Lilly's Garden

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Bethany King is a successful marketing executive who has worked hard to make it to the top. She just landed an account that will change her career forever. If only she didn't have to work with rival, Garrett Myers. Forget how incredibly gorgeous he is. For months, the man has brown-nosed his way into everyone's heart, including her boss's, so when he's assigned to help with her pet project, she is indignant. Besides her relationship with God, the one thing that mellows Bethany is her friendship with her neighbor's little girl, Lilly. When tragedy threatens to take the girl away, Bethany will have to learn to swallow her pride and turn to the man she's called enemy for so long.


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Bethany King is a successful marketing executive who has worked hard to make it to the top. She just landed an account that will change her career forever. If only she didn't have to work with rival, Garrett Myers. Forget how incredibly gorgeous he is. For months, the man has brown-nosed his way into everyone's heart, including her boss's, so when he's assigned to help with her pet project, she is indignant. Besides her relationship with God, the one thing that mellows Bethany is her friendship with her neighbor's little girl, Lilly. When tragedy threatens to take the girl away, Bethany will have to learn to swallow her pride and turn to the man she's called enemy for so long.

 


Excerpt


 

“You look pretty, Miss Bethany,” Lilly said.

Bethany looked to where her neighbor’s little girl sat on the bed among a pile of rejected outfits.

“Thank you.” Bethany checked her reflection again. The cream suit hugged her size ten frame in all the right places and her burgundy shirt screamed power. Yes, this says I want this position and nothing will stop that. Not even Garrett Myers. Jerk.

For over two years he’d watched her every move, brown-nosed the bosses, flirted with the women staff, and basically did whatever it took to make himself popular. Weasel. But it didn’t matter. Today, Bethany would win. She had him. A national network wanted to work with her. Watch him try to top that.

“I like your hair down. It makes you look like a princess,” Lilly said.

Bethany eyed her long hair and frowned. “Yeah, but not today.” Today she needed to be more than a pretty face. She needed the men to take her seriously. She grabbed a clip from inside the drawer and proceeded to bundle it into a bun. What’s that? She leaned forward. Is that a gray hair? A wiry silver strand poked out from her auburn hair. She pulled at the intruding tress and winced. Great. I’m not even twenty-five and Garrett is giving me gray hair.

“I wish my hair was brown like yours.” Lilly fingered a red curl. “People make fun of mine.”

Bethany fastened her watch around her wrist and sat on the mattress to put on her pumps. “I don’t know why. I think it’s beautiful.”

“The boys say I look like a clown.”

“And boys are stupid.”

Lilly frowned. “Mommy says you shouldn’t say stupid.”

Whoops. Bethany bit her smile. “You’re right, forgive me. It would be better to just say they’re jealous of you because you’re so pretty.”

The pale girl nodded with a closed mouth smile. “Mommy says that too.”

“I always hated having brown eyes.” Bethany took the girl’s hand and led her to the mirror. “Beautiful green eyes, fair skin, gorgeous hair—you’re a knock out.”

Lilly giggled.

A cell phone rang in Bethany’s purse. She crossed to the night table and snapped it open. “Hello?”

“Hi, Bethany.”

She grimaced. “What do you want, Garrett?”

“Where are you? The meeting starts in fifteen minutes.”

She checked her watch. “It’s only 8:30.”

“Yes, it was moved up to 8:45.”

Moved up? That pig. “No one informed me. But, I assume that’s your doing.” She imagined his sardonic grin.

“I thought you knew. That’s why I’m calling.”

Ugh. She couldn’t stand him. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” She snapped the phone closed, then grabbed her purse and keys. “I’m sorry, Lilly, I have to be somewhere right away. We’ll talk later, okay?”

“Sure, okay.” The girl jumped up, grinning. If she were disappointed, no one would ever know. She always smiled. Even after an asthma attack, which usually came around this time of year, she never lost a good attitude. Lilly walked across the hall to her apartment and waved. “Bye.”

“See you later, my friend.” Bethany hurried down the steps, as quickly as one could in heels, and briskly walked to her car. She prayed the traffic wasn’t too bad.

She was in luck. Within eleven minutes, she stepped out of the elevator at work. From where she stood, she could see the men all sitting in the boardroom. However the hum of conversation indicated they hadn’t started yet. Good.

She handed her briefcase over the counter to the receptionist and walked in.

“Ah, Bethany, how nice of you to join us,” Charles, the CEO said. He was a hard man to read. Half the time he joked, the other half he fired. She hoped for the first one.

“Sorry, I guess I didn’t get the memo about the meeting being moved up.” She glared at Garrett, who stared at her with that annoying leer. The only chair open was across from him. Marvelous. She frowned. She’d have to stare at his dumb mug during the entire meeting. She sat and focused to the front.

Ten men, all dressed in designer suits, sat around a cherry wood desk. A big screen stood ready in the front.

“Great. Let’s get started.” Charles pointed for his assistant to dim the lights, then turned on a PowerPoint presentation. “As you know, we’ve been custom designing meetings, events and conferences for years, but never what I’m about to show you.”

Bethany’s heart soared. This was her moment. Her baby. She’d brought them the project, so she’d be named manager.

“A new TV station will be launching in a few weeks. They’re calling it RTV—Reality Television.” He clicked a button and images of the station’s logo flashed on the screen. “Most of what they plan to air will be reruns of old shows, as well as a few new series. One of these will affect us.”

Bethany shifted in her chair, hardly able to contain her excitement.

“They would like to do a reality show about event planning. The first show will be the party that will launch their show.” He clicked again and a picture of the Kodak Theatre came on the screen. “The finale will be behind the scenes at the Academy Awards.”

A few oohs and aahs echoed in the room. Bethany only smiled. She knew what he’d say next.

“We’ve been asked to support this endeavor. We will be training the contestants and dishing out the projects. This will require some new hires and position shifting.”

Several people exchanged looks. That always meant headaches for those in charge.

“One of our own brought us this project.” Charles’ gaze fell to her. “Bethany was running an event at the San Diego Convention Center a few weeks ago and had lunch with some of the executives from the studio.”

Approving nods and smiles. I did good, she gave herself a mental pat on the back.

He sighed. “Now, to dish out assignments.”

People sat straighter in their chairs, each probably hoping for the same thing—a management position to run with this.

“Because it is such a huge endeavor, I’m going to assign two people to head this up.”

Two? She glanced around.

“Bethany and Garrett.”

Her heart plummeted into her stomach. “Sir?” She couldn’t swallow. He wasn’t serious? “Are you sure we’d make a good team.”

Charles’ eyes flashed fire. No one ever dared to question him, and certainly not in a room full of his administrators. “You’re only on this assignment because they asked for you, Miss King. You’re barely out of college and Garrett has two degrees and twice as many years of experience. I have faith in him. Understood?”

“Of course, sir. I didn’t mean that…”

Garrett licked his lips, his grin daring her to continue. Why did all the girls like him? So what if he looked like a model—messy dark hair, high cheekbones, and gorgeous hazel-green eyes. It didn’t matter. He was jerk. Plain and simple.

“Good, the matter is settled.” Charles clicked off the screen. “I will have Julie send you all the files and you can start on it today.”

Garrett winked at her.

Her blood boiled. She didn’t give him the satisfaction of a reaction. She gathered the paperwork in front of her and walked out.

The receptionist passed Bethany’s briefcase back to her and handed her some messages.

Garrett came up and draped his arm around Bethany’s shoulders. “Isn’t this great? The two of us working together as a team.”

Bethany shrugged him off. “Are you kidding me?”

“I don’t know why you aren’t excited. This is the biggest thing to happen to this company and we’re going to manage it.”

She entered her office and tossed her stuff on the desk, trying hard to calm her emotions. “This was supposed to be my gig.”

Garrett shut the door and leaned against it, arms crossed with that stupid smile on his face again. “You don’t like me much, do you?”

“What’s to like? A brown-noser like you has everyone in this place fooled.”

He stepped forward. “Except you.”

She nodded. “That’s right—except me. I see right through you.”

He inched closer. “And what do you see?”

Weasel. Could she say it out loud? Why not? He asked her. “You’re one of those guys who will step on whomever he has to on his way to the top. Being friendly with everyone, just so you can make your mark.”

He stared at her a long moment which made her uncomfortable. She started to say something when he finally responded.

“I’m offended by that.”

Not the response she expected. “Well, I’m sorry, but it’s what I see.”

“Why? Because I’ve moved up rapidly since I’ve come here? Because I’m nice to everyone?”

“Precisely. It’s not natural.”

“Did it ever occur to you that maybe there is something, or should I say, someone else to blame.”

What? She wrinkled her brow. “Who? Who’s to blame?”

He took a deep breath and sighed. “Since your opinion of me is so high, you may have a hard time believing this, but I’m a Christian. I’m nice to everyone because I’m supposed to be. Love others as yourself.” He walked next to her, close enough that she could smell his aftershave.

She tried not to breath. It was unnerving.


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