As he sat down to devour his slice of the cake, he overheard people around the room as Ann delivered the sliced pieces. The girls excitedly thanked her for the new Durangos she had bought each of them as payment for helping her on that day. The doctors thanked her for the donation made to the Emergency Department of their hospital. Taylor thanked her for paying his daughter’s private school tuition.
He watched her, in awe of her ability to pull off a fling in such a short amount of time, making everyone in the room feel special and appreciated. And to do it all with a grace he was so fond of.
He wondered idly how she could afford to do it all. He knew she had been successful in her small business, but Boss relayed that she may have been a bit humble in that assertation. She sashayed back to his table with a cold beer in her hands and gave it to him. He pulled her onto his lap and nuzzled her hair. He only had a moment with her before the guests started lining up to say their good byes. She was up and off and the time flew by, catching up with old service members, athletes, and even his parents.
His Dad pulled him aside and relayed his pride. “I am so proud of you son. I don’t say it enough, but I am. You don’t always do what I would have done, but most of the time you are making wiser and more courageous decisions than I would have made. You have grown into a man I am so proud of. But even I know you should grab that gal up, put a ring on her finger before someone else comes along. You saved one helluva gal if you asked me, and I think she saved you in ways, too. I haven’t seen you look this good in ages.”
He knew his Dad was right. It was something that had been nagging at him while she was away.
Eventually the last of the guests filtered out, and Ann was helping the caterers clear up the buffet line and stack the chairs. She had cleared each of the tables herself, carefully stacking the ornate table decorations into plastic tubs. He had a sneaking suspicion she had a hand in making those as well. She poured her heart into everything she did, and this party was no exception.
He made his way over to her when the last of the guests had left. He helped her finish clearing things away, trying to find the words to convey his appreciation. “Thank you” he managed to get out. She looked surprised, or caught off guard. “I’m the one thanking YOU” she responded.
“I missed you” he said as the last caterer left out the door.
She turned to him, “I missed you, too. So much it hurt. I tied things up as quickly as I could so I could get back sooner, but there was so much to be done. Years to make up for. Years I’ll be making up for here if I make this my new branch office. Would you still like a tour?” she asked.
He obliged, and she took his hands. “This room here would be turned into a series of offices, which will eventually be filled with new designers that I plan to train personally.”
She pulled him out and back into the reception area. “This will be the front reception area. Who knows, I might even hire some of the temps I worked with from the agency here in town” she said with a smile.
She pulled him to another series of rooms down a hall, “This would be the executive branch. And that would be the storage closet for all my goods so I don’t have to store them in my own garage…” she broke off, the final words of that sentence coming out stoically.
And she pulled him into a large, windowed area. “This would become my office. There is room to lay out concepts on that wall, room for desk and chairs for meetings, cabinets, things of that nature, and it is connected to what could be the board room or conference room, right next to the cubicle areas.” She paused a moment. “What do you think?”
He was in awe. He hadn’t expected her small branch to start so largely. It made him curious about her business back home, across the country. And he was so thankful she was willing to take that step here in Missouri with him. “I love it” he answered, “But not as much as I love you.”
This eliminated the worry lines in her forehead. He liked that he had the ability to do that with just three simple, meaningful words. He also liked knowing what exactly would cause a blush on those cheeks, and staring at her with all of her beauty accentuated, his arousal grew.
“I love you, too. I have a gift for you, too, but I left it in my car.”
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