Dameon watched as they shook hands and made sure he was next.
Her palm was cool, her face heated. “We seem to be bumping into each other a lot.” He squeezed her hand one extra time before letting go.
Her eyes flared ever so slightly.
“It does appear that way, Mr. Locke. I never think of Santa Clarita as a small town, but sometimes it surprises me.”
He waited until she took her seat before taking his. “Tyler and I were just talking about the size of your city.”
She placed her hands over his folder. “Your company is based in LA. Is that where you live?”
“Yes.” The question was personal.
“What made you choose Santa Clarita for this project?”
“Land availability, growth, and the ability to add something to a community without complete destruction of what is already there.”
She didn’t smile, didn’t frown. Her lips were a straight line.
But when he smiled, there was this tiny spark in her eyes that gave away her thoughts. Grace Hudson wasn’t completely unaffected by his presence. He’d sensed it through the window at the hotel, felt it in the coffee shop, and could practically taste it here.
“Well, now that we have that out of the way,” Richard started. “Let’s go over a few things so your time here isn’t wasted, Mr. Locke. Then I assume Mr. Jennings will be working directly with Hudson from here on out?”
Tyler started to talk, but Dameon jumped in.
“No, actually. I’ll be heavily involved in the beginning stages with your department.”
Tyler nudged his foot under the table.
“You will?” Grace asked.
“Yes. I want to make sure everything goes smoothly. While I’m confident Tyler can take care of things in my absence, this is a significant project that will take several meetings to make sure that once we break ground nothing will clog us up.”
Richard opened his file. “Let’s get started, then.”
Grace closed and locked her office door, dropped Dameon’s file on her desk, and went straight to the thermostat to turn the air conditioner to the lowest setting it would accept.
He’d squeezed her hand . . . twice.
From that point forward it was shocking she could put two coherent sentences together.
And since when did the owner of a multimillion-dollar investment company get involved with city engineers?
Never. That’s when.
From the look on Tyler’s face, the project manager had been just as surprised.
Things were going to get sticky.
Grace rolled her shoulders and sat in her desk chair. She grabbed her phone and dialed Erin’s number.
“Hello, you,” Erin answered on the second ring.
“I need happy hour. Tonight.”
“What? It’s Monday and we just—”
“Tonight. And no boys. Leave my brother at home.”
“He’s working today.”
Matt was a firefighter and worked twenty-four-hour shifts.
“Even better.” Grace gave her the name of a local bar. “Five thirty?”
“Someone sounds frazzled,” Erin said with a laugh.
“You have no idea.”
“Mind sharing what that was all about?” Tyler asked as they walked out to the parking lot.
Dameon kept a steady pace to his car, the lift in his step directly related to the woman he’d just unsettled.
He liked having that effect on the opposite sex.
“What what’s about?”
“You being heavily involved. That’s how you put it, right? Heavily?”
“Just making sure everything goes smoothly.”
Tyler snorted. “Has nothing to do with the Miss Sexy in high heels?”
He couldn’t deny it.
“I’ll have my schedule cleared for you and I to meet tomorrow afternoon. I want to know every single line item we need the civil engineering department to sign off on.”
They stopped at Dameon’s car.
He unlocked the doors with his key fob.
“Nice diversion without any denial or affirmation of my claim.”
Dameon opened the door, shrugged out of his suit jacket, and loosened his tie. “You sure you’re not a closet lawyer, Jennings?”
“You sure you’re not a closet politician?”
They both laughed while Dameon slid behind the wheel. “See you back at the office.”
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