Bella Bryce: AN EXCERPT FROM UNFAILING LOVE

Friday, January 08, 2016

Ana joined her right hand to rest atop her other so now both arms were gently attached to Brayden. “We never did get to chat about New York.” We did not.” His formal brown shoes and Ana’s cream coloured kitten heels clacked in unison along the stone pavement. “May I remind you that I’ve put your former antics of acquisition and such on hold? That includes business trips.”

“This isn’t acquisition. It’s professional development.” Ana already knew she wasn’t going to convince Brayden. He was in a very transitional stage with Tweed and didn’t want any business trips until the direction of the company under new ownership was defined. 

“I can give you a session in professional development, but you will find it difficult to sit down afterward,” he said without a hint of jest. Ana was highly amused by Brayden’s suggestion. “Whilst we’re on the subject, I’m due to be in the office for a full day of meetings one day soon. I will let you know when it’s been scheduled.”

Since buying Tweed, Brayden worked part-time hours from his study at Waldorf and having daily Skype calls with his temporary transition team. He was also getting closer to advertising a position for the Operations Manager so that he could step back and be the owner. Brayden would be far more involved than the previous one but eventually he wouldn’t be having the kind of daily interaction that was necessary for the time being.

“I don’t know if you being in the office for more than a few minutes is a good idea.” “Why is that?”

She couldn’t stop smiling. “I won’t be able to concentrate if you’re sitting just down the corridor from me.” She paused on the stone path and turned inward, avoiding eye contact as she looked down.
“Anabelle Greyson, I declare you are blushing.” He smiled slowly and deliberately as he stopped walking. In response, she blushed even more as she looked at a nearby plant with immediate interest. Brayden couldn’t hold back a hearty laugh. “You are,” he cooed.


“Stop!” She laughed and covered one cheek with her palm.

“Now you’ve gone all shy,” he said, pulling her toward him, gently. Ana’s kitten heels moved reluctantly as she tried to keep a playful distance.

“Yes, and it’s your fault, Mr. James. She laughed through the words and tugged gently on their intertwined hands. A photographer’s view of them from the distance would have been absolute gold; the setting of the formal garden was ideal and their equally formal wardrobe made those smitten moments of genuine, flirtatious laughter even more striking.

“I take full responsibility,” Brayden stepped closer, since he couldn’t succeed in pulling Ana to him.

“As you should.” She was unable to stop herself from giggling with delight. “You’re making me blush!”

“I can see that, and it’s absolutely delightful.” Brayden loved seeing her in such a state.

“You can come into the office for our meeting but then you have to leave. You can’t sit in Hamish’s old office for the entire day.” She was still wearing a very sweet, very wide smile.

“Oh!” He couldn’t keep from smiling. Watching her squirm proved to be highly amusing. “That’s the word on the matter, is it?”

“Yes.”

“I may need to come by your office then, to make sure you’re behaving.” He straightened his expression. “Perhaps I will stand behind your chair and supervise.”

“You mustn’t,” she pleaded, adorably.

“Or have you kneel down so I can measure the length of your skirt just like when you were at school.”

“Brayden!” she exclaimed, looking back toward the house as if he’d just revealed an incredulous secret. Ana was absolutely positive she felt everything from her navel down 
to her toes go completely hot with a rash-like intensity. It wasn’t numb though because she could very much feel heartbeats in places she didn’t think thumping should occur, or, could occur. Like her thigh, and her ankle. Where was it coming from? Why did it feel like a strong wind just blew over her? Probably because she was in love. “I’ve been a perfectly well- behaved professional, for the last seven years. Then you come along, buy the company.”

“Smack your bottom,” Brayden finished her sentence.

“That too.” A smile drew wide across her lips. “Very well, Mr. James. Have it your way. Come to the office and just see how bad for business you really are.”

“You may well regret those words,” Brayden said as he touched his nose to hers. “I probably will.”