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Season for Love
Velvet Carter

Heather had moved closer to Dash, and this time he didn’t shy away. They hugged for one last time.

“I wish you the best, Heather.”

After Heather’s true confession, he’d cut their vacation short. Dash had planned to take her for a gondola ride in Venice and propose, which of course had never happened. Dash hadn’t spoken to Heather since they’d returned to New York over a year ago.

“Hey, man, you look deep in thought,” Vance said, approaching his friend.

“I was thinking about Heather.”

“Instead of breaking up with her, you should have invited her roommate to join you guys in Italy. Now, that would have been a trip to remember,” Vance said, chuckling.

“I don’t like sharing my woman or my body.” Dash had grown up in a religious family with good moral values, values he’d carried over into adulthood.

“You’re a better man than I am. I for one would have enjoyed both women...together and separately.”

“I’m sure you would have.”

Growing up, Vance had always been more adventurous than Dash. Vance’s parents were extremely liberal and had allowed their children to explore and express their imagination.

As they were talking, the older gentleman and the redhead staggered out of the bar arm in arm. Vance took a seat next to Dash.

“So...congratulations on the new gig.”

“Thanks, but it’s not official yet.”

“I got your message, and I’ll be happy to look over the contract. But why are you going to work for another company when your family has a multimillion-dollar textile business in Italy? You could move there and live a life of luxury. You could have the plant manager do all the heavy lifting, so you could work a few days a week and play the rest of the time.”

“I’m not ready to kick back just yet. Don’t get me wrong—I’m grateful for the opportunities my family’s wealth has afforded me. My grandfather started that company with nothing and made it into a thriving business. I want to do the same with my designs. I don’t want to ride on the coattails of my family’s success—I want to make my own mark on the world of fashion.”

Dash was tired of people thinking all he had to offer were his good looks. He was well educated and had a natural gift for designing clothes, jewelry and even handbags.

“That’s admirable of you, man. Most people in your position would relax and enjoy the spoils.”

Dash and Vance had been best friends since high school. They had been the stars of the school’s soccer team and had remained close friends after graduating.

“Excuse me, but those two women at the end of the bar would like to buy you guys a drink,” the bartender said.

Dash peered down the bar and saw two attractive women, both dressed in tight black dresses that exposed way too much cleavage and both wearing heavy makeup. The ladies were exposing nearly all of their teeth and indelicately waving their arms.

“I’ll take a pass,” he said. Dash had spent more than enough time drinking with random women and was ready to find that special someone to settle down with.

“Come on, man. Don’t be a party pooper. They look eager and willing to please,” Vance said as he waved back to the duo.

Dash and Vance had that “wow” effect on women. They were both handsome in their own way. While Dash had olive skin and curly hair, Vance’s complexion was dark, nearly chocolate, and he wore his hair closely shaven. Whenever the two were together, women approached them as if they were rock stars.

“Vance, don’t let me stop you.” Dash went into his bag, took out a folder and handed it to his friend. “Here’s the contract.”

“I’ll look it over first thing in the morning and get back to you.”

“Thanks. I’m going to call it a night.”

“You sure?” Vance stuck the folder in his briefcase and then glanced down the bar at the two women. “They are gorgeous. Come on—just have one drink with us.”

“No, thanks, but knock yourself out. Hey, maybe you’ll have that threesome you’ve always dreamed about,” Dash said, getting up from the bar stool.

“Here’s hoping!” Vance said, making his way toward the women.

As Dash walked down Fifth Avenue on his way home, his mind drifted back to Lark. He had read about her professional life online, but all he had learned about her personal life was that she was single. There hadn’t been any mention of Lark being involved in a relationship—past or present. There hadn’t even been any pictures of her in a social setting. He smiled at the possibility of dating Lark.

Man, keep your mind on business. She’s your new boss, not your new girlfriend.

With that thought in his mind, he shifted focus and began thinking about the new and exciting clothing he was going to design for Randolph on the Runway, whether he was dating his boss or not.

Chapter 4 (#ulink_209c56fa-41a8-56bc-aee8-a617e6d10881)

Dash’s background check had come back clean and Lark was eager for him to start. Not only to see what designs he was going to come up with for the new collection, but to also get another gander at the strikingly good-looking younger man. Although she had no plans of ever dating her new hire, she saw no harm in letting herself look.

Today was to be Dash’s first day. After her early workout at the gym, Lark had taken a little extra time that morning getting ready. She wore a feminine floral dress with prints of pink and orange blossoms that she’d designed herself. A thin green belt cinched her slim waist and her bob-length hair, left loose, framed her face perfectly. She finished the look with a pair of mint-green, pointy pumps. Lark’s lips were stained with her signature blood-orange glossy lipstick, and she wore a hint of perfume.

Lark was sitting at her drawing table in her large corner office, working on a sketch for the new spring/summer collection. She had come into the office early to get a jump on the designs before her duties as COO took over her day. Lark was busy putting the finishing touches on a drawing when she heard someone knock. She looked up and smiled slightly.

“Good morning. You’re here early,” she said.

“I have some ideas in my head that I want to get down on paper. You’re here early, too. You must have had the same thought,” Dash said from the doorway.

Lark took in his physique as he stood there looking like a modern-day Adonis. He wore a baby-blue skinny-leg suit that fit his body to perfection with a crisp, stark white shirt and a pink tie. His look was professional, with an artsy edge. Lark had always prided herself on her style of dress, but now with Dash on her team, she would have to step up her game.

“Yes. I’ve already started sketching for the new line.”

“Let me see what you’re working on,” he said, walking over to her drawing table.

Dash was standing so close to Lark that she could smell his cologne. She took a soft whiff and inhaled base notes of bergamot, jasmine and vanilla.

He smells good enough to eat, she thought.

“I like the leg of the pant. It fits the ankle nicely. But what about dropping the crotch half an inch? Do you mind?” Dash asked, picking a pencil up from the drawing table.

“Go for it.” Lark moved back so he could have easier access to the sketchbook. As he drew, Lark stared at his strong hands and imagined his long, lean fingers caressing her skin.

Dash made the quick adjustment to the drawing. “What do you think?”

Lark peered down at what he had done and nodded her head. “Wow, moving the crotch down a bit makes a huge difference. Now the pants have more movement.”

“I’m going to like working here. We’re going to make an awesome team,” he said.

Lark looked up into his face and found herself mesmerized by his bright smile. A few seconds passed before she glanced away. Lark was determined to keep her mind on business and not get lost in the younger man’s charm.

“Did you bring the contract?” she asked.
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