“What’s your proposition?” she asked, forcing herself to focus on business. She needed to stop molesting him with her eyes. That wasn’t a good start to any business meeting, she admonished herself silently.
His dark eyebrow lifted and she shifted on her feet. Then she heard her words and closed her eyes briefly. Taking a deep breath, she started again. “Sorry, that came out wrong. I meant what’s your business proposal?” she replied, floundering when her cheeks turned pink.
“I understood what you meant.” He looked around at her loft and Pepper remembered that she hadn’t bothered to make her bed this morning, her design table was piled with sketches, and the floor around it piled high with clothes.
“What is all of this?” he asked, gesturing disdainfully at the piles of clothes on the floor.
Pepper’s wariness returned, her lips unconsciously compressing as she tried to figure out if she’d made a huge mistake by letting him into her private space. “I thought you had a business proposal?” she prompted.
His eyes sharpened on her features and she took a step backwards.
“You are a designer. I know that much.” He looked down at one of the piles, grimacing slightly as if irritated by the fact that his five thousand dollar shoes were touching a pile of clothing that had definitely seen better days.
Pepper bristled defensively at the look in his eyes. “Yes, that’s correct.” Her chin lifted defiantly and she crossed her arms protectively over her chest. She hated when people mocked her passion for “renovating” clothes! It wasn’t just her passion, it was her obsession.
“So, what is all this?” he asked…demanded. “I’ve discovered that you are a…different sort of designer.”
Relief surged through her when he spoke this time. His voice wasn’t disdainful. It was…curious. Pepper could handle curiosity. In fact, it was the main component of her marketing strategy.
Feeling better, Pepper laughed gently at his tone, shaking her head. “I take used clothing and design the pieces into something different. More stylish.”
His eyes lifted from the pile, boring into her gaze. “Explain,” he ordered.
Pepper’s eyebrows lifted in surprise.
Despite his abrupt tone, there was something about him that called to her. Perhaps it was the brief, startled look in his eyes when she’d first opened the door. Or maybe it was Josh’s assurance that he was a good man. Or maybe, it was that incredible zing she’d felt when she’d first opened her door. The sensation had only increased as they’d stood here in her loft. After all the men she’d dated over the years, this one had finally given her that special sensation that both Rayne and Sloane had described when talking about their husbands.
“Ask nicely,” she dared to say, then waited tensely.
For a long moment, Pepper thought he might lose his temper. He stared at her, those dark eyes warning her that she’d ventured into dangerous territory. And yet…she still wasn’t afraid. Even as he looked at her, her lips curled upwards, unconsciously revealing the playful nature that had gotten her into trouble more than once in the past.
“Please,” he growled, sliding his hands into his pockets as he glared down at her. But was there amusement in that glare? Amusement and…perhaps a tinge of admiration? “I would like to understand your business enterprise more thoroughly.”
“Better,” she replied tartly. She relaxed her arms, letting them fall to her sides and she stretched, taking one of the designs from her drawing table that she’d finished just before he’d knocked on her door. “I take used clothing and change it up. I take off any damaged parts and reshape them. Men’s dress shirts are my favorite,” she said, her finger sliding along the drawing. “This white dress shirt is going to become a tunic shirt for women, with pleats in the back and a more streamlined front.” She lifted several shirts. “On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I shop the local thrift stores to find supplies. This past weekend, I found several men’s shirts that will be perfect for tunic shirts.”
He glanced at the drawing, although he wasn’t really interested in the picture there. But his eyes flashed from the drawing, to her features, then back to the drawing again. Taking the picture from her fingers, he looked at it more closely. When he lifted his eyes again, he asked, “You can do this?”
Pepper laughed, thinking that his expression was cute, especially since he looked so raw and powerful. “Yes. This is what I do,” she told him. “And this one,” she said, handing him another picture. “I take old jeans and turn them into skirts, adding a bit of bling or a touch of fun fabric. Everything seems new again after I switch fabrics, notions, or features around.”
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