The Eden Hall Series

 
Finding Eden

 

 

Finding Eden - Vol. 1

By day, Mary Alayna Dalton is a successful Chicago professional who is being considered for a promotion to the top position in her company.  By night, she shares her home with six young men who grew up at Eden Hall, a boys' foster home, and performs with them in their band that plays at the local pub.  The only thing missing in her life is a loving relationship with someone accepting of her whole life.

When a business encounter thrusts Clark Dulanty into her life, he accidentally stubbles from her days into her nights and uncovers both sides of Mary Alayna Dalton.  Their encounters are turbulent and their ensuing romance revealing as Clark slowly discovers all her secrets, only to expose the ambiguities of his own life choices on his journey to Finding Eden.

ISBN/EAN13:  1434838390 / 9781434838391
Page Count:   308
Binding Type:  US Trade Paper
Trim Size:  5.25"x8"
Language:  English

 

“I’m not trying to rile you, Ms. Dalton, really I’m not,” Clark said, sitting across from her while she took her seat.  He put on his most sincere face and tilted his head to give her his most innocent look.  “I’m just trying to understand how you think.  That’s all.”

Alayna didn’t buy it for one minute.  That was the feeblest attempt at manipulation she had seen in a long time.  Did he think she was a total idiot?  Maybe he just thought all women couldn’t resist that lost puppy look.  She tuned out her grandmother’s wise words and decided she was going to lay him out.  She had given this a lot of thought last night and decided the promotion could be sacrificed.  She just couldn’t play these games day after day.

She leaned forward with her forearms on her desk and her hands clasped in front of her to look directly into his eyes.  “Well, I’ll apologize in advance if my perceptions are inaccurate or unfair, but I believe you intentionally try to rile me, Mr. Dulanty.  I think it is a premeditated strategy you’ve developed, thinking it would draw out my true personality and inner most secrets.  I think you put a lot of thought and planning into what you do and say around me in anticipation of reaping the most benefit from my reaction.” 

Clark lost his puppy dog face and sat back meeting her gaze.  He was a little bruised by her accusations because she was dead on target.  He had spent hours with a drink in his hand last night planning this pissing match and it wasn’t going off as scheduled.  He never thought himself transparent.  Shallow, yes, but never transparent.  He had always been a successful manipulator but this woman was ruining his reputation.  He stammered to speak although he didn’t know quite what he was going to say other than to offer an empty denial, but she cut him off.

“What’s most unfortunate about this situation is that you are making your job much more difficult than it needs to be.  I’m more than willing to tell you about myself within the regards of a professional realm and there isn’t anyone that knows me better.  I’ve nothing to hide from you.  The opportunity for promotion is not so great for me that I would sacrifice my integrity or attempt to mislead you as to my work ethics or management style.  Why would I?  If I were hired on false pretenses, I would either immediately disappoint or I would be forced to live a lie indefinitely.  I’m not willing to do either.”  Alayna paused to see if Clark was going to defend himself.  Seeing he was not prepared yet, she charged on. 

“Now, why don’t you just ask me to tell you about myself instead of piecing together and analyzing responses I am forced to make to counter your staged confrontations?”  Alayna was done and she sat back knowing her grandmother was up above shaking her head at her but, God, she felt so much better.  Holding all that in was just not healthy. 

The silence seemed endless as they stared at one other but just as Alayna was trying to think how to right the moment, Clark exploded in laughter.  His head went back and then he leaned forward with his elbows on his knees to try to arrest his reaction.  Alayna initially felt his response insulting but then noticed his laughter was as warm and infectious as a child’s.  She found herself smiling with every facial muscle until her jaws were hurting, trying to replay her words in her mind to uncover what he found so funny.

After the eruption died down, Clark rubbed both his hands vigorously over his face because his eyes were watering and his face was flushed.  Then he combed his fingers back through his hair just to let it float back into place softly across his forehead.  He stood and walked around behind her desk to her side and put his hand on her elbow to lift her from her seat.  Her smile was still there and he felt as though someone was squeezing his heart in their hands.  She was beautiful like this.  He needed to find a way to make her smile like this all the time.

Alayna stood in response to his touch with a quizzical look on her face.  He was still smiling and for the first time she saw warmth and honesty.  “Get your coat, Mary.  We’re going out.”