A Taste of Summer(8)

By: Beverly Preston

Shayla agreed, “I’m sure he has a hidden agenda there somewhere.”

“Hmm,” Tess chimed, tapping an index finger to her chin. “I’ll have to give it some thought. Maybe I can think of a good guy to fix you up with.”

“Isn’t it terrible? We actually have to wrack our brains to conjure up a good man. Like it’s this huge unattainable task for single women.” Carrie Ann added glumly, “The best date I’ve had in years comes with batteries. Mr. Fucking Perfect is at home taking a nap in my underwear drawer.” All of them laughed. “Speaking of home, I’ve got to get going.”

“It’s great seeing you, Carrie Ann. I’ll see if I can come up with a few dating options for you that don’t include batteries,” Tess jeered. “See you at the premier.”

Carrie Ann and Shayla strolled toward the front door. “Lunch tomorrow for your birthday? Or I can leave the boys with Nana and Papa tomorrow night and we can go out for dinner and a glass of wine? Your choice.”

“I get the keys to the mansion tomorrow, so I’m slammed with meetings all day, but dinner and wine sound heavenly.”


The next morning, Carrie Ann backed out of her driveway before the crack of dawn to hit the gym. She considered skipping her morning workout fearing she’d run into Summer again, but she needed the extra energy to get through her busy schedule. The Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction was a colossal event. It required acute organization and constant attention to detail.

Entering the gym, her eyes were on keen alert, darting through the free weight section, hoping not to see any signs of Summer. After an hour of pummeling herself on the elliptical and spin bike, she headed for home, grateful she hadn’t run into him.

Buzz buzz buzz

A reminder alarm jingled her phone at five minutes to nine, pulling into the private compound. Carrie Ann circled around a massive limestone fountain in the center of the drive. Her assistant, Sara, waited beneath the colossal portico made of rustic wooden beams. She wore her chestnut hair pulled back in a posh ponytail, giving the added element of sophistication to her grey slim-fitting skirt and sleeveless cream-colored blouse.

Stepping from the car, the scent of the ocean carried along a breeze from the canyon below. Carrie Ann glanced downward, smoothing the creases from her graphite pencil skirt and white camisole. Their California boardroom business attire matched exactly, all the way down to their open-toe three inch heels. She pointed to the long layers of espresso hair framing her face. “I’m glad I wore my hair down today. We look like twins. Maybe we should start calling each other in the morning.”

“Yeah, except you fill yours out so much better than I do.” Sara frowned, cupping her petite breasts.

Carrie Ann tossed Sara an apologetic pout in return. She’d been naturally blessed with voluptuous D cups and complementing full hips.

Sara jingled the keys in her hand. “Morning.”

“Thanks for stopping by Jason’s office to pick up the keys.”

“No problem.” A discrete grin flourished beneath the dark lenses of her glasses. “I think he was hoping you’d be the one picking up the keys.”

She only smiled in return. Sara had worked diligently for Carrie Ann for over two years and boasted a host of many redeeming qualities. She was remarkably organized, could juggle a range of tasks, and had the ability to stick to tight deadlines. But what she treasured most about Sara was her reserved personality and uncanny instinct of knowing precisely when to speak up and when to keep quiet.

“Let’s get inside and go over today’s line-up.”

“Our first meeting is at nine thirty, so we have plenty of time to walk the property.”

The sound of their heels clipped along the Versailles patterned travertine as they strolled through the twelve thousand square foot Spanish-style manse. Event Bible in hand, Sara took pics and notes on her iPad, jotting down any and all things pertaining to the event.

Quickly making their way through the hacienda, they concentrated on the outdoor entertainment space where the auction would take place. Large planters scattered throughout the pavilion. Each teemed with blueish-green agave and flowering lavender, snuggled to the trunks of the mature oak and pepper trees.

“Let’s make sure the trees get wrapped with extra lighting.” Carrie Ann waved a hand, noting the surrounding gardens manicured to perfection. “It’ll add touches of elegance and oodles of charm, plus draw your eye away from the tent.”

Passing beneath a large romantic archway, Sara halted her rush pausing to take in the gorgeous view of the Pacific. “This place seems very familiar. I think I’ve seen this house somewhere before.”