the path so they wouldn’t be disturbed. He spread the checked picnic blanket underneath and gestured for her to sit.

Carly did so as he began to remove things from the picnic basket.

“Would you like a drink?” He took a bottle out of a cooler bag and showed her the label.

Was he trying to impress her? She drank enough wine as it was. Dutifully she checked the label and laughed. Sparkling apple cider. “I’d love some.” She hadn’t had it since she was a child.

BOOK: Change of Heart (The Flanagan Sisters, #2)
8.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Game for Anything by Bella Andre
Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat
Baby Comes First by Beverly Farr
Inked Ever After by Elle Aycart
Yearning for Love by Toye Lawson Brown
Emma by Katie Blu