Home > The Contract (The Contract #1)(8)

The Contract (The Contract #1)(8)
Melanie Moreland

Not bothering to listen anymore, I hung up.

RICHARD

THE BUILDING HOUSING THE GAVIN Group was a polar opposite to that of Anderson Inc. Unlike the vast skyscraper of steel and glass I worked from daily, this building was brick, only four stories high, and surrounded by trees. I parked my car after checking in with the guard at the entrance, who smiled pleasantly and handed me a guest pass. Entering the building, another security guard greeted me and let me know Graham Gavin’s office was located on the top floor, then wished me a good day.

Minutes later, a secretary led me to a boardroom, handed me a fresh cup of coffee, and told me Graham would be with me momentarily. I took the time to absorb the details of the room around me, again struck by the difference between the two companies.

Anderson Inc. was all about flash. The offices and boardroom were all state of the art—white and black was the predominant palette. Even the artwork was monochrome with lots of metal everywhere. Hard, modern chairs, thick glass-topped tables and desks, blond hardwood on the floor—all cold and remote. If this room was any indication, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. The walls were lined with warm oak paneling, there was an oval wood boardroom table surrounded by plush leather chairs, and deep, soft carpeting underfoot. An open area to the right housed an efficient kitchen. The walls showcased many of their successful campaigns, all framed and displayed tastefully. Various awards lined the shelves.

At one end of the room was an idea board. There were scribbles and ideas sketched out on it. I stepped closer, studying the images, quickly absorbing the structure of the campaign they were outlining for a brand of footwear. It was all wrong.

A deep voice brought me out of my musings.

“From the look on your face, I’d say you don’t like the concept.”

My gaze met the somewhat amused expression of Graham Gavin. We had encountered each other at industry functions a few times, always polite and distant—a professional shake of hands and brief acknowledgment being the only interaction. He was tall and confident, with a headful of silver hair that gleamed under the lights.

Up close, the warmth in his green eyes and the low timbre of his voice struck me. I wondered if the idea board had been left on purpose—a test of sorts.

I shrugged. “It’s a good concept, but not new. A family using the same product? It’s been done.”

He perched his hip on the edge of the table, crossing his arms. “Done, but successful. The client is Kenner Shoes. They want to appeal to more than one demographic.”

I nodded. “What if you did that, but only featured one person?”

“I’d like to hear more.”

I pointed to the image of the family, tapping my finger on the youngest child. “Start here. Focus on him. The very first purchase of their product—shoes bought by his parents. Follow him as he grows, highlighting some pertinent points in his life wearing them—first steps, first day of school, hiking with friends, playing sports, on dates, graduation, marriage . . .” My voice trailed off.

Graham was quiet for a moment, then started to nod. “The product stays with you as you grow.”

“It’s a constant. You change—it doesn’t. Yours for life.”

“Brilliant,” he praised.

For some reason, his compliment made my chest warm, and I ducked my head at the strange sensation. He pushed off the table, holding out his hand. “Graham Gavin.”

I took his hand, noting the firmness of his grip. “Richard VanRyan.”

“I’m impressed already.”

Before I could reply, my phone buzzed. Right on time. “I’m sorry.” I glanced at the screen, hoping I looked sheepish. “I need to take this. I apologize.”

“No problem, Richard.” He smiled. “I need coffee.”

I turned away as I answered. “Katharine,” I murmured, pitching my voice low.

For a moment, there was silence, then she spoke. “Mr. VanRyan?”

“Yes.” I chuckled, knowing I had confused the fuck out of her. I didn’t think I had ever called her anything besides Miss Elliott, and certainly never in a voice like the one I had just used.

“Um, you asked me to call and tell you your four o’clock was changed to three?”

“Three o’clock now?” I repeated.

“Yes?”

“Okay, I’ll adjust. Is everything all right there?”

She sounded shocked when she replied. “Mr. VanRyan, are you all right?”

“Of course, I am.” I couldn’t resist teasing her more. “Why?”

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