Promises to Keep. Linda Hudson-Smith

Promises to Keep - Linda Hudson-Smith

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      The party was in full swing and Courtney was delighted to see how happy her client was with everything. Sonya had repeatedly thanked her and praised the employees for their expert handling of the party. She was delighted knowing that her wedding reception was in the capable hands of The Party People. They had delivered far above Sonya’s expectations—and this wasn’t even the main event.

      Two and a half hours later, Courtney pulled Monica aside. “Do you mind handling the last half hour or so alone? I made an appointment to meet with Mr. Fairfax at his corporate offices.”

      “Not a problem. The initial contract was for three hours. Are we billing Sonya for the extra time?”

      Courtney frowned slightly. “No, but you’ll be paid time and a half. I wouldn’t ask you to stay later if I couldn’t pay you. The guests look like they’re starting to wind down. Sonya has a dinner to attend later on, so it should be over soon.”

      Monica looked embarrassed. “Paying me to stay over the allotted time is not necessary. It was just a question that came to mind. I know we’ve charged in the past for overtime and the clients are made aware of it up front, before signing the contract.”

      “Some people you charge and others you don’t. Sonya isn’t someone I’d want to hit with overtime. She’s a wonderful client. Now if she were one of the moody grouches we sometimes get, we’d probably charge her for every additional second,” Courtney said with a wicked grin.

      Monica laughed, too. “Go on and get out of here. You don’t want to be late for a date with the gorgeous Mr. Fairfax.”

      “Date! Hardly. I’m meeting with the soon-to-be-married Mr. Fairfax,” Courtney countered, lightly pecking Monica’s cheek. “I’m out.”

      Chapter 2

      After a gentleman said Darius would be a few minutes late for the meeting, Courtney was ushered into his private office to wait for him. As she looked around, she was simply astonished. The panorama of Hollywood from the picture window behind Darius’s desk included a bird’s-eye view of Capitol Records. This was certainly a high-rent district.

      Crystal-clear glass and gleaming chrome furnishings breathed high-tech energy into the room. The circular glass desk dominated the space. A high-back chair, crafted from fine silver leather, was supported by chrome arms and legs. The remarkable decor was like nothing she’d ever seen before. It belonged to a futuristic era. Chrome and glass bookshelves, tall and impressive, were for more than show. The white carpet beneath her feet felt thick and plush. Posh sofas and chairs created an elegant ambience. The office, beautiful and luxurious, was manly, yet subtle enough for a woman.

      Exquisitely framed pictures on Darius’s desk caught Courtney’s eye. She moved nearer to take a closer look. A single eleven-by-fourteen color photo of a woman made her mouth drop open. Unable to pull her eyes away, she couldn’t help staring.

      Talk about beautiful.

      The lady with a caramel complexion was positively stunning. Any man would love to hold and caress the slim, petite body, dressed in an alluring, cobalt-blue silk dress. In another picture of the same size, Darius wore a dark, double-breasted suit. He stood directly behind the lady, his fingers locked together at the middle of her waist. Satiny ginger-brown curls nestled back against his broad chest.

      Candice, Courtney easily surmised. This beauty had to be Darius’s Candice. What a lucky woman, she thought, hoping Candice treated him as wonderfully as she would if he were her man. Though she didn’t know if he deserved special treatment or not, she somehow felt he was worthy of whatever goodness this world had to offer. He seemed genuinely kind and compassionate.

      In an eight-by-ten picture was a lovely woman with a nearly flawless coffee-and-cream complexion. Her midlength, dark brown hair was sprinkled with salt. Standing next to her and much taller than the woman was a handsome, stately-looking man, who called to mind the expression silver fox. Every strand of his wavy hair had turned completely silver. The couple looked into each other’s eyes with adoration. His parents, she surmised.

      Darius slipped quietly into the room. Unnoticed by Courtney, who appeared focused on the pictures atop his desk, he watched her. As he drank in her natural beauty, his heart started to race. The effect she had on him was profound, something he’d never experienced before. The view from behind was sexy, spellbinding and thrilling.

      Feeling someone’s presence, Courtney turned and saw Darius standing there.

      Impeccably dressed in a light gray, pinstriped suit, a pink silk shirt, with a complementary white, pink and gray silk tie, Darius exemplified a successful tycoon. The fashionable attire looked exquisite on his fine physique.

      Courtney smiled brightly. “Good evening, Darius. It’s nice to see you again.”

      Darius smiled gently. “The feeling is mutual. Would you like something to drink?”

      Courtney nodded her assent. “Cold water would be nice. Thank you.”

      Darius walked over to his desk and picked up the phone, punching in the red intercom button. “Jasmine, please bring in a few bottles of ice-cold water and a platter of fresh fruit. I’m starving and way past ready for my dinner order.”

      “Right away, Mr. Fairfax.”

      “Thanks, Jasmine. You’re the best.”

      Instead of sitting down in the swivel chair behind his desk, where he conducted most of his business, Darius opted for one of the plush microfiber sofas. He wanted to make Courtney feel at ease.

      She took a seat. One click of her thumb opened the brown leather briefcase. “I’m letting you call all the shots,” she reminded him, smiling softly.

      “In that case, we’re ready. Have you come up with any other inspiring ideas for the surprise engagement party?”

      “Based on the things we discussed yesterday, I think I have a couple of good ones. Since I can’t confer with Candice, I only have your brain to pick.” Reaching into her briefcase, she removed a few sheets of paper and handed them to him.

      “I sketched a few ideas for centerpieces to include the angels you mentioned.”

      A light knock came on the door before Darius could respond. The door opened and in walked Jasmine. She set a metal tray on the rectangular chrome table situated in one corner of the vast room.

      Jasmine was dressed beautifully. Courtney thought she was stunning; her attire had class and style. She imagined guys giving off shrill wolf whistles whenever Jasmine walked into a room or strolled by. Clad in a red silk blouse and slim navy skirt, the young woman was a looker. A wide red patent-leather belt spanned her slender waist.

      Getting to his feet, Darius was eager to introduce the two dynamic women.

      “Jasmine Parker has been my administrative assistant for the past couple of years. I can count on her when I can’t rely on anyone else. A one-of-a-kind employee, she’s loyal to me and committed to running the office to the best of her ability. I’d be lost without Jasmine,” he told Courtney. “She agreed to stay on until our meeting is done. This young, innovative lady has a great future ahead of her in film.”

      Courtney took Jasmine’s extended hand. “So nice to meet you, Jasmine.”

      “Same here,” Jasmine assured Courtney, smiling sweetly.

      A couple of light pleasantries were exchanged between the two women before Jasmine turned her attention back to her boss. “Do you need anything else before your dinner arrives, Mr. Fairfax?”

      “I’m good for now. Thanks, Jasmine.”

      “I’m just an intercom buzz away.” She smiled at her boss then quickly excused herself and hurried out of the room.

      Courtney’s eyes followed Jasmine until the door shut. The lady was intriguing.

      “It looks like you surround yourself with beautiful women.”

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