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A Match Made In Maui

Written by Nina Singh

Chapter Seven

Jason released the breath he’s been holding as he watched Tessa approach. He’d been half afraid she wouldn’t show. Rita Paul stood behind her; the look she gave him was one full of warning. It said a lot about Tessa that her friends were so loyal to her. She had deserved that same type of loyalty from any man who was lucky enough to snare her. Yet another way he’d let her down. He rose and pulled out the adjacent stool next to him when she reached his side.

“Thanks for coming,” he told her, gently taking her by the elbow. His hands seemed to automatically reach for her. Touching her was mere instinct on his part.

Two steaming mugs sat on the table. He motioned to the one in front of her. “I got you a vanilla latte. Hope it’s still your beverage of choice in the morning?”

Tessa sat and wrapped her hands around the bottom of the cup. “Thank you.”

Countless times, Jason had gone over in his head exactly what he wanted to say once he saw Tessa again. Surprisingly, now he wasn’t sure exactly where to begin. He cleared his throat. “I’m not sure if you saw the business papers last month.” As a conversation starter, it was a pretty clumsy one he had to admit.

She set her cup down and met his eye. “If you’re referring to the acquisition of your software company by the global giant of data services, the answer is yes. I read all about it and heard the newscasts.”

What she couldn’t have known is the amount of stress, effort and time it had taken on his part before the deal had gone through. He’d been in the middle of those negotiations when they’d first met. It had taken all of these past several months to finalize the details. On top of the pressure of hammering out the business deal of the decade, Jason had still had his regular responsibilities as CEO of the software firm he’d founded. He couldn’t risk any of it failing. Failure would have proven his father right.

“Congratulations,” Tessa continued. “That type of deal must have made you millions.” She blew the steam off the top of her drink and took a slow sip. “Is that why you traveled all these miles to see me? So that you could brag about your professional successes?”

“Of course not.”

“Then what?”

Jason had to clench his fist to keep from reaching for her—there was no doubt she would push him away. Not helping matters at all was the fact that Rita Paul sat three tables away, her arms crossed in front of her chest and her eyes trained steadfastly on the two of them.

“That deal, on top of my regular duties, consumed my whole life for months on end, Tessa. I didn’t have any kind of time, nor the mindset, to pursue any kind of personal relationship.”

His small company’s acquisition had finally given Jason a chance to prove himself, once and for all, to the father who couldn’t seem to forgive his only son for turning down the chance to become a partner in the family’s prestigious law firm. Jason had decided to pursue his interest in software technology instead. The two of them had never been close. But his father had taken Jason’s career decision as a personal affront.

He took a deep breath before continuing. “That’s why I wanted to speak to you now. Now that the deal is finally signed and complete.”

Tessa leaned back in her chair, the hardened expression on her face kept him from any further attempts at an explanation. “I see,” she said through tight lips.

Her tone sent alarm bells ringing in his head.

“So if I understand correctly,” she began, “you’re saying that now you finally have time for me again.”

Jason blinked. This conversation wasn’t going at all the way he had hoped or intended.

“How lucky for me,” she added, then abruptly stood. Jason could only watch as she strode to the door with Rita fast on her heels.

How had that gone so horribly wrong? He knew he shouldn’t follow her, but he couldn’t help himself.

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