By Design – Chapter 26

Gracie twined her fingers together and held her hands firmly in front of her to try to keep them from shaking. She couldn’t help but feel nervous. She had never been to Walk On Design before, and she was afraid that she was going to look really out of place there. Once she stepped off the elevator, it didn’t take long to find the office space that belonged to Walker’s business.

“Um… Excuse me,” Gracie said to the man sitting at the front desk.

He looked up at her with gray eyes under a mop of brown hair. “Can I help you?” he asked.

“I was hoping I could speak to Eli Walker.” Gracie knew it was a bold of her to just show up here unannounced. There was a good chance Walker was busy and couldn’t see her and she had just wasted her time. Perhaps she should have called ahead. But that would have given him the chance to reject her visit outright, and she really couldn’t handle that.

“Do you have an appointment?” the assistant asked. He had a confused look on his face as he flipped through the pages of a date book, evidently fearing he had forgotten to write something down.

“No,” Gracie admitted, hoping to calm him some. “I’m from a local publication. Mr. Walker and I met a few weeks back, and I was hoping for a follow-up interview to clear up a few remaining questions.” She handed the assistant her business card to try to make her lie seem more legitimate.

The assistant’s eyes went wide as he read the name on the card. He pushed his seat back and stood up all in one motion. “Miss Parker!” he exclaimed. “Give me one moment. I’ll let him know you’re here.” He trotted off behind a door, leaving Gracie alone in the foyer.

Well that was a bit odd, Gracie thought. The assistant had seemed startled by her business card. Did that mean he knew something about her or her company? No. Surely not. It was just because she was from the media. Businessmen were always getting out of sorts when the media was around. There was no reason for her to be nervous about his reaction.

He reappeared a moment later. “Miss Parker, Mr. Walker said he is able to work you in now,” he said. He opened the door wider and gestured for her to lead the way inside.

Inside, Eli Walker was sitting behind his desk. He looked surprised to see her, but like he was trying really hard not to look surprised by it.

“Is there anything else I can get for you?” his assistant asked behind her.

“We’re fine, Ken,” Eli informed him. “Shut the door on your way out.”

Once Ken had left, Eli stood up from his desk and came around to the front of it. “What are you doing here?” he asked.

“Um…” Suddenly, Gracie felt very self-conscious. What was she doing here? This had been a stupid idea. She should have just waited for him to contact her if he was still interested.

“My assistant said you were here for some follow-up questions to an interview, but I know that’s not true since we never managed a real interview.” Eli looked a bit amused. Did he find her presence laughable?

“It’s kind of true,” Gracie said in her own defense. “It might not have been an interview per se that I had follow-up questions for, but I definitely have some outstanding questions I would like answers to.”

Eli frowned. How long had it been since they had gone out, he wondered. A couple of weeks at least. Was that it? Was she here because he had never called her back after their date that was never officially a date? In truth, he had meant to contact her afterwards, but that was the week everything in his life had suddenly become complicated. He had spent all of the last two weeks dealing with the lawyers who were handling the copyright lawsuit. When he wasn’t talking to lawyers, he was trying to help Russ, who was going through his own mental breakdown. Ever since their father’s dinner announcement, Russ had fallen into a funk. He had been sulking like a child for over a week, and Eli couldn’t help but feel at least partially responsible.

Still, even with all of that going on in the background, it was nice to see her. Perhaps Gracie Parker could give him a break from everything else in his life, if only for an hour or so.

“I would be glad to answer any questions you have,” he said with a smile. “How about we go out and get a cup of coffee.” He was already reaching for his jacket on the back of his chair.

“Oh. Okay.” Gracie hadn’t expected him to be so easy. She couldn’t help but wonder if he really understood why she had come here. He, apparently, didn’t think the two week silence had been something to worry about. Perhaps she had over reacted after all.

“By the way, it’s good to see you,” Eli said. He casually placed his hand on her back and led her through the door of his office and out of the building.

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