By Design – Chapter 28

Ken looked up from his desk in the Walk on Design lobby to see a very attractive woman standing in front of him. She was dressed in a flattering yet professional red skirt and jacket. Her high heeled shoes made her legs look long and lean, yet at the same time, gave her an air of power and control. She was beautiful and confident in her appearance. And she was speaking to him.

“I am here to see Eli Walker,” the woman announced.

“Do you have an appointment?” Ken asked her.

A faint smile full of amusement played across the woman’s face. She reached into her bag and pulled out a business card. “Hand him this,” she said as she passed the card across the desk to Ken. “I am certain he will be willing to see me.”

Ken took the card and stepped into Eli’s office, unable to take his eyes off the woman as he went.

“What’s up?” Eli asked when Ken entered his office. It was rare that his assistant came to see him without reason.

“There is a strange and sensual woman standing at the front desk asking for you,” Ken informed him. He handed Eli the woman’s business card.

Eli studied the name on the card. There was a ring of familiarity to it, but he couldn’t quite place her. “Mei Chen.” He said the name aloud, hoping it might ring a bell. No luck. “Well, might as well show her in. I doubt there is any harm in that.”

Ken nodded and stepped out of the office. A few moments later, the woman entered. Ken had been right about his description of her. Strange and sensual was about as accurate as he could have gotten. But Eli tried not to let it show that her appearance was so intriguing to him.

“Welcome, Ms. Chen,” he said, adopting his business tone. “What can I do for you today?”

The woman smiled. “Oh, Eli, must we be so formal?”

Eli stared at the woman with narrowed eyes. She seemed awfully familiar with him. Was this someone he knew? He searched his mind, trying to figure out where he knew her from, but he was drawing a blank.

“Am I really that hard to remember?” Mei asked as if she had read his thoughts. Though she sounded more amused than hurt. “I guess I have changed a lot in the last fifteen years. I’m not quite as lanky now as I was when I was a child.”

Suddenly the connection clicked in Eli’s mind. He had known Mei when they were children. Their fathers had worked together until they had both branched out on their own. He and Mei had gone to school together until high school when her family had moved away.

“I didn’t recognize you,” Eli admitted. When she had been a child, Mei was thin and lanky, a bit awkward and uncoordinated. Nothing of that child seemed to remain in the woman that stood before him now.

“You, on the other hand, haven’t changed a bit,” Mei said. “You are still just as sure of yourself as you ever were.”

“What brings you here?” Eli asked as he gestured for her to take a seat.

Mei’s eyebrows went up in surprise at the question. “You mean your father didn’t tell you I was coming?”

Eli felt his heart sink in his chest. “No he didn’t,” he said. But he had a feeling this wasn’t a meeting he was going to be happy with if his father arranged it.

“Interesting,” was all Mei had to say in response. “Regardless, it seems our fathers have decided that it is near time for them to become partners again. It looks like a merger is in the works.”

Eli didn’t understand. It made since that Mei would inherit her family’s business as she had been an only child, but… “If you have come here to discuss the merger with me, I’m afraid you have come to the wrong place. I haven’t been involved in my father’s business in years. You should go talk to him and Russ instead. I can give you the address if you need it.”

Mei shook her head. “It’s not that kind of merger,” she said.

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Think of it as a deal signed by blood,” she said.

Eli stared at her in response.

“A marriage. And a single heir to both corporations.”

The straightforward answer threw Eli off guard. “You mean my father is planning to marry me off for the sake of securing his business?”

Mei simply shrugged, evidently unfazed by the idea. “Stranger things have happened,” she said. “At least you are someone attractive. The way I see it, it could have been much worse.”

Was she serious? Did she—and his father for that matter—really think he would just consent to this without a word of objection? There was no way he was alright with this, and he was determined to make sure everyone knew that up front.

“Yeah, well, this is going to be impossible,” he said. “I am not going to marry you just to please my father. Sorry. It has nothing to do with you, believe me. Besides, I already have a girlfriend. And I am pretty sure she wouldn’t approve either.”

Mei shrugged and got up from her seat. “We will see,” she said as she prepared to leave. “Just keep in mind, I am not someone who is used to being told no. This is the right move for my business, as well as your family’s. When the time is right, I will make sure you are ready and willing to make this happen. Oh, and you might as well tell your current girlfriend not to get too attached. Something tells me it is not going to work out.”

She was gone before Eli could think of anything to say in response.

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