Read Building Up to Love Online

Authors: Joanne Jaytanie

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Building Up to Love (2 page)

BOOK: Building Up to Love
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CHAPTER THREE

Two weeks later

Laura sat with Chloe and Becca, and sipped her first glass of merlot at
Que Syrah Syrah,
Tegan’s wine shop. The Tuesday night gathering was meant to be a singles mingle, however only she and the other two women had shown up. Nevertheless they continued to meet, and in order to save face they named the gathering the
Tuesday Book Club.
They quickly became good friends and shared in each other’s lives, yet they never actually finished a book.

A couple of months ago, fed up with the lack of eligible men and unwilling to focus on books, Tegan proposed they change the name yet again; this time to
The Love List
. This strictly confidential decision meant that the sign in front of
Que Syrah Syrah
still read
Tuesday Book Club
. That night marked a change in the women’s lives. Tegan came up with the idea of each woman nominating at least two men who might be a good romantic fit for one of their friends. The nominees were thrown in a basket, and each woman swore they would draw out a name and take the initiative to ask that man out.

Laura sipped on her merlot and pondered how to broach the subject of Travis. Her friends wouldn’t be thrilled with the situation. She might as well get it over with.

“It doesn’t look as though this
Love List
is too successful. Tegan drew Richard, who turned out to be a slimeball and ended up with his boss, August Woodley. Chloe drew Roy, who didn’t have the least bit of interest in our ‘type’ and she is now with Mitch Broden…humm, on second thought, maybe I’m wrong. It did give you both the opportunity to meet Mr. Right.”

“Spill it, Laura,” Tegan said. “We know you too well, and you, my dear, are stalling. How goes the love life? Did you ask Travis out yet?”

“Yeah, about that…”

“Aw, here she goes. I’m too busy with the Bed and Breakfast to date, yada, yada,” Chloe said.

“Well, I am,” Laura said.

“Come on, Laura. My grandmother gets more action than you,” Becca said, which got a big laugh.

“Very funny.” Laura scowled at her friends. “I have some news if you three can possibly pull yourselves together.”

“I think we need another bottle of wine,” Tegan said.

“And some more cheese,” Chloe chimed in. “I didn’t get any lunch.”

Glasses filled and snack plates stacked high, they waited for Laura to tell her tale.

“I’m super-excited. I
finally
hired the perfect project manager. He’s doing a fantastic job. He even hired his team of three without me having to take the time out of my schedule to sit in on the interviews. Plans are all finished, permits are filed, and now demo has started.”

“And the other shoe?” Tegan asked.

“My project manager is Travis Jerome.”

The women moaned and all started to object at once.

“I know, I know…But I didn’t go looking for him. He saw my sign and came to me. He has all the qualifications I need and is willing to work for the pay I offered. What would you have me do? I need my business up and running more than I need a love life at the moment.”

“That’s a matter of opinion. Ask him out anyway,” Becca said.

“I can’t. I’m his boss. Ever heard of sexual harassment? That’s just what I need. Lose my best employee
and
get sued. Call me crazy, I don’t see it as a win-win situation.”

“Okay.” Chloe cut the discussion off by making a pushing motion with her hands. “Travis is off the table. No worries, there are other names in the basket. Pick someone else.”

“I don’t think—”

“Oh, no you don’t missy,” Tegan said. “Chloe’s right. We are still
The Love List
until everyone finds
the one
.” Tegan went into her office and retrieved the basket. She gave it a brisk shake and held it out to Laura.

“Must I?”

“Only if you don’t want to be an old spinster living in that monstrosity of a house full of cats some day,” Becca said.

Laura gave Becca a sideways glance as she reached into the basket and pulled out a slip of paper.

“Frank Simmons.”

“I put Frank’s name in,” Chloe said.

“Don’t tell me he’s another customer?”

“Yes. And he’s a very nice man.”

“Where do I find him?” Laura asked, not overly excited.

“He owns the grocery store three doors down from my shop. He’s there nearly all the time.”

“You’re sure he’s single?”

“Yes.”

“And he’s not gay?”

“No,” Chloe said. “He has an appointment with me tomorrow. Come in at noon and you can meet him there.”

“Oh, all right.”

Laura walked into
The Grape Vine Day Spa
at exactly twelve on the dot. “Well?” she asked Chloe who sat behind the front desk.

“His appointment is at twelve-twenty. Come on, let’s give you a manicure,” Chloe said.

“I don’t need a manicure.”

Chloe gave a disapproving look at Laura’s battered and bruised hands. “You look like you wrestle hogs for a living. Get over here, now.” She gestured.

Laura decided it would be easier to give in and went over to sit across from her friend. While Chloe worked on her hands, she filled Laura in with all the details she knew about Frank. Fifteen minutes later an average looking, middle-aged, dark haired man entered the spa.

“Hi Frank, right on time,” Chloe said. “Take a seat right here at this table beside me. Laura, put your hands under the heater. They will need fifteen minutes to dry.”

Score one for Chloe, she timed this meeting to the minute
, Laura thought. What should she say? Chloe picked up the conversation for them.

“Frank, meet my good friend, Laura. Laura owns the Victorian on Chestnut Lane; it will soon be Vine Grove’s newest Bed and Breakfast.”

Fifteen minutes later she and Frank agreed to meet at the park for a brown bag lunch the next day.

CHAPTER FOUR

Laura balanced her grocery bags, mail, and purse in her arms as she attempted to open the door.

“Hold on,” came a yell from inside.

Through the stained glass partition she could see a figure bound down the stairs. An instant later the door swung open.

“Hi boss,” Travis said. “Let me take those.” He reached out and grabbed the bags before they tumbled to the floor. He headed for the kitchen, set the bags on the island, and started to unpack them.

“Thank you. And please call me Laura.”

“How was your date?”

“What are you talking about? I went to run a couple of errands.”

“Come on, you can tell me. I ran into town to pick up more framing nails. I saw you and Frank in the park.”

“I see. You were spying on me. Like I said, it wasn’t a date; he joined me for a bagged lunch is all. He’s got a thing for Chloe. He wanted to know if I would put in a good word for him.” She giggled at the thought. She was going to love sharing this bit of information at their next
Love List
get-together.

“Huh, I wouldn’t have guessed. She doesn’t seem his type.”

“And I do? Do you know Frank assembles model cars? I saw pictures and pictures of them.”

“Yeah.” Travis chuckled. “He’s kinda obsessed with the whole thing. Did he show you any pictures of his trophies?”

“Trophies?” Laura hoped the dismay she felt didn’t show on her face.

“At least two times a month he heads out to a model competition. I didn’t even know there were such things.”

In mere minutes all of the groceries were put away and the counters cleaned. Laura sighed. Frank hadn’t even offered to pack her groceries up for her. He answered his phone after he ran her card through the register. He continued to ignore her as she packed up all the items she purchased from his store and made two trips out to her car. It was pretty clear that not only was he not interested in her, he didn’t even possess basic manners. On the other hand, Travis relieved her of her burden and even helped unpack her groceries.

“Thanks for the help,” she said.

“Any time.”

* * * *

The heavenly aroma of cinnamon from the fresh baked Snickerdoodles wafted up the stairway.
The woman sure can bake,
Travis thought.

“Yum,” Charlie mumbled through his mouthful of nails.

“Quiet or you’re apt to swallow one of those,” Dan said.

“You two better get those last couple boards nailed into place. I know you will be no good as soon as Laura brings our afternoon snack,” Travis said. “You’re like a couple of kindergarten kids: she administers snacks and you need to be put down for a nap.”

“Ha ha, this is one of the fringe benefits. I’ve had withdrawals since Laura closed her café. What, you think I took this job to look at your pretty face?” Dan asked.

The two men double-timed it and managed to hammer the last nail in just as Laura appeared on the stairs with a tray full of fresh baked cookies and coffee. Travis reached out and took the tray from her and set it down on the make-shift plywood table.

“Oh man, are those snickerdoodles?” Dan asked.

“Yes, they are,” Laura said.

“I was kinda hoping you would use your fresh blueberries,” Travis said. “But I’ll give them a try.”

She poured coffee all around and served the still warm cookies.

“That’ll teach Bill to take the day off. We’ll eat his share,” Charlie said.

The group reviewed the day’s progress and scarfed the Snickerdoodles. When they finished, Travis stood up and wiped the sawdust from his jeans. “It’s probably too late in the day to start on our wainscoting. Why don’t you two take off for the weekend?”

The two men’s eyes lit up like a couple of school kids. They smiled, pocketed another couple of Snickerdoodles, and wished their bosses a great weekend as they flew down the stairs.

“Absolutely no loyalty,” Travis said, in mock disappointment.

“Don’t worry, they’re good guys. They’ll be back on Monday,” Laura said with a sparkle in her eyes as she started to clean up.

Travis picked up the tray. “I guess I’m done, too. But if you aren’t busy, there are a few things I would like to go over with you,” he said.

Travis spread the plans out on the kitchen table. He had his list and files at his elbow.

“Refill on your coffee?” Laura asked.

“Think I’m coffeed out for the day. I could use a glass of water though.”

She took out two huge iced tea glasses, sliced some fresh strawberries, and limes, and plucked a few sprigs of mint. She dropped the strawberries into the glasses, filled them with ice and chilled water, and shoved a sprig of mint into each glass and a slice of lime on the rim. She set a glass in front of Travis and sat in a chair across from him with the other.

“Thank you,” he said as he smiled at her.

“What?” she asked.

“I was just thinking you will be the perfect host for your B&B.”

“You really think so? I must admit, I’ve been having second thoughts lately. I wonder if I can really make a go of this.”

“Of course you can. Your baking is phenomenal. Your business sense is spot on, and your attention to detail is unnatural.”

“I hope that’s a good thing.” She laughed.

They spent the next three hours going over changes and plans for the house. Travis felt relaxed and comfortable around Laura. She moved to the chair next to him to see the plans better. His forearm rested on the table and a number of times she pushed her arm into his when they laughed and joked. Each time an electrical current shot up his arm, and tingled at the back of his neck.

“I think that about does it. We should be ready to jump in first thing Monday morning.” Travis gathered up all his stuff and put it into his briefcase. His stomach growled.

“Oh my, look at the time,” Laura said. “I’ve kept you late. Let me whip up something quick for dinner.”

“No, really, you don’t need to make me anything. I don’t want to be a bother. I’ll grab something on the way home.”

“It’s not a bother. I’m making myself dinner. You are more than welcome to join me.”

“All right, but only if you let me help.”

“Deal,” she said.

Laura pulled out a bottle of gewürztraminer and handed it and a wine pull to Travis. He opened the bottle and walked out into the dining room to retrieve stemless wine glasses. He filled each glass half way, handed one to her and lifted his in a toast.

“To new friends and old dreams,” he said.

She looked at him quizzically but just sipped her wine. They spent the next while chatting away like old friends as she prepared their dinner.

“Wow,” Travis said, as he patted his overfull stomach. “That was no doubt the
best
chicken piccata I ever ate.”

“I couldn’t have done it without my sous chef,” she said, as she dabbed at the corners of her mouth with her napkin.

“I wouldn’t go that far. However, I will say this has been the most relaxing and enjoyable evening I’ve experienced in a long time.”

“Yes, it has.”

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