By Design – Chapter 43

Gracie stepped out of the car in front of the event building. There was music coming through the open door, soft, elegant. The lights inside shined out into the night street. This party screams Eli, she thought. It was exactly his kind of flair. Everything about it felt high style.

She walked in, Colleen by her side. Eli must have been waiting for them to arrive, because he was there to greet them in no time. He took Gracie’s hands in his and kissed her fingers.

“You look wonderful,” he said.

Gracie tried to hide the fact that his compliment made her blush. “Thanks to you,” she said feeling like a little girl because of her embarrassment. “It’s all your doing though. You didn’t have to send the gown. Really.”

“I know,” Eli said. “But I wanted to. I thought you would enjoy it.” He turned to Colleen. “Glad to see you could make it as well,” he said.

“Thanks for the invite,” Colleen said with a smile. “I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for anything.”

Gracie still couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something going on here, and that Colleen was in on it. The look passing between Eli and Colleen only seemed to confirm her fears.

“I have to ask a favor of you,” Eli said. “I hope you won’t mind.”

“What can I do for you?” Gracie asked.

“Would it be too much to ask you to do a bit of work today?”

Gracie knitted her brow, suspicious. “What do you mean?”

“I was wondering if you might be willing to write a review for us tonight,” Eli informed her. “Take in all the details, let the world know how we do.”

Gracie was surprised by his request. Was this the secret thing she had been suspecting? “Seriously?”

“If it’s too much to ask…”

“No, not at all,” Gracie said with a laugh. And here she had been worrying over nothing.

“Oh, and if you don’t mind, I would really like it to be a good review. At least this once.”

Gracie couldn’t help but laugh again at that. “I’ll do my best,” she assured him.

“Great,” Eli said. He gave her a quick kiss on the cheek, and then he was off again, mingling with the crowd around them.

“He seems in a good mood tonight,” Gracie commented to Colleen.

“He should,” Colleen said. “But I think his mood might be getting better pretty soon.”

“What do you mean?” Gracie asked. But she found out before Colleen had time to respond.

Eli had made his way to the center of the room and he was calling for everyone’s attention. “Excuse me everyone. If I could just have your attention for a moment. I want to thank you for being here tonight. I wanted to take a moment to personally thank all of you for your support over the last year. We have really appreciated it and you have been a big help to us and our company.”

Eli paused as the crowd expressed its gratitude with a round of applause. He waited for the noise to die down before he continued speaking.

“However, this is not the only reason I wanted to gather you here today,” Eli informed them. “I have another announcement that I want to make as well and I wanted everyone to be here for it. Most of you are probably unaware of this, but at the beginning of this year I met someone who changed my life entirely, putting me on my toes for the first time in years, and teaching me not to think too highly of myself without reason. Gracie, would you mind coming forward for a moment?”

Gracie felt her face turning red as she hesitantly stepped forward, the crowd clapping all around her. She didn’t know what Eli was up to, but she had a feeling she was going to find out soon enough.

“Gracie, you have been an amazing person to get to know over the last year. And I hope to get to continue getting to know you for many years to come.” Eli took her hand in his and then went down onto one knee.

Suddenly, everything clicked in Gracie’s mind, and she felt her jaw fall open. Was he seriously doing this right now in front of all these people?

“Gracie Parker, will you marry me?”



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