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Playground Antics

At the same time, the door swung open, and the mayor walked in.


"So, how is our playground project progressing?" he asked.


"One company has the bid package, and another is stopping by today for one."


Beth expected a pleased reaction, not a frown. He quickly masked it with a smile.


"Well done. Do we know anything about this other company?"


"Ah, the name was a bird." She sifted through her notes from the day's activities.


A knock on the door sounded, though it sat ajar from the mayor's entrance.


"Excuse me. I'm here for an invitation to bid package."


The mayor spun around to face the intruder.


"Who do you represent?" he asked.


"Myself, I guess. I'm Jace Sims, owner of Falcon Construction. I'm looking for Beth Collins."


"I'm Beth. Thanks for stopping by for the bid information." She stepped forward and handed him a thick package. When their fingers touched, her eyes sought his. Did he experience the same blast of awareness coursing through her? "This envelope has all the project information. We're having a walk-through of the site this Friday at one o'clock. I hope you can join us."


"We'll be there. Thank you." Jace turned to leave, but the mayor's solid body blocked his way. "Is there something you wanted, Mayor?"


"Falcon Construction? Never heard of it. Why don't you forget about this and stick with whatever it is you normally do." He reached for the envelope in Jace's hand.


"We can handle this type of project. I was under the impression this was open to anyone." Jace's steel-blue eyes drilled into the mayor's eyes.


"It is open to all companies." Beth stood between the two men exuding masculine posturing. "We appreciate your interest in the project and look forward to receiving your bid." She hoped her words would end the unexpected confrontation. The mayor's words increased her apprehension over the ability to complete a legitimate and fair process. "Mayor Roebel, this is my project. I need you to back off."


"Excuse me? This is my city."


"We will have a fair process and follow the law." She smiled at Jace and lost her focus for a second within the depths of his eyes. "Allison and I will see you on Friday. Good luck."


"Thank you." Jace rounded the other man and walked out.


"You." The mayor pointed at Beth. "My office. Now." He stormed out.


"I've never seen him so mad," Allison whispered as though she feared he'd hear her. "I suggest you apologize and get that package back."


"I have nothing to apologize for. What he did was wrong and quite probably illegal. He'll be lucky if the city isn't sued by Mr. Sims."


"Do you think that guy would sue the city?"


"I have no idea, but if he did, we'd be involved as witnesses."


"I don't think I could testify against the mayor."


"You'd be compelled to tell the truth if it goes to court."


"As in swear on the Bible and tell the truth and nothing but the truth?"


"Yes. Hopefully, it doesn't happen. But just in case, I suggest you write a memo to document what happened and who said what."


"You'd better get to the mayor's office. He doesn't like to be kept waiting."


"Too bad. He interfered with our acquisition and put the city at risk."


"Don't say that to him! He won't like it. You don't want to be fired, do you?"


"That's ridiculous. I'll be back." She grabbed writing supplies, squared her shoulders, and strolled to the mayor's office.