Home > Just What I Needed (Need You #2)(9)

Just What I Needed (Need You #2)(9)
Author: Lorelei James


Through the grapevine I’d heard that Flint-Co, a subcontractor, was circling the drain. Jase Flint’s foreman had bailed out, leaving Jase with contracts to fulfill and no one to run the projects. I approached Jase for the project manager position. He was up front with me that he needed a partner to replenish his capital, not just a manager.

As one of the eight heirs to the Lund family fortune, I had several trust funds, enabling me to buy in to Flint-Co with a substantial amount of cash. Partnering with Jase was the smartest move I’d ever made. From day one he’d treated me as an equal, renaming the business Flint & Lund.

I worked my ass off. I was proud of helping take Flint & Lund to the next level. Jase respected me. He trusted my judgment. But it’d taken a solid year for our crew to reach those conclusions. I’d neither hidden nor bragged about my family connections, but several guys assumed I’d get tired of “playing” the working stiff and I’d return to my cushy job at Lund Industries.

I’d never had any desire to work at Lund Industries—aka LI—the family-run corporation worth billions. I sat on the LI Board of Directors because it was the one family obligation that gave me the freedom to not have to work for LI. Brady and Annika loved their jobs with the company. As did my cousins Ash and Nolan. My younger brother, Jensen, played football with the Vikings, so he wasn’t on the company payroll. Neither was my oldest cousin, Jaxson, who played hockey with the Chicago Blackhawks. Dallas, the cherished baby of our Lund family tree, was still in college, but I knew she planned on taking LI by storm once she had her degree. I’ll admit some days it bugged me to be the only Lund heir without a college degree, so I’d jokingly started calling myself the black sheep of the family. Yet the joke was on me; the only person who denied that moniker was my dad.

Speaking of . . . I’d stalled long enough. Time to make the call.

I shoved my plate back and picked up my phone. Scrolling through my recent calls, I counted the number of times my mother had called.

Twenty-seven times in the last thirty days.

Had it really been a month since I’d seen her?

I was such a tool for not calling her back. I hit Dial.

She answered on the fourth ring. “Is this a trick? Or is it really my beautiful boy reaching out to his mother?”

“Hey, Mom. It’s me. Sorry I—” I closed my eyes. “I’m a terrible son, all right?”

“No, you are wonderful son with terrible manners. Big difference.”

“Thanks for the clarification.”

“It’s what I do. Point out truths. So, I’ve missed you.”

“I’ve missed you too.”

“I hear that ‘but’ in your tone.”

“But I need to talk to you about something.”

“Of course. You can speak of anything.”

I didn’t sugarcoat it. “Please back off on your constant pressure for me to find a woman and settle down.”

A pause followed. Then, “I know not what you mean.”

“Yes, you do. I haven’t been around lately because you harp that it’s not good for me to be alone; then you point to Brady with his perfect match, Lennox, expecting me to follow his same path. I’m not him, Mom.”

She sighed. “I know this. But you are mistaken about who you’re avoiding at family time. It is not me you’re avoiding. It is Brady.”

“How’d you come up with that?”

“Walker, a mother sees these things. You are a green-eyed alien around Brady and Lennox. You’ve always expected to find your life partner long before Brady. That’s why you’ve auditioned so very many ladies for the part, no?”

I said nothing, even though it wasn’t a rhetorical question.

“My part is to encourage you to look for her. That’s all I have done. Not because Brady found his, but because you’ve been ready to meet the right woman for a long time.”

Her image immediately popped into my head. Hair the color of rich mahogany that framed her heart-shaped face. Large green eyes fringed with sooty lashes. Her lush pink lips curled into a secret smile. The sassy tilt of her head. And that body, all soft, plush curves I wanted to sink into, taste thoroughly and worship with my hands and mouth.

“Walker, my sweet boy, are you still there?”

“Yeah.”

“Your silence makes me wonder if you’re thinking of one woman in particular?”

Maybe I’d been too hasty in telling Brady I didn’t want to track her down. Because I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her for more than an hour since I’d left her at the bar three days ago.

Bottom line was I needed to know if the spark between us had been real, or if I’d been a chump. I’d call Brady on Monday to ask for his help since he’d offered it.

“I’m thinking of only you, Mom.”

She snorted.

“What’s new with you? Annika said you were bugging her about a heritage thing.”

“Ann-i-ka. Don’t get me started on her.”

But that’s exactly what happened. She went off on a tangent and I was off the hook.

For now.

 

 

Three

 

 

TRINITY

 


I hadn’t painted sets since college. But I’d dabbled in every discipline within the fine arts curriculum, so I wasn’t worried that the set designs would be out of the realm of my experience. I just hoped Nate wasn’t expecting museum-quality artwork. He’d been impressed by my portfolio, if confused why an artist with my background would be applying for a set-painting job at a small community theater for minimal pay.

My spin on it wasn’t a lie . . . exactly. I wasn’t doing it only for the money. I did enjoy interacting with other creative types and used that energy to create a fresh perspective in my own work. When I got stuck in a rut, the only thing that kept me from spiraling into a massive depression was working on a project completely different from what I’d just done.

I’d learned—the hard way—that after finishing a project, be it a mixed-media piece, a sculpture, a painting, glassware, metalwork or textiles, I couldn’t do the next logical thing: stick with that medium and build on the (modest) success of it. No, I had to upend my creative process entirely. Every time.

I’d been told by more successful artist friends to focus and control the chaos instead of allowing it to lead me astray. I pretended to soak in their words of wisdom, all the while knowing they didn’t understand. My brain, my process just didn’t work that way. So I’d stopped trying to explain. I’d also stopped listening to advice—especially unsolicited advice.

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