At 10:00 a.m. Samantha walked into the bank bearing a cellophane-wrapped basket filled to the brim with goodies from Sweet Dreams Chocolates. If this didn’t melt Blake Preston’s heart—well, then, he had no heart to melt.
Speaking of, there he sat at the manager’s desk in the far corner, a sandy-haired tackling dummy in a suit. Blake Preston looked more suited to a WWE Friday night smack down than to sitting behind a bank manager’s desk, deciding the fate of local businesses.
Lauren sent Samantha a welcoming smile from her teller’s counter, but the one she got from Blake Preston when he saw her approach his desk wasn’t quite so friendly. Wary would’ve been a better word for it. Even wary, it qualified for a toothpaste commercial. Whoa, that was some wattage, and she felt the electricity clear across the room. She couldn’t help checking his left hand for signs of a ring as he stood to greet her. None.
Never mind his ring finger or any other part of him. You’re here to do business.
She could almost hear her sister whispering in her ear, “Charm enters into business more than you realize.”
She donned her most charming smile and said, “Hi,” injecting her voice with goodwill. You like me. You want to give me a longer extension on my loan. “I’m Samantha Sterling from Sweet Dreams Chocolates. We went to high school together,” she added, hoping that would earn her some brownie points.
He held out his hand for her to shake. She took it and felt an even bigger jolt than she’d gotten from his smile. Maybe that was a good sign. Maybe they were going to hit it off. Maybe he’d be happy to grab a mop and help her clean up the mess she was in.
“I remember,” he said.
Right. You were older and too busy partying and cutting classes to pay attention to a nerdy underclassman. “I was just a lowly freshman, but you made quite an impression.” There, that was pretty darned charming if she did say so herself. “I thought you might enjoy some samples from the best chocolate company in Washington,” she said, handing over the gift basket.
He took it and stood there as if uncertain what to do with it. His computer and several piles of papers were taking up all the surface space on his desk. “Well, thanks. That was…nice. Have a seat.”
She sat and he sat, still holding the goodies.
“You’ll really like the chocolate-covered potato chips,” she said, pointing to her basketful of bribes. “Those are our newest product.”
“Interesting.” He shifted the fortune in chocolate sitting on his lap as awkwardly as though he were an old bachelor who’d just been handed a baby.
Okay, that took care of the charm….