Pregnant On The Upper East Side?(5)

By: Emilie Rose



He’d left her high and dry, and with a stack of bills. Since they had been splitting expenses equally, her name had been on all the utilities though not the lease. She’d been doubly screwed. She’d had to move and cover their debts. If Julia hadn’t needed a roommate, Amanda wasn’t sure where she would have ended up.

Curtis seemed to gather himself. “Yes, well, about that loan—”

“If Amanda needs anything she’ll get it through me. Understand?” Alex’s cold tone gave new meaning to the word frostbite.

Amanda blinked up at him. She wasn’t used to anyone coming to her defense, and she kind of liked it. Even if he had lied about being her attorney.

Curtis took another step back. “Uh yeah, sure. See y’round, ’Manda.”

Not if she saw him first, to quote the cliché. She watched him leave the shop.

“Pack up. I’ll change our order to go,” Alex said.

“Why?”

“You’re going to tell me what’s going on. And I don’t think you want to discuss your financial status in a crowded coffee shop. We’ll go to your place.”

Having him back in her apartment wasn’t a good idea. “I’d really rather not discuss my private affairs at all.”

“If you don’t level with me, Amanda, then our business is finished.”

She sighed. What choice did she have? “My place it is.”





Two




“Let’s have it,” Alex said the moment Amanda finished hanging up their coats. She hadn’t looked him in the eye once since leaving the coffee shop.

She carried the bag of muffins to the kitchenette and fished around the cabinets for plates. After placing a muffin on each dish, she retrieved utensils and carried the lot to the small glass-and-steel high-top bar table. Her movements were deliberate and graceful, but he didn’t need his body-language-reading skills to recognize she was stalling.

“Amanda?”

Her wary grey eyes finally met his. “How much has Julia already told you?”

Not nearly enough. No matter how hard he’d tried to pry information out of his friend’s new bride, Julia had stayed closemouthed about anything that mattered about her former Vassar roommate. The only details she’d shared had been useless stuff he’d already figured out.

“Only that your split with Wilks has left you disinterested in a new relationship.”

And Julia had only volunteered that because Amanda continued to shoot Alex down at every turn despite the obvious chemistry between them. He knew women too well to misread the awareness he saw in Amanda’s eyes.

She ruffled her short blond hair with her fingers. The strands fell more or less back into place, but she didn’t run to a mirror to check it. Amanda’s lack of primping was just one of the things he liked about her. Her long, lean body didn’t hurt, and the fact that she was confident enough to wear sexy-as-hell heels despite her height was a total turn-on.

“You heard Curtis. I have a banknote coming due and I’m running a little short. But that won’t affect my ability to plan this event for you.”

A wise man would back away from a company in financial trouble. But he wasn’t feeling wise at the moment.

He shoved his hands in his pockets. “Do you need a loan?”

Her eyes widened and then her long lashes fluttered down. She focused on peeling the paper off the muffin. “I’ll talk to the bank about an extension. Now, about your party—”

He wasn’t going to let her change the subject that easily. “Spill it, Amanda. All of it. And then I’ll decide whether or not we’ll do business.”

Her chin tilted in a defensive angle. “I am very careful about budgeting and planning ahead. We’ll have a contract. You don’t have to worry that I’ll take your deposit and pay my creditors and stiff the people we engage for your event.”

“I wasn’t. But if you’re so good with budgets how did the shortfall happen? Is business slow? I’ve heard nothing but accolades about your work.”

She shoved her dish aside with a wistful glance at the muffin she’d crumbled into a messy pile. Instead of looking at him, she concentrated on wiping her chocolate-dotted fingers on a paper napkin. Stalling again.

“It’s my fault, really. I made the mistake of allowing Curtis to help me set up the books and accounts for Affairs by Amanda.

“It worked well for a while. But then my operating capital started disappearing. At first I didn’t notice because the amounts were small and I was too busy building my client list to pay attention, but then bigger chunks went missing. I questioned Curtis and he claimed I’d underestimated the costs of several major items. But I never underestimate. I always overestimate by five percent, just in case. When I asked for the receipts in question he told me he’d have to find them. Then he moved out while I was away for the weekend and left me holding all the bills.”

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