Lost and Found

Lost and Found by Bernadette Marie, now you can read online.

Chapter One

Ed Keller leaned back in his chair and kicked his feet up on his desk. The view from his office would never cease to amaze him. The view from his uncle’s office was much more spectacular, but he had no reason to complain.

Who would have thought, nearly twenty years ago when he’d asked for an after-school job to afford a limo ride to take a girl to prom, that he’d end up with the title Vice President on his business cards.

He laughed. He couldn’t even think of the girl’s name that had squeezed at his heart. She’d been older. That he remembered. But he’d never done well with older women.

Now he sat atop an empire that his uncle’s grandfather had started and his uncle’s father had carried on. But it was Zach Benson who made it what it was today.

Benson, Benson, and Hart built big—built on time—and built under budget. Nothing had changed.

Ed didn’t have a foreman like Zach had. His other uncle, John Forrester, had been the best foreman any company could have asked for. A loyal employee until Ed’s Aunt Arianna made him retire only two years earlier. But another would come along. Right now he had to focus on a new assistant.

Interviewing people for a position shouldn’t be an issue. He’d been doing it for years. But a personal assistant had to be in your business, and he didn’t like that.

He’d fought it for years. Temps were good. They came, did the work, and left. He figured it was kind of like dating the wrong girl. There weren’t any he wanted to spend his life with.

Perhaps his expectations were too high. After all, his Aunt Regan had been Zach’s assistant. They’d been married nearly twenty-five years, and she still took care of him. It wouldn’t be long before Tyler and Spencer, their sons, would be sitting in Ed’s seat.

Ed dropped his feet to the floor and pushed up from his chair. When the time was right, he’d find the assistant of his dreams. He’d given up on the woman of his dreams, so an assistant would have to do.

He walked to the elevator and pressed the button to go down to the lobby. There was a Starbucks there now, and he’d grown very fond of caramel lattes, thanks to his Aunt Arianna, though he didn’t go for the skinny version. His Uncle John would say it was a bit too frilly a drink for a man in the construction business. His Uncle Zach, on the other hand, would argue that it was a good stress reliever.

Ed laughed at himself. What an eclectic bunch of people he had in his family. And even without them there with him, he still enjoyed them.

The gathering of the masses in the Starbucks also entertained him, almost as much as the thoughts of his family and their differences.

Ed ordered his drink and stood at the counter waiting for it to be handed to him.

As he looked around the store, he mentally spotted and named each kind of person. There was the tourist, the executive, and the assistant. There was a couple, obviously just downtown for the day and…hmmm, one that stumped him.

She was professional, probably interviewing by the way she was dressed, but she wasn’t comfortable with the big building and the mass of people. She was using Starbucks as a common ground, something familiar, to ease her nerves.

He listened as she ordered her drink—decaf and nonfat. What fun was in that, he wondered.

She tucked her change back into her purse, walked to the end of the counter, and stood behind Ed to wait for her drink.

Flowery perfume filled his nose. She had a sweet side.

The lady behind the counter handed Ed his iced caramel latte. He turned to leave and, he’d say so himself, that was when things got interesting.

The woman who had been standing behind him, searching in her bag for something, looked up just as Ed turned around. She shifted to move out of his way, but instead she moved right into him.

Ed’s hands slipped from the condensation on the cup, and the entire, cold drink poured down the front of the woman.

She let out a stifled scream, and her hands went into the air. “Oh-my-God!”

“I’m very sorry.”

Ed turned toward the counter and grabbed a handful of napkins. He would have helped to mop up her clothes, but he noticed that the white, silk shirt clung to her and decided it just wasn’t a good idea to try.

“Look what you did!” She ripped the napkins from his hand and began to blot away the coffee, which had already stained the shirt.

“Sorry, but I think you ran into me.”

She snapped her head up again. “Oh, men. You’re not always right, you know. Sometimes you do make mistakes.”

Not only was she not as sweet as her flowery perfume, she was jaded. Bad news.