Taxpertise for the Creative Mind
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A Novel – Excerpt From Chapter One

“Kim, your one o’clock is here.” Andie’s voice comes through the intercom over little waves of static.

I swing my chair back around from the window where I had been gazing at the view of rain streaming from a sky that looks just as slate gray as the sidewalk below it. The view is gorgeous even if the day is dreary.  My office overlooks the plaza, a gem of a park with tall redwoods and green grass crisscrossed by walking paths in the center of downtown Sonoma.  Exotic ducks from all over the world grace the pond in the southwest corner. At one time chickens roosted near the pond and would wander all over the downtown area giving new meaning to the question, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” My window’s exterior is nicely framed with a Meyer lemon tree plump with fruit and white blossoms plump with promise. If the rain doesn’t knock them off, that is.

It couldn’t be the view so I’m guessing it’s just the unseasonal rain that has me down. The mad rush and long, long hours of tax season have been over for six weeks but I haven’t had a vacation yet. Okay, I took a spa day but that proved to be tantalizingly depressing, knowing it will be another two months before I can enjoy a proper hiatus. And boy, do I need one. It’s that and the rain that pushes me into doldrums. I press the intercom button. “Have him take a seat. See if he wants anything to drink. I’ll be out in about five.”

I pull a little compact out of my purse and check my makeup. Not that I wear very much. I come from a family blessed with great skin – pale with naturally rosy cheeks that set off my blue eyes and long blond tresses. I refresh my passion pink lipstick, shuffle the papers on my desk into a basket, stand and straighten my pencil skirt. Most tax professionals in this wine country tourist town dress casually, some even show up to work in shorts on a hot day but I like the idea of formal office wear – like what I have on today: a light pink Chanel suit with Gucci heels. Totally trendy. Even if I am all business, I’m still a woman. I enjoy the flirty half-buttoned blouse that shows off some cleavage. My mom used to say, “If you got it, flaunt it.” And like Mom, I do, so I do. A little bit sexy is fine, but most of all my clothing must be classy.

I button my suit jacket as I head to reception to receive my new client. He’s a musician. I’ve handled a few artistic types before so this is nothing new. Scattered, oblivious, usually not numbers oriented and always scared of the IRS. If only they knew that the IRS is not as demonic as they imagine. In fact, I’ve run into quite a few mensches in that bureaucratic jungle.

As I open the door to the reception area, I see the back of my new client’s head and I stop dead in my tracks. Suddenly it feels as if the wind is knocked out of me. Recovering, my breath hitches.  From the top of his chair I see thick wavy brown hair tucked behind his ears sweeping just below his collar line then curling up. His broad shoulders bend over an open worn leather satchel on his lap. I have a feeling I’ve known him all my life. I hear a voice inside of me saying, “Is he your soul mate?” And I have this weird out-of-nowhere thought that I will marry this man.

Overcome, I return to the hall where I gather myself. I lean against the wall and mutter, “What the hell was that?” Okay, I’m used to encountering good looking men – they’re all over town, in all the clubs and at business affairs. I’m constantly surrounded by them. And I’ll look at a guy and go, ‘oh yeah, I’d like some of that.’ Or I’ll look at a guy and even if he’s drop dead gorgeous, I might find there is absolutely no connection, no chemistry whatsoever. But I have never looked at the back of some guy’s head, even if he has luscious hair that I’m dying to run my fingers through and thought, ‘I wanna marry him.’ Marry? I haven’t even seen his face. And I haven’t thought about marriage since my ridiculous jump 14 years ago when I was just a babe of 19 into supposed wedded bliss that lasted all of six months. And now all of sudden words like soul mate and marriage have dropped into my brain like a ten pound barbell landing on my foot.

Okay, Kim, take it down a notch. I exhale. I’ve been exceptionally happy on my own. Maybe that’s what happens with maturity, in arriving at your 30s, you don’t want all the drama and unhappiness that seems to sprout up in most relationships.

What I’d like to know is how in the world I could be so taken and shaken by someone whose face I haven’t even seen yet? Oh, I’ve heard of this before. Where a woman points to a stranger across a crowded room and tells her BFF, “I’m going to marry him.” And sure enough she does, usually two weeks later or maybe even the same day. And they go off hand in hand for the next 60 years into the sunset, smiling contentedly at each other. But I always figured that was just part of some movie.  This can’t really be happening to me now. Or is it?

I take another breath and decide I must be losing my ever loving mind. Maybe I stood up too fast from my desk. Yeah, that has to be it. I take another deep breath and exhale loudly. With new resolve I open the door to reception and say, “Luke? Luke Hunter? The wavy brown hair turns, I swear in slow motion like a shampoo commercial, and large intense blue eyes meet mine. He’s got the most handsome yet rugged face I’ve ever seen. Chiseled perfectly formed lips, high cheekbones and ears that are just a little too big. I stanch the melt down I feel coming on.

“That’s me.” Luke shuffles some papers into the leather case and rises from his chair. I almost gasp again. He is tall. I mean really tall. His smile is engaging. I grin back hoping that I’m not leering.

“I’m Kim Stilwell.” I extend my hand and it all but disappears into his firm grasp. He’s leaned in and I get a whiff of clean but earthy masculine scent. A little tingle runs up my spine as I attempt to maintain a business like composure. “Follow me back, please.”

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