By Design – Chapter 27

Colleen stared at Gracie from across the room. She had never seen somebody look so happy on a Monday morning while typing away on her computer, trying to make a deadline. The rapid change in her demeanor had been very noticeable. Colleen had been watching her since she had met Jeff in the bar. At first, Gracie hadn’t seemed any different. But then she had started acting agitated, annoyed. That agitation had only grown over the next week or so. More than once Colleen had considered just breaking down and asking her what exactly had happened between her and Walker. But she restrained from doing so. She wanted to see how this all played out without her intervention.

Then last week, Gracie had become peaceful, happy even. What had happened during that time to change her state so suddenly? Colleen couldn’t take it anymore. She had to find out what was going on with Gracie. And if Gracie wasn’t willing to offer that information up on her own, Colleen would have to force it out of her.

“Hey!” Colleen said in her most cheery voice as she sat down on the edge of Gracie’s desk.

“Oh, hey, Colleen,” Gracie replied. She kept typing. What? No scolding her for getting in the way and messing up her spread of papers?

“Think you’re going to get it in on time?” Colleen asked, tilting her head toward the screen and the project Gracie was working on.

Gracie simply shrugged. “I think I’m going to have to. The boss lady isn’t giving me much choice on the matter.”

Boss lady. That was Colleen’s phrase. Was Gracie making a joke, playing with her? That didn’t seem right; Gracie never joked about work.

“What is with you lately?” OK, so it wasn’t the most tactful way to try to pry into Gracie’s personal life, but it was at least an attention getter.

Gracie stopped her work and looked up at Colleen. “Nothing’s with me,” she said.

Colleen couldn’t help but laugh. “That is so not true,” she said. “You have been way happier doing copyediting work over the last week than most people are at Disney World. So what’s been going on?”

Gracie looked down, embarrassment creeping onto her face as her cheeks went red. Colleen had hit a soft spot. So something had happened! “Is it Walker?” she asked.

Gracie started at the mention of Eli Walker. “What would make you say that?” she asked. Colleen could see her trying to figure out just how much information she thought Colleen already knew and how much she wanted to share on the topic.

“Oh my word! You are totally dating him! And you didn’t tell me?”

“Shh!” Gracie hushed her and slapped her on the arm.

“How could you not tell me something like this?” Colleen asked.

Gracie hesitated, trying to figure out just what to say. “It’s complicated,” she said finally.

“It can’t be that complicated,” Colleen retorted. “So are you dating?”

“Maybe.” Only Gracie would be dense enough not to know for sure.

“How often are you seeing him?”

“Um, we went to dinner a couple of times last week,” Gracie said.

“Yeah, I would call that dating.” Colleen couldn’t believe it. So Jeff had been right; he did have competition. She just never would have expected Gracie to give in, not after all the fuss she had made over Walker. She should have known though. Nobody can dislike someone so adamantly for no good reason without feeling some kind of attraction to them. “What a shame. I guess your friend Jeff is out of luck then.”

Gracie wrinkled her nose. “I don’t want to talk about Jeff,” she said. Well that was an unexpected response.

“Why not?” Colleen asked.

“He has been super moody lately,” she said. “I swear, if guys had PMS…”

No wonder he is moody, Colleen thought. You’re tearing a hole in his heart. But maybe it’s a hole someone else will be able to fill.

Gracie’s phone buzzed and she reached into her purse to fish it out. Colleen had to crane her neck to see that the message was from Eli Walker. A smile settled onto Gracie’s face as she read the message.

“I have to go,” she said, saving her work and picking up her purse. “Don’t touch any of my stuff while I’m gone.” She left before Colleen could think of anything to say in response.

It was funny, really, seeing Gracie act like a girl in love. Colleen would have never expected it from her. Gracie had never been one to change her mind after she had made a decision about anything. She had hated Walker so openly that Colleen never would have thought there would be a chance for them.

Funny how people change, she thought.

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