Three months later…
"We haven't had a girl's night in forever!"
"I know! It's kind of weird that we're doing it here at the office."
"Better here than nowhere, right?"
"It's because of Tom. He's always distracting you, there's no way we'd be able to get you away from him if we weren't at the office."
"She's blushing. Oh my god, she's blushing!"
Layla, Sara, Jenna, and Amelia were all gathered around the conference table on a random day in early June. Their latest production was well underway, and within the next couple of weeks they would be going into tech rehearsals again. Such was life at the busy, busy theatre.
Layla had never been happier. Tom had accepted the job at the university and had moved into her apartment as soon as they'd recovered his bag from the airline. Within a couple of weeks, he had everything in his old apartment moved out there, and for the last few months, they'd been living together in a state of bliss. For now, there was no talk of future plans. They were too busy getting reacquainted to concern themselves with that talk. They knew they'd be together come hell or high water, so it was unnecessary to discuss right at that moment.
She sighed, hating to part with him for even a minute each day, but life went on around them whether or not they liked it. He had to work and so did she, and in all the chaos of moving Tom to her place from a completely different city, she'd neglected her friends for a while. So, to make it up to them, she threw a get together at the office to avoid being interrupted by her boyfriend.
I have a boyfriend, Layla thought, smiling at the words. She couldn't help it.
"What are you grinning about?" Sara demanded.
"Nothing," she lied.
"Oh, whatever! Thinking about Tom again?" Amelia said, rolling her eyes. "I see how you are. I wish I had a boyfriend I could dream about."
"You already do," Jenna interjected.
Amelia's jaw dropped as the rest of the girls laughed at her. "Ryan is not my boyfriend, thank you very much! We're just friends."
"Yeah, okay. Keep telling yourself that, Amelia, you're the only one who believes it," Sara said, her comment met by a chorus of giggles from the other women. She crossed her arms in a huff and looked away from them.
"You two need to just get over yourselves and admit you're in love already," Jenna said, brushing Amelia's response off.
"I'm not saying anything until you guys believe me," she said defiantly, head still turned toward the wall.
"Then you'll be silent a long, long time," Layla said, laughing as Amelia turned toward them, mouth open in indignation. Eventually, she laughed it off.
"Guys, knock it off."
"Yeah, yeah," Jenna said. "What I think we need to do is focus on Sara now. She's the next one who needs a real boyfriend."
It was Sara's turn to drop her jaw. "What! Why me?"
"Well, because Layla and Amelia are already spoken for, and I'm not interested in pursuing anything right now, so naturally, it's your turn."
"I am not spoken for, dammit!"
"Why is that natural?" Sara asked in between laughs at Amelia's frustration and their teasing. "If I find a man I like, I'll pursue it the best I can, but you know I'm still having some severe issues with trust."
"I understand, but still, there are good guys out there," Jenna told her friend, giving her hand a squeeze.
"Maybe you should take that advice, Jen," Sara replied.
Jenna shrugged, trying her best not to look too sullen. "Maybe, but I'm just not ready yet."
"Well neither am I."
"You can't control it, girls," Layla said. "Did anyone think I was ready for Tom to come back in my life?"
"No, but thank God he did. Clearing the bats out of your plumbing clearly did you some good."
Everyone stopped laughing and looked at Jenna. Her face went red for a moment as they all held in their laughter, and then, nothing could stop them. The room was full of noise from the four women, loud in their celebration of Jenna's first dirty joke in almost eighteen months. They all cackled openly, some of them wiping tears from their eyes, some clapping and stomping their feet in response, and some patting Jenna on the back for her comment.
Amidst all the noise, none of them heard the knock on the open conference room door, or the fact that the opening was now being occupied by an impressively sharp man in a casual suit, his briefcase in one hand, a small, amused smile on his lips. He stopped knocking and stood quietly before Layla looked up and noticed he was in the door.
"Oh, I am so sorry," she said, all pretense of humor fading from her face as she jumped up. "Can I help you?"
Every woman at the table turned to get a glimpse of this mysterious stranger. Three sets of eyebrows shot upward in appreciation of the masculine statuesque vision in the door.
"Yes, I'm here to see Layla Montgomery," he said, his lyrical voice as sweet as honey. All the girls in the room sighed, falling under the spell he had unwittingly cast.
"That's me! I'm her, I mean… Oh god," Layla said, giggling. She had never met a man that had that immediate effect on her. She covered her eyes with her hand and shook her head. She heard the man laugh at her.
"Well, this has gotten off to a great start," he commented wryly.
"I am so sorry, this is so unprofessional," Layla said. "Did we have a meeting?"
"Yes, but it's not until next week. Unfortunately, I had a scheduling conflict and at the last minute I had a little time to come by, so I apologize for not calling before just showing up in the middle of what looks like a very interesting meeting," he explained, laughing at the last bit.
Layla smiled apologetically. "Sorry about that, usually I don't take meetings after five, so you'll have to excuse us."
"It's really no problem, I'm the intruder here," he said, peering past her at the three women sitting at the table.
All three women at the table instantly held their breath without realizing it. His gaze swept over Sara, whom he gave a small smile, then to Amelia, who he nodded in acknowledgement, and finally to Jenna, where for a brief moment, a look passed over his face that was not missed by any of the women. His gaze lingered before he reverted his attention back to Layla.
"Well, if you just give me a moment, we can go to my office, Mr.?" Layla asked, extending her hand.
"Oh, no Mr. The name's Derek Sharp," he said, taking her hand and shaking it firmly.
"Great, my office is at the end of the hall on the right. If you just give me a moment I'll meet you and we can take a meeting," she said, gesturing down the hall.
"Sounds great," he said, smiling at her. He turned and acknowledged the other women, "Ladies," nodding appreciatively before his crystal, aquamarine colored eyes shifted to Jenna's amber ones, locking there for a brief minute. He shot her a coy smile, turned, and walked down the hall.
The ladies sat in silence until they were sure he was out of earshot before they turned to each other and pretended to swoon, waving their hands in their faces to cool off, and laughing maniacally.
"What a hottie!" Sara exclaimed, fanning herself.
"No shit!" Amelia said, rolling her eyes. "He had this whole room riveted to his every word."
"He tripped me up. Me!" Layla said, laughing and shaking her head as she gathered her things.
Jenna sat silently, staring at the table as she absently touched the ring that hung around her neck.
"But he seemed to only have eyes for one gorgeous blonde bombshell," Sara said, nudging Jenna, who only responded by shaking her head and rolling her eyes.
"Oh come on, he was all about you, Jen," Amelia said, a mischievous smirk adoring her pixie like features.
Layla grinned, heading toward the door. She felt as though everything was traveling the direction it should have been, and maybe it was time for her friends to start experiencing the happiness she finally had with Tom. Before leaving, she turned toward her friends, and winking at Jenna, declared, "I guess we know whose turn it is now, don't we?"