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Authors: Rachel Cartwright

Kate Takes Care Of Business

BOOK: Kate Takes Care Of Business
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Kate Takes Care Of Business

 

 

 

 

 

by Rachel Cartwright

©  
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and current events are used in a fictitious manner as literary sources for the author’s imagination.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including scanning, photocopying, or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder.

Jacket design by idrewdesign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISBN: 978-0-9880907-8-1

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

 

“Why do they always pick the hottest week in July?” Kate’s father puffed and wiped the sweat off his forehead as he guided her through the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton overlooking Central Park. “I like seeing the trees but it’s not the same as being home in Westport.”

Kate knew that her father had not wanted her to attend the annual shareholders meeting this year in New York. He didn’t come right out and say it but as the struggling president of the fiber optics manufacturing giant, Hallman and Winslow, she was well aware that he was under increasing pressure from the Board of Directors. The rumor was they wanted him to step down and let a younger executive with a
21st century
strategic vision,
as they put it, take the helm.

Turning away from the perspiring shareholders complaining about the heat and the delays at the front desk, Kate was relieved to feel the cool air wafting down from the AC ceiling vent. Her shoulders and arms were still a little sunburned from the weekend on the beach.

Kate took off her sun hat letting her shining dark hair fall to her slim shoulders. She checked her appearance in one of the lobby mirrors. Okay, she was still a little red in the face despite all the sunscreen but she still looked fresh and pretty in her white chiffon blouse and tan capris judging by the looks some men had given her. And more than one man over the years had paid compliment to her Carolina light-blue eyes and ivory oval face.

Gasping, her father loosened his floral patterned tie. “Are you sure you don’t want to go home? You can drive with the top down all the way and cool off on the beach.” He looked back at the door. “Or with Sterling and your friends on Chesapeake Bay.”

Kate sighed loudly and shook her head. “Stop it, Dad. I said I’m staying and that’s it.”

Her father smiled. “As you wish my dear,” and headed for the elevators, grinning and making promises to meet the many people who stopped him.

Kate followed after Dad or Mr. Adam Clayton Winslow to everyone else. As a founding owner of the company, her father had put on extra pounds in the last year that he explained away as a result of long days and nights filled with stress, Scotch, and take-out leading up to this year’s shareholders meeting. A stocky tower of a man with thinning gray hair, her haggard father struggled to maintain his once commanding and unflustered appearance in spite of the sweltering heat outside and the pressure-cooker building inside the hotel.

To appease his concerned daughter and nagging personal assistant, Lucille, Dad had promised he would change his diet and start exercising again once the meeting was over—whatever the outcome.

 

Kate relaxed on the leather sofa in her spacious luxury suite overlooking beautiful Central Park. Dad, as was his custom, completed his mandatory inspection to make sure the room met the luxury and security standards advertised by the hotel.

“Dad? Come on. I’ll be twenty-four next month. The room is perfect. Stop worrying.”

Her father locked and unlocked the sliding glass doors leading to the balcony. He jiggled the lock again to make certain it was secure. “Feels a little loose to me. I’ll call the front—”

“No, please, you don’t have to.” She put her hand on his. “I’m not twelve years old anymore. Everything’s fine.
I’m fine.
Okay?”

Her father glanced down at his shoes. “Well, I’m only three floors down next to the meeting room if you need me. I left the number by your bedside phone. Enter it into your cell just in case.”

Kate realized that she had bruised his pride but didn’t know any other way to say it. He was too protective sometimes and although she loved him deeply for that and so much more, he had to realize that she could take care of herself now.

She kissed him on the cheek. “I will.”

Dad looked up at her and frowned. “Still . . . I don’t understand why you made such a big commotion about attending this year’s meeting. You never showed that much interest in the business before.”

Kate turned from him. “Then it’s about time I did. I
am
the president’s daughter, aren’t I? There’s so much more I could be doing to help if only you’d let me.”

“You’ve done so much for me already, Kate, and you still do but it’s time you thought about what would make you happy for a change.” Her father walked to the door. “Because you’re right. You’re not a little girl anymore.” He stepped out into the hall and closed the door behind him.

Kate sighed and walked into the bedroom adjoining the main suite. She flopped down on the comfy bed and hoped the redness from the sun had concealed the guilty color she felt rising in her cheeks. She was embarrassed to admit even to herself that her decision to come to New York had more to do with the chance of meeting a lanky man with sandy brown hair that could never be tamed by a comb.

Reid Griffin.

Kate only wished that the rest of him would not prove to be so unmanageable too.

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

 

Reid was an investigative business columnist with an influential blog called
The Real Deal.
Kate had met him three months ago at the media cocktail party announcing the opening of Hallman and Winslow’s corporate office in Hong Kong.

She immediately disliked him because he was critical and sarcastic when speaking about businessmen like her father. Reid also posted on his blog why he opposed the corporate policies, in particular outsourcing, that had made Hallman and Winslow International such a success.

Kate knew the feeling was mutual because Reid had not liked her when they were first introduced. “You’re smart but I bet the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree,” he said.

Kate was livid. God, had she been reduced her to a cliché already?

“And I don’t chase after débutantes, particularly the rich and entitled New York kind.”

Infuriated, Kate stood a few inches from his uncomfortably handsome face. If she never met him again, she would at least deflate his arrogant smirk once and for all. “I don’t know who you
think
I am or what you’ve heard but let me tell
you
something Mr. Griffin . . .”

Kate told him of her volunteer work with the homeless and teaching in the local adult literacy program. Reid nodded politely but with the practiced eye of a man who made his living on quick estimates.

For some reason, Kate felt that she hadn’t said enough and so before she could hold back, it came out. “When my mother died three years ago from cancer my father became very depressed. I was terrified that he might even be ...”

She stopped in mid-sentence, almost unable to contain her pent-up emotions. Drained of some of her private burden, but not the most frightening part, she took a deep breath and steadied herself. “So don’t judge everyone you meet so quickly, Mr. Griffin. I know what it’s like to live through a personal tragedy and to keep smiling graciously even when you’re pestered by arrogant young men at cocktail parties.”

Reid looked down at his drink. “I’m sorry. I had no idea.”

“That’s an understatement to say the least.”

He swirled the ice cubes in his glass. “I’ve grown a little jaded following the corporate PR circuit around. I meet a lot of young women at these parties and most of them act like little princesses because that’s the way they’ve been treated their entire lives. They’ve never seen the darker, more ruthless side of life or business. They know nothing about the economic problems we’re facing and they don’t care . . . but I can tell now that you’re different. Please accept my apology, Kate, and I’d like it if you called me Reid.”

Kate stood her ground and wouldn’t let herself be swayed by his easy charm. “Maybe, but I suppose you’re going to post everything I told you on your blog?”

“About your father?” He shook his head. “No, but I will mention how surprised I was to meet you . . . and what a wonderful dinner we had.”

Kate found it impossible not to return his disarming smile. Was he asking her out? Although the idea had never entered her mind, she wasn’t dating anyone right now and she hated being stuck in the city alone while her friends were partying their asses off at the Hallman family’s summer home on Chesapeake Bay.

“If you like Thai I know a great new place in the Village,” Reid said. “We can catch a cab and be there in less than fifteen minutes.”

Kate sipped her white wine and considered her answer. For some reason, she wished Sterling was standing beside Reid to hear it.

But if he did would he have cared?

Sterling was the carefree, bon vivant son of Richard Hallman, her father’s longtime business partner and CEO of the company. She had known Sterling since they were kids and they had a brief, passionate affair three years ago during the last weeks of her mother’s illness. Kate knew it was something she had wanted—
had
needed
—more than Sterling. She was shocked by her own driving need to keep a part of herself alive with desire not only as a human being, but as a woman in the midst of such overwhelming suffering and grief.

When her mother finally passed away they ended it as friends making a drunken promise that if they never found the right person to marry then they would happily say “I do” to each other before they turned forty so they wouldn’t be alone and enjoy growing old together. There was never any talk of having children but at least that had been the most romantic thing any guy had ever said to her.

“So what do you say?” Reid gave her a look that sent her pulses racing.

Kate finished her glass of wine and was deciding if she wanted another. “I’m still thinking about it.”

Reid was very smooth and persuasive —just like Sterling—who’d almost convinced her to fly down with their friends, Bridget and Jeff, and party in Tampa until her father pleaded to her to attend the party for moral support. “Your mother was always with me, Kate. I find it hard to do it alone these days.”

After receiving several suggestive text messages and drunken pictures that made her laugh out loud, she was regretting her decision . . . until she met Reid.

Reid placed his empty glass down on a silver drink tray. “Hey, I understand if you—”

“No.” Kate touched his arm. “That’s sounds great. I’ll meet you in the front lobby in ten.”

 

They continued their heated conversation over dinner, discussing whatever controversial or scandalous news story that struck their fancy. Talking with Reid, or a better word might be
debating
, she felt her dormant wits of late becoming renewed.

Kate enjoyed trading thinly veiled cutting remarks with an intelligent man that caused her to laugh now instead of getting upset.

Maybe it was too much hot food and cool wine or the fiery character of the man in front of her . . . or both. At times, she was a little in awe of him and overwhelmed by his passionate convictions but she couldn’t deny the growing sense of tingling delight that flowed through her.

She hadn’t taken a vow of chastity, although her friends might say otherwise, and yes, she
did
need to kick back, let her hair down, and do something out of the blue for a change.

But was Reid Griffin that man?

It was a balmy April evening in New York, and the cherry trees were in bloom. After dinner they had taken a horse-drawn carriage through Central Park. A silver crescent moon gleamed softly on the Pond as the carriage rolled through the fragrant spring night.

BOOK: Kate Takes Care Of Business
10.43Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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