What Connor’s matchmaking Uncle Leo couldn’t do in his life was to arrange to have the two people he knew were soul-mates to get together once and for all after his death. Neither Connor nor Layla stand a chance against the fates—but then, Layla knows this stranger is the man for her from the minute he walks into the soup kitchen.
She studied Max Conner from under her lashes. He stood six feet or more, slender with broad shoulders, tapered waist and long legs. She guessed him to be in his mid to late thirties. His dark brown hair was tipped with silver wings, giving him a distinguished look. Thick brows arched over his grey eyes. The small cleft in his chin begged her to kiss it. She stifled a gasp. What in the world was wrong with her? Geez, someone would think she hadn’t been laid in months.
Well, okay, she hadn’t, but still…Maximilian Conner was so far out of her league she was surprised she could even see him on the field.
“Miss Layla, I’m done slicing the lettuce for the salad. What do you need me to do now?”
Layla turned toward Ruby, grateful for the diversion. “I need some onions minced for the soup. But before you do that, check in the pantry to see if we have any celery seed. If we don’t, you’ll need to run to the store.”
“Sure thing, Miss Layla.” The girl returned in a minute with a bottle in her hand and asked, “Will this be enough?”
“It’ll do. I need three cups of minced onions.”
Ruby grinned at her, snuck a quick, but assessing look at Max, then went to get the onions. Layla returned to washing mushrooms. As they worked, he asked questions about the center, which she answered with enthusiasm.
The East Side Community Center was her life, to such an extent she hadn’t had a serious relationship in over five years. Oh, she’d dated here and there, but no one had turned her head or her heart. No instant spark—until now. Lord, the room fairly crackled with the undercurrent she felt from Max.
What had he asked? Oh, yeah. When had she started working at the center?
“I started while in college.” She’d gotten a double major in sociology and business from the University of Houston. “The center was nothing more than a hangout for street kids then, a place to learn how to live on the streets rather than how to get off them.”
After graduating, she took the assistant manager’s job. The first thing she changed was the soup kitchen, at the time nothing more than a dingy dining room with third-hand tables and mismatched chairs. She’d turned it into a pleasant, warm restaurant-styled place where people could relax and feel welcome.
Over the years she’d obtained grants to expand the services for the center’s clients. That’s how she met Leo Tristam, CEO of an international company who was more than a bit eccentric. He’d also pitched in to help improve the center.
She soon learned he was a wannabe match maker, too. Layla couldn’t make him understand that dating his nephew and Vice-President of Acquisitions, Conner, wasn’t going to happen. What she’d heard about Conner’s jet-setting, international escapades made her hair curl and Lord knew her hair had enough curl. Why Leo thought she and Conner were soul mates, she never understood.
Layla sighed. It would have been nice to meet the man Leo regarded so highly, even if nothing came of it. But now with Leo dead, it was doubtful she’d meet his nephew. She’d hoped to hear from Conner when she learned of Leo’s death a month ago, but she hadn’t gotten as much as a phone call. Evidently, they weren’t each other’s destiny, as Leo had predicted.