Authors: Kathi S. Barton
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Paranormal, #Romantic Erotica
Noelle walked with the man who had come to inspect the area. Trent had set her up, plain and simple, by suddenly having to be out of town when the man arrived. When Gordon Winchester pulled out his notepad and began making notes, she thought about some of the things she’d talked to Mark about just yesterday.
“When he starts taking notes, that’s a good sign. If he doesn’t, then it’s a lost deal. Don’t speak to him first. Let him see the town through his own eyes, not yours.” She tried to remember not to guide him toward any of the downtown shops either.
“Do you know how many people would be willing to start working?” She pulled out her own notes. “I’m to understand that the people here, they think this is a bad idea.”
“Not that I’m aware of. And there are seven hundred people out of work right now or willing to transfer jobs. Everyone is helping out and ready to start working if this site is chosen. The high school is willing to set up a place for you to interview anyone you want.” He nodded and made a note on his pad. It was difficult for her not to sell him the place, but she kept her mouth shut.
“What can you tell me about tax credits and abatements?” She had no idea. That wasn’t part of her part in this. She told him that he’d have to make a plan for them to give him those sort of numbers. Then he’d have to see the county attorney. “Other towns have told me that I can have what I want. That they’d give it to my company for the jobs.”
“I don’t know anything about that. All I know is that if you want to make us an offer, or even to ask about potential buildings, then the town’s attorney can sit you down and tell you what they have to offer. I’m just the point guy in this.” He grinned and nodded. “I’m to tell you that the local bed and breakfast has your office set up for you. Mrs. Baker also said to tell you that she’ll hold supper for you tonight, but can’t do that all the time.”
They moved down the main street then. Tanner was there, leaning against the office door that he’d been setting up for business. He was talking to Elijah, and they were laughing. She wanted to join them, to be anywhere but with this man. He was rude and a pain in the ass. When they were near them, she introduced Mr. Winchester to them both.
“Your wife is very hush-hush about why you think this town is what we’re looking for. She won’t even tell me how many people are willing to work here. I don’t suppose you can shed some light on things.” Tanner asked him what it was he thought they were looking for besides jobs. Noelle wanted to smack the man. She’d done no such thing, and she had answered his questions. “Well, I can see that the town is a little on the down side. There are a few empty buildings in the downtown area. Are you expecting our company to do anything about those?”
“I wasn’t aware that any of this was the company’s concern. I was under the assumption that you were looking at the site out of town, not what we have within the city limits.” Tanner looked at Elijah, then at her before talking to Winchester again. “I can tell you that we have seven hundred acres of land for sale that are already zoned for business, with another four thousand for sale if it comes to that. There is an airport nearby that my family uses when we come or go out of town. A highway that is just a little out of the way, but close enough that anyone coming in here to put in a business won’t have to have a long trip to get to it.” Winchester was making notes. “Empty buildings? Yes, we have them. The town has been a little on the negative side for a few years, but we’re hoping to bring it back up with the influx of jobs. Whether you plant yourself here or not, we’re going to take care of them.”
“There aren’t a lot of places to eat or stay. What sort of accommodation do you have in the works for me should I want to live here? I mean, the houses are in pitiful shape. And don’t think I didn’t notice that every car on the streets is a little outdated too.” Noelle laughed. “You think my questions are silly?”
“No. I think they’re stupid. You don’t care if we have a place for you to sleep. And what concern is it of yours how old the cars are? They’re paid for, not that you need to know that. But that’s not really what you’re doing, is it? You’re making small talk because you’ve already made your decision, haven’t you?” When his face stiffened, she knew that she was right. “Why on earth did you come here if you knew you weren’t going to consider us?”
“Trent.” Noelle looked at Elijah, then back at Winchester, confused. “I was hoping he was going to be here. I wanted to see his face when I told him that we were going to go with the place out west. Not as many acres nor as many people that need a job. But I’d do just about anything to make that man look bad. As he’s done to me.”
“Why, you petty bastard.” She walked away, and Elijah followed her. Tanner was still talking to the man, but she was finished. Reaching to Joe, something that she only just realized she could do, she let her know what was going on and asked if she had a direct number to the boss.
I just asked Trent about a man by the name of Winchester. He said that he’d gone to a site to see about the expansion that a company had wanted to do. But Winchester was there already telling the owners that there wasn’t any need for it. That the economy was going to take a turn and the owner would be in the hole. Trent told them to expand, lent them the money to do so, and the company owner is now one of the richest people in the business world. I guess he also let it be known that this other shit told him not to do it
I’m calling the man that hired him and letting him know. At this point, I don’t even care if they build here. I just can’t stand small-minded people
Once she had the number, Tanner showed up in her little office. She told him what she was planning.
“Good. I might have a little talk with his boss too. This wasn’t just a waste of time for us, but we could have been working with someone that didn’t have a personal agenda.” Noelle made notes as to what she wanted to say as Tanner continued. “Just be calm, honey. You can do this.”
“If you get to talk to this guy, tell him about the money he’s going to be spending on the extra electricity he’s going to use to keep his employees cool all year round.” Elijah explained to her what he meant. Making notes, she felt her anger fire up, but knew to lose her temper would make a bad name for them all. As soon as she was connected directly to the man, she told him who she was.
“I wanted to tell you what’s going on with your man that you sent out here. Gordon Winchester is here looking at a site that you have picked for your new expansion.” Mr. Coulier said that he knew that. He had been shown his notes. “Already? He’s...never mind. He had already decided not to use our area before he got here because of a grudge he has for Trent Calhoun.”
“Mr. Calhoun? I’m not sure what is going on, but I assure you that if he thought that.... Wait a minute. Calhoun? Are you based in Ohio? Trent Calhoun called my offices about two weeks ago. Mr. Winchester gave me the prospective on that place last week. Let me find it.”
She told Tanner and Elijah what was going on. “The little pisser is playing us because Trent was a smarter man. How did he know what to tell him if he’d never been here?”
“That’s what I’d like to know.” She felt her face heat up when Mr. Coulier came back on the line.
“It says here that Trent had missed his appointment, and that after talking with a few of the townspeople, he learned that they were dead set against any kind of manufacturing plant coming to their town. And after further review, he discovered that the land that we were told about had several liens against it and that it was less than one hundred acres.”
“We have never met with the man before he arrived today, Mr. Coulier.” He told her to call him Doug. Noelle told him about the land and the people there. “Right now we have several hundred people who would like nothing better than to work. Few of them care what the job would be so long as it paid and they could catch up on mortgages. But I didn’t call you to go behind his back. I wanted you to know what an unprofessional person he is. When he’s out and about with your name on his lips, he represents you. And today, as far as I can see, he gave you a poor showing.”
“And I agree. I wondered about this report, if you want to know the truth. It seemed as if it was a little one-sided, and sounded nothing at all like the reports I’d gotten from the people that had talked to Trent on the phone.” Noelle told him that Trent was her brother-in-law and he was a good man. “High praise coming from you. Let me work something out. Can you hang on for a moment or two? How much longer is Winchester going to be there, do you know?”
“He’s booked at Mrs. Baker’s place for the night. I think we’re taking him back to the airport at ten in the morning.” He asked her again to hold on. She looked at the two men with her when she was put on hold. “I don’t think he is very happy with Mr. Winchester.”
“I should hope not.” Elijah sat on her only chair and grinned at her. “I’m very proud of you for this. You have come a long way from the shy little mouse that I first met.”
“You bring out the worst in me.” He laughed, and she heard the line click. Tanner handed her a note. “Doug, I just heard from Trent, and he said if you’d like to call him, he can be where he has a signal in an hour. He and his wife have gone away for a few days. It’s been sort of stressful around here of late.”
“I can well imagine. I’d like to talk to Trent in person if he can manage it. I have a flight booked to be there in two hours. I’d very much appreciate it if you didn’t let our Mr. Winchester know we’re coming. I’ve made arrangements with his boss to come with me. Let’s just say that he’s not very thrilled about this call either.” She told him she was sorry. “Don’t be. As you pointed out, he’s there on my behalf, and I won’t have my good name attached to poor attitude. I have enough of that at home with three teenagers living with me.”
After they made arrangements for him to be picked up, she told Tanner and Elijah what was going on. They were both whooping it up when she felt her belly turn. Putting her head between her knees, she tried to think what the hell had possessed her to do such a thing. She had more than likely just gotten this man fired from his job. She told Elijah when he asked if she was all right.
“No, you didn’t get him fired. He did that all on his own when he came here with a chip on his shoulder. And just to give you a heads up, Trent said they’re coming home too. He wants to be here for you.”
“Me? Oh no, I’m done. When that man gets here, I’m going to be at our house thinking about this meeting thing I’m having with Noah. I don’t think he’s going to let me put it off again.” Elijah said that he more than likely would hunt her down if she did. Noelle wasn’t sure that she ever wanted to know if she was part vampire. “I’m just afraid. I don’t want to know that something is wrong with me.”
“Nothing will be wrong with you however it turns out. You are still my mate. We’ll still be madly in love, and we’ll have as much sex as we can until we kill each other.” She let him hold her. “I love you, baby. And will forever.”
“You might not after this thing is over.” He assured her that he would. “I hope so. I’m going to need someone to hold me when I fall apart.”
She was going to too. As they made their way out of her office, she wondered what this man was going to say to her when he found out that she’d made that call. Noelle could only hope that he’d not pull out a gun and shoot her.
Doug liked what he saw when they landed. People were milling about the small air strip, but not too many. There was room for growth here too, should they need it. As he and Jerry West made their way to the waiting car, he wasn’t really surprised to see a woman and man waiting for him. He knew the young woman had to be his savior. He could also see that she was as nervous as hell.
“Mr. Coulier, this is my brother-in-law, Trent. My husband is here as well, but is just inside talking to his secretary since it was too noisy out here.” Doug introduced them to Jerry and shook both their hands. Then he did the same to Elijah and TJ, their father, when they joined them. “We wanted to make a good first impression. I’m not sure what we’re going to impress you with. I only wanted you to know about Gordon.”
“As well you should have. He doesn’t know that we’re here, does he?” She assured him that he didn’t, that he’d not left his room since he’d gone back there earlier. Jerry huffed. “Jerry is going to do this site analysis for me. He started this business from the ground up. And so you know, Gordon is his son-in-law.”
“Never cared much for him anyway. But had to do something when I was paying for every little thing they needed. At least this way...well, I thought I was getting an honest return on my money. Apparently not.” Jerry had told him that he’d had other complaints about Gordon, and this was going to be fun for him. But he was also making the young woman nervous. “You did us a great service here, young lady. I can’t thank you enough.”
When her face turned red, he looked at her husband. It surprised him at the love he could see on his face when he looked at Noelle. The man was absolutely besotted with his wife. As they made their way into the long limo, Elijah started filling him in on the details that had not been in the report that he’d been given.
“We’re headed to the land site now. As Noelle mentioned, there are four thousand acres that we were looking at, and an additional seven hundred that are already zoned for business. The land hasn’t been developed, but there is a site building on the first plot of land. A few decades ago someone came in with the bright idea to build homes out there. Not that it wouldn’t have worked. The site is perfect for it, but all the developer got finished was the site building. It still has power, water, and gas.” Elijah handed him a file. “There are the proposed tax abatements that we’ve talked over with the county commissioner. The mayor would have liked to have been there today, but his wife went into labor about an hour ago, and she said she’d kill him if he left her. It’s their first child.”