The Transaction - Book cover

The Transaction

Belle Reeves

Chapter 2


Gramps had a pretty good night, so I got about four hours of sleep.

I was still dressed from the night before. Craig had shown up late. There was an emergency at the hospital, and he really couldn’t clock out while a patient was in Code Red. I couldn’t blame him. I was only paying him half of the regular nursing rate.

But I was late for my most important meeting. I was asking the board of the concert hall for more funding to expand the Wishlist program. I wanted them to offer blocks of reserved seats for students from local schools.

But nobody wants to give away anything for free. It was okay to give out an unused ticket here and there, but this went beyond that.

I made an impression showing up as the board meeting was ending, but it wasn’t a good impression. However, I did catch their attention.

As I rushed into the room, my bag caught on the door handle and the contents spilled out. I was on my hands and knees trying to collect my things.

I looked up and there he was—the guy from the luxury box, staring down at me frowning. I was finished before I even got started.


Amelia Donavan. Her name was on the board agenda, but she was definitely not one of the few members of the public sitting on folding chairs before the long table, reserved for board members like me.

Yes, I was disappointed when the meeting ended, and she didn’t show. But then the door opened, and she literally fell into the room.

It wasn’t as awkward as it sounds. She was a graceful tornado, and I’d be lying if I didn’t find it erotic to see her on her knees, her curls falling over her red cheeks.

The contents of her bag were laid out on the floor for all to see. A stack of papers now out of order, a lollipop, Chapstick, tampons and a pencil.

She looked up and her eyes swept over the board members and then flicked back to me. She smiled a pure sweet smile as she realized she recognized me. I frowned to keep myself from laughing and her lips turned down to mirror mine.

She cast her eyes down and shoved her belongings back into the bag except the papers and the pencil, and scrambled onto a metal chair.

As I watched, she picked up her heavy hair and twisted it at the back of her head and shoved the pencil in to keep the bun in place. But strands were already escaping as if they couldn’t resist touching her face.

There was something so intimate about her doing up her hair, something so artless, and so stimulating.

The meeting was already being adjourned and the motion seconded before she realized she was too late.

“No!” she stood up, not seeming to realize she had upended her bag again. “Please, I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner. But this will only take a moment. I already sent the proposal for expanding the Wishlist…”

“We’ve already made a decision, Ms. Donovan,” Byron, the board president said as he collected his papers and stowed them in a briefcase.

“But please hear me out! You’re not just doing good, you’re helping yourselves. You’re creating future fans and patrons.”

Byron was halfway out the door and he looked back at me. “Brad, you advised us on this one, you want to handle this?” he asked. Or he made it sound like a question, but it was really a demand.

I was alone with Amelia now. She closed the distance between us and looked up at me. Her fists were clenched, and she looked like she was about to cry.

“Is this because I fell on you and drooled on you?”

My mouth quirked up. I couldn’t help it.

“Not everyone who takes advantage of the Wishlist is like me.”

“I could only hope,” I said. That made her unique. “Listen, Ms. Donovan, you don’t understand,” I began.

“Oh, I understand perfectly. People like you get the best seats, not just here, but in life, and you’re trying to keep the rest of us out.” She came even closer.

“Music belongs to everyone. This is just one kind you’re trying to keep to yourself. And it’s going to die out on your watch unless you bring energy and vitality back to it. You need everyone in those seats, not just tight-assed stuffed shirts.”

“Are you done?” I asked.

“No. You are going to at least have the decency to hear me out.”

“I don’t need to hear you out. You see, the board decided to fund your project.”

Her mouth dropped open. I saw every emotion sweep over that beautiful face. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Because I’m a bastard. And I wanted to see her flustered. And passionate.

I shrugged. “When it came up, I told them what you said last night. It wasn’t a question, it was unanimous, except for the amount of funding.”

“Wait, you mean they didn’t fund it at the level I requested in the proposal?” she asked in a voice that trembled a little.

She looked so vulnerable. I wanted to reach out and smooth the worry from her cheek, but I enjoyed seeing her so open and unguarded. It was delicious toying with her. I wanted to laugh. Instead, I frowned down at her.

“No,” I said. they didn’t.”


I’ve never been to an amusement park. There are cheaper and safer ways to have fun. But this man was as close as I’d been to riding a roller coaster.

“How little did they fund the Wishlist for?” I asked, already tensing for the disappointment.

“Double what you asked for.”

“Please don’t make jokes like that. You’re mocking me.”

“I’m not.”

I stared at him. His expression was stern but seemed honest.

“I don’t know how I could ever thank you,” I said when I could speak again.

His eyes narrowed, and at the same time, his pupils widened. I can’t explain it, but I think that was the moment I realized that he knew exactly how I could thank him.

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