As We Lay: A Novel by Darlene JohnsonAs We Lay: A Novel by Darlene Johnson

As We Lay: A Novel

byDarlene Johnson

Mass Market Paperback | March 24, 2009

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Indianapolis architect Breck Lawson has just received the call of her career: Eric Warren, a prominent property manager, is considering her to design a multicultural center in Boston. It’s a break that could launch Breck into the who’s who of the architectural world. But soon it’s clear that Eric is offering more than just a business deal. As she develops a friendship with the married man, which eventually turns into something deeper, Breck reassures herself that she’s content to remain “the other woman.” But after a tragic accident, she learns that the survival of Eric’s child, Darius, and the well-being of Eric’s wife, Gaby, depend entirely on her–and her willingness to share the truth. But the revelation could destroy her reputation, her business, and the lives of two families. Now Breck must decide if she has what it takes to put it all on the line.
Darlene Johnson is the author of Dream in Color. She is employed in information technology for the financial industry and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her two sons.
Title:As We Lay: A NovelFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 6.8 × 4.2 × 1 inPublished:March 24, 2009Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345510704

ISBN - 13:9780345510709


Read from the Book

Chapter One The workplace attire in the small, three- person office Breck leased each month was business casual or whatever you happened to put your hands on that morning. When it came to style, Breck was the worst. Most mornings she strolled into the office wearing the jeans she had thrown over her bedroom chaise the night before. Her secretary, Tachi Tanaka, Chi for short, was the fashionable one. Her name was pronounced “Kie”; however, most people who only saw it written said “She.” Whether or not Chi corrected them was determined by their importance. “It’s not worth the breath,” she explained to Breck one day when her name was called for a table at a restaurant.Chi was blessed with the type of beauty and petite frame that always made her look good no matter what she wore. She had both women and men falling all over her and throwing credit cards and gifts at her just to take her out. She accepted the gifts, of course, but it was only the women she was interested in. She never deceived the men about her sexual preference, but most of them still vied for the chance to be the one to “convert” her. The ones with the largest egos insisted that after one night with them she would never look at a woman again.Even with her flawless beauty, Chi was extremely self- conscious about her breasts, or lack thereof. So she took a two-week vacation and had the problem rectified. “What Mother Nature didn’t give me, Dr. Anderson did,” Chi sang as she pulled her shirt tight around her enlarged bosoms.Breck hired Chi straight out of junior college, where she’d received an associate’s degree in business administration, but the only thing the school had prepared her for was a high-level administrative-assistant position. Chi knew how to use all of the office software programs, write business letters, and run an office efficiently, thus making her perfect for the position. The initial interview lasted over six hours; she and Breck ended up leaving the office together and headed to a local martini club for a drink.The third person in the office was the part-time CAD specialist, Jonathan Franks. By day Jonathan was a computer opera- tor. He’d taken the extra job to support a wife and three kids. He worked nights during the first part of the week, and Breck hardly saw him. The only evidence that he even existed was the computer-image file he left for her. breck sat in her office overlooking the canal. Every time the phone rang, her pulse hammered until Chi verified it was not the call she was hoping for. Was Eric Warren ever going to call her back? It had been nearly a month since he’d phoned her after she had been recommended to him by one of her other clients. Breck had spoken with him briefly then about designing a convention center in Mansfield, Massachusetts. His voice sounded formidable as he questioned her about her previous work. Nothing she had done in the past was on the scale of what he wanted. But she had convinced Mr. Warren to look at her designs, and he had invited her to visit him and his partner, Stephen Peterson, to go over the ideas for the center and see the actual building site. Naturally, Breck had accepted. She would have been a fool not to.Breck had flown to Boston and shown up at the Warren & Peterson Property Management office dressed in a brand-new Donna Karan business suit, only to be greeted by Eric Warren’s fashionable secretary, Gloria, with the news that he had been called away on an emergency and would not be able to make it. Stephen Peterson would accompany her to the site and answer any questions. Gloria escorted her to Mr. Peterson’s office.The contemporary interior decorating coupled with an impeccable view of Boston Harbor made the Warren & Peterson offices extraordinary. You could see the ocean from all the east-wing offices. The firm was located on the top floor of a downtown Boston tower, where each employee enjoyed the luxury of a private office. The staff was kept small, which accounted for the vast wealth racked up by the two partners.Breck waited for almost thirty minutes outside Stephen Peterson’s office. Occasionally his secretary would glance up apologetically as she sorted through the barrage of mail dumped on her desk. The wooden nameplate on her desk read “Amy Snow,” prominently scribed in gold-plated lettering. Several times Breck had to stand up to keep the sweat from staining the underside of her skirt. Finally Ms. Snow took an incoming call and announced that Mr. Peterson was ready to see her.Peeling the back of her thighs from the leather chair, Breck stood up and flattened the wrinkles in her skirt with the palm of her hand before the secretary escorted her through the oak double doors.“Have a seat, Ms. Larson.” Stephen Peterson motioned her to the chair in front of his impressive oak desk. As she walked across the thick mauve carpet, his eyes remained fixed on the computer monitor on the left corner of his desk. He was more than six feet tall, with a protruding midsection that revealed that his after hours were not spent in a corporate gym. She sighed when she saw she would have to do battle with yet another leather chair. She sat and placed her portfolio case next to her.Stephen Peterson still did not look up. Breck folded her arms across her chest and looked around the uptight office. The sun streamed through the large windows and bounced off his bald head. In the center of each impeccably papered wall hung paintings by contemporary artists in frames that probably cost as much as the artwork itself. A collection of miniature bronze and copper statues was displayed on the oak file cabinet behind his desk.“I’ll be right with you,” he mumbled, seeming reluctant to draw his attention away from the computer screen. After several minutes he finally swerved his chair to the center of the desk. “Eric’s been called away on an emergency,” he said, repeating what Gloria had already told her. He reached inside a desk drawer, pulled out a massive folder, and flopped it on top of the desk. “He asked that I see you get all the information you need when you visit the site. Gloria will be accompanying you and should be able to answer most of your questions. If not, perhaps you can find the answer in this.” He pushed the folder toward her and settled back in his chair, waiting for her to respond.“You won’t be joining us?” she asked. If he wasn’t taking her, then why in the hell was she still here?“This is Eric’s project,” he said, throwing up his hands and waving them as if the whole thing were a big inconvenience. “Gloria knows what Eric wants done more than I do, so I’m handing you off to her.”Getting rid of me sounds more like it, Breck thought as she flipped through the papers of building specifications and zoning requirements. “When is Mr. Warren due back?” she asked, hoping that he would at least be available to talk with her before she returned to Indianapolis.“It’s hard to say at this time, but it’s very doubtful he’ll return before you leave.”Breck sighed and tried desperately not to lose her cool. She’d spent over a thousand dollars on her suit and canceled several appointments to travel to Boston, only to be put off and discarded.“Excuse me,” he announced, reaching across his desk and picking up the telephone. He pressed three buttons and waited. “Gloria, are you ready to join Ms. Larson?” he asked, spinning his chair to look at the panoramic view of Boston Harbor. “Wonderful. She’ll be waiting for you in my lobby.” He turned to face her again before replacing the handset.That was her cue. Not only was the bastard not taking her to the site, but he’d just politely kicked her out of his office. And not a moment too soon, she reasoned, standing and tucking the portfolio case underneath her arm. “Where should I leave this?” she asked.“What is it?”“My portfolio.”“Give it to Gloria,” he said, then returned to his computer. He didn’t even bother to say good-bye.Breck eyed him, biting back the urge to snap at him for his callous demeanor. She turned and quickly exited the office before she lost her cool. Gloria was approaching her in the foyer from the opposite corridor.“Are you ready?” Gloria asked, slipping her arms through the sleeves of a thin sweater.“Yes, but I don’t want to lug this around with me,” Breck said, holding up the giant case.“Are those your designs?”“Yes.”“We can leave those in Mr. Warren’s office. He’ll want to look at them.” She headed back down the corridor, with Breck following close behind.Another set of double oak doors was on the opposite end of the corridor. Breck assumed this was Eric Warren’s section. Like Amy’s desk, Gloria’s desk was placed a few feet in front of the doors. Anyone wanting to see these gentlemen would first have to get by their gatekeepers. Gloria opened her desk and pulled out a large set of keys, rifling through them until she found the one that unlocked the office.Eric Warren’s office smelled of wood polish. Breck stood in the doorway feeling as though walking into his office would somehow invade his space.“I’ll take that.” Gloria took the portfolio case and walked across the plush carpet toward the enormous oak desk. As evidenced by the carpet, Mr. Warren hadn’t been in the office that day. The triangular designs left by the cleaning staff’s vacuum were still fresh on the carpet. Each time Gloria lifted her foot, a pointy-toed shoe print remained. From the doorway Breck noted that in contrast to his partner’s office, Mr. Warren’s had friendly pieces of childish artwork framed on the walls—handprints and what appeared to be a child’s first attempt with paint and a paintbrush.“Interesting artwork,” Breck said, smiling. At least one of the Warren & Peterson partners seemed like an empathetic human being. “Mr. Warren is a family man,” Gloria said, placing the portfolio case on the desk. “His son made the paintings, and his wife decorated the office.” She rejoined Breck and locked the door.“So, what is he like?” Breck asked as they headed to the elevator. Even the elevator door was oak-paneled.“Nothing like him. Believe me.” Gloria motioned her head toward Stephen Peterson’s area.“That’s good to know.” The two ladies took the company’s limousine and driver to the Mansfield site, where they met with Martin Stone and his partner, Brian Ramsey, who owned the construction company responsible for building on the empty lot. It turned out that the two men were longtime friends of Eric Warren’s and Mansfield was the small community they were all raised in. Over lunch Breck learned that the convention center would be part of a broader community-revitalization project. Warren & Peterson owned most of the vacant buildings and old homes in Mansfield, with Eric having the controlling interest. Their motive didn’t seem to be making money since most of the sales were well below market value.

Editorial Reviews

“A hit in every way . . . quality woman’s fiction.”—QBR: The Black Book Review

“Enjoyable . . . a modern romance—full of great sex and plenty of conflict.”—Publishers Weekly