Eventually she made her way back to Newcrest, tired and hungry but cautiously optimistic. Her stomach growled as she pulled into the hotel parking lot. She had tried to find a place to grab dinner but nothing seemed to appeal to her. Ordering food service would have to be it, despite how expensive it was. Sighing loudly, went to exit her car when her phone rang loudly. Frantically she fished through her bag, pulling out the vibrating pink phone.

“Hello?” Fallon answered.

“Hello is this Ms. Gunderson?” 

“May I ask who is calling?” 

“Yes hello, this is Larsen Architecture Firm, we are trying to reach Ms. Gunderson?” 

“OH!” her voice lightened. “Yes, this is she.” 

“Hello! We received your inquiry in regards to building a home in the Brindleton Bay area! Are you a first time home owner?” They asked. 

“Yes, I am!!” Fallon responded excitedly.  

“Well fantastic, I firstly want to say thank you for choosing Larsen Architecture Firm. We hope that you find our services to exceed your expectations. It would be a pleasure to work with you on your first home! Now, you indicated that you were interested in Mr. Kalani’s portfolio correct?”

“Yes! Very much so,” Fallon took a shaky breath. This was really happening. 

“Fantastic! We would like you to come in and have a consultation. Would you be able to do that sometime this week?” they could be heard typing in the background. 

“Sure, I am free tomorrow after 5PM,” Fallon replied.

 “We close at 4:30 on weekdays, is there a chance you can come in earlier?” 

“Uhm…yes. I can try to be there by 3PM if that works?” The excitement was growing in Fallon’s belly, making her hungrier than she already was.

“Great, I am setting up an appointment for tomorrow, the 7th at 3PM.” 

Fallon gave the receptionist her contact information and smiled contently. This was really happening!

“Alright, I just sent the information to you, you will be meeting with Mr. Kalani tomorrow at 3PM,” 

“Awesome, thanks so much for calling,” Fallon’s excitement was through the roof. 

“Thank you for working with us Ms. Gunderson.”

The phone went dead and Fallon made her way up to her hotel room. Plopping down on the plush couch in her hotel room, she fiddled with her phone as she ordered take out from a local restaurant as the TV droned on in the background.

“Hopefully this meeting with architect goes well tomorrow,” she mumbled to herself as she flipped through channel after channel. Nothing seemed to attract her attention so she looked up the architect’s portfolio on her phone. Ogling over all of the beautiful designs, and fantasizing about what hers would look like. Would she choose the flooring, the windows and the fixtures, or would he have full artistic license and pick everything himself? She really didn’t mind it either way, and liked the idea of being surprised and risk of letting a complete stranger figure her out enough to build her a place to live.The latter risk seemed way more exciting.

The rest of the night went by at an agonizingly slow pace, consisting of watching house hunters and picking at the chinese she had ordered. She was grateful with the clock struck 10PM and she felt herself getting sleepy. After throwing away the remains of her meal, and a quick shower she excitedly climbed into bed. Tomorrow was a big day. 

The next day, Fallon got up and went to work as per usual. An early morning email to her boss meant that she could take the afternoon off to meet with the architect. Linda, her boss, was all too accommodating, telling Fallon to take all the time she needed and offering even to give her a place to stay if the hotel became too expensive. Fallon confident that this would all work out in her favor, declined, but was grateful for the flexibility.

The rest of the morning she spent deeply engaged in her work, testing different samples of a new drug they were working on. It was slated to be a breakthrough. If they could get it tested properly, but they were still a long way to go before that happened.

After a few hours of work, she quickly cleaned up so that she could make it to the Architecture firm on time. 

“BYE CHARLES!!” she yelled to her coworker who was working in the room next to hers. 

“Bye Fallon! Good luck! Let me know how it goes tomorrow!” he called after her.

Blonde hair fell into smudged rectangular glasses followed with a toothy bright white grin. They hadn’t gotten to know each other well just yet, but he was always cheerful when they interacted. Charles was from Windenburg, and had moved to the Bay with his husband Marcus a little over a year ago. She had been promising they would go out and get coffee for the last couple of weeks, but they never found the time. Projects in the lab were tedious and they both usually ended up working through lunch, leaving at 5 in the afternoon spent. Fallon smiled and waved at him as she rushed out of the building. Next time, she thought. 

Thankfully leaving early meant that the traffic between the Bay and Newcrest was minimal. Quickly she headed to her hotel to change before heading ⁸over to the firm. A pair of black skinny jeans and a red button up top. Casual but not so much so that she looked like a slob. First impressions were important. 

After pulling her hair back into a high ponytail and refreshing her makeup she gave herself a once over in the mirror. A little cleavage is always okay, she thought, adjusting the top button on her shirt. 

The drive took only a few minutes, and she ended up arriving a bit early. The building was small but very modern looking with impressive sculptural work decorating the landscape. Entering a large black door, she heard a ding as it swung open into what she assumed was the waiting area. She immediately noticed how cold it was. Not like a little cold but a lot cold.

 I should have brought my jacket, she said to herself as she shivered, clasping her arms around herself.

“Hi, I am here to see Nigel Kalani,” she said as she approached the receptionist desk at the far side of the room.

 “Sure, may I have your name?”

“Fallon Gunderson,” she replied, looking around the small space. It was decorated sparsely, making it seem bigger than it really was. The inside looked just like the outside, modern and sleek. The receptionist pressed a few buttons on the phone and spoke to whom Fallon assumed was Nigel on the other end. 

“Yes, Mr. Kalani, your 3PM is here.”

Setting the phone down gently, she looked back to Fallon. “He will be out in a few moments if you would like to have a seat.” 

“Thanks,” she replied sitting in one of the small couches in the waiting area.  Not quite sure if it was nerves or the cold causing her shivering, she crossed her arms tighter over herself.

After about 5 minutes a man came from out of the back room. He was wearing a very well fitted button up, vest and brown slacks. Underneath his collar she only saw black that looked like it extended in intricate patterns onto his shoulders and down his arms. His sleeves were rolled up partially, revealing some of the tattoo work hidden underneath.

“Wow….” she mumbled, eyeing him lustfully as he walked closer to her. He was about her height maybe a little taller, built like he worked out regularly, and had a very well manicured goatee. There was no hair on his head, but she didn’t mind. The beard was enough. 

Biting her lip slightly, she watched as his muscles flexed under his shirt. He definitely worked out. 

As he walked towards her, a smile played on his lips and his body looked relaxed. His smile was friendly and reassuring. But there was something else. A hint of risk and thrill, masked behind an air of professionalism.

Fallon stood and stuck out her hand as he approached her. Shaking her hand, he spoke with a very slight accent, one that indicated that he wasn’t originally from the area, “Hi Ms. Gunderson, my name is Nigel, I’m the architect that will be working on this build with you”. 

Looking her dead in the eyes he greeted her warmly, his grip was solid, his large hand almost completely enveloping hers. It was warm and gentle. 

“Oh please, call me Fallon,” she mewled, blushing.

“Nice to meet you, Fallon,” he smiled again, releasing her hand slowly as if he wasn’t ready to let her go just yet.

“Here, let’s go back to my office, I have some plan’s I would like to show you.” 

Gesturing, he swung his left arm wide in the direction they were to go, his right hand brushing against Fallon’s back. Shivering for a moment (this time not from the cold or nerves), Fallon quickly tried to push away inappropriate thoughts as they made their way to Nigel’s office.

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