“Oh!” she gasped, putting a hand over her chest because her heart felt like it had just stopped. “I didn’t know you would be in here.”
Joline’s eyes widened. “We had a meeting scheduled to start fifteen minutes ago,” she told her friend.
Joline had come to the palace for a meeting about eighteen months ago and run into Rais, her younger brother. The sparks that had ignited when the two of them had met had been intense, even after she’d warned Rais to stay away from Joline. But there wasn’t really any way to stop Rais, or any of her brothers for that matter, when they wanted something. And Rais had wanted Joline. After a crazy courtship, Rais had finally won her friend’s heart, convinced her that there weren’t any obstacles big enough to stand in their way and the two of them had been deliriously, nauseatingly happy ever since. If Joline weren’t such a good friend, Shantra might even be jealous of Joline’s happiness. Fortunately, her friend was expecting their first child in a couple of months and Shantra was too excited to be an aunt again so the jealousy was tempered by an eagerness to meet her future niece or nephew.
Snapping back to an awareness of the present, pulling her mind away from the man with the yellow-rimmed eyes, she looked around and tried to figure out what was happening. “Meeting,” Shantra whispered, still trying to figure out what day it was. “Meeting?”
Joline laughed. “Yes. We were going to conference in Keith and discuss next season’s new line?” she reminded Shantra.
“Woman, you’re losing it,” a male voice said from the computer on Joline’s lap. “Jo, is she all flushed and flustered?” The male voice was from their third partner, Keith, who was in Paris right now at the fashion shows. Even Keith had found the love of his life in a man named Dennis, and now both of her friends were trying hard to find a man for Shantra.
“I’m not,” Shantra immediately stated and turned away, pretending to look on her desk for something but all she did was mess up the neatly stacked papers.
“She is,” Joline replied with a laugh.
“Who is the lucky man?” Keith asked.
Joline set the laptop down on the triangular table they’d found for just this kind of meeting. The corners allowed the three of them to talk even when one of them was in another city.
“I’m not flushed,” Shantra told both of them firmly as she grabbed her designs and notes, coming over to the table. “I just hurried down the hallway for this meeting.”
Keith laughed. “You mean the meeting that you forgot we were having?” he teased.
Shantra sighed. “We have things to do,” she grumbled. “Let’s get to it.”
Joline tapped her finger against the side of her jaw. “I think Rais mentioned something about a meeting this morning. It was supposed to be an important one, now that I think about it.”
Shantra rolled her eyes. “You guys talk?” she asked, giving her friend a look that disagreed.
“My!” Keith stepped in. “I heard that catty remark. And I have to agree with you, Shantra dear. Joline and her man do tend to spend an embarrassing amount of time doing naughty things but…”
“Moving on!” Shantra exclaimed. “I don’t want to have that image of my brother in my mind, please!” she begged, covering her eyes.
“Oh, you’re just jealous,” Keith laughed. “Since you’re the only one among us that isn’t getting any kind of satisfaction…”
Shantra threw her hands up in the air when Joline laughed. “This is ridiculous,” she snapped. “The fabrics you sent last week were…”