By Design – Chapter 39

When Eli entered Gracie’s office building, he knew he was overstepping his bounds. Though by how much was still to be seen. Even so, he felt this was something he had to do.

Colleen recognized him as soon as he walked through the door. “What are you doing here?” she asked him.

“I need to talk to your boss,” Eli told her.

Colleen frowned. “This doesn’t sound like it’s going to be good.”

Eli only shrugged. “I hope it will be,” he assured her. “But I’m not promising I’m going to play nice.”

Colleen led Eli back to the boss’ office. She wasn’t busy at the moment, and she welcomed Eli in immediately.

“Welcome!” she said as she offered him a seat. “It’s not often we have hot shot socialites visiting us. It’s usually the other way around. What can I do for you, Mr. Walker?”

“I would like to talk to you about one of your employees,” Eli said. “Ms. Gracie Parker.”

The woman frowned. “I know she said some pretty harsh things about you in the past,” she said. “Understand that it is not our job to protect the image of anyone but ourselves. Our articles are written to represent the actual observations of our team, whether good or bad. That being said, Ms. Parker has formed a habit of acting out lately. It might comfort you to know that we have noticed this and she has currently been suspended. I hope that you won’t harbor bad feelings toward her or us for the things she said.”

“It’s actually the suspension I want to talk to you about,” Eli said. “I think there might have been a misunderstanding which led you to make that decision, and I think it might have been my fault.”

Colleen sat outside the office with her ear pressed against the door, trying to hear what was being discussed inside. It was no use though. The voices were too muffled to make out what was being said. Still, there were only a handful of topics Eli Walker could possibly want to discuss with their magazine, some of them professional, others personal. With Eli’s businesslike manner, it had been difficult to tell which he had come in for as she had led him through the office.

However, Colleen didn’t have to wait long to find out what had occurred on the other side of the closed door. She stood up at the door opened and Eli walked out of the office. Though she had tried to make it look like she hadn’t been snooping, it was obvious she had been.

“How much did you hear?” Eli asked.

“Not much of anything,” Colleen answered honestly. “It turns out these walls are thicker than I gave them credit for.”

Eli nodded. “It’s probably better that way.” He started for the door, and then turned around again. “I hope you’ll be willing to welcome Gracie when she returns next week?”

Colleen’s eyes widened. “She’s coming back?”

“As long as she wants to,” Eli said.

As he walked out of the office, Colleen had to admit she was impressed. There was no telling what threats he had made to get Gracie her job back, but Colleen was glad he had made them. She had missed her friend over the last couple of weeks.

Though she never would have believed it in the beginning, it wasn’t hard to see that Eli Walker was just the kind of guy Gracie needed; he was willing to go all the way to the edge for her. Colleen was glad Gracie had managed to find someone like that.

What she didn’t relish was the idea of having to tell Jeff that he really just needed to hang it up. There was no way he would ever be able to compete with Walker when it came to Gracie. He would be heartbroken, she realized. Still, if he could accept it, if he could admit defeat and give Gracie up for good, it might leave Colleen the opening she needed to get him to notice her.

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