Grace Anne - By Kathi S. Barton

Chapter 1

Michael Cunningham parked his car in the lot and scowled at the building. He didn’t have time for this shit and he didn’t want to meet up with the owner of this building to settle something that should have been settled over three months ago. He pulled out his cell phone when it rang and answered with a bark of his name.

“I’m wondering if you ever look at your caller ID before you answer, or is it just me that gets such special treatment? I mean, if it helps, I will ground you until you see your way to be nice to your mother.” He heard her laugh as she continued. “Of course, I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything less of the man who fired his own brother this morning.”

“He came running to you, did he? I don’t know what he expected me to do. He was having…he was doing something on company time that got him into trouble this time. And don’t even ask me to hire him back. I won’t do it, not this time.”

Michael had stepped off the elevator this morning to see his brother Thomas fucking his secretary on her desk. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his brother had asked him if he wanted sloppy seconds when he was finished. He wasn’t going to tell his mom that, but he was reasonably sure she already knew.

“No,” she said with a heavy sigh. “I don’t want you to hire him back. You’ve done all you can for the idiot. Melody is probably going to file some sort of charges against us. I’m sure there is some rule about being fucked by your boss on your own desk.”

Michael winced. “There is, but I don’t think she’s going to have much to use.” He took a breath before telling her the best part. “She told me that she was banging the guy in accounting too and one more on her list was fine by her.”

“Oh good heavens. Where do we get these people? I swear to you… Where are you now? That new man…Donald, said you’d left the site.”

He looked up at the building again. “I’m at the Washington building again. The last time I was here they told me the owner was out of town. They wouldn’t even tell me when he was coming back. I couldn’t even get the man who was prancing around taking pictures to tell me.”

“Prancing? Michael, do we need to send you to those sensitive classes again? Men do not prance.” She laughed again and he smiled. He loved his mom.

“Okay, not prancing, but he was having too much fun for me to believe he was working. What the hell are they supposed to be doing in there anyway? All we could find out were designs. Designs of what, is what I’d like to know.” He picked up the file on his passenger seat. “Some person by the name of G. A. Waite and he bought the building back ten years ago for a song. I want it and he’ll sell it to me or I’ll put him and his happy little workers out of business.”

He got out of his car and straightened his tie as his mother reminded him about the meeting he had at a luncheon. He didn’t give two figs for the meeting right now as he mentally assessed the building and the grounds surrounding it. He put his phone away and simply walked inside the door. The place was never locked up, as far as he knew, and he didn’t have any problems this time.

The place was in shambles. He supposed it wasn’t really as bad as he first thought, but a sort of chaotic mess. He hated things not in their place and this one, this large building, was a nightmare to him. The colors alone were enough to make a grown man sick—pinks and greens mixed with heavy doses of blue and black. There was an entire wall of prints that had no business being together no matter what the idea had been to paste them all together. He looked up when someone came toward him.

“You’re over an hour late. And what is that supposed to be you’re wearing?”

Michael looked down at his suit and tie.

“It’ll have to go. And that tie. Oh. My. God. Who dressed you? Your mother?”

Before he could make a comment on the clothes the woman had on, she was pulling him along behind her by his tie. He nearly stopped and