Paige needed to keep the professional boundary between them. She was not the type to allow for blurring of the lines in her professional relationships, nor in her romantic ones.

”About your dinner offer, ” she said, tiptoeing around the name issue, ”Are we able to discuss these topics in a more formal setting? ”

”Im afraid not. My schedule is very tight. I have plans for dinner tonight that Id be rescheduling to meet with you, but I am willing to do that so we don have to wait 6 months to discuss these things. And who knows what the economy will be doing at that time. I might not have as many liquid assets available as I do right now. ”

Paige frowned slightly at his words before catching herself and having a contemplative expression. She felt like she was backed into a corner. The lot next to the building and this building itself meant a lot to her. Her dream was to have that lot turned into a large apartment building with low income housing that her clients could transition to once they were ready to leave her shelter. It would be help some of her clients that had to return due to not being able to afford rent in other places. Plus, she had history there.

Nathaniel could see that Paige wasn initially interested in going to dinner with him. He was trying to lure her with the promise of talk about additional donations but he would threaten her if he had to. He really didn want to, but he would. He needed to figure out this weird feeling that he was having and his odd behaviors.

”I guess I can agree to a business dinner to discuss this. Its very important to me. The shelter is my priority. ” She looked into his eyes, trying to convey that she was not interested in anything other than discussing the shelter.

”I realized that while you were giving the tour. You take pride in what you do here and I can see why. Alex told me that this was an abandoned building prior to you turning it into a shelter. Its certainly come a long way. ”

Paige wondered if maybe that was why he said those things earlier. Her head was spinning a little because she really felt like the man with her was maybe the good twin of the man she had been with around everyone else.

”Can I ask you something? Its personal, ” Paige questioned.

Nathaniel hoped that this would lead to her becoming more comfortable with him, so he was quick to answer her. ”Of course. Id like it if we got to know each other better. ”

Paige was puzzled and tried to figured out the best way to ask her question. She opted for an approach that had the least potential risk of offending him.

”Why are you so warm towards me? You also keep calling me Paige. Are you like this with other people? ” She tried to say this in her nicest voice.

Nathaniel chuckled before answering. Maybe this is a body double, Paige thought.

”Ive been calling you Paige because thats how you introduced yourself to me. You didn give your surname in our introduction, ” he started. Paige tried to remember and he was right. She didn give her surname to him, Alex did. She assumed he was lecherous because he gave his first name to her, but she did it first!

”I have carefully examined all of the grant proposals that you have ever made, read your graduate thesis and all publications related to the work you do, as I do with any organization that I donate to. I also looked at the distribution of assets and how much money you
e paying yourself and your other employees. You are extremely intelligent and thorough. I admire that. Its a pity that you chose the non-profit route. ”

”Why is that? ” she said softly. She was thinking that she might have had the wrong impression of this man.

”Because I wouldve hired you and we couldve made a lot of money together. Its a pity, ” he said. He wasn lying. He did read her proposals and thesis and she was extremely impressive. But, he wouldn be hiring her. He didn hire woman that he wanted to **; too messy.

”Not everyone wants money, ” she spat out. He was shocked at her change in demeanor. But, he had to admit that he liked the feistiness that he witnessed.

Paige didn mean to say it like that. ”Im sorry. My tone was off with that statement. ”

”It seems like thats a sore subject for you, ” he prodded.

”Id rather not discuss it. Lets head out. I would like to ensure that the cafeteria is ready to be toured and my supply room is organized, ” she said, pushing past him.

Nathaniel moved faster so he could open the door for her. When his right hand grabbed the doorknob, Paiges right hand grasped his. It felt so soft and his stomach did a somersault.

Paige gasped at her mistake. She tried to move her hand away but Nathaniels left hand softly grasped it and moved it from his right hand. He held it as he opened the door, then dropped it as he gestured for her to walk through. She silently marveled at the feeling of his hands on hers. They were warm and her heart kind of fluttered at the contact. Maybe I should ask the physician to check my heart the next time I see them, she thought.

”Sorry, I didn realize you were trying to get the door, ” she said bashfully. She walked through the open doorway and led him back to the cafeteria. There were a lot of people in there setting tables. Alex was counting the flower arrangements and Rhonda had a clipboard and was talking to Haley and pointing. It seemed like the extra hands that actually knew what the plan was were helpful.

”This looks more orderly. Lets talk details about dinner in your office, ” Nathaniel said. She didn realize that he was standing next to her. ”Alex, Ill be in the main office. Find me when its time to start. ” His voice was cold again.

”Of course. Right this way, ” Paige said. She led them through the building to her office. She was trying to figure out why he spoke to his employees like that when he walked over to her desk and inspected it.

”No photos. Minimal decorations, ” he said as he pulled open a drawer. ”Everything very orderly. I approve. ” He walked over to the opposite side of her desk and sat in the chair there while looking at Haleys desk. There were piles of papers strewn all over it. There were pens and highlighters mixed into the piles and underneath all of that were a few photos of Haley with her family and boyfriend. Paige sat in her chair, facing him.

”Thanks, I guess, ” Paige stated almost as if it were a question. ”You wanted to talk about dinner details? ”

”Any food aversions or allergies? ” Nathaniel questioned.

”Oh, thats thoughtful of you, ” Paige said, somewhat surprised. ”I don have any allergies that Im aware of. Im unsure what you mean when you say aversions. ”

”Oh, some people are vegetarians or don eat gluten for whatever reason. Some people dislike certain foods. I, personally, cannot stand red onion, ” Nathaniel said with hopeful eyes. Her desk had confirmed his suspicions; Paige was very private while being straightforward. Surprise dinner plans were out of the question. She would want to be prepared or she would be uneasy at the start, which he didn want. He wanted to use small talk to insert random knowledge about himself into the conversation and hoped that Paige would reciprocate with small details about herself. Maybe, just maybe, I can get her to jet her guard down, he thought.

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