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Ethan leaned back against his high-backed swivel seat and made a steeple with the tips of his fingers as he listened to the man seated across from him. To a stranger, it would seem as though his mind was a million miles away, but in truth, every nerve of him was alert, taking in and processing information swiftly. Occasionally, he would swing towards the wall of windows behind him, staring out without really seeing the magnificent view of the dusky sky.

He rubbed at his jaw, grimacing as his fingers encountered the rough stubble of less than a day's growth of beard. No doubt, if he looked in a mirror, he would see the dark shadows marring his chin...he would need to shave tonight before picking Nicky up for their dinner date or she would most likely harp on about how much he resembled a Neanderthal. The thought of Nicky made him smile slightly as he imagined how those lovely green eyes of hers would light up as she teased him about his appearance, her fair hair would no doubt be expertly styled, framing a face that was nothing less than perfect, her high class breeding showing through in every gesture or word she uttered.

She would make the perfect wife for him. The perfect wife and a wonderful hostess to entertain his future business associates and clients. His construction company was growing fast and Ethan needed to project the perfect image of a polished successful businessman in order to attract the sort of clientele Holbourn Enterprises needed to make it to the big leagues. Tonight, he was meeting her cousin for the first time, and though he'd never met her, he felt he knew all there was to know about Erin Gosling as Nicky always talked about her.

The fact that this cousin happened to be the Erin Gosling, heiress of the prestigious Gosling fortune gave him a clue of what to expect, most likely a spoiled pampered princess so wrapped up in herself he half expected her to cancel at the last moment, or even if she did turn up, she would probably spend the entire evening boring them with talks about the latest styles on the catwalks. Thankfully, Nicky was different, so down to earth and yet cultured and intelligent to boot.

He brought his mind back to the present and turned around to face his secretary. Peter Wilson was still engrossed in reading the financial reports, but Ethan had had enough. Besides, he had already gone through the reports himself earlier and every single bit of information was stamped in his brain.

"Thank you Pete, I've got it from here." Ethan said, unfolding his lean length from the chair. At six four, he easily towered over Peter, the well-tailored dark blue suit showing off his impressive physique. "Do remember to send a reminder to all staff about the meeting tomorrow morning. And draw up the proposal for the Landberg project. I want an estimate of the total costs as soon as possible."

"Yes sir. Will you be leaving now?"

Ethan grabbed his briefcase and headed for the door in quick strides. "Yeah. I'm having dinner with Nicky and I need a damn shave...again." He did not wait for a reply but continued on towards the bank of elevators, grateful to find the hallway deserted. He shared the floor with a law firm and an IT firm, and on most days, the hall was filled with all sorts of people, but it was after hours and the law firm was closed. Holbourn was just starting out, so far he had only four employees other than himself, but soon...

He was just crossing the lobby when a sultry feminine voice stopped him in his tracks.

"Ethan!" He turned in time to see the petite brunette coming towards him. He recognized her as Brittany, the secretary for the law firm on his floor. Her impossibly high bright pink heels clicked on the marble floor as she walked.

Brittany sidled up to him, flashing a bright smile. "I'm so glad I caught you in time, give me a lift home? My car's still in the workshop and I've been standing outside for ten minutes without so much as a cab in sight." she pouted up at him with full red lips. "Help a girl out?"

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