Catching Lina off guard wasn’t a common feat, and yet Carver had done it twice in one day. He lay back on the bed in his hotel room, crossing his arms over his chest.
This wasn’t how he’d thought his trip to New York would turn out. The Gold name carried weight in the fashion industry; adding that weight to his portfolio was definitely going to boost online sales of his pictures and possibly draw more customers to his hometown. There were lots of people there interested in fashion, and dropping the Gold name would certainly bring them through his doors, with requests to photograph them like he had the high-fashion models. That thought made him smile.
He could just see Millie Randall, the head of Temptation’s Chamber of Commerce, coming in dressed in her Sunday best, huge floppy hat included, ready to sit for her yearly portraits. While that was a pleasant thought, seeing Lina again had thrown a gigantic wrench into his carefully made plans.
From the nightstand his phone vibrated, and he rolled over to scoop it up and answer.
“Hey, you calling to see how everything went?” he asked his cousin after seeing Grant’s name on the screen.
"You could’ve called when you were done. Always gotta be a jerk, after all I do for you,” Grant joked.
“You could’ve told me Lina was still working for the Golds” was the unplanned comeback that slipped from his lips.
“Don’t play dumb.” Carver chuckled. “You haven’t been trying to get me to the city just for business purposes.”
“That’s not true. I think we’d have a great studio here. There’s a lot of work, and we could make a big name for ourselves.”
“You’ve already got a studio here, and you’re doing well.”
“We could be bigger together. You’ve got a knack for the nature stuff and the portraits, whereas I get down with the high-fashion and runway stuff. I’m telling you, we’d be unstoppable,” Grant said.
“I don’t want to be unstoppable,” he said. He’d only ever wanted to be happy—married with a couple kids, taking pictures and living in a house he’d have built in Temptation. That had been his life’s goal. A goal that had always seemed too small to Lina.
“How’d she look?” Grant asked after a brief pause.
Carver let out a deep breath. “As good as she always did.” He’d lied; she looked better—and he still wanted her.
That was the simple, undeniable truth.
“What are you gonna do about it this time? Sit on the sidelines like you did when we were kids?”
With one hand Carver held the phone to his ear, and with the other he scrubbed his fingers over his goatee. “Nah. If there’s one thing I believe in, it’s fate. Running into her wasn’t a mistake—it was an opportunity.”
One Carver didn’t plan to miss. Not this time.
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