Home > Marriage For One(8)

Marriage For One(8)
Author: Ella Maise

“Jack, maybe we should—” Tim started.

“If it has nothing to do with what’s going on here, you’ll lay no claim on the property,” Bryan forced out through clenched teeth, his eyes sliding to Rose.

“The property, I believe is Gary Coleson’s last gift to his niece. I’m sure you’re not trying to ignore your father’s wishes.”

Bryan’s hands slowly balled into fists and he took one more step forward.

Tim cleared his throat and rubbed his eyes with his thumb and index finger. “Jack maybe this wasn’t the best time to…uh, share the good news. Maybe we can schedule another meeting for—”

“Yes, I think that would be better. Rose and I will expect to hear from you soon.”

“I will contest the will,” Bryan said, his eyes glittering with anger before I could get us out of there. He was talking to Rose, his eyes on her. “I won’t let you have this. You’re doing this because I wouldn’t let you use the place and told you I had other plans.”

“If you contest, you’ll have to wait a long time to get your own share. I fight back Mr. Coleson,” I warned.

“Bryan,” Rose said from behind me. “I’m not marrying Jack for the property. I know the timing is…awkward, but it isn’t what you think. We met when…” She stepped up next to me and pushed her arm through mine.

I forced myself to relax.

“You don’t have to explain anything to him,” I said, glancing at her.

Her mouth pressed into a thin line when her eyes met mine. “Yes, I do, Jack. Of course, I do.”

“I’m not listening to one more word from you,” Bryan cut in. “This is not happening. If you force my hand, I will fight this.”

With that, he strode out, making sure to bump his shoulder against mine.

Finally, Jodi got on her feet. “Well. Well. Our pretty little Rose finally does something interesting.” Her eyes took me in from head to toe as Rose let go of my arm. “Not bad, little cousin,” she said. “Not an upgrade from Joshua, but since you’ve lost him, I guess this one will do.”

When I arched my brow, she smiled as if she had a secret and shrugged. “Not my type. Too serious, too stiff, but oh, well who am I to talk about your fiancé?”

Stopping in front of Rose, she leaned in to kiss her cheek and I felt Rose stiffen next to me, pulling a little back.

“You know I don’t care about the property stuff, I got my millions and the home from the will, but you knew Bryan had his eyes set on this. I don’t think this little marriage scheme will change anything.” She lifted her hand and studied her pink fingernails. “May the best one win, I guess. It’ll be fun for me either way.”

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

Rose

 

 

Present


I was trying to paint the wall behind the counter and doing my best not to fall asleep midsentence as I was talking to Sally, my very own employee. It’d been a long day, just like it had been a long day every day for the last week and a half, but I wasn’t complaining—how could I when it had been my dream to open my own coffee shop for so long? Not even attempting to stifle my yawn, I dipped the paint roller in more dark-ish green paint and ignored the humming ache in my shoulder as I kept painting.

“You sure you don’t want me to stay longer?” Sally asked, going through her backpack as she looked for her phone.

“You’ve already been here longer than you were supposed to, and I’m almost done for the day anyway. I only need another fifteen minutes or so just to add a last coat. Somehow I can still see a hint of red underneath it.” I sighed and it turned into a groan. “As soon as this is done, I’ll head home too.”

Glancing over my shoulder, I gave her my most stern You better listen to me look and watched her burst out laughing.

“What?” I asked when she looked at me with a wobbly smile.

“You have green dots all over your face, and I’m not even gonna point out the state your t-shirt is in—or your hair, for that matter. I’ll only say this: you’re officially a work of art now.”

I could imagine the mess I’d made on my t-shirt, but my face was news to me. “Oddly, I’m gonna take that as a compliment, and…well, paint splatters,” I mumbled with a sigh as I wiped my forehead with my arm. “Even my face muscles are tired—how the hell did that happen?”

“Beats me. My face is fine, but my ass is pretty sore.”

“Well,” I started, making a face. “I’m not sure what you’ve been doing when my back is turned, but…” Before I could finish, I saw Sally’s expression and couldn’t hold back my laughter.

“God, that came out wrong!” she groaned, looking at the ceiling. “We sat on the floor for almost two straight hours, it was inevitable—”

“I know, I know. My ass is hurting, too, and it’s not just my ass—every inch of my body hurts. I’m just heading toward delirious, so I’m gonna laugh like a lunatic regardless of whether what you’re saying is funny or not. Get out of here so I can finish and get to my beloved shower and bed.”

Sally was a dark-haired, dark-eyed, always smiling twenty-one-year-old and had been the fifteenth applicant for the barista/everything-else-I’ll-need-you-to-do job. It had been a love-at-first-sight kind of thing. To save myself from the headache, I’d opted not to post about the job online, or anywhere, really. I’d only mentioned it to a few friends so they could ask around to see if someone they knew needed a job, and I’d also asked a few other people I’d worked with at my last job as the manager at Black Dots Coffee House before I had quit when I thought Gary was going to let me use the place. Word had gotten out, and I’d ended up talking to a lot more people than I’d anticipated I would. None of them had felt like the right person, though.

Sally, however, was a complete stranger who had just been walking to her apartment after a dreadful blind date and had seen me struggling to carry boxes from the curb into the shop. She had offered to help, and in return, at the end of the day I’d offered her the job. It didn’t hurt that we had bonded over our mutual love of and obsession with coffee mugs, puppies, and New York in winter. If those things didn’t prove we were a perfect fit, I didn’t know what else would.

If there was one thing I wanted the most for Around the Corner—my coffee shop!—it was for it to be inviting, warm, and happy. Popular wouldn’t hurt anyone either. Even though I was well aware I was going to be the boss, I didn’t want to work with people I couldn’t get along with just because their resumés were impressive. If we were happy and friendly, I believed it’d have a different kind of pull for the customers, and Sally’s personality and cheerfulness checked all the boxes for me.

“You got it, boss.” She wiggled her newly found phone at me in goodbye and backed away toward the door. “Oh, when do you want me to come in again?”

I put the paint roller down and groaned as I straightened back up with my hand on my waist and gazed at my almost finished work. “I think I’ll be fine on my own this week, but I’ll text you for next week if I have a lot of stuff going on. Would that work for you?”

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