She only wished her heart hadn’t gotten involved because his certainly hadn’t.
* * *
Terrence paced his bedroom. It had been over two weeks, and he still hadn’t talked to Janae. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t eradicate her from his brain...or his heart. He should already be in the office, but had no desire to deal with anything business related—strange for a man whose whole life had been nothing but business for the past ten years.
Glancing down at his watch, he groaned, remembering a meeting with a prospective client. He had less than an hour to get to the office. Grabbing his suit jacket off the hanger, he loped down the stairs, stopping long enough for a glass of juice.
Luckily, Sheila Martin was nothing like some of the artists who had paraded through his company seeking representation. She was a consummate professional, clearly serious about her craft and had a powerhouse voice that would make Aretha proud. He’d have to thank Gary, since he was the one who’d seen her performing at one of the music festivals in the park.
Once they were done, he headed back to his office, but Audrey intercepted him on the way.
“You have a few minutes, Terrence?”
“Sure. What do you need?”
“I wanted to talk to you about Mrs. Lewis’s vacation and see whether you want a temporary clerk to cover the office or have all calls routed through the receptionist.”
He ran his hand over his forehead wearily. “I totally forgot about that. We can talk in my office.”
“Hi, Mrs. Lewis,” Audrey said as she entered the office.
“Hello, Audrey. How did things go with Ms. Martin, Monte?”
“They went well. I know you’re only scheduled to be off one week with your daughter, but why don’t you take two? I’m sure she’ll need the help, and you can spoil those grandbabies awhile longer.”
She reached up to palm his cheek as a smile creased her face. “You are such a sweet boy, but I don’t want to leave you too long without someone manning this office.”
Terrence put his arms around her. “I’ll be fine. Audrey and I are going to talk about having someone come in temporarily.”
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. We’ll make sure that whoever is here doesn’t mess up the system you’ve established. Can you put together a list of instructions?”
“No problem. I’ll bring it in as soon as I’m done.”
“Thanks.” He led Audrey into his office, closed the door and dropped down into his chair.
“So what’s going on with you and your lady friend?” Audrey asked as soon as she sat.
“I thought you wanted to discuss a temporary secretary.”
“In a minute. So what happened? You’ve been moping around here for close to three weeks, and don’t try giving me that lame excuse about being tired again. I thought things were going well.” She leaned forward. “Did she do something to hurt you?”
“No, no, nothing like that. She’s probably the sweetest person I’ve ever met. Next to you, of course,” he amended.
“Uh-huh. Don’t try to sweet-talk me. Help me out here. If she didn’t do anything, why did you guys break up?”
Terrence rotated his chair and stared out the window.
“Oh, no. You didn’t. Terrence, I know you love her.”
He turned back and lifted an eyebrow. “How do you know that? You’ve never seen us together.”
“I didn’t have to. Your whole demeanor changes whenever she’s mentioned.” She came and stood next to him. Placing her hand on his shoulder, she gave it a gentle squeeze. “I don’t know what happened to make you fear commitment, and I’m not asking. What I do know is that not everyone is fortunate enough to find that special one. When you do, it’s not a good idea to toss it away, because you may never find that type of love again. Ask yourself two questions—can you live without her? And how would you feel knowing that another man is sharing with her all the things that come with being in a relationship? Things you could be sharing with her.”
Terrence’s heart pounded in his chest. He’d never even considered the questions, but didn’t have to look too deep to know the answers. Instead of Janae’s memory fading, it grew stronger, becoming more profoundly entrenched in his system. As for the second question, he could feel the anger boiling in his gut with the thought of another man touching her the way he had. Kissing her. Making love to her and sharing her passion. Pain ripped through his chest, and he sucked in a deep breath.
Mrs. Lewis knocked, and he signaled for her to enter. She handed both him and Audrey copies of her list. He looked it over and thanked her.