Home > Romantic Acquisition (The Attracelli Family #6)(5)

Romantic Acquisition (The Attracelli Family #6)(5)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

“I don’t know how they stay so clean,” she said, laughing at herself.

“Who?” Carlo asked, his menu by his side as he watched her.

“The waiters,” she said, nodding to one who was carrying a load of plates high over his head. “I love to cook but when I do, the whole kitchen is covered in whatever I’m cooking. It takes longer to clean up than it does to prepare and cook whatever I’ve decided to make,” she laughed. “I bet you’re a perfectly clean cook, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean by ‘clean’?” he asked, a small smile on his face. He could imagine this ball of energy throwing a meal together, her face covered in flour and every part of the kitchen doused as well.

“I bet you wash every dish right after you cook and you never get anything where it isn’t supposed to go,” she said. Glancing down at his perfectly tailored suit, she slanted him a look. “Actually, I’m guessing you don’t cook at all, do you?”

Carlo smiled. “No, not really.”

“Do you at least make your own coffee in the morning?”

He raised one eyebrow. “Coffee?”

“You do that a lot, did you know that?”

“What?” he asked.

“Raise that eyebrow. You’re back to thinking I’m an idiot. But that’s okay. I like cooking and I think it is fun. I think everything in life should be fun,” she explained and shrugged her question away. Kate looked down at her menu and tried to ignore the man staring at her from across the table. She bit her lip, wishing she could present a more sophisticated image to him. He was probably used to dating very elegant society ladies who were worldly and full of sophistication. She decided that Carlo needed someone who would make him laugh. He was definitely too serious.

The waiter came and took their dinner order. Kate requested a plate of pasta with a cream sauce and fresh vegetables and Carlo ordered the chicken parmesan.

“Would you like something from the bar?” the waiter asked.

Kate started to shake her head but Carlo ignored her. “The lady will have…” he looked over at her and considered her for a moment, “A chocolate martini. I’ll have a bourbon on the rocks.”

Kate laughed. “That sounds interesting. I usually have a marguerita but a chocolate martini sounds wonderful.”

“You look like a chocolate martini kind of person,” he said.

“Why do you say that?” she asked, curious about what he thought of her.

Unfortunately, he just shrugged his shoulders instead of answering her.

Kate watched him. “Are you always so calm and in control?”

“Yes,” he said without hesitation. “Is that a bad thing?”

“No, just an observation.”

“How would you describe yourself?”

“No, that’s not fair. How would you describe me? I described you,” she said and plucked a breadstick out of the basket to munch on.

Carlo leaned back in his chair and considered her for a moment. He knew exactly how he would describe her but wasn’t sure she would appreciate his observation so early in their relationship. It also gave him time to just look at her lively face. “You’re not calm but very in control,” he replied.

Kate’s eyes registered her shock. That wasn’t what she was expecting. Most people thought of her as a little chaotic but he saw something else in her. For some reason, that terrified her.

“What makes you say that?” she asked quietly, too shaken to just shrug off his comment.

He watched her face calmly for another moment before responding and Kate wanted to squirm. It was like he was reading her mind again and that made her nervous. “You’re ability to absorb a huge amount of information, quickly learn the task and be able to teach it to someone like Jeff or Peter.”

“And you consider that control?”

He nodded in response. “Well, you have to have focus to learn things so quickly,” he explained. “You’ve accomplished a great deal in the twelve years you’ve worked for Jamison’s. It’s impressive.” He let his words sink in for a moment before continuing. “I also think you’re style of dress is a façade in a way,” he said.

Kate’s fingers shook as she lifted her glass of water to her mouth for a sip. “In what way?” she couldn’t help asking.

“You only want people to see one side of you. But I’m guessing there are multiple layers to your personality. Not all of them do you allow others to see.”

Kate couldn’t respond to that. She’d never thought about how she dressed as anything other than her own personal taste. But she knew if she’d considered it, he might be right, at least partially.

“I don’t think I’m that complicated,” she said, trying to smile but it came across as forced. “What you see is what you get.”

Carlo didn’t respond since their drinks arrived at that moment.

Kate quickly took a sip, eager to change the subject. “Oh my! This is delicious,” she exclaimed, liking the sweet, chocolate alcohol.

He changed the subject then, turning to business and started asking her questions about some of the processes she’d discussed with Jeff or Peter during the day.

Their meal arrived and Kate’s hunger came roaring to life with the smell of the pasta in front of her. “This looks delicious,” she said and dug into her food with relish.

“Why have you worked in so many of the departments?” Carlo asked after they’d tasted their meals.

Kate took a sip of her chocolate martini and smiled, appreciating the tart sweetness. “I started actually working here when I turned sixteen.”

“Were you working here before then?”

“Absolutely not. Phillip wouldn’t think of hiring me illegally even though we desperately needed the money. No, I was just always underfoot, I guess you could say. My mother started working for Phillip Jamison when I turned five years old. She would pick me up from school and bring me back to the store so she could finish whatever she was doing for Phillip. I would sit next to her and do my homework. Sometimes Phillip would even help me with my math homework. It was fun most of the time. But because I was always around, especially the president of the company, I heard everything that was going on in those days. He used to run his ideas by my mother for her feedback or he’d discuss issues with his other vice presidents as he was walking somewhere. I’d hear snippets of things that were going on or whole conversations. So I know more than I should, I guess.”

“What do you mean, ‘in those days’? And where was your father?”

Kate raised one shoulder, dismissing the past as unimportant now. “It’s just a different environment now that David is in charge.” She ignored his question about her father.

“How so?” Carlo asked.

Kate thought back to the years before David took over as the president. “It’s just a different world. David Jamison and his father are two completely different people. For instance,” she leaned forward, eager to relay the memory, “Phillip used to have one of those huge gumball machines in his office. It took up a whole corner of the room where my mom’s office was located. His staff would come in and get a gumball during the day, just to take a break. Once the gumball machine was empty, he’d have a meeting with all the people on the staff and they’d vote to see which charity would get the money. He’d then pay out of his own pocket to fill up the gumball machine again and the whole process would start over again.”

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