I waited a second for the heat to fade from my face before I led the way to the long conference table where the others were now taking their seats. We sat down and Blake cleared his throat, glancing down at a paper in front of him.

“Everyone, this is Geoff Wells. He’s here to present on his venture, wearable technology applications.”

Geoff was young, early twenties. He was thin, his skin pale, and his dark blond hair fell long and untamed on his shoulders. He had all the earmarks of a programmer. His bright blue eyes were wide, darting from face to face, and his Adam’s apple worked on a swallow as he waited for all the people seated across from him to get settled. God, did I feel for the man. When our eyes met, I smiled. Maybe I could be a friendly face in the crowd. He smiled back, seeming to relax his posture some.

“Thanks for coming, Geoff,” I said. As nervous as I was for him, wanting him to feel more at ease launched me out of my shell. I nodded toward the stack of papers in front of him. “Tell us about your idea.”

He straightened and drew in a deep breath. “Thanks for having me. I have been programming most of my life, but the past few years I have been focusing specifically on application development. As many of you might already know, we will be seeing a new market emerging in the technology space over the next year. Software—specifically applications—for wearable technology.” 

Geoff launched into the details of his project. He spoke animatedly, the way Sid and I sometimes spoke about our business to each other and others. All of us—Sid, Blake, James, and I—lived in another world, our own high-tech bubble. We spoke a different language. I wasn’t a codeslinger, but I loved the business side of technology and I reveled in our weird little microcosm. Geoff clearly lived in this world too, and possibly not much outside of it based on his complexion and unkempt hair.

The next fifteen minutes were filled with all the high-level details of Geoff’s plan to expand on the applications he’d already created. He hit all the checkpoints I’d drilled into my mind when I was preparing my pitch to Angelcom months ago. As Geoff spoke, I recognized his passion and talent. Beyond that, I thought the idea was pretty neat. I jotted notes down onto the legal pad in front of me, eager for a chance to ask him questions and secretly hoping that Blake was as excited about it as I was.

Blake’s phone silently lit up, distracting him from the presentation. I shot him a glare. When he didn’t notice, I jabbed him with the toe of my shoe. His frown met my own, and a small knowing smile replaced it. He looked straight ahead, his focus trained on the only person who should have had his attention in that moment.

“What applications have you built so far?” Blake asked when Geoff hit a pause in his presentation.

“I have a handful of apps built for major platforms that will be releasing in a few months.”

“How quickly do you think you can bring more apps to the marketplace?”

“It depends on funding. I need a lot more developers who specialize in different platforms working on multiple projects. Right now it’s pretty much just me.”

“Do you have more ideas already mapped out?” I asked.

“I have several. The technical specifications are ready to go. I just need more hands on deck to build them out so we can release them before someone else does.”

I nodded, doing some quick math, matching up his funding request with the timeline in front of us. I glanced to the side, hoping what I saw in Blake’s eyes was interest. He looked back to Geoff before I could try to read him.

“Okay, Geoff, I think we’ve covered all the basics. Do you have anything else?”

Geoff shook his head. “I think that’s the gist of it, unless you have more questions.”

Blake glanced around, an unspoken last call for questions. When met with silent nods, he prompted the gentlemen on the other side of us to speak. “What do we think, gentlemen? Ready to decide?”

The first man, one who’d sat in on my pitch, quickly passed. He’d passed on mine as well. Geoff worried the inside of his cheek.

The next two investors passed, and I was fully anxious for Geoff now. His gaze landed on Blake, the familiar terror of being unilaterally rejected plain on his features. Blake clicked his pen a few times.

“I will…” He paused, taking another moment to tap the pen to his lips. “I think I will defer to Miss Hathaway on this one.”

He gestured to me at his side. My jaw fell open slightly. I loved Geoff’s concept, but as the seconds ticked by, I hoped that Blake would be the one to make the move. With his arm over the back of his chair, Blake gave me a crooked smile. Damn him.

Geoff now looked as confused as he was terrified, his face even paler than it had been.

“I like it,” I said quickly.

Geoff’s face brightened. “You do?”

“I do. I like everything about it so far. I think it has incredible promise. I’d love to hear more about your specific app ideas.”

A broad smile split his face. “Thank you so much. Whatever you need to know—”

“How does next week look for you, Geoff?” Blake interjected, shifting Geoff’s attention away from me.

“Next week is perfect. Um, anytime that works for you, of course.”

“Great. We’ll have Greta set something up in reception.” Blake glanced to the other men. “Gentlemen, thank you for coming. I think we’re good to wrap up.”

Gradually the other investors rose with us.

Geoff gathered his notes and circled the large table to where I stood. “Thank you so much for this opportunity.”

“No problem. I’m excited to check out some of the things you’ve built.” I gave him a warm smile and shook his hand. “I’m Erica Hathaway, by the way.”

Blake rose by my side and held out his hand next, his palm meeting Geoff’s in a firm grasp. “She’ll be Erica Landon in a few weeks. I’m Blake, her fiancé.”

Geoff’s smiled broadened. “Great to meet you, Mr. Landon. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Yeah? Well, it’s all true.” Blake laughed quietly before his attention diverted across the room. “Excuse me. I have to go talk to someone quick. But congrats, Geoff. Erica has very discriminating tastes, so you’re lucky to have her in your corner.”

I rolled my eyes and nudged Blake’s arm, urging him off. “Go away and let us chat.”

Blake grinned and left us.

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