As you all probably hopefully know by now, I’m giving away one of my books each day of this work week. And to sweeten the deal, I’m offering a $50 gift card for anyone who writes a review of one of my books on Amazon and posts it by August 15. Winner will be chosen by random drawing that evening. All you have to do is drop me an email at michellegflye at gmail dot com to let me know you posted the review. I want your honest take on ANY of my books (including the three published by actual publishers), not just the five I’m offering for free this week, but this definitely gives you a chance to read one of my books!
“You’ve never made scuppernong wine, though.” Will glanced up at Accalia curiously.
“No. That is true. Our wines have always been European. It’s a new venture for us. For me.” Her expression showed no concern, and even a hint of arrogance. “To be truthful, I fell in love with the taste of your scuppernong wine while on a buying trip in the States. I took some home to my father.” She smiled. “He didn’t really understand the draw, but when I showed him the numbers, even he had to admit it could be a profitable expansion if done correctly.” She paused. “Nonetheless, I am under no illusions. Although I have the backing of my father’s name and his label, this is my venture, using my capital. If I fail, I fail alone. If I succeed…” She spread her hands.
Will’s respect for the woman tripled. He recognized her passion because he’d felt it himself, working at the restaurant. It was why he’d put in such long hours there, even before Cady came to work for him. He shoved thoughts of Cady away. “Well, I look forward to seeing you succeed, Ms. Nikoulas.” He stood, holding out a hand as he stepped around the desk. “We would be more than happy to help you on your way.”
Her face broke into a smile and she stood, unfortunately a little more enthusiastically than gracefully, and fell into his chest. Without missing a beat, Will put an arm around her waist to steady her, stepping away only when he was certain she wouldn’t fall. “Are you all right?” He noticed a slight blush on her cheeks.
“Sorry.” She laughed, obviously embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to jump at you. I’m not known for being graceful.”
At the sound of a slight cough, they both turned. Lisa stood in the door, a glint of amusement in her eyes but her face schooled into a professional expression. “Ms. Nikoulas, I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I’m Lisa Hubbard, the manager of the vineyard. I trust you’ve seen everything you need to?”
“Yes. I have, and I believe we’ve reached a deal.” Accalia looked happily at Will. “Mr. Hubbard and I, that is.”
“Perfect.” Lisa took her hand. “My brother will be your contact here, but feel free to call on either of us at any time. You are, of course, welcome back here as often as you like.”
“Thank you.” Accalia nodded. “And please, call me Accalia.”
“And I’m Lisa.”
“And Will.” Will stepped in. “Accalia is a lovely name. Greek?”
She nodded. “My father is Greek, my mother American. I’ve spent half my life here and half there. The best of both worlds, I suppose.”
“What does your name mean?” Lisa tilted her head curiously, lapsing out of her businesswoman persona for a moment.
Accalia winced. “Nothing very attractive, actually. My mother told me my father chose it because it means ‘chaos’ or something like that.”
“Mary Shelley said all invention comes out of chaos.” Will smiled at her.
“He got that from his education at UNC.” Lisa waggled her eyebrows expressively.
“More than they taught you at Duke.” Will turned his back on her to find Accalia watching them with amusement. “Would you like to see any more of the vineyards? I’ll be more than happy to give you a guided tour.”
“Thank you, but I saw a good bit earlier, thanks to your map.” She turned and started down the hall. Will walked beside her, his hand resting on the small of her back as he reached around her to open the front door.
“We look forward to seeing you again, Accalia.”
She gave him an almost shy, slightly awkward but still friendly smile. “Thank you…Will.”
Will watched her cross the parking lot to her Jeep. Her figure was trim, almost athletic, and her blonde hair shone in the sun. He turned to be confronted by his sister, leaning on Natalie’s desk. When his eyes met hers, she pretended to fan herself. “Was it getting hot in here or was it just me, Natalie?”
“What on earth are you talking about?” Will frowned at her.
“You were flirting with her!” Lisa chortled.
“I was not.” Will brushed past her.
“Well, don’t get me wrong, Will. Seriously, if you get us more buyers by flirting than by giving tours of the vineyard, I’m all for it.” She laughed. “As long as our clients aren’t married.”
Will froze at his office door and glanced over his shoulder. She couldn’t have meant the remark the way it sounded, but the explosion of pain in his chest wouldn’t be denied. Lisa’s teasing smile faded and Natalie looked like she might cry. Lisa took half a step toward him and opened her mouth as if to say something but he shook his head and went into his office, shutting the door carefully behind him.
He sat at the desk, looking at his hands. God, he missed the restaurant. There was always something to do there. If you were done getting ready for the lunch rush, you’d better get started getting ready for dinner. And paperwork and orders and checks to be signed. And then Cady came and even the least favorite of his chores became a joy because he was near her. He groaned and laid his head on his arms. These memories of her had to go. He had to forget. Somehow.