I slept well that night, even in the unfamiliar room, dreaming of Kellan. I had such a great time with him. And we were working throughout most of it. That said a lot. I had a rather breathless conversation with Carrie when I got back to my hotel room. She had been cautiously encouraging. She had made it clear that she liked Kellan well enough. She had also made it clear that I needed to understand what it meant to be involved with someone who was paralyzed, if that was what I wanted. I knew enough to know that paralysis meant more than just being unable to walk. But I wasn’t sure exactly what it meant for Kellan. He would have to tell me and it was more than a little premature for me to be worrying about such things.
I jumped out of bed when the alarm went off, hummed as I went through getting ready. I saw myself in the mirror with a goofy schoolgirl grin. I had fallen in love with this man. I was so in trouble.
I am sure I gave Kellan the same goofy grin when he stepped off the elevator to meet me and sign me in. He would have to do this every day I visited. There was no way around the security, unfortunately. The inconvenience bothered me for him, but it was a happy thing for me to see his smile as he came to meet me. He was more on the business side of business casual today, complete with a pale blue dress shirt and a tie with the very blue of his eyes in its pattern. He looked great.
“Snazzy.” I teased him after we said hello, unabashedly giving him the once over.
“Easy.” He sized me up too, smiling appreciatively. I blushed. “Well, we at least look like we know what we are doing.”
“We do know what we are doing.” I affirmed. “Hands down.”
He nodded. “Doug Shepherd is not an easy person to work with. I have had the pleasure of managing him before.”
“So I should let you do the talking?”
“No. Like we talked about yesterday, you will speak to your piece and the project timelines. They need to know who you are, too.”
I swallowed, listening to the elevator announce its floors as it descended to pick us up.
“We need to leave around 9:30 to get over to their office and get settled before the meeting is to begin.”
We were alone on the elevator. I resisted the urge to reach up and kiss him. It seemed like the right thing to do, alone on the quiet elevator. I didn’t want to rumple his tie. And I still didn’t know if he was interested in me. So I left the vision in my head and put on my work face.
We printed a few documents and sent an agenda when we got to his office. We had discussion points and questions. 9:30 came quickly and we packed up to go to the meeting. Kellan was quieter than usual.
“Nervous?” I asked as we walked out to his car.
“Not about the meeting.”
What was that supposed to mean? And how was I to respond?
“That is good, I guess. But you are nervous about something?” I was hesitant in my questioning. I wasn’t sure if he was leading me.
He wasn’t looking at me as I walked at his elbow. He seemed very focused on watching for obstacles that might snag his feet or crutches, although the sidewalk was perfectly clear.
“I have a training ride tonight. I would like to ask you to come, but I am not sure that is something that would interest you. I know cycling isn’t your thing.”
I nearly stopped walking. “I would like to see you ride. Carrie shays your bike is a ‘slick piece of equipment’ to use her exact words.”
“Oh? And what else did Ms. Stallworth have to say about my equipment?”
I was flustered by the innuendo and could not answer his question. He realized the way I had interpreted what he had said and hid fair skin turned slightly pink.
“So you will come to the training ride?” he pulled us back on track.
“Yes. Just tell me where to met you.”
“Great. I can draw you a map later.”
“Okay.” We had reached his car. I smiled to myself. I was beginning to get the hint that he was interested in me, too.
Doug Shepherd was in his late forties to early fifties, very stern, very direct, all about the bottom line. He wanted the Mercedes solution on the VW budget. I groaned inwardly listening to him speak. No wonder Melissa had been so soft in her requirements and definitions of the project. She was deliberately vague to avoid telling this man no.
“I am familiar with the solution you delivered for the Bright project, Kellan. I know if anyone can do this, you can.”
His brown eyes bore holes in Kellan’s forehead. Kellan remained perfectly composed. I would have squirmed.
Kellan smiled. “The Bright project didn’t have this workflow component. The Bright project simply made a tool for you to access several disparate repositories and retrieve the files you needed using one interface. The CL project is to build a new workflow application to automate your work. I have no doubt we can build a solution for you. We need to determine what is most important to your business and constrain our feature set to meet those needs. We need to make a list of your ‘must have,’ ‘nice to have,’ and ‘dot one release’ features.”
I went over to the whiteboard and wrote the headings Kellan had just named to begin our lists. We worked with Doug to build his feature sets. Workflow is my team’s specialty. I found myself leading this part of the meeting and surprised myself with my own level of confidence and command of the situation. When we were done, we had managed to define what had eluded solid definition for the previous two months. We had our scope set. We would be able to proceed. Best of all, Doug seemed really pleased with the results. He left the room happy.
We grabbed lunch and went back to the office to begin redesigning our documentation based on what we had just defined. We were in work mode and stayed that way until 5:00. The training ride started at 6:30. Kellan needed to go home and get ready. He handed me a map and left. I wanted to finish up what I was working on, so I stayed a little longer. Carrie called me at 5:30, as I was getting ready to leave.
“Let’s have dinner,” she said as her greeting.
“Only if I can be at Twin Lakes by 6:30.” I returned her pleasantry.
“Twin Lakes? 6:30? You are going to watch Kellan ride?”
“Yep.” I beamed. “He asked me to come watch.”
“Wow. He likes you, Heather.”
“I hope so, Carrie. Because I have really fallen hard for him.” No teasing in my voice now.
“I can hear that in your voice. There is a little Chinese restaurant right before the Twin Lakes Park. Meet me there in about 15 minutes. We will have dinner and talk. And I will surprise Reid by watching his ride.”
“Sounds great, Carrie. See you in a few.”
To be continued....