Stand-Alone: Yes Publisher: Kensington Dafina Publication Date: August 1, 2019 Genre: Women’s Fiction Heat Level: Sweet
Real life is a work in progress… #DesignYourLife
It wasn’t easy for Yvonne Cable to get over a heartbreaking relationship and revamp her life. But now the once-broke single mom is Atlanta’s most sought-after interior designer—and one-half of the media’s hottest power couple. She and her celebrity fiancé, Nathan, are a perfect, practical match, on—and off—camera. And with their new home improvement reality show the object of a fierce network bidding war, there’s no limit to how far they can go . . .
But Yvonne is stunned when mogul Richard Barrington III unexpectedly makes an offer for their program. He’s the man she thought left her for a more successful woman. And he’s the father of her son—though he didn’t know it until now. Richard wants to get to know their boy, and Yvonne agrees, though she’s wary. Yet little by little, she’s finding it hard to resist the responsible, caring man Richard has become. But when a scandalous leak puts everything Yvonne’s worked for at risk, she’ll have to look beyond surfaces to come to terms with who she is—and discover what she truly wants.
The Power of Perfection.
Yvonne Cable stared at the headline and grinned. The glowing feature on her latest design made her want to do cartwheels down the hall in her office. If only she’d mastered the art of a cartwheel.
The picture below the headline was of the completed home office for her latest client. Muted blue-grey colors created a cozy and restful feel. The natural light from the picture window overlooking the home’s intricate landscape brightened the room. A mixture of textures—cotton, leather, and wood— added depth and visual interest.
After clawing her way through Atlanta’s cutthroat interior design community, the article in Atlanta Life Magazine was the coveted crown after a hard-fought battle. She created perfection for her clients. Gave them the spaces they needed to be comfortable and content, a haven in their hectic lives. Money, family, status . . . she didn’t care. Whatever her clients needed, she was going to give them.
She put the magazine on her desk and walked over to the perfectly organized whiteboard in her downtown Atlanta office. Nine sections partitioned off. The title of her projects in blue at the top of each section. Tasks associated with each project in green. Due dates written in purple. Red checkmarks for completed tasks. The board served as a quick reference guide to where she was and what she needed to do next.
Her grin widened as she a grabbed the green dry erase marker to add the title for a new project to the ninth box. Sandra Covington Project. Or, as her assistant Bree liked to call it, the super enviable commission of every designer in Atlanta. The people who’d vied for Sandra’s new home project were many, but Yvonne was the one to land it.
Sandra Covington, self-help author turned radio personality, had just announced that her radio program was going into nationwide syndication. Yvonne was familiar with Sandra’s radio show. The woman’s advice was quoted everywhere. Known for going deep into her readers’ and clients’ pasts to help them unlock the “key to their potential,” her famously quoted words, Sandra kept her own personal life out of the spotlight. Yvonne didn’t care about Sandra’s past, all she cared about was that she’d gotten the project. Designing Sandra’s house, and possibly getting a shout-out on her show, combined with the notoriety she’d gotten from her appearance on Celebrity Housewives, would go a long way toward increasing the demand for an original Yvonne Cable Design when someone needed decorating for their home or business.
She’d arrived. Shed the mistakes of the past and become a household name. Her mom still couldn’t believe it. On most days, Yvonne couldn’t believe it either.
“Yvonne, I got the fabric swatches you needed for the Tyson project, and don’t forget that you’ve got a call with the editor of Lady Entrepreneur magazine in fifteen minutes.”
Bree Foster, Yvonne’s administrative assistant, swept into Yvonne’s office with an arm full of fabric. She laid the material on the drafting table in the creative corner of Yvonne’s office. Vision boards for projects adorned the walls in that corner. Sketch pads, colored pencils, and drawing notebooks littered the drafting table where Yvonne created her designs. Bree continually purchased organizers to keep Yvonne’s samples in order, but when Yvonne was in the middle of the creative process, materials scattered the desk. As usual, Bree picked up the strewn color charts, pencils, post-its, and papers and put them back into their correct spots.
“Crap, I completely forgot about that call.” Yvonne hurried over to her desk, in the working corner of her office. Lady Entrepreneur magazine wanted to start a lifestyle section which would include design tips. Yvonne wanted to be the person who supplied the articles.
Lady Entrepreneur had a wide circulation. Women all over the country subscribed to the magazine, which provided everything from tips for running a business to interviews with successful women on its pages. Of course, she wanted those same women to think of her when they thought of interior design.
“That’s why I’m here,” Bree said. A recent graduate of design school, they’d met when Yvonne hired Bree as an intern the summer before. After graduation, Yvonne had snatched up the brilliant designer immediately. “Besides, you’ve got a good excuse. I can imagine your head is elsewhere.” Bree grinned and squeezed her hands together in front of her chest. Bree’s curly hair was worn in a cute pixie cut and her brown eyes sparkled with excitement behind a pair of black framed glasses.
“I know. I’ve been busy thinking about what I need for my first meeting with Sandra Covington.”
“I’m not talking about that. I mean your proposal over the weekend. The way Nathan surprised you! That was so romantic!”
Yes. The proposal. You’d think saying yes to the man she loved after he proposed via the jumbotron at the Atlanta Braves game wouldn’t slip her mind. Honestly, she was still getting used to the idea of being engaged. For the past six years, she’d been a single mom and business owner. Now she was part of a team. Of course, she would have a hard time believing it.
Nathan Lange, home improvement television star, boy next-door sex symbol, and all-around good guy, was her fiancé. She couldn’t be happier. And if she happened to notice that saying yes to Nathan had gotten her more congratulations and well wishes than starting her own business, being named business woman of the year twice, or working for a star on Celebrity Housewives, she didn’t let it bother her. Not too much.
Marriage was a big deal. Her son, Jacob, would have a father. She would have a man who loved and supported her. That was worth congratulating.
She glanced at the three-carat diamond on her left hand. “I can’t wait to marry Nathan, but no, that’s not what distracted me. Now that I’ve got Sandra’s account, I want to make sure I don’t let any other projects slip through the crack.”
“That’s what you have me for,” Bree said. “As your administrative assistant, I’m determined to keep you on track. But once you and Nathan get the television show, I may need an assistant for all of the work that’s going to come your way.”
Yvonne knocked three times on the oak surface of her desk, then crossed her fingers. “I hope so. The television show is still up in the air.”
She’d met Nathan on the set of Celebrity Housewives, where he’d worked as the contractor. The disagreements and attraction between them had sparked almost instantly. So much so, they’d stolen every scene they were in. Their chemistry had given Nathan’s publicist the idea they could be the new helm of a home improvement show. While Yvonne had never thought about television, she wasn’t one to turn down the opportunity to grow her business even further. She’d once been forced to accept whatever scraps she could get from the person who claimed to love her. Not anymore. Neither she, nor her son, would ever be in that position again.
“You guys will get it.”
“Maybe, but until then I can’t forget what got me here in the first place. No matter what happens with me and Nathan, Yvonne Cable Designs is and always will be my priority. I fought too hard to build my brand to this point to let it go just because I’m getting married.”
“But you will be making time to plan your wedding.”
“You know it!”
“I’d expect nothing less.” Bree looked at her cell phone. “Five minutes until the call. I’ll leave you alone so you can get ready.”
Yvonne went through the notes she’d jotted down for why she should be their go-to person for the lifestyle section. When she’d spoken with Lashon, the editor of the magazine, she’d still been considering a few other designers. This call would, hopefully, convince Lashon to go with her.
Lashon called right on time. They went through the normal pleasantries: quick stories about their kids, Lashon had two girls, and the latest good news from the magazine staffers. Then Lashon got to business.
“Look, Yvonne, I know you’ve gotten really busy lately.”
“Not too busy to supply design tips for the readers of your magazine. I was thinking of a focus on commercial spaces. Restaurants, offices, things like that.”
“Actually, I was thinking we could go in a different direction,” Lashon said before Yvonne could go into the reasons why she was the right choice.
“You’re no longer looking to include interior design tips?”
“No, silly. I’m surprised you haven’t already figured that out,” Lashon said laughing. “I want the feature to be with you and Nathan.”
“Really?” That idea had not crossed her mind.
“It’s genius, right?”
“I’m not sure I’m following along.”
“Lady Entrepreneur is still going to focus on women business owners, but I’m thinking of expanding the lifestyle section to also tackle relationships. Doesn’t that make sense?”
Not entirely, considering the magazine was supposed to be a business resource, but Yvonne never claimed to be an expert in magazine editing. “I’m intrigued by this new direction. Tell me more.”
“We did a survey of our subscribers. Many of them are single women who are also struggling to find a balance between work and family. You, my friend, are now the epitome of what so many single women want. You made a successful career despite having a child.”
“Despite?” A child wasn’t an automatic liability.
“And even though you are a single mother, you still happened to land a great guy like Nathan Lange. We think a quarterly feature on how you balance being a wife, mother, and business owner would go a long way to giving our readers hope.”
Giving the readers hope? Landing a great guy like Nathan hadn’t been part of her life goals. If anything, after the disaster that was her relationship with Jacob’s father, she’d never believed she would trust a man again. But she had, and yes, Nathan was great, and she was happy things worked out, but she wouldn’t say her life was now defined by her engagement. Was it?
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ABOUT NITA BROOKS
A reading addict, self-professed connoisseur of home improvement shows, and a collector of teapots, Nita Brooks resides in South Carolina with her family. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter at @AuthorNitaB.
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