A week later, and I still don’t feel like I belong here on the executive floor. Lillian found me an office and even gave me use of an assistant, but I can’t help feeling like an interloper when all the other secretaries and interns look at me like I’m way above my station.
I try to keep my head down and focus on work. Lillian put me in charge of pulling together a team for the redesign: PR people, designers, and more. I still have the details of everyone who worked the big gala event, so I hit the ground running. I even found an amazing interior designer who’s restored some of the best old buildings in the country. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on the famous Rexford, and couriered over a portfolio of ideas almost the next day. Now a draft of the grand lobby is spread across my desk, along with fabric and paint swatches. I can’t stop running my fingers over the colorful rendering of what the Rexford could be. It’s stunning.
“It’s elegant, modern, and kissed with history,” I say excitedly, out loud to myself in my empty office. I don’t care. I want to kiss the drawing, but that might be crossing a line.
My head snaps up. Xander is leaning against the door frame with a charming look on his face.
I laugh. “I know it sounds weird, but this design is sexy.”
“This I’ve got to see.” Xander strolls around to my side of the desk and surveys the plans.
I wait, nervous. “Well?”
“Well, what?” He gives me a sly grin. “Oh, were you waiting for my opinion?”
“Sorry. I’m not used to people caring what I think.”
I’m tempted to roll my eyes. Xander’s whole nobody-loves-me routine is half sincere and half attention-seeking, but I’m not falling for it today. “Boo-hoo,” I smile. “Talk.”
Finally, he puts me out of my misery. “I like it. With a few tweaks, it would be the perfect new look for this place.”
“Tweaks? Like what?”
“Well…” Xander surveys the plans. ‘This braid trim is too heavy for the lobby furniture. And this shade of blue is a touch too dark for the ceiling.” He flips through the swatches. “The Rexford’s elegance is subtle. Here.” He hands me new samples, and I hold them to the drawing. He’s right.
“You’ve got a really good eye for this sort of thing,” I say, impressed.
“I’ve seen almost every luxury hotel in the world.” He winks. “Mostly on my back.” I can’t help laughing..
“Seriously, Juliet, this design is amazing. Well done. Now, you just need to run it past Dom for the go-ahead.”
He says it casually, as if there isn’t a blood feud going on between Dominic and me. I’ve done a great job of avoiding him since the planning meeting last week. In fact, avoiding Dom is ninety-nine percent of the reason I hide in my office.
Cowardly. But I’ve always been good at self-preservation, especially when it comes to my heart.
My stomach knots. I really don’t want to see him today.
“You have to face him sometime.” Xander says.
“I was planning like a year from now,” I say grimly. “Maybe a decade or two.”
He laughs. “Welcome to my world. Just remember, he’s all bark and no bite.”
I flash back to Dom biting down gently on my shoulder, locking me tightly in his arms as he moved deep inside.
I roll up the drafts and gather the swatches. “Wish me luck.”