Forever with You (Page 17)

Forever with You (Fixed #3)(17)
Author: Laurelin Paige

Jordan was quick with a good eye. “I see her. Was she following you?” He didn’t seem to be surprised.

“Yes. How did you know?”

“I spotted her this morning when I dropped you off at the club, but I wasn’t certain it was her. We need to tell Mr. Pierce.”

“I plan to right now. Can you take me to his office?”

He answered with a nod.

I sat back and buckled my seatbelt as he pulled out into traffic. Celia was still in sight and I watched her as we drove closer. She stopped walking when we passed, and even though she couldn’t see me through the tinted windows, she smiled and waved.

It was a good thing I was a pacifist, because otherwise I’d have started planning her murder.

Chapter Six

Hudson hadn’t responded to my text by the time I’d arrived in the lobby, so I sent another. I’m getting in the elevator. I’ll be in your office in 2.

I still hadn’t received a reply when I stepped onto his floor, but I breezed by Trish as if Hudson were always available for me.

From the way he usually talked, he was always available for me.

“Excuse me,” Trish called after me. “Mr. Pierce is still with his appointment—”

“He knows I’m coming,” I called over my shoulder.

The door opened before I even touched the handle. Hudson stood there, concern etched on his brow. “It’s okay, Patricia.” He ushered me in.

As soon as the door shut behind me, he cupped his hands around my face and searched my eyes. “I got your text. What’s wrong? Are you hurt?”

“No, not hurt.” I was shaking, and now that I was with Hudson, I wanted to cry.

“Alayna, what is it?”

I pulled my phone out and began to cue Celia’s picture. “I need to show you something. Can I—”

A rustle behind us caught my attention. I peered around Hudson and saw a woman standing by his desk. Her auburn hair was tied loosely at her nape, the color accentuated by the pale cream of her suit.

My back straightened, warning bells sounding in my head. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you weren’t alone.”

Hudson put a hand at my back and gestured toward his guest. “Alayna, you remember Norma.”

“Yeah, I do. Norma Anders. We met at the Botanic Gardens event.” The same knot of jealousy I’d felt at meeting her formed now. Or rather, her presence tightened the knot that had been in my belly for the past half hour.

Norma had an obvious interest in Hudson. It bothered me. She worked with him daily, touched him casually, used his first name—he rarely let people use his first name, particularly not his employees. And here she was alone with him in his office midday. And he had ignored my texts.

“We did meet then.” Norma looked me over, sizing me up. When we’d met before, she’d barely given me a second glance. She’d been too focused on my man. “It’s good to see you again, Alayna.” Her terse tone said otherwise.

She delivered her next line to Hudson. “If you two need to talk alone, we can step out.”

We? My eyes traveled the room and I noticed another woman sitting in the other armchair facing Hudson’s desk.

Ah, he wasn’t alone with Norma. A wave of relief ran through me, followed by a wave of guilt. I was being ridiculous and paranoid. The events of the day had me off balance. Hudson was simply meeting with two of his employees. No midday trysts. Nothing inappropriate at all.

Still, the knot persisted. I was eager to talk to Hudson about Celia, but it would have to wait. I stuffed my phone back in my bra. “No, no. I apologize for bursting in. It’s not like me to interrupt.”

Hudson scooted past me toward his desk. “Actually, Alayna, this is perfect timing.” He nodded to the woman still sitting and she stood. “This is Norma’s sister, Gwen. She’s one of the managers at Eighty-Eighth Floor.”

“Oh.” Not an employee after all. The Eighty-Eighth Floor was a popular nightclub in The Village owned by a rival businessman.

It took a second longer than it should have for me to click things into place. “Oh!”

I kicked myself into gear and approached Gwen, my hand extended toward her. “Alayna Withers,” I offered as she shook my hand.

Her grasp was firm. A good first sign for a possible co-manager.

“Nice to meet you.”

She had a good smile too. Nice teeth, not too flirty. Her features were very similar to Norma’s, except lighter. Her skin tone was pale, her hair either dark blonde or light brown depending on the lighting. Her eyes were gray-blue. She was pretty like Scarlett Johansson—the type of pretty that some people might overlook and other people would over-acknowledge.

I wondered which kind of people Hudson was in this instance.

I quickly chided myself for the thought. What was wrong with me? It had been typical for me to be unnecessarily jealous with past boyfriends, but I’d never been that way with Hudson.

Hudson stepped nearer to introduce me more properly. “Alayna’s currently the Promotions Manager at The Sky Launch, but, as I told you, she’ll become the General Manager once the current manager leaves.”

“Hudson told me you’re looking for an Operations Manager.” Gwen addressed me confidently and completely. It was refreshing considering her sister’s knack for forgetting I existed.

I nodded. “Is that something you might be interested in?”

“Definitely.”

A co-manager who worked at Eighty-Eighth. With all the insider information she’d have, plus the experience…I had to admit, Hudson had done good.

And he knew it. Though his face remained businesslike, his eyes twinkled with the pride of a job well done. “She has all the qualifications I believe that you’re looking for, Alayna. Perhaps you want to set up an interview for yourself?”

“Yes. Definitely.” I pulled my phone from my bra. When I unlocked it, Celia’s picture was there, ready to show Hudson. I froze at the sight and another chill ran through me.

“Alayna?” Hudson prompted softly.

“Sorry. Rough day. I’m a bit flustered.” I flipped through my schedule for the next day. I had lunch planned with Mira and Jack, but my evening was free. “Would you be able to come into The Sky Launch tomorrow? I think calling it an interview is a little too formal. I could show you around and we could talk then.”

“Sounds perfect. I’m off tomorrow so I’m wide open.”

It crossed my mind that I should ask why she wanted to leave Eighty-Eighth Floor, but it could wait until we met again. My earlier anxiety was overtaking me and all I cared about was finishing the conversation and getting Hudson to myself. And not for the reasons I usually wanted him alone.