This book will launch on Dec 9, 2019. Currently, only those with the link can see it.🔒
Synopsis

Disruption by Design, a heart-warming enemies-to-lovers (standalone in the Having-It-All series) romantic women's fiction story about the lengths we'll go to for best friends, to mend broken families and to avoid best-laid plans getting derailed by the destiny that we deserve.

What is the price of sacrifice, when love is the prize?

Alexa is a gifted architect who grew up watching her mother pay a heavy price for love, at the loss of her freedom, her creativity and her identity– a price Alexa swore she would never pay. She spent her youth helping her working mom take care of their home, her sick father and her six younger siblings. Now nothing will stand in the way of her success.

Bruce has success in spades, living a life of leisure after selling his software company for millions. But money can't buy what he desires most. As a child his mother left him and his brothers in the care of his bullying dad- now Bruce craves the love and nurturing of a woman, a comfortable home and a family of his own.

When a crisis obliges them to play house, can a few weeks in close company disrupt their carefully constructed worlds?

C H A P T E R 1

Alexa’s eyes danced lovingly over the harmonious lines of the Arts

Centre in the digital rendering hanging on Krystof’s office wall.

Her heart swelled with pride at its elegance and beauty, and her pulse

raced in anticipation of Krys’s imminent arrival. The committee simply

had to select it, and then, if all went well, she’d be appointed the project

architect to see her own design through to realization.

“It’s brilliant. Your best work. You know it’ll win,” Peter said from

over her shoulder.

She turned to offer her friend a grateful smile. The buzz had been

encouraging. Today the Coal Harbour Civic Society would award the

new Albion and Beatrice Rose Arts Centre contract. She was convinced

Vision Architecture would win, and at last she would get to be project

architect on the development of her deepest desire. Her castle-in-the-air

would become a genuine, bricks-and-mortar monument in the city.

And she would be a star. "Let's hope I actually get the chance to see it

through, Pete." Then she’d finally get recognition for her talent and

hard work. When others saw and acknowledged her work, then she’d

know she’d achieved success. And the only way she knew how to do

that was with her name: Alexa Jenner.

“Don’t fret, honey. Krys has to give you the job. It’s your concept.

He’s knows you’re the only one who can execute it properly.”

“Thanks, Pete,” Alexa whispered, and gave him a quick hug.

“You’re a contender too, you know.”

“Hardly. But I’ll be happy to work on it with you.”

“You two make me sick.” Nathan’s superior lazy voice cut in as he

sauntered in through the office door late for work, even today, and as

unconcerned as ever. “Not only is that patently untrue, but the odds are

Krystof will assign me as project architect. You know he wants to. The

Roses know me, after all.”

Tension fluttered behind her ribs. Alexa knew that was true, at least

technically. It shouldn’t matter. There was no place for nepotism with

this project.

“That's not how you get ahead in this business, Nathan. You’ve got

three years less work experience than Alexa. You couldn't even manage

the Arts Centre if it fell on you.”

“We’ll see,” Nathan replied with a smirk and swivelled, plopping

down into a chair. His usual chair, the one he always seemed to be in

when he and Krystof were joking around, instead of at his desk

working like everyone else.

Arrogant prick, Pete mouthed to her behind Nathan’s back. His eyes

fluttered and rolled to the ceiling in characteristically melodramatic

fashion and Alexa suppressed a smile.

“First we have to win the contract, people,” Alexa said.

The three colleagues and rivals all turned toward the door as a

ripple of awareness fluttered through the office like a Pacific Northwest

gust through the downtown core, telegraphing the boss's arrival.

Outside in the studio, people tensed, sat up, inhaled. Alexa’s pulse

skipped a beat.

She had been an architect long enough to know that the glamorous

image of architecture portrayed in books and movies was only partly

true. It was true enough for a very small number of lucky individuals.

The chosen few. Like Krystof Konstantin. In this business, a lot of

talented people toiled away in obscurity their entire careers. That

wasn’t enough for her. Architecture was a business in which stardom

was determined as much by politics, charisma, connections. And

commitment. She didn't have the benefit of Nathan's connections.

People who didn’t know her well thought she was hard, driven, even

humourless. That stung. They didn’t understand her at all. She’d sacrificed

too much to give up now. She had a plan. This high profile project

was an important step. A recognizable name. One day soon, she’d own

her own studio with the freedom and autonomy that brought. She

could feel adrenalin shudder through her body in anticipation.

2 M. A. CLARKE SCOTT

“Peter,” Krystof said as he entered in his quiet, rasping tenor with

an exotic hint of his native Polish accent. “Alexa. Nate. Sit down,

please.”

She looked up as he spoke her name, Her face impassive hiding her

stuttering heartbeat. She had to let things unfold naturally.

No one knew Krystof had as good as promised her this role. No one

knew of their understanding. No one, not even Peter, knew of their

relationship.

They sat in a row facing his desk. Krystof stood behind it, his back

to them, staring out over the city view. His neatly manicured, elegant

hands were clasped loosely at his back forming a ‘V’, his sapphire ring

gleaming in the sunlight. Alexa could picture them sketching, inspired

fluid lines flowing from the nib of his fountain pen. Krys’s perfectly

groomed salt-and-pepper hair gleamed, and she dropped her eyes. She

looked at the others instead of staring at Krystof’s trim body in his slim

custom Gucci suit. It wouldn’t do to get caught ogling the boss’s ass,

tight as it was. She sighed, feeling a tingle of heat flood through her, not

sure if it was the excitement of his pending announcement that caused

her flux, or the remembrance of his expert kisses and embraces.

A part of her mind shied away from the truth of her affair with

Krystof, but she knew in her heart that if she got this project, it would

be because of hard work, sacrifice and merit, not because she also

happened to have a relationship with the boss. That was another thing

altogether. No one worked harder or was more committed than she

was. And she had talent too. Plenty of it.

Peter shifted his weight from one side to the other, uncrossing and

crossing his legs. Nathan leaned back, stroking his pretentious little

moustache, unable to hide his eagerness, despite his entitlement and

expectation of success. He hardly needed to shave at all, but that didn't

stop him from pretending to be mister haute couture, with his slicked

back hair and trendy almost-beard.

Alexa tried to stay calm, but her nervous energy couldn't be

contained, either. Her own foot jiggled uncontrollably.

Krystof turned and braced his manicured fingers on the polished

hardwood desktop, immaculate and clear of clutter as usual, and

leaned forward slightly, his graphic Dior tie swinging out gently like a

clock’s pendulum. Tic-toc. She glanced at his lean handsome face at the

exact moment his lips parted in teasing grin.

She recognized a predatory gleam of amusement and sexual energy

DISRUPTION BY DESIGN 3

in his pale silvery eyes. He loved this opportunity to perform, to hold

an audience in his grip. To say he was vain was an understatement, but

he was awfully good to look at.

They had both long ago mastered their emotions and their body

language in the office. His family, her career, both their reputations

depended upon discretion. Office romances were problematic, that

much they acknowledged.

Finally he spoke, his voice as seductive as a wisp of opium smoke,

slipping across one’s senses. Hypnotic. No wonder he was such a

successful architect. That, and being brilliant.

“I want to commend all of you on your very hard work on this

proposal.” He sat down, spine straight and clasped his fingers in front

of his chest. “Also, I wish to congratulate you on a well done job. You

have reason to be proud, especially Jenner for her brilliant concept, as

we know. I have good news." He flashed his best Hollywood smile as

he looked at each of them in turn, Alexa lastly and very briefly. "We

have been awarded the contract for the new Rose Centre for the Arts.”

She followed suit when Peter and Nathan shot their fists into the air

with hoots and shouts of triumph. News travelled quickly through the

thin office partitions. As their colleagues interpreted the news of their

collective success from their own cheer, the walls muffled a thundering

reply of shouts and applause.

Krystof smiled indulgently and continued. “This is a big one, even

for a firm the size of Vision. At least two of you will continue working

on this project to completion.”

Alexa sensed rather than saw Pete and Nathan nod, each holding

his breath.

“Unfortunately, I can name only one of you as Project Architect. But,

as you know, I value each of you the same, and it will be a difficult…”

He waved a expressive hand through the air, “…and somewhat arbitrary

decision. You are each worthy and capable.”

Silence. That wasn't true and they all knew it. Alexa caught a smug

expression on Nathan’s face from the corner of her eye. He was so sure

of himself, but he would be sadly disappointed. It would feel good to

wipe that cocky look off his face.

“But!” Krystof’s white smile was broad and sunny. “We will not

think of that today. I will decide in next week. Today is a day of celebration

for all.”

So. No decision today. They let out their held breaths as one, and

4 M. A. CLARKE SCOTT

began to rise. She wouldn't mind facing down the envious stares of her

peers when she was chosen. At least Pete would congratulate her, and

mean it. But from Nathan, she dreaded the suppressed animosity. He

was such an ass.

She turned to Peter, who embraced her. “Congratulations, Alexa.

You did it.”

She had. “We did this together,” she said, leaning into him with a

satisfied grin.

“Oh please. Are you girls done hugging so we can get back to

work?” Nathan opened the door and stepped out murmuring, “Who

do you think you are Jenner, a star-chitect?”

Ever loyal, Peter elbowed past him, head shaking, and returned to

his desk without acknowledging Nathan’s snark.

“She’s got some serious design chops, Nate, and you know it,”

Krystof said. “You could learn a thing or two from Alexa if you got out

of your own way, boy.” At Nathan’s petulant look, Krystof sent him a

meaningful glance.

“Go to work. Try to get something done, and later we’ll all have a

drink together.”

Alexa lagged, affecting indifference, but moved towards the door

without looking back.

“Jenner. Just a moment. May I have a word with you?”

She stopped and turned, feigning mild surprise. “Sure, Krystof. I

was going to ask you about that change order on the Surrey research

lab, anyway.”

“Yes, about that… Close the door, please.”

She did.

His hands gripped her hips silently from behind, and pulled her

into the hard ridge of his groin, his face nuzzling her shoulder, his hot

breath on her hair. She turned in his arms, and he pulled her close so

she could inhale the scent of his warm body and expensive cologne.

More hot flashes.

“Oh, Krys. I’m so happy. This is a… such a coup for us.” She kept

her voice low, just above a murmur, despite wanting to squeal.

Between clenched teeth, on his breath, he whispered, “This is your

triumph. Your vision and your energy, Jenner. You’re the reason we

won this job.” He squeezed her butt and pulled her more tightly

against his erection, the rasp of his face against her neck.

She stifled the urge to make mewling, falsely humble denials. It was

DISRUPTION BY DESIGN 5

her and she knew it. That proposal and those presentations contained a

piece of her soul. “Why are you stalling with the assignment?”

“I want everyone to be able to celebrate the win before having to let

anyone down with mundane project management decisions. The whole

team worked on it together. I don’t want any sophomoric jealousy to

spoil the day.

Alexa conceded, he had a point. That was one of the reasons he was

such a good leader. He really understood people.

“And I want to have a private celebration with you, my dear,” he

whispered, his voice hoarse with need as his mouth closed in on hers.

“Give me that sexy mouth of yours.” He covered her mouth with his

own, his tongue probing urgently, possessively, sending a coil of heat

spiralling through her core. But this was not the time or place.

“Easy, Krys, you’ll wrinkle my shirt. Not in the office.” What was

up with him? He was usually more discrete. She squirmed and pushed

gently at his chest as he resisted, then stepped away, whispering, “I

want it settled so we can start work.”

He straightened up, stepped back with a frustrated sigh. Then he

flashed her a charming leer. “You’re so sexy when you’re working. Your

brain makes me hard as a rock. I love you bossy. It makes me want to

distract you.”

She dipped her head and smiled up at him. “If you do I’ll make you

very sorry, in more ways than one.” He could tease, but she wouldn’t

be distracted. She'd work harder than ever to convince him to give her

this project.

He laughed. “I can’t wait. When can we meet?” His silver eyes

darkened under the square shelf of his brow.

She shrugged. “That depends on you.”

A shadow passed across his eyes and he turned back to his desk.

“It’s true. Biljiana wants me around to help with the kid.”

“What's he doing now?”

“Jaroslaw’s fifteenth birthday is this weekend. I have to be there.”

His voice was soft, apologetic. “But tonight?”

She nodded. She was glad he made himself available for his son,

even though he always complained about spending time with his exwife.

“I’ll see you later.” She shrugged, opening the door. Not a proper

date. They could perhaps slip away from the work crowd for a brief

interlude.

6 M. A. CLARKE SCOTT

T

Krystof’s voice rose and carried out the door with her. “Don’t be

afraid to put your foot down, Jenner.” His smile patronized as he

followed her to the door, standing there. “You need to be tough with

these guys or they’ll push you around.” For appearances sake, he

always gave her a gentle rebuke.

It was kind of ridiculous, given her reputation at construction sites.

She shook her head, smiling a little at the ruse. As if she’d ever had

trouble dealing with contractors. They shook in their steel-toed workboots

when they saw her coming, all five foot feisty two of her. Krystof

liked to play off her petite size, coaching her to be tougher. But he knew

exactly how tough she could be, on the job and after hours. Tough was

how he liked her.

When she got back to her desk, the message light was blinking. She

picked up the receiver and pushed the button.

“Alex! It’s me.”

Kate! And she sounded frantic.

“Markus and I are on our way downtown. Meet us at the food fair in the

mall for lunch. I have to tell you something important!”

What could be so urgent?

he morning sun refracted into a startling starburst through the

dark branches of the fir and hemlock trees that capped the ridge

of Eagle Point to the east. The sun was still too low to shine its weak

light on his Belle-Etoile, docked under the morning shadow of the ridge.

Bruce Koczynski stopped on the tarmac, mopping the water that

dripped from his freshly washed hair onto his brow and bare shoulders.

The cool sea air lifted moisture from his bare skin, tingling, raising

goose bumps. He gazed across the forest of masts swaying gently at

their moorings, and his soul sung. He gazed at the glittering jewels of

bright white light dancing on the surface of the rippled water, and his

heart soared like the seagulls drifting overhead. He gazed at his

beloved sailboat, his freedom, his home. At least for now.

He would never tire of this view.

Tien and Juan could keep their fancy corporate offices with corner

views of sprawling parking lots in Silicon Valley. Bruce missed his

friends and ex-business partners, of course, but he wouldn’t miss the

DISRUPTION BY DESIGN 7

amorphous years of back-breaking, eye-crossing drudgery cooped up

in a stuffy, windowless room. He wouldn’t miss breathing the stale offgases

of yesterday’s pizza, Red Bull and beer. He wouldn’t miss the

accumulated body odours of a bunch of overgrown adolescents who

never went home to bathe.

And he didn’t need any more money, thank you very much. He had

his millions and now he was living the life of his choosing. A life free of

responsibilities and encumbrances.

No, he would never tire of this view. A grumbling voice drew his

attention from the water.

“Goddam kids! Why don’t you carry your own shit?”

Bruce turned toward the exasperated exclamation, his neck tensing

in reflex at the echo of his bullying father’s strident voice. A man about

his own age wrestled with a wheelbarrow filled to the gunwales with

gear, half of it tumbling onto the pavement as he struggled to open the

security gate leading down to the dock.

Bruce loped forward. “Hey man. Let me give you a hand.” He

leaned on the gate, holding it open with his back, the cold steel grid

pressing into his bare skin. While the guy wrestled with a heavy,

lopsided duffle bag that threatened to topple to the ground, Bruce bent

and retrieved a few of the objects that had already fallen, including a

grimy threadbare stuffed cat with a missing ear.

A family man. Bruce gut twisted. He may be Bruce’s age, but he

carried himself like an old man, browbeaten. Broken. Almost the way

Bruce had felt at the end, before they’d sold the company. All worn out.

“Thanks,” he said as Bruce straightened up, handing him his stray

items. His smile was ready enough, but Bruce saw the lines of exhaustion

and stress around his eyes.

Bruce grinned. “No problem. Take it easy, dude.”

The guy trundled his load down the ramp, lurching with the effort.

Despite the early hour, his blue t-shirt was darkened with patches

of sweat.

Bruce followed him down the dock as he approached a forty-two

foot Catalina with the name Sea-Renity painted on her hull– that was so

obviously not the case. She was really more of a floating RV than a

serious sailing vessel, and the guy wouldn’t be finding any serenity

there. The deck was crowded with small bodies, water toys, colourful

bags, plastic crates. It was a miracle the tub was still afloat under all

that family crap.

8 M. A. CLARKE SCOTT

He shook his head. Bruce preferred his Spartan subsistence aboard

his thirty-seven foot racing X-yacht. Belle Etoile. His one true love.

“Dad-deee!” shrieked a tiny voice as a small red-haired girl hurled

herself at her father, nearly toppling him off the dock into the chuck.

“Neil? Did you unload the cooler?” murmured a distracted woman,

her head popping up through the hatch, pokes of auburn hair straying

from its long faded braid, a small infant strapped to her torso like koala

to a tree. “I’ve got to get that stuff put away before it gets warm. And

Cicely needs her milk.” The wife’s head swivelled toward Bruce as he

sauntered past, a wistful admiration in her eyes. The harried mother

yearning for escape. The dad looked desperate.

“Gimme a goddam chance, Sarah,” he muttered under his breath.

Bruce’s throat threatened to close up, and he forced air through his

nostrils, pushing the sensation away. Not exactly a picture of marital

bliss, as if there were such a thing.

He tossed Sarah a sexy wink and a charming smile. Let her believe

she was attractive and desirable. Her jaw dropped, she blinked, and

then she lit up with a bright, bashful smile. He recognized the girl

under the burden. It was always nice to be noticed and admired by the

ladies, even if they were overwrought mamas.

“Neil? Did you hear me?”

A beleaguered sigh issued from the guy as he parked the wheelbarrow

and unloaded it onto the deck of the boat. “No-oo. Not yet.”

“Aayeea Mateeeeee!” An older, freckled boy leaped from the foredeck

into the cockpit and climbed up onto the gunwale again, swinging

on the lifeline. “Can I drive, Dad? Can I?”

“Get down off of there.”

“But Daaaad. You promised!”

“Not now.” Neil stepped over the gunwale and, unexpectedly,

leaned in to kiss his beleaguered but now smiling wife. With a broad

grin, he cast his gaze at the colourful disorder around him.

“Ready, gang?”

Poor bugger. No one thinking clearly about their future could

possibly want a wife and three kids. No privacy. No peace. No solitude.

It was exactly the chaotic mix of mayhem and misery he remembered

from his own childhood. Minus the mother. Bruce ignored the tightness

in his chest and walked on, paying no heed to the cheer that rose up

from Neil’s menagerie.

Bruce laughed off the family drama and carried on down the dock.

DISRUPTION BY DESIGN 9

Nothing could disturb his sense of peace and contentment on this most

perfect of days.

His friend Simon, with two kids already, was an intelligent guy.

Bruce’d always looked up to him, envied him even. Ever since college,

Simon seemed to have the edge. He was the one who was better at

everything, the first to do everything, including getting married and

having a family. But that went pretty sour the first time around, and

Simon had a rough go of it for a while, raising Maddie on his own.

Which only proved that having a family was a huge mistake. You

couldn’t expect both parents to stick around for the duration. And if

you couldn’t be there for your kids when they needed you, you

shouldn’t have them at all.

He was glad Simon was now married to Kate, though. What a transformation.

Finally he could be happy with someone who loved him

and appreciated him. He deserved that more than anyone. Bruce

guessed it was to be expected that they would have kids together.

But, as much as he admired his friend, Bruce preferred his peaceful

solitude. He had it good. After dodging decisions and shirking responsibilities

since he’d sold the software company last year, Bruce finally

had it all figured out. He’d bought his beautiful sailboat, Belle Etoile.

He’d found the perfect little investment property to renovate. And he

was going to have the summer of his dreams.

He was living an uncomplicated bachelor’s life aboard the boat, and

would turn that tumbledown shack into a sexy bachelor pad and a tidy

profit. It would be fun. Excellent fun.

He’d lost his direction the past few years, working too hard and

playing too hard, and then woke up one day and realized he wasn’t

having fun and he didn’t much like himself, either. Selling the company

was part one. Deciding to buy the house and work on it gave him

something to focus on, a project with tasks and a goal, something to

add structure and discipline to his new life as well as make him feel

productive. He was counting on it to pull himself out of the hole he’d

dug himself into.

It was easy to make money when you had money. And he was

looking forward to doing much of the work himself. Despite his

father’s opinion of him, he wasn’t a soft, klutzy computer geek that

didn’t know one end of a hammer from the other. After growing up the

underdog and perpetual novice in a family of tradesmen and handymen,

Bruce was anxious to put his renovation skills to the test. He’d

10 M. A. CLARKE SCOTT

always enjoyed working with his hands, but his craftsman’s approach

had never met with anything but criticism and scorn. For once in his

life, he’d be in charge of a job and would do it his way, testing and

honing his skills as he went. And if that didn’t go well, he had the

money to hire the help he needed.

Movement up ahead caught his eye. The old guy was up and about,

sitting in his fishing boat three bays over, sorting and untangling his

gear. It stupefied Bruce how much time the old guy could spend

mucking with his fishing gear. But then, unlike family-dude Neil, he

had plenty of time on his hands. Just like Bruce, he was alone. Peaceful

and alone.

Bruce raised a hand in salute, and…what was his name? Oh, right,

Jørgen. From Norway. Jørgen waved back with a nod of his speckled

balding pate. He was a nice guy.

Jorgen’s melodic voice rose up over the sounds of rigging pinging in

the breeze. “Do you still want to go out fishing with me, son?”

“Sure do, Jørgen,” Bruce replied. “When?”

Jørgen glanced up at the sky. “Tomorrow.”

“You bet.” Bruce smiled and dropped down into his own cockpit,

ducking into the cabin. It was roomy for one. What did a guy need,

after all, besides a sleeping bag, a bit of granola and some beer, and a

good book for the evenings? He missed having a television, since his

was in storage, but there was always somewhere you could go to catch

a game and a little company.

It would be great when he finally moved into his new place, though,

even if it would be for only a year. Meantime, he would have a little fun

with his summer project.

His cell phone rang, and he rummaged for it under last night’s

discarded clothing. “Yeah. Bruce here.”

“Bruce. It’s Simon.”

“Sharpy! What’s up?” Speak of the devil.

“I have a favour to ask. Have you got some time today?”

Bruce consulted his watch. “I’m heading up to the house in a while.

Meeting a guy up there. Have lunch with me. You want to bring the

burgers and I’ll pick up some beer?”

“Okay. See you in about an hour.”

“You remember the address? Seaview Place, you’ll see my truck.”

“Right.”

Bruce pocketed his phone, wondering what could be important

DISRUPTION BY DESIGN 11

enough to drag Simon out of the office and across the bridge mid-day.

He had time to pick up a cold six-pack from the pub and deal with the

hauler before Simon showed up. He hadn’t had breakfast, but what the

hell. Burgers and beer for breakfast were okay with him. After all, he

was used to cold pizza and Red Bull.

About the author

MaryAnn Clarke Scott set out to write engaging stories that walk a tight rope between heart-warming Romance and intelligent Women's Fiction. The Art of Enchantment, Book 1 in the Life is a Journey series, is a Chatelaine Grand Prize winner and Next Generation Indie Book Awards Romance Finalist. view profile

Published on January 01, 2018

Published by

100000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Women's fiction

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