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Handsome contractor Von Ryan turns practical architect Marley Patterson world upside down. But his marriage proposal sends her into a panic, and she breaks up with him. When she realizes her mistake, will he give her the second chance she so desperately wants?


“There’s one more thing we need to discuss.” Fred’s tone matched the serious gleam in his eyes.

“About the project?”

Fred nodded. “Von Ryan is the contractor.”


Her pulse spurted, and her palms sweated. His name hadn’t been mentioned in months, but she’d been thinking about him, remembering his devastation the last time they’d spoken. Her breaking up with him two weeks after saying no to his marriage proposal had caught him off-guard. She’d never meant to hurt or embarrass him, but she had.


Still, she stood by her decision because his over-the-top flash mob proposal in front of her family and his, complete with a camera crew, showed her Von didn’t know her at all. Not the way a man who wanted to spend the rest of his life with her should.

“If working with him will be an issue, I’ll find someone else to take over the project,” Fred said.

“It isn’t an issue for me.” A touch of emotion laced each word. She fought the urge to sigh. She couldn’t allow any personal feelings to come into this. “I haven’t spoken to Von in almost seven months, but he’s as professional as they come. One of the best contractors in the state.” She’d met him working on a project over a year ago, and they’d started dating. “I have no problem working with Von. I, however, can’t speak for him.”

Rumor had it that Von’s construction company hadn’t bid on any projects within the Charleston city limits. Had he been trying to avoid her?

Marley hoped not. She only wanted what was best for him. She wasn’t it. They were too different. Opposites, really. Even if she had yet to meet a man who treated her as well as Von had.

Fred’s posture relaxed. “If you’re okay working with Ryan, I’m sure he is, too, but I wanted to leave the choice up to you.”

“I appreciate that.” No one from the firm had known she’d been dating Von because she kept her business life separate from her private one. Her coworkers had only found out when the proposal video went viral. “What do I need to know about the project?”

“It’s a high-end remodel. Rhett’s plans are on his drafting table. They’re still waiting for approval from the county, but that should happen any day.”

“Sounds easy enough.”

Fred nodded. “You may need to be on site more with this one. Randall Starling is the homeowner. We need this project to go smoothly.”

Randall Starling was a local, successful businessman with the Midas touch. “Is this a pet project of his?”

“His new vacation home, but bids are due in August for a multimillion-dollar commercial project. RMF wants that contract. It’s our top priority this summer. You need to show Starling we’re the only firm he should consider.”

She assumed Curb Appeal would bid, too. Did having Rhett on their staff give them an advantage, since he’d created the plans for Mr. Starling’s vacation house? That might make her job harder.

Her confidence wavered, but she kept a smile on her face. “I’ll do my best.”

“We have faith in you,” Fred stated.

She hoped so. “Where is the project located?”

“Indigo Bay.”

Where Von lived. “Close to Charleston.”

“It’s not that far, but if you have early meetings, go ahead and expense a room and meals, so you don’t get caught in traffic and show up late.”

Marley straightened. “I will.”

She’d never been offered that kind of compensation. Granted, her projects had been in Charleston, but the offer told her how important the upcoming Starling commercial project must be to the firm. If she succeeded, she might find herself on partner track sooner than expected.

Fred glanced at his phone. “Review the blueprints tonight. If you have questions, see Ron or Todd before you head to Indigo Bay in the morning.”

The other two partners. She’d had fewer interactions with them since they focused on the commercial side of the business. “Got it.”

“The meeting starts at nine at the house. Leave enough travel time so you’re not late. Starling is a stickler for punctuality. That’s all I have for you.” Fred straightened. “Good luck, Patterson.”

As he made a beeline for the lobby, she headed to Rhett’s drafting table. “Let’s see what you left me, Golden.”

Then she was going to stop by the store to buy champagne on the way to her parents’ house. This was worth celebrating. Even if it meant seeing Von again, and all the trouble that might bring.

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