Home > The Contract (The Contract #1)(10)

The Contract (The Contract #1)(10)
Melanie Moreland

“You want to look after her.”

We were getting into dangerous territory. I had no idea how to respond; I had never wanted to take care of anyone, except myself. Nevertheless, I nodded in agreement.

“You live together, I assume? I imagine it’s the only time you can relax and be a couple.”

Shit. I hadn’t even thought of that.

“Ah, we, yeah . . . we value our private time.”

“You don’t like to discuss your personal life.”

I smiled ruefully. “No. I’m used to keeping it all in.”

That, at least, wasn’t a lie.

“We’re a unique operation here at The Gavin Group—on many levels.”

“Something I’m looking forward to.”

He indicated to the board. “We believe in teamwork, here and in our personal lives. We work on the campaigns as a group, feeding off each other, much like you and I did a few moments ago. We share in the triumphs and the disasters.” He winked. “Not that we’ve had many of those. I value every employee I have.”

“It’s an interesting way of doing things.”

“It works for us.”

“Obviously. Your name is well respected.”

Our eyes met. I kept my expression open, level, and I hoped, sincere.

He rested back in his chair. “Tell me more about your idea.”

I relaxed back, as well. That was easy—far easier than talking about Katharine Elliott.

An hour later, Graham stood up. “I’m away until Friday. I’d like to extend an invitation to attend a barbeque my wife and I are having on Saturday. I’d like you to meet her and a few other people.”

I knew what that meant. “I’d enjoy that, sir. Thank you.”

“With Katharine, of course.”

I kept my face impassive as I grasped his extended hand. “She’ll love it.”

Back at the office, Miss Elliott was at her desk when I arrived. Although she was on the phone, I felt her eyes watching me as I crossed her path. No doubt, she was waiting for my wrath to descend on her for whatever infraction I chose to pick out today. Instead, I nodded and kept walking to my desk, flipping through the messages, and the small pile of documents waiting for my approval. Feeling oddly disinterested, I stood up, looking out at the skyline and the city below; its bustle and noise muted by the glass and height from the street. The view and sound would be much different at The Gavin Group.

Everything would be different.

Often, by the time I finished any sort of meeting with David, I was a mass of nerve endings, pulsating and anxious. He knew how to push the buttons of every person who worked for him; how to say and do exactly what he needed to get what he wanted—be it positive or negative. Until this very moment, I hadn’t realized that. Meeting with Graham, even though I was on edge, given the premise I was meeting him under, I was still calm.

In my research of his company, and of the man himself, I had read over and again of his kindness and generosity of spirit. In fact, other than David’s low opinion of Graham, I hadn’t read or heard another unkind remark. Sitting with him, discussing the concepts in my mind for the footwear campaign, I had felt an enthusiasm that had been lacking for a long time. I felt creative again, energized. Graham listened, truly listened, encouraging my thought process with positive reinforcement, and adding ideas of his own. To my surprise, I liked his concept of teamwork. I wondered what it would be like not to be involved in the daily cutthroat world of Anderson Inc. How it would feel to work with people instead of against them. Would it make for a better life? An easier one—of that fact I was certain. Yet, I felt it would be no less challenging.

All I knew was, by the time our meeting ended, my reasons for wanting to work for him were no longer all about revenge. I wanted to feel that enthusiasm—to be proud of the campaigns I created. It was an unexpected situation, yet not unpleasant.

My door slammed and I turned, frowning, my thoughts interrupted.

“David.” I regarded him pointedly. “Good thing I wasn’t with a client.”

“Katy told me you were free. She buzzed you, but you didn’t answer.”

I had been so deep in thought I hadn’t heard the intercom. That was a first.

“What can I do for you?”

He drew back his shoulders, preparing for an argument. “Where were you this morning? I was looking for you, and you weren’t answering your phone, or returning my messages.”

“I was on a personal appointment.”

“Your assistant said it was a doctor’s appointment.”

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