If only for a time, p.1

If Only for a Time, page 1


If Only for a Time

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If Only for a Time

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  If Only for a Time

  A Romance Story


  January Fields

  If Only for a Time

  Copyright 2017 by January Fields

  All Rights Reserved.

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  Dear Romance Enthusiast,

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  Thank you for reading,



  To my fans, you are some of the best people I have ever had the chance of meeting.


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter One

  The jet lag was taking its toll. It wouldn’t be until the second day of the conference that Rebekah Edwards would feel like herself again.

  Until then, she was trudging amongst hurried bodies during the first session of the annual Sustainable Building Conference. After weeks of rushed planning to fit the three day event into her overflowing calendar, it was finally time to join the hand-picked crowd of global delegates in Singapore. Rebekah was convinced that this was exactly where she wanted to be; walking around and intermingling with names she’d only seen in industry journals and code books.

  She felt pangs of nervousness as she looked around at their faces. Focused. Passionate. Her idols. Too bad she was too exhausted to even hold her pen in its upright position. God, I hope no one saw that, her eyes bulged. How long had she been scribbling nothing in her notebook? Perhaps Lady Luck would be on her side for once and no one noticed her zombie mannerisms. She shot a quick glance over her shoulder to double check.

  She wasn’t exactly at the front of the queue when it came to being handed lucky cards. Civil engineering was still an uncommon career choice for young females in the United States. Rebekah had to fight more battles than just trying to master the concept of fluid dynamics. Nevertheless, it was her passion and she truly believed she was born for this profession, so when a colleague cancelled last minute, she gladly took advantage of their misfortune. Who knew when she’d get another opportunity to attend an international event of this magnitude? Convincing everyone else of this, however, was proving to be the difficult part.

  The fatigue loomed over her body like a stalking thunderstorm and she was finding it hard to concentrate. Considering the time difference, jet lag couldn’t really be pegged as the only culprit―the sheer exhaustion from the trip across the ocean was also a suspect.

  She cringed as she thought back to her flight. A creepy older man who didn't speak a word of English had sat beside her on the plane. Luckily he was in the window seat and she could lean into the aisle as far away from him as possible. He kept showing her pictures on his phone of a fancy yacht, pointing at her ringless finger, presumably asking if she was married. She tried ignoring him, and even put her headphones on, but he would always brush his pinky atop the bend in her knee as he shifted around in his seat. That simple touch alone was reason enough for her to suffer from dry eye and stare at the space between their bodies. Unfortunately, she was too polite to make a scene or bring it up with the air hostess. The journey north dragged on for hours, and she didn’t trust herself (or her neighbor rather) enough to sleep.

  As soon as the plane landed, Rebekah had an adrenaline rush; it was go go go. She was happy to have had escaped Mr. Creeper, but most of all she was excited for what she thought would be an incredible event. Even as she scurried to check in, she hardly had time to drop off her bags on the seventh floor―her home for the next few days―before having to report for the day. What she wasn’t expecting was a grueling afternoon of site visits and a session of uninspiring, awkward networking. During the initial walkabouts in the factories and manufacturing facilities, she was just another face―albeit a tired face―pretending to absorb all the technical information flying over her head. It’s not like she was taking any valuable notes anyways. Idiot, she scolded herself again. Part of her considered sneaking out into the hallway, or even the bathroom, to take a quick nap, but the possibilities ahead kept her going.

  While she was straggling behind, it was then that she saw a familiar face. She had met Akari on one of the shuttle rides between the earlier factory visits. Akari was a young female engineer from Japan, both girls were close in age. Rebekah had put Akari’s business card into her purse alongside the many others she’d collected during the ride. Except the difference between Akari and the others was that the two immediately clicked. After the initial chit-chat, she found the two of them had a lot more in common other than their mutual passion for engineering. Most of all she enjoyed Akari’s cheeky side comments and dry sense of humor.

  When she returned to her hotel room, Rebekah hurriedly threw open her worn suitcase and pulled out scatterings of clothes, digging to find the outfit she had packed for the cocktail party. Finding the various parts of the outfit she had crammed in her suitcase was more of a mission than she anticipated. She eventually managed to pull herself together enough to look as though she belonged.

  She tried to give a formal look to her shoulder length blonde hair that she tied into a bun atop her head, but it only managed to look disheveled. Her petite, athletic figure definitely looked chic in her red cocktail dress. Yes, this makes up for the hair. Unfortunately, no amount of makeup could make her piercing green eyes appear any less exhausted. She would make an effort to avoid the photographers for as long as possible.

  She unsurprisingly decided to leave the cocktail party early, despite enjoying more thought-provoking conversations with Akari. Her body was crashing fast and the main conference events hadn’t even begun yet. She slipped away after her second glass of champagne and fell asleep almost instantly when her body hit the massive bed of clouds. The red dress was discarded on the chair by the window and she passed out in only her underwear.

  The sleep had restored much of her vitality; the next morning she was slowly starting to feel functional. It was time to immerse herself fully into this conference and tackle the nerve-wrecking task of mingling with the successful strangers she wished to someday call her peers.

  Rebekah glanced at the event program printed on the back of the name badge hanging from her neck. There was so much happening today and so many great speakers. The one she was most excited about, however, was up next:

  Session 2: ‘Building Sustainable Communities for the Future in Developing Countries’ - Emile Martín, Head of Sustainability, Zenportech (Argentina)

  This was her discipline and she was hoping to be further inspired by this great man’s work. She had read a lot about Emile Mar
tín since starting her career and she was eager to hear him speak. What she wasn’t expecting was to be enraptured by more than just his passion for work.

  Chapter Two

  He was taller than she’d expected―that was her first thought as the man in the dark pinstripe suit took his spot behind the podium―and younger. He couldn’t have been more than thirty-five. His short hair was neatly cropped and his dark complexion radiated vitality. It seemed like he spent a great deal of time looking after himself, and his toned physique was visible even through his perfectly tailored suit. His appearance was a refreshing contrast from the other professionals who shared the stage throughout the day. They all looked uncomfortable in business attire, hastily put together in an awkward fashion that seemed appropriate, but not him. Emile Martín looked like he was born to wear a suit.

  He spoke confidently despite his thick accent and he was easily understood. His English was flawless and his command of an audience was mesmerizing. Rebekah found herself so absorbed in his speech. She only noticed afterward that she didn’t take a single note. She had just stared at the man who waved his hands around passionately, sharing his tales of benchmark projects commissioned all over South America, merging the worlds of cutting edge technology and affordable, robust solutions for the developing rural landscape.

  The combination of what he was saying and how he said it had her completely spellbound. By the end of the session, she had to restrain herself from catapulting herself up in a standing ovation. This man was achieving everything she had only managed to dream about on paper.

  She could hardly contain her excitement and spent most of the lunch break raving about the importance of Emile’s work to Akari, who was noticeably less interested in the topic. Akari listened diligently, nodding her head with an “uh-huh” from time to time to encourage Rebekah, who hadn’t even touched her food yet.

  Rebekah only fell silent when she got cut off mid-sentence by a familiar voice behind her. “Is this seat taken?”

  She spun around quickly, speechless. Friendly, inviting lips smiled back at her and she nodded her head stupidly.

  “She means no, go right ahead,” Akari smiled, winking at Rebekah.

  “Thanks, I’m starving.” He placed his plate heaped with food down and offered his hand in greeting. “Emile,” he said, sitting down next to Rebekah.

  Rebekah shook his firm grip but couldn’t manage to get any words out. She hadn’t expected to see him right next to her. So up close.

  “Hi Emile. I’m Akari and this is Rebekah,” her friend smiled, getting back to her lunch. “Great talk by the way―Rebekah has been raving about it.”

  “Akari,” she mumbled, kicking her friend under the table as Emile grinned.

  “Thank you, I’ll take the compliment,” he said, looking at Rebekah, who was still acting like an awkward teenager instead of a twenty-eight-year-old professional engineer.

  “So, tell me Rebekah, which aspect of my talk was it that got your attention?” he asked, making casual conversation as he started on his lunch.

  Your sexy face, she wanted to say. Rebekah recovered quickly, switching back into work mode with her usual “fake-it-till-you-make-it” stance kicking in as an instant defense mechanism. At least it was a topic that her brain didn’t have to overthink, unlike the one of trying to figure out why his unique scent was somehow familiar to her.

  "Well, I've always been interested in alternative building technology and finding ways to bring sustainability to the lower-income sector. It looks like you have found a way to commercialize sustainable building for the affordable housing sphere without compromising on quality. Needless to say, I'm very impressed―congratulations," she smiled back, never once breaking eye contact with the handsome stranger who seemed even more amiable in person.

  Nailed it.

  “Thank you,” he seemed suitably impressed that she actually seemed to grasp his vision instead of just offering an empty compliment. “It’s my life’s passion. It’s been a long road to get to this point. Before it was just a lot of banging on doors and trying to find someone willing to listen.”

  “I can imagine. People only care when there is big money involved.”

  “Sustainability can be such a tick box exercise done just to please investors. Real sustainability is a completely different story.”

  “The world needs more men like you, Mr. Martín.”

  “Emile, please,” he brushed his hand over hers in a friendly gesture. She didn’t understand the emotions she was feeling and she jerked away, accidentally dropping her fork.

  “I’m sorry, I’m so clumsy,” she blushed, picking up the utensil and tearing her eyes away from the pair she felt had been staring straight into her soul during the whole conversation.

  She tried to focus on her lunch after that, but all she could think about was the sweet smell of his aftershave and the proximity of him. He was intoxicating. She wasn’t used to being so instantly drawn to someone. The powerful combination of intelligence and attractiveness was irresistible.

  She managed to keep her cool somehow. Barely.

  Chapter Three

  By the time Emile left their table, Rebekah’s mind had wandered miles away from the conference. When Akari suggested that they skip out on the afternoon sessions and run away for sight-seeing instead, Rebekah didn’t hesitate. She knew there would be no way she could concentrate now, so she might as well see some of Singapore before they were carted off home the next day. It was unlike her. She would typically suffer through it. But Emile’s gaze and the heat, those feelings were undeniable. There was no way she could go back in there and keep her cool. It was her first time in Singapore, after all. Besides, she was hoping the distraction would calm her racing mind, busy with thoughts of Emile, despite her every attempt to divert them away.

  Rebekah knew she was being ridiculous, but couldn’t help but fantasize of a world where they could run away and design incredible projects together, changing the modern design sphere forever. They’d be the ultimate power couple. Absolutely ridiculous, she rolled her eyes as they left the hotel. After all, she had just met the man. But there was something about him; something more than meets the eye.

  She tried to focus on her immediate reality instead, as the glass elevator transported them down to the lobby where they should have reported for the afternoon sessions ten minutes ago.

  Conveniently, the one hundred fifty professionals selected to attend the conference were all put up in a fancy hotel on the marina, a walking distance from many of the city’s impressive attractions. The venue provided the global group of attendees with all they needed: a place to sleep, dining at elaborate buffets, and the ability to attend all the lectures and evening functions. Every waking hour was planned with a perfect balance of work and work-related play, but it was time to see what lay outside the air-conditioned, five-star hotel that resembled all the other five-star hotels anywhere else in the world.

  The lectures would be made available online after the conference and everyone knew these kinds of events were really about the networking. Rebekah didn’t feel guilty about stealing a few hours to find some inspiration in the local architecture. Especially not after the dreadful tours.

  “I hope you know where you’re going,” Akari said as they hurriedly crossed the road, careful to not be seen sneaking out the foyer while the next session was about to be underway. The moment Akari had suggested sight-seeing, she didn’t get a chance to even bring up suggestions. Well, she did try to mention the Merlion, but Rebekah’s enthusiasm over the Cloud Forest quickly won her over and they went with that option instead.

  “It’s not far,” Rebekah reassured her, checking the street name against the map on her phone. “I can’t believe we’re actually doing this,” she said excitedly.

  “Well, if you won’t tell, I won’t,” Akari smiled as they strolled through the city.

  “Who am I going to tell? Besides, I’ve been obsessed with this place since I was a child. I can
t believe it’s so close to where we are staying. I hope it looks just like the pictures!” Rebekah’s formal work demeanor was transforming into childlike wonder as they edged closer to the famous Cloud Forest. “I read an article in an architecture magazine when they were first building it. I can’t believe we’re actually going to see it!”

  “Do you always get this excited about work?”

  “This isn’t work. This is my life! Have you seen that design? A conservatory of that size, a whole mountain inside a glass dome? It’s magical!”

  “How old are you again?” Akari joked dryly, quickening her pace to keep up with the excited Rebekah, who had spotted the Gardens by the Bay in the distance and was running towards it, no longer in need of a map.

  “Usually twenty-eight, but nature reduces that number drastically. I’ve always been more of an outdoor person, but with the schedule I’ve been keeping these days, it’s been impossible to get enough time to run away. I grew up in the mountains, you know?” Much to Akari’s amusement, the formal business persona had completely vanished and Rebekah was a different person.

  “I thought you were always a city girl? You certainly seem that way.”

  "Oh no, that took years for me to get right. I grew up in the middle of nowhere, such a small town."

  They were now inside the high conservatory, snaking around the different tropical zones as the vegetation evolved around the various levels inside its glass home.

  "After school, I had to get out of there, though. It may be a beautiful little town but the only role for a woman there is to raise children or become a teacher. I knew the world was bigger than that. Or rather, I needed more than that."

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