Embrace My Heart

By: Altonya Washington

Chapter 1

Chasing a man wasn’t something she did.

Come on, Vec, it’s Qasim Wilder.

Vectra Bauer thinned her lips and tried to drive the silent reminder from her mind.

She guessed that most women would likely deem Qasim Wilder a man worthy of being chased.

Truth be told, Vectra herself could easily subscribe to the same notion if not for the fact that the man in question had been acting decidedly weird for the past few months.

They had enjoyed what she’d considered a pretty nice friendship until he had very noticeably begun to distance himself. As a woman who maintained a short list of close friends, Vectra couldn’t afford to lose any—weird acting or not.

Which came to the point of her visit: chasing a man, indeed. She cast yet another speculative glance around the fortieth-floor private lobby outside the office for the president of Wilder. Qasim’s financial savvy was as coveted as his looks. His name was so well known, his skills so respected, that there was no need to add additional wording to the business moniker.

Money was Qasim’s game, and he was loved for it. If only I were here to discuss business, Vectra thought. She rubbed a clammy palm across the flaring hem of a casual cap-sleeved frock that hugged her unintentionally athletic figure.

She’d come to discuss a party, of all things. Vectra puffed out her cheeks and tried to preoccupy herself by attempting to count the cars crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, which stood in distinctive red splendor across the Bay. She managed to content herself with the fact that she at least didn’t have to worry over being turned down. After all, she wasn’t there to extend an invite.

The distinguished Mr. Wilder had made it very clear that a friendship with her was something he no longer had time for.

At least that was what his actions had suggested. Qasim had yet to come out and tell her what exactly had his boxers twisted. Rolling her eyes away from the stunning bridge, Vectra gave a mental sigh. Thoughts raging, she worked hard at putting her focus elsewhere. Periodicals were neatly arranged on a low marble coffee table set in the center of the lobby’s upscale reception area. She wondered if she’d be waiting long enough to pick one of them and dive in.

“Vectra?”

It took a second or three for her to realize someone had actually called her name and that it hadn’t been her trusty inner voice. She turned, an instant smile curving her mouth when she saw Qasim’s assistant, Minka Gerald. She stood a few feet away from the large oak desk that occupied a spot in the workplace, which claimed almost the entire wall opposite an impressive line of floor-to-ceiling windows.

Minka quickly closed the distance between them. “Gosh, it’s been forever!”

“It has.” Vectra squeezed Minka’s hands when the woman gave hers a shake. She could feel some of her apprehension dissolve as Minka’s sunny demeanor worked its charms upon her.

“What are you doing waiting in the lobby?” Minka stopped squeezing Vectra’s hands and tugged them insistently. “You’ll be a lot more comfortable in Qasim’s office.”

“Minka...” Vectra bit her lip for an instant. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

“Ah.” Minka poked out her tongue and buzzed out a breath. “He’s at lunch and won’t be a bit happy to find you waiting in the lobby. Even if it is a private one.”

Vectra didn’t have the heart to tell the woman that what would probably make her boss happiest was for her not to be there at all. She decided against arguing. She was returning to the waiting area to collect her bag when a man arrived at Minka’s desk.

“Mink! Sim around?”

“Hey, Will.” Minka threw a smile over her shoulder. “He’s still at lunch.”

The man tapped the edge of the thin manila folder against his palm. He appeared to be weighing his options. “Any idea how long he’ll be? I got some stuff for him to sign.”

“Well, he left before I did.” Minka secured her burgundy tote into a bottom drawer along the black credenza behind her desk. “I’m not sure how long he’s been gone and when he does get back you’ll still have to wait.” She gave a slight nod past the man’s shoulder.

“William Lloyd, Vectra Bauer,” Minka made the introductions.

Will met Vectra between the waiting area and Minka’s desk, where he shook her hand. “Pretty sure Sim’ll be much happier to see you here than me.”

Vectra smiled, humored by the man’s tease. “Don’t count on it.”

“Is there anything I can do, Will?” Minka offered.

“I don’t see why not.” Will turned, brows rising as his gaze crested above Minka’s head. He grinned. “But no need to worry yourself.”

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