Jared and Morgan chat on the phone.
Two hours later Taylor was gone. And he’d traded the glass of wine for the top shelf scotch Seth had given him for his birthday. He kicked off his shoes and took a seat on the caramel leather couch with his drink, trying to let the events of evening soak in. He glanced at his phone. Charisma had called again. He wanted to return her call, but he had to talk to Morgan first. He found his sister’s number and hit the green button to call.
“Hey, Sis, sorry to call so late,” he said when she answered. “How was the party?”
“It was very nice. We had a great time. We missed you,” Morgan said loudly into the phone as she tried to talk over the kids in the background.
“I missed being there, but Axel Nesmith had an opening, and I had to take the meeting. He has some serious plans with some prime real estate he acquired in downtown Philly.”
“No worries. You will make the engagement party?”
“Absolutely. Whenever they set the date, I will clear my calendar. Sounds like a protest is going on in your house.”
“Yeah, the kiddies thought because we got home late they were exempt from baths. But I fooled them.” She sighed. “I have to convince them daily that good hygiene isn’t optional.”
“Hi, Uncle Jared!” Colby yelled into the phone.
“Never mind chatting with Uncle Jared. Wash behind those ears, mister,” Morgan replied.
He laughed. “Boys are wired different. Being smelly isn’t as offensive to us, and if we can put someone in a headlock without deodorant on, it’s the sweetest revenge.”
“You were always gross.”
“He’s overseeing Jake’s toothbrushing while trying to lull Mackenzie to sleep.”
“She’s still awake?”
“You know your nephews sound like they’re staging a prison riot when they’re exiting a car. She woke up, so I gave her a bottle. If that doesn’t work, Seth will read her a story. She’ll be out like a light soon.”
Jared enjoyed his time at Morgan’s house when he visited Texas. The kids stampeding through the house all day and the boisterous dinners were the best. It reminded him of his days as a kid in the Reed household.
“So what’s on your mind?” Morgan asked.
“Oh.” He sipped his scotch. “My office manager, Zelda, resigned to move to Kansas with her boyfriend. I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t had the time to look for a sufficient replacement. I could get a temp but that’s just postponing the inevitable. I hear through the grapevine Charisma is looking for a job. I was thinking about giving her a shot.”
“Is she qualified to be an office manager?”
“We’d have to talk about her qualifications and my expectations. I need someone who can present a sophisticated face to the clients and keep them at bay when I’m not there. I think it could work, but I wanted to discuss it with you first. I know you two called a truce, but I wanted you to know that if I gave her a chance that I wasn’t being disloyal to you.”
“Jared Reed, if you were here I would give you a big kiss.” Morgan sighed. “Thank you for considering my feelings. If she’s capable, and you think she’s a good fit, I say go for it. Charisma does look presentable when she wants and can turn on the charm.”
“You know I would never do anything to hurt you. I think it’s nice the two of you have found neutral ground.”
“Well, she said she wanted to change some things about herself, and I believed her. I think she’s ready to be a Reed again. If you get my meaning.”
He chuckled. “I sure do.”
“Hold on one sec.”
From what he could hear, Colby had finished his bath and it was Connor’s turn now. Seth had come into the bathroom with Mackenzie so they could switch duties. Morgan went into the nursery with Mackenzie and put the phone’s video feature on, so he did the same and propped his phone against a book on the coffee table. She propped the phone up on the dresser. The baby became animated when she saw his face.
“Hey, Mackenzie. How’s the most beautiful little girl in Texas?”
“You better be careful,” Morgan warned. “You have two nieces in the state.”
He grinned. “Avery’s the most beautiful college student in Texas.”
“Nice save.” She gave him a knowing grin. “Say hi to Uncle Jared.”
Mackenzie reached for the phone and started talking up a storm. He could have sworn she was trying to say his name.
“Did she just say Jared?”
“Oh brother.” Morgan rolled her eyes. “Not yet. But the second she does I’ll give you a call.”
“I will let you put little miss to bed. Thanks for your input on Charisma.”
“Thank you for considering my feelings. We missed you at the party. Autumn looked really nice.” Morgan flashed a smile at him.
“I gotta go.”
“Mackenzie, Uncle Jared is blowing us off,” Morgan kidded.
“I would never do that to my niece, but I do hang up on my matchmaking sister from time to time.”
“One of these days you’re going to eat crow, Jared Reed. Autumn is the one.”
Jared stuffed his fingers in his ears. “I can’t hear you.”
“Good night, pain-in-my-butt.”
“I love you, Sis. Love you, Mackenzie.”
“We love you too.”
Jared pushed off the couch, put on the alarm, and punched a few buttons on the lighting keypad. The entire first floor dimmed. He loved his loft. Taylor was right. After they’d divorced, he’d really taken stock on the amazing space he had and began utilizing it the way it was intended. Fancy lighting, premium sound system, and a host of other sophisticated gadgets made his living space stand out. He ascended the steps and when he reached the bedroom, he set his drink down on the nightstand, removed his watch, then proceeded to the walk-in closet and removed his clothes. He trudged to the bathroom and stepped into the shower feeling like a zombie. Once the premium shower head caressed all his aching muscles, he dried himself off and put on a pair of pajama bottoms. That’s when he saw the invitation to the Executive Desires resort on the dresser. It was almost time for Amber’s monthly call to see if he was ready to take that vacation. Right now, he felt like he could use one.
I hope you enjoyed the pre-edited excerpt! Release date January 15th!
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