Mr. Dark 4

By: Lauren Landish

"Thirty three percent," Donna replied quickly before stopping and blushing. "Sorry, I took a moment to look it up before I called you."

"How about we make it fifty-fifty then?" I said. "You did most of the hard work on this I see, I don't want to take the credit from you."

I could see Donna considering. Was I being generous because I felt bad for her, or was I being truly rewarding because she was deserving of it? Finally, she smiled. "Okay, great. I'll get the papers drawn up. If you don't mind, can I get a chance to meet the Smileys some time? I've seen them on TV a few times, and they're just so cool."

"Sure. I'm sure Marcus and Sophie would love to meet you sometime. When I give them the brief on this I'll pass it along."


* * *


Pressman Contractors was a pretty standard looking industrial contractor's office, the building itself being cinderblock and concrete that was neat but could use a fresh coat of paint, and two trucks were parked outside, Ford F450's with the Pressman logo on the side and a back bed filled with tools and all the other things a repairman might need. I parked my little Prius in the spot marked for visitors and made my way inside. "Hello?"

"Just a moment!" a call came from the back. I heard a bit of frustrated grumbling and muffled curses, then the unmistakable sound of a wrench being dropped on a floor. "All right, there we go."

The guy who came out of the back was cute, plain and simple. He was about five ten, maybe a hundred and eighty or so, with brown hair and hazel eyes that went with a strong, square jaw line. He was wearing a slightly tight polo shirt with the Pressman logo on it and some work pants, both of which he filled out nicely. He looked like the sort of guy that housewives called over to check out their units just to see him in tight jeans and a sweaty shirt as often as possible. "Hi, how can I help you?"

"Hi, I'm Tabitha Williams, from Taylor & Hardwick's, I'm a financial analyst. Is your boss around?" I asked, unconsciously tossing my hair over my shoulder. My long auburn red hair is one of my favorite features, and I knew I was flirting. It's just in my nature, and besides, this guy was worth flirting with.

"Dad's out at a work-site right now," the young guy said, "but I'm sure I can help you. Are you here about the request for venture capital we submitted to you guys?"

I was impressed. This guy was smart, and yeah, he broke some of my preconceived notions of what a HVAC guy was supposed to sound like. "I am. I'm the account manager for Marcus Smiley's investments in the city, and I just wanted to see if I could look around some."

"Sure," the guy said, pulling a towel out of the back pocket of his jeans and wiping his hands. "I'm sorry for the greasy hands, but one of our guys just brought this unit in and I wanted to get it out of the shop quickly. We've got a lady over on the South Side without an air conditioner right now. By the way, I'm Scott. Scott Pressman."

"Nice to meet you. Sure you don't mind if I look around?" I asked, looking at the shop. "I don't want to get in your way."

"Not at all. If you want, you can even give me a hand if you want. I don't know why, but you look like the sort of girl who knows the difference between a socket wrench and a Phillips-head screwdriver."

Scott had me pegged. While since entering college I'd had the reputation and look of a sorority party girl, the fact was I'd grown up in a family that, while well to do, had gotten that way by owning three car dealerships down in Florida. I'd spent just as much time under the hood of a car as I had on the beaches, and could do an oil change by the time I was eight. "I think I can give you a hand if you want, just as long as I don't get dirty. I'm wearing a suit after all."

For the next hour and a half, I helped Scott break down and replace the parts that were going wrong on the AC unit. It was pretty similar to a car, really, and I could follow along as he walked me through the different systems and subsystems. It was a lot of fun, and as we worked, we got to know each other.

"So, how long have you been doing HVAC?" I asked.

"Officially only two years, but since Grandpa opened this place, I've been around it my whole life. After high school I went straight to my HVAC course, got my diploma, and came back to work the family business. Dad wants me to take night classes in business to get my associates, but I'm holding off for a year or two to get my feet underneath me again. What about you? You're not just a calculator type, I can tell that by the way you find the wrenches on sight without even needing to read the markings."

I felt a warmth in my cheeks from his compliment. "My family owns a couple of car dealerships in Florida. My father and brother run them now, and I kind of moved on. I enjoyed the family work, but I didn't want to spend the rest of my life working credit applications for new trucks or seeing if I can get someone into that convertible they insist they need. So I went to school, got my MBA, and started where I am now."

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