Cole had been attempting to talk to his dad concerning learning more about C&M Construction. It was hard because he often came home late, sometimes after they already had dinner. He was usually tired, and would disappear into his home office until bedtime.
Cole was concerned because the summer was slipping away. Today, his dad actually had breakfast with them, so Cole took advantage and told him that he wanted to learn about the family business. Ben suggested that Cole come to the office and sit with him. That way he could learn about what goes on each day.
Cole was excited and wanted to start immediately, so as soon as his dad left, he got himself ready and drove the short distance to the C&M Construction offices.
When he walked in, Avery was sitting in her office so he went to say hello. “Hey Avery!” he said, “How’s Harley?”
Avery lit up when she saw him and returned his greeting enthusiastically. “Hi there! Harely’s good. So – guess what?” she said excitedly as she motioned for him to sit down.
Cole chuckled at her excitement. “What?” he asked.
“I bought one of the starter homes in Newcrest! I am officially a homeowner! And it’s all thanks to you planting that seed last summer.”
“Hey, that’s great. I bet Harley likes the yard.”
“Gosh yes. It’s sooo much better than that tiny apartment. Hey, maybe I can have you over for dinner – along with Noah and Lindsey.”
“It’s not a date silly, just friends,” she said. “So, is there someone special back in Brindleton Bay?”
Just friends. That made Cole have to think about her question. It depended upon who you asked. For him, he would say yes, but if you asked Yasmine, they were just friends. “No, there’s not anyone serious,” he finally said and it felt wrong. He wanted to take it it back. “I mean, we have been dating, just not….”
“That’s nice, what’s her name?” interjected Avery.
“Yasmine. She lives next door,” he began to explain and that felt wrong too.
Avery arched an eyebrow. “That’s convenient,” she said.
Cole groaned inwardly. “No, it’s not like that.”
She giggled at his comment. “How is this weekend?” she asked and he was grateful for the subject change.
“That’s good. Just let me know what time. I don’t have any plans while I’m here other than to hang out with dad. If I’m going to inherit this business one day, I suppose I need to learn the ropes.”
“Hmm. Your dad did say you were coming by. I’ll let him know you are here,” she said and got up. Avery wasn’t an admin, but she certainly kept tabs on everyone visiting his dad. She had done the same thing the last time he was there to see him.
As he followed her to his dad’s office, he couldn’t help but admire her curves. He figured she must be a savvy businesswoman to have managed to become such a valued employee in such a short period of time, sexy or not. He figured she could tell him almost as much about the day to day operations as his dad.
“Cole!” said Ben, beaming, why don’t you come in and we can talk.
Seeing his dad so happy to have him there gave Cole a warm feeling but at the same time he felt a pang of guilt for not paying more attention to the family business before now. Well, he was going to remedy that and learn as much as he could this summer, and every summer afterwards until he moved back to Willow Creek, or he supposed, Newcrest was his home now.
“Hi Dad,” he said and walked into his office and sat down.
“I’m so glad you are back for the summer. I really have missed you. Your mom has too. I’m sorry I’m not around much. Since Leroy started cutting back, I’ve tried to pick up the slack. Avery has become indispensable, she helps probably even more than I know. I’m not sure what I would have done without her. Next summer I’m going to have Ami start working in the office to run errands. That way Avery can take on more important jobs.”
“Are you going to bring in a new partner?” asked Cole.
“No. Not yet. I think I can pay Avery enough to keep her happy, and she can take on more of the heavy lifting. With the houses selling so quickly, we’ll be ready to move to the next phase soon. Between her and Noah helping me keep on top of what’s going on, everything is actually going pretty smooth.”
“Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t try to learn more about the business before now. I should have worked with Noah on the construction site instead working with Doc. Followed more in your footsteps,” said Cole. It was important to him that his dad knew how he felt.
“Hey son, I’ve told you before, I’m proud of you. You have no idea how happy I am that you didn’t turn out like me.”
Cole was confused. His dad was a successful businessman, loving husband, great father. “Dad, I don’t know what you mean. I hope to be just like you.”
A brief flicker of sadness crossed Ben’s face before he smiled at his son. “I got lucky. And I have no doubt you will do well in spite of me. Now, do you want to start with a tour of the property?”
“Sure. It’s about damn time, don’t you think?” asked Cole.
Ben chuckled before responding. “Yes, I suppose it is.”
When Cole returned home that evening, he settled into his ‘guest room’ to call Yasmine. He was missing her badly and wanted to tell her about his day. They had only spoken briefly since he had been home. Every time he called, she was busy and couldn’t talk long.
This time, she answered and he could hear music in the background. “Hey Cole!” she said loudly into the phone. Then she pulled the phone away and yelled to someone in the room, “Hey ya’ll, it’s Cole!”
“Should I call back later?” he asked, disappointed. It sounded like they might be at a bar.
“Oh, we’re just hanging out an’ dancin!” she slurred. Then, once again, she spoke to someone else, “Hush a minute. I’m talkin’ to Coleyyy.”
“Yasmine, are you drunk?” he asked.
“Perhaps a little,” she said and giggled “but I’m not drivin, so you don’t need to worry ’bout me!”
“Look, I’ll call back on Sunday. You aren’t gonna be in any shape to talk tomorrow, or even remember this conversation.”
“Noooo….Coleyyy…I wanna talk to my friend noooow.”
“Let me talk to Landon.”
“Laaandonnn…. Oh, he’s not here. I forgot,” she said and snickered.
“Where is he?” And who is she with?
“Prolly back at the duplex doin’ Blake,” she said the words slowly.
“Stop it Jay,” she said and squealed, “I’m talkin’ to my friend.”
Jay? thought Cole. “Who’s Jay?” he asked angrily.
“My other friend.”
“Your other friend?”
“Yep. Jay’s my friend. You’re my friend too Coleyyy.”
He could hear a deep voice, he presumed to be Jay, talking in the background. “Come on baby, hang up, let’s dance,” said the voice.
“I gotta go Coleyyy. Jay wants to dance. Luuuuuvvv you. Mwaaa,” she said and disconnected the call.
Cole inhaled deeply and successfully resisted the urge to throw his phone across the room. He placed his fingers against his eyes to stop the burning and hold back his emotions. He needed to think about what had just transpired. It hadn’t even been a month, and she was already finding another one night stand. Plus, she was drunk. But why? They had been exclusive ever since they had sex the first time.
Maybe she was right, she couldn’t commit and he didn’t mean anything to her. A convenient fuck buddy was all. But it seemed like so much more, and he was sure she felt their connection too. Even though no words were spoken, they were good together. Why didn’t that mean anything to her?
Cole lay back on the bed and closed his eyes. I don’t want to share her, he thought sadly, I can’t share her. He wasn’t ready to give up on her, she was starting to be important to him. Hell, who was he kidding, she was important to him before they had sex. He wouldn’t accept that he and Yasmine could never be. Going in, she said no commitment, so he shouldn’t have been surprised. But maybe, it was time to fight for her. He just wasn’t sure how to do that from Newcrest.