For a little while now, I've been trying to up my game when it comes…
She could do this. Paige Jackson smoothed a hand over the neat bun at the nape of her neck and threw back her shoulders. She let out a breath, flicked a ball of lint off her black A-line skirt, and clutched her portfolio to her chest. The contract was all but hers, she just had to make a good impression on the guy in charge. What’s his name? Her mind went blank. Oh no.
The moisture evaporated from her mouth as grasshoppers started up a conga line in her stomach.
“Can I help you?” The woman at the desk had to be in her sixties. Steel-grey hair cut close to her head that somehow still managed a whiff of femininity was her most welcoming asset.
“Um. Yes. I’m Paige Jackson, the owner of Taste and See Catering. I have an appointment…”
“I’ll let him know you’re here. Have a seat.” A glint of something—it couldn’t be humor, could it?—flashed in the woman’s ice-blue eyes before she picked up the phone.
Paige hugged her leather folder and turned to study the expensively framed pictures on the wall. All featured the Senator with some dignitary or other politically important person. But her eyes were drawn to the tall, handsome man, probably in his late twenties, who stood in the background of most of the photographs. What was it about the stylishly spiked brown hair and dark eyes that made him stand out? Or was it the confidence that sparked off him?
Paige turned at the rich baritone, her breath catching in her throat. The photos didn’t do his height, or his confidence, justice. With his height and build, if he hadn’t played football growing up, his high school had missed out on a killer receiver. Unless he was uncoordinated. Or slow. She swallowed the saliva that had pooled in her mouth and extended a hand. “Hi. Paige, please.”
“Jackson.” He took her hand in his firm grip.
“Paige is fine, really.”
His lips curved into the ghost of a smile, causing the barest promise of a dimple in his left cheek. “And I’m Jackson. Jackson Trent. Why don’t you follow me back to my office and we’ll look over your proposal?”
“Of course.” Now she remembered his name. Though the woman who called had simply said Mr. Trent, Paige had gone online to look up the Senator’s staff. Hadn’t her roommate even made a joke about the Jackson thing? She followed Jackson down a long hallway lined with offices. Any wall space was covered with patriotic art or more photos of the Senator at events.
“Here we are.” Jackson gestured for her to precede him into the small space. Had it been a supply closet before he jammed a desk into it? “Excuse the mess.”
There wasn’t room for a mess. Papers littered the desk, but it was more the debris of someone with too much to do and too little space. She sat in the guest chair and drew the menu plans out of her portfolio. “These are the menu options I worked up. The call for proposals wasn’t specific about the type of meal you were hoping to have, so I worked up two plated menus and two buffet-style.”
Jackson nodded, snatched the papers from her hand, and leaned against his desk. “It wasn’t specific because the Senator hasn’t decided yet. I think she’s hoping to see a menu that tempts her and choose based on that.”
“Ah.” Paige licked her lips. “I was somewhat surprised that the hotel you listed was willing for you to bring in an outside caterer. Don’t they generally cater things in-house?”
“They do. And they put in a proposal as well. But the Senator doesn’t want the same-old hotel dinner fundraiser that every politician in D.C. puts on. The hotel isn’t a firm venue, either. We’re exploring some options that might be outdoors. Would that be a problem?”
“Not necessarily.” Paige subtly wiped her sweaty palms along the side of her legs. “Though it does raise some questions about the kitchen. If I need to bring everything prepared, with no on-site kitchen space, a buffet is really my preference. Transporting chafing dishes and food to the venue is simpler than trying to plate somewhere without a kitchen. With a buffet, it’s a simple matter of keeping things warmed appropriately and making sure nothing runs out.”
“All right, we’ll keep that in mind.” He pursed his lips as his eyes roved over her suggested menus. “These definitely aren’t the typical fare I’m used to seeing for events. Do people really eat beef tongue?”
She tensed to keep her shoulders from slumping. He hadn’t read any of the information about her company and its principles, had he? “They do. It’s an incredibly tender meat when it’s done right and half the time, people don’t realize what it is. One of the goals of Taste and See Catering is to maximize our stewardship of the Earth in our cooking. When I purchase beef, I buy a share of a cow and use all the cuts that come from that share. For an event of this size, even avoiding any of the inferior cuts, I’ll end up with the tongue. It makes a great appetizer.”
“What size cow is going to give you a hundred steaks?”
Paige sighed. “There isn’t one. Even in the plated option, you’ll notice that individual steaks—or chicken breasts or whatever—isn’t an option. That’s simply not in line with how my business runs.”
Jackson scratched his chin as he looked at her. He gave a brief nod. “Clearly I need to re-read your initial proposal more carefully.”
She gave a tight smile. “If it ends up changing your mind, I understand. Not everyone is comfortable with making an effort to live gently.”
“I’ll be in touch by the end of the week.” Jackson motioned toward the door. “Let me show you out.”
Since I linked this in as part of Christian Fiction Friday – I’m editing to add their little blurb to the bottom – definitely stop by and read some other snippets added today!
Christian Fiction Friday is a weekly blog hop where authors post snippets from their current Works in Progress. It is hosted by Alana Terry and Hallee Bridgeman. – See more at: http://www.bridgemanfamily.com/hallee/#sthash.jVt9uCrK.dpuf