“Ms. Walker, I have Patti Jones on line one.”
“Thank you, Amelia. You can put her through… Hello, Patti. So good to hear from you.”
Kate Walker was now living the dream. As a young girl from Los Angeles, she often dreamed of being a big time fashion designer. She put in all of the hard work and sacrifice, and now her dreams were coming true.
As the owner of Grey’s Fashion Boutique, she was the CEO of a booming fashion consulting firm. What started out as a passion for helping her friends shop for all of the right clothes turned in to attending fashion and design school and then opening a small boutique.
Business was slow at first, but sticking with it, putting in long hours networking and working sometimes for free helped Kate end up with everything she dreamed of. Finding Linda had been invaluable. Linda had walked in one day when Grey’s opened and she confessed that she did not have much fashion sense and she did not intend to be the most fashionable in the work. She was the business mind and Kate appreciated everything that Linda had done to help bring her dream to life.
Kate clicked on the keyboard and finished her phone call with her client. The chime on the computer signaled that there was a task on the calendar.
“Oh shoot.” The morning had gotten away from her and she forgot that there was lunch with Bruce.
If she canceled on him one more time, he would never take her out again. At least that was his threat after she rescheduled their lunch rendezvous for the second time in two weeks.
Her cell phone rang. “Yes, Linda.”
“Do not stand up my man Bruce again.”
Kate sighed. “I will not stand him up. As a matter of fact, I am on my way to meet him now.”
“Sure you were. You were probably just wrapping up a phone call with yet another client. I tell you, last year at this time, you did not have any love in your life at all. Now you have Bruce and you don’t have any balance in your life. Don’t lose him because you won’t take a little time out in your day to show the man a little appreciation.”
Kate shuffled through her purse to find her sunglasses. “Seriously, I ‘m on my way out of the door. I did not forget about lunch with my boyfriend. How could I?”
“Later, Kate. I’m on my way to the merchandising warehouse to check on a few of the things we ordered.”
“Great. I’ll see you later.”
Kate hated the fact that Linda was always right on time. She had a way of pointing things out to Kate and making her see that she needed to slow down. Kate did not want to slow down. She wanted to go full speed ahead in her career. Focus was what she needed. But according to Linda, and her boyfriend, Bruce, Kate needed to have the ability to focus not only on work, but on having a well rounded personal life as well.
They both made good points. Linda was always looking out for Kate’s best interest. Bruce was as well. He was everything that she ever wanted in a man.
Bruce was the exact opposite of what she would have ever thought she would be dating. A forty two year old man who took good care of his body, but left a lot to be desired in the fashion department. He was ruggedly attractive with steel blue eyes and dark brown hair with a bright silver gray streak in it. When they met, he wore it in a ponytail. In the year that they had been dating, he had since cut the ponytail and wore his hair short and cropped, clean cut.
Bruce was an accountant by trade, but preferred life in the country, living on a farm where he could smell the rich soil and use his hands. He was in stark contrast to the woman she was.
Kate never saw herself dating outside of her race. But with Bruce, it had not been so much of a thought in the forefront of her mind. She fell for the man. And he fell for her. They were a true match, each other’s balance. He helped her to find the calm she needed, and she helped him find the fire he needed to go back to freelance consulting in accounting. It was a passion of his that never died.
With so much work on her plate, it was hard to fit in any of the leisurely things that Bruce wanted to do. If it came down to spending the morning golfing with Bruce or networking with potential clients, hands down, Kate would choose the latter every time. As far as Bruce was concerned, she should back off and take at least one day of rest. But while building her empire, Kate did not see rest in her immediate future. She envisioned success. Wild success. She could not find that on the second hole of the golf course. It was something she would have to work extremely hard for.
She had gone over with Bruce how her parents weren’t flat out poor, but they had not been able to give her the best of things either. She wore hand-me-downs to school every day, clothes that originally belonged to someone else. Now that kind of fashion was considered ‘Vintage’ and people clamored to shop at consignment stores. Growing up, having second hand clothes made Kate feel less than and was the very feeling that propelled her to create a financial security that she never felt she had as a child.
The very irony of her current love life was that she was involved with a billionaire. She did not know anything about Bruce’s net worth when they met.
As a matter of fact, he looked and dressed far from being a billionaire. He preferred cowboy boots, jeans, ten gallon hats, and white creased button down shirts. That was what he was wearing when he walked in the doors of Grey’s Boutique.
Bruce had looked like a fish out of water when he strutted into the boutique. Kate had incorrectly assumed that he was there shopping for a special someone. He had actually wanted to enlist the services of a stylist in order to dress him for a gala event.
Kate thought nothing of it. She simply did what she did best and put him in a finely tailored suit. When he was dressed and looking good, it was the first time she noticed how handsome he was. Sure he pulled the ponytail back and was more clean shaven, but he had an air of charisma and wisdom that drew her to him.
The other thing that drew her to him was his confidence. He asked her out to eat and to spend time with him as soon as they met. Dating was the furthest thing from her mind. She had no intention of being in a relationship. The only thing she wanted to do was focus on building her brand. But fate had other plans.
Kate would not say that Bruce swept her off of her feet. Their relationship was the epitome of yin and yang. He was the strength and the stability she craved. And that had nothing to do with his money. Actually, knowing he had money had caused her a bit of pause. She did not want him to think that the reason she wanted to be with him was because he was loaded. It had nothing to do with that. She wanted to be with him because he made her laugh and made her think. He challenged her to be more than her best and to push herself.
He was exactly what she was looking for when she didn’t know she was searching. And he had done all he could to make her understand he wanted her and he would do whatever it took to get her.
A year later, they were still going strong. Bruce was her rock and she was appreciative of that.
So when he set up a lunch date for the two of them at her favorite café, she owed it to him, and herself, to make it there on time.
Lunch was at one o’clock. She pulled up at ten after. As soon as she walked in, she saw Bruce sitting there reading a menu. It was obviously a way to kill time because they had been to that restaurant several times before and knew the menu by heart.
Bruce stood up as she walked in. “I almost thought that I was being stood up.”
She kissed him, first a peck on the lips that he turned into more passion.
“Whoa, I guess we are putting on a show for everyone else,” she replied as she tried to catch her breath.
“I have to take every chance that I get to let my woman know how I feel about her.” Bruce pulled out her chair and waited for her to take a seat.
“I saw you studying the menu. Did you figure out what you would like to eat?”
Bruce took a seat, leaning back in his chair. His shoulders were broad and he was tall, so he was always leaning back in chairs in order to sit comfortably.
“I thought that studying the menu would make me look a little less lonely than sitting here alone reading posts on my phone.”
Kate knew that it was a small dig about her time management skills. “I accept that. Sorry I was late.”
Bruce nodded. “I was thinking of ordering the egg and cheese omelet with a side of spinach artichoke dip and chips. What about you?”
“I think that I’ll have the steak frittata and a side of hash brows.”
They ordered and sat back drinking their coffee.
“It’s such a beautiful day. What’s on your agenda?”
“Well, I have a few rounds of golf this afternoon and a phone meeting with a potential client. A pretty productive but calm day. I try not to pack too much into my twenty four hours, love.”
When Bruce made comments like that, it made her feel guilty for being so driven. At least that’s what Kate called it. Driven. Bruce said that it was a bit more than driven. It was borderline psychotic to cram ten hours of work into an eight hour work day.
“Sacrifices,” Kate sighed.
Bruce raised his eyebrow. “Is that what we are calling it now?”
She wanted desperately to change the subject. “What about plans for dinner?”
“I wanted to surprise you. Come over and pick you up in my chariot, complete with chocolates, flowers, and the man of your dreams.”
The thought made Kate giggle. “I would love that.”
Lunchtime conversation was not filled with talk of work and for once, that was refreshing. Bruce’s parents were expecting them to come up to the ranch soon and Bruce was asking her to pin down a time when they could make that happen.
“I’m thinking that maybe we can do that next week.”
“Sounds like a plan. My mother was just going on and on about you. Saying something about having you help her do some gardening?”
Kate nodded. “I did promise her that I would help with the planting this Spring. Thanks for reminding me.”
They finished lunch and opted to skip the dessert. Kate had a few more appointments that afternoon and she made herself a promise that she would be on time for dinner.
Bruce walked her to her car, they were hand in hand. It was the little things that he did that made her feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
Looking into his deep blue eyes, she felt a warmth that let her know all was right with the two of them.
“Dinner is at seven. Sharp. Be ready.”
“I will.” After all this time, being so close to Bruce still made her dizzy.
“And where something sexy.”
His lips brushed hers and for a split second, she contemplated going back home with him to spend a little time in bed. But work awaited her.
“Until tonight, my love.”
Kate wiggled her fingers, waving goodbye as she drove off back to work.
Kate knew that there was no wiggle room this evening. She had to be early in order to be on time for her date with Bruce.
Her last appointment ended at four, just in time for her to get home, squeeze in a little yoga, shower and dress for her date. Luckily, she did not live far from the boutique, so she did not have to worry about L.A. traffic.
A car service showed up to her home at quarter to seven. She was happy she did not have to make the car service wait, as she usually did when she was running behind. Bruce was right, in that she needed a bit of time to relax her mind and switch off work mode.
She did as Bruce asked and put on something sexy. Wearing his favorite color was sure to get his attention. Her red dress fit all of her curves and paired against her mahogany skin perfectly. She wore her hair in an upswept ponytail and spritzed on some of the peony scented perfume that he could not resist.
Giddy with excitement, Kate tried to figure out where her destination could possibly be. Bruce was always so full of surprises. She loved the fact that he was so spontaneous. It was a great balance to her usual by the schedule, by the book way of living.
The ride took her outside of the city. She knew that she was most likely going to the small town where Bruce grew up. His family owned a ranch about thirty miles outside of the city. It was peaceful and quiet where they lived, actually quite charming. Taking her away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. life was exactly what she needed.
The car winded through the small town streets, bringing them to the downtown area. Once they pulled up, there was Bruce, standing there with a large bouquet of flowers and a heart shaped red box. He was dressed casually in a pair of dark slacks and a button down shirt. For a moment, she felt over dressed.
He came to the car and opened her door.
“I could not wait for you to arrive.”
He handed her the flowers, white long stemmed lilies, taking one from the bunch and handing it to her directly.
“These are absolutely beautiful. Thank you.”
Hand in hand, he twirled her around, admiring her beauty before leading her away from the car as it drove off.
“You are ravishing tonight.” The way that he bit his lip and stared at her made her feel like he was going to devour her.
“You look pretty dapper yourself.”
He brushed his shoulders playfully. “I try my best.”
“What is this?”
A horse drawn carriage pulled up in front of where they stood.
“I thought that I would take my sweetheart out on a special night on the town.”
He held his hand out to usher her into the carriage. Once he was seated next to her, he passed her the heart shaped box.
Already knowing what was inside, she opened it.
“This is how I know you love me,” she said as she savored the taste of the caramel covered in milk chocolate.
“Is that the only way you know?’ he teased.
“Well, there are a few other moments here and there when it is apparent.”
They both laughed.
“I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the city. Slow down a bit.”
As they rode through the tiny town streets, the hooves of the horse clip clopping on the pavement, Kate’s heart swelled.
“No one has ever done anything like this for me before. This is wonderful.”
The warm arm on her skin, sitting next to the man she loved was all that she needed to relax for the evening.
The carriage stopped at a small park area. It had a small path that led to the lakeside waterfront.
She carefully stepped down from the carriage and followed Bruce’s lead. On such a gorgeous night, Kate could not think of another place she would have rather been. She held tightly to Bruce’s arm as they strolled in the park.
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