Promises to Keep. Linda Hudson-Smith

Promises to Keep - Linda Hudson-Smith

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lot like you, I’d say. You’ve certainly pursued your dreams to fruition.”

      “I’m not all the way there yet. Catering is in my blood. I couldn’t have gone in another direction if I’d wanted to.”

      “We obviously share similar dreams. In my opinion, there’s not enough work for minorities in Tinseltown. I’m determined to address that critical imbalance. Keeping veteran actors of color on the big screen, as opposed to filling jobs with young stars of tomorrow, is another one of my goals. Veterans lend credence to any film. A mix of old and new artists lighting up the silver screen is one of my strongest visions.”

      “Good luck, Mr. Fairfax. I’ll be rooting for you.”

      “Thank you for the vote of confidence.” Darius looked down at his watch and instantly got to his feet. “I’m afraid I’ve got to go. Is it okay if I call you tomorrow to schedule another appointment? This engagement party has to be the event of the year.”

      “I can have Monica reschedule you on your way out.”

      He shook his head. “I have to check my calendar first. It’s best if I call back.”

      “My business card is in the packet. My cell number is also available in case clients have to reach me after normal business hours. Thanks for choosing The Party People to cater your event.”

      Darius smiled. “You’re welcome. I couldn’t have chosen better.”

      It was commonplace for Courtney to walk her clients out to the reception area and see them to the exit. Escorting Darius out made her positively giddy with pleasure. Her wild attraction to an engaged man was silly, dangerous and couldn’t be acted upon. How would she override these dizzying, heartfelt reactions? Reining in her mind and body wasn’t difficult. Getting her heart to tag along might be a bit of a problem.

      Darius looked back at Courtney. Winking, he smiled and strode out the door.

      Blowing on the tips of her fingers, Courtney shook her hand out. Laughing from deep within, she deposited herself in a chair. “Talk about sexy and hot! That indescribable man caused a major heat wave up in my office. Is he not gorgeous?”

      “He is fine!” Monica laughed at Courtney’s to-die-for expression. “What type of party is he interested in?”

      Poking out her lower lip, Courtney shook her head. “Engagement party. His.”

      Monica smiled sympathetically. “Sorry about that. He’s a real turn-on. If I wasn’t married, I would’ve enjoyed flirting with him. But I love being married to hunky J. R. Norman.” She looked down at the appointment book. “Normally I ask clients what kind of event they’re interested in, but this entry isn’t in my handwriting. Someone else took his call and forgot to initial it. I’d definitely remember that sexy voice.”

      “Mr. Fairfax’s voice does caress the soul. I wonder what his whispers sound like.” Both women laughed. “It matters who booked him for proper credit, but I’m thankful he showed up. He hasn’t signed a contract, but I’m confident he will.”

      Monica looked closely at the telltale glint in her boss’s eyes. “You’re terribly smitten. How will you manage to work with someone you’re so obviously attracted to?”

      Courtney grinned. “I am a professional, sweetie. I know how to keep my game face in place.”

      Monica grinned. “You are the consummate professional! Since J.R. is out of town, you want to stop by Club 21 for a drink or two after work?”

      “Sorry, not tonight. I’m beat. Let’s shut down at four o’clock instead of five. We’ve come in an hour early and stayed late every day this week. And we have to work the Wilkerson-Banks lingerie bridal shower tomorrow.”

      “I’m glad I have to work this event because I’d be home alone anyway. J.R. probably won’t get in from Atlanta until midnight.”

      “That’s what happens when girls marry boys in the band,” Courtney remarked, laughing. “Unfortunately, for me, my calendar only includes the social events I work. Maybe one day I’ll find the right man and eventually settle down. How nice would that be? Darius wants a May date. Pencil him in for the third week of May.”

      “Got it.” Monica smiled. “Your Mr. Right is lurking out there somewhere. I’m glad J.R. plays the majority of his gigs in the L.A. area. When they hit the big time, he’ll be gone a lot more.”

      “As much as I’d hate to lose my right-hand employee, I hope you’re still planning to travel with your husband when his big break comes. You have to protect your personal interest. Women love the boys in the band, even the married ones.”

      “They absolutely love drummers. Found that out a long time ago.”

      Courtney nodded. “Not only is J.R. a great drummer, he’s so good-looking. I guess other band members get their fair share of fans, too.”

      Monica smiled. “Fans are one thing. Groupies are another. I’m blessed to have such a loyal man.”

      “You sure are.” Getting to her feet, Courtney walked toward her private office. “I could sit and listen to you chat all day about your wonderful husband, but I’ve got lots of work to do. See you later. Hope I can suppress all sizzling thoughts about Darius Fairfax.”

      “You’d make a striking couple,” Monica cooed.

      Courtney smiled. “I kind of thought so, too. Candice is one lucky woman.”

      Courtney let herself into her recently purchased Hollywood Hills three-bedroom residence. She had yet to put her personal stamp on her 3,200-square-foot home. The decor she had in mind would one day reflect her serene, warm and colorful personality. She had extensive plans for her space, but limited time to make them a reality.

      Totally blank, swirling ecru-textured walls were featured throughout. Only the master suite, laundry and kitchen were fully furnished. Surfing online had given her some terrific decorating ideas: a mix of antique, European and modern-day furnishings was her dream for ideal living quarters. Courtney planned to purchase items for the formal areas as soon as possible. The emptiness had begun to get to her.

      She had already decided to eat leftovers from the tasty meal her grandmother had prepared yesterday: roast chicken stuffed with cornbread dressing, plus a vegetable medley of steamed broccoli, pearl onions and cauliflower along with a side garden salad. She planned to shower, eat and go straight to bed. The day had been a long, tiring one.

      Just as Courtney slipped into the beautifully draped king-size bed, her cell phone rang. Her first thought was not to answer it. She then thought of her clients, as always. Someone might have a problem and need her help. She immediately reached for the cell.

      “Sorry to call so late, but I was wondering if you’d come to my office tomorrow to get started on the event plans. I know it’s a Friday and I’ll understand if you can’t.”

      Darius hadn’t identified himself—and he hadn’t needed to. She recognized that sexy voice instantly. Courtney took in a deep breath to try to settle the butterflies in her stomach. “I’m working an early-evening event tomorrow. We’re contracted for three hours. I can meet you afterward.”

      “Good. I’ll order take-out food for us to eat in my office. Okay with you?”

      “Well, yeah, I guess so. I’ll make sure I don’t eat too much at the shower. It’ll be hard to do. Several of my grandmother’s specialties are on the menu.”

      Darius chuckled softly. “I don’t want you to miss out on Grandma’s delicious cooking. Hope you won’t mind if I eat while we work. I know I’ll be ravenous by then.”

      “Not a problem. Six-thirty is good for me. If something unexpectedly pops up, I’ll call right away. Otherwise, I’m there.”

      “Six-thirty it is. Is there anything special you’d like to drink?”


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