Mark’s eyes glint with a hint of what I believe is amusement meant to be at my expense. “Now you have two compliments to start your day.”

“I hope that means it’s a lucky sales day on the floor for me,” I dare.


His lips quirk. “I’m fairly certain it will be. There was a certain client at the party Friday night who says you promised to get him a private viewing of Ricardo’s collection. Big promises, Ms. McMillan, make you, and me, look bad if they are not delivered upon.”

Oh crap. “I thought since you know Ricardo and he displays his art here, we could convince him to allow a visit.”

“Good luck with that one, Ms. McMillan.” He glances at Amanda. “Get her Ricardo’s number, and Ms. McMillan, you’re approved for the sales floor, but it does not dismiss you from the testing you’ll find in your email.” He starts to turn and stops. “If you do pull off this Ricardo meeting—I’ll be impressed.”

I watch him depart, and Amanda peeks over her shoulder. “Ricardo, Sara? Have you met him?”

I feel the blood drain from my face. “No.”

She whistles. “Think Mark on acid. He’s arrogant and intense, and--“

“I get the picture.” I head for the office door and enter.

Amanda rolls her chair around. “Here’s Ricardo’s card.”

I accept it and she lowers her voice, “Ricardo had a soft spot for Rebecca. She’s the one who set up the charity event but he hasn’t given Mark another piece to show since she left. If you can win him over, you really will impress Mark.”

Rebecca. She’s everywhere I turn but I feel a bit of hope in this otherwise grim situation. “Thank you, Amanda. I am going to give it my best.”

She smiles. “Go, Sara. Go, Sara.”

I’ve barely settled into my desk when Ralph appears in my doorway and holds up a sign reading ‘Go Sara’ with a smiley face and then disappears.

I laugh and decide I should dive right in and call Ricardo before I talk myself out of it. I’m about to dial the office phone when my cell phone goes off. I dig it from my purse, and smile when I see the text message from Chris, remembering him adding his number in my phone himself the night before.

I set down the office phone and open the message. Taking a hot shower has new meaning today.

I laugh and type. So does a cold shower.

True. Very true. Can you do lunch?

I start to say yes, but remember Ava. I have a lunch meeting.

Cancel.

It’s tempting but my gaze catches on the rose candle and I think of Rebecca. I’m hoping Ava can tell me more about her. I can’t.

I’ll be starving by dinner.

I roll my eyes in good humor. I like it when you’re starving.

Then I’ll try not to disappoint. I’ll pick you up at eight.

I shove my phone back inside my purse, and dial the office phone, and promptly receive Ricardo’s voice mail. I hang up knowing a message means I have to wait a respectable amount of time to call again.

The buzzer on my desk goes off and I answer. “You have your first customer on the floor, Ms. McMillan,” Mark says. “Make me proud.”

I’m thrilled at the challenge. “I will.”

He is silent a beat. “I look forward to being right about you.” The line goes dead and I rise to my feet. So far, this is a good day.

***

By lunchtime, I have one sale, and another potential sale and I’m feeling good. Ironically, Ava has called and chosen ‘Diego Maria’s’ to meet me.

I entered the restaurant to find her at the same table Chris and I had occupied the prior week.

“Sara!” She pushes to her feet, looking petite and lovely in a cream-colored pantsuit, her long dark hair cascading over her shoulders. I am wrapped in a hug, and I surmise she’s a hugger like I am. I feel a friendship despite barely knowing her.

We settle into our seats and Maria appears at our table. “Welcome back, Señora Sara. I see we didn’t scare you off with the hot peppers?”

“No. That was Chris’s fault, not yours.”

“Ah well, I assume you make him pay for burning your mouth.”

I laugh. “You bet I did.”

She claps. “Excellent. In that case, you lovely ladies get tacos on the house, with sauce on the side.”

Ava arches a brow. “I sense a good story.”

I quickly recount the events of my prior visit and we fall into easy conversation. She tells me all the neighborhood gossip, and I listen for tidbits about Rebecca, trying to find the best way to turn the conversation that way.

Ava lowers her voice. “And Diego. He’s going to Paris, you know.”

“Yes. He told Chris about it the day I was here.”

“He’s going after a woman, this exchange student he met who used to come into the restaurant. But she was just having fun, Sara. I met her. I talked to her. He plans to propose. It’s really quite heartbreaking. Paris makes people get so romantic and silly.“

I think of Ella, who I tried to call the night before, with no success. “You have to tell him, Ava.”

“He’ll kick me out of the restaurant and I love this place.”

I blink. She’s serious. She’s going to let the man get his heart broken over a few tacos. I have to talk to Chris, and see if he can influences Diego.

“And besides,” Ava adds. “Who am I to judge? I thought that hottie rich guy Rebecca was seeing was a player and would dump her in a heartbeat. I warned her off of him and she got angry. The next thing I know she’s off living the good life, while you’re doing her job. You can’t win when you warn people off the person their dating. You just can’t.”

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