EIGHT: Challenge Accepted

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Omar didn't know what it was that he didn't like about this guy, but everything he did rubbed Omar the wrong way. The arrogant Manager was obviously a wolf in sheep's clothing. it was as clear as day that he was interested in more than Amatullah's "valuable business".  What bothered him most was how oblivious Amatullah seemed to Adam's feelings. While she had her head buried in the charts, tables, and schedules in front of her, Adam was openly staring, eating her up with his eyes. 

"What do you think?" Omar turned to see Sandy looking at him expectantly. 

"He's not paying attention. One of the waitresses must be looking particularly lovely today," Amatullah said with a roll of her eyes. 

"You'll have to excuse me, I didn't have lunch today. I must have drifted off," Omar said with a smile, looking Sandy in the eyes and giving her one of his trademark smiles.  

"Why don't we order something. What do you recommend?" Sandy asked Adam. 

"The cheesecake and the german chocolate cake are heavenly," Amatullah answered without looking up. 

"Ooh, that sounds great," Sandy said, twisting in her chair to try and catch the attention of a waiter. 

Adam quietly waved one of the wait staff over and said something to her so softly that Amatullah couldn't make it out, despite sitting right next to him. 

"If you don't mind, I will take care of you all today," Adam said with a toothless grin. 

"Okay, boss. It looks like you've got all the connections today," Sandy gushed, nudging Amatullah with her elbow. 

Adam watched as the two women began to warm to Adam. 

What was it about him? Compared to Omar he was milk-toast. Omar shook his head as Sandy and Amatullah went back to trying to cobble both men's ideas into one cohesive plan. While Omar's ideas were innovative and sure to bring a lot of hype to the event, Adam's were creative and engaging. Where one man thought big, the other thought broad. 

Objectively, Omar told himself, he should be excited about this collaboration. Agreed, he was losing money by working with the Garvey Institute, but what he would gain in prestige and potential new clients would more than cover his losses. Adam may have been playing it safe with his ideas, that didn't mean that they lacked a certain flair. A flare, he reminded himself, that Amatullah and her dry little Institute lacked. 

Omar passed an appraising eye over the woman's garments. He had no idea why she insisted on dressing like a middle-aged woman. Even his mother knew how to turn on the charm, defying her age and letting the world know that she was still a vibrant and sexy woman. Omar vaguely remembered Amatullah from high school. Since they weren't in the same year they didn't often see each other, but whenever he did meet her she was always drab and uninteresting to look at.

Her assistant, on the other hand...well she was more his cup of tea. 

"Here you go, please let me know if I can help you with anything else," chirped Judy, as she set down two dessert platters int he middle of the table. 

"Oh, that's almost too pretty to eat," Sandy said, clapping her hands together.

"Please, feel free to sample as many as you'd like," Adam said. Omar shot the man a steely look before picking up a fork and stabbing a slice of cake.

Amatullah looked up and gave Adam friendly thanks and a quick nod of thanks. The interaction was so natural and seamless, if Omar hadn't been obsessing about the man, he would have missed it. Bile rose in his throat and once again he had to exercise restraint to avoid blowing what could turn out to be a very lucrative business relationship. 

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