The Contract(4)

By: Melanie Moreland

I leaned forward, interested at that piece of news. “Why?”

“His wife was ill. Her prognosis is good, but he’s decided to make a change for their family, and stay home.”

“It’s a temporary position?”

Brian shook his head. “This is the sort of man Graham Gavin is. He’s giving him early retirement with full pension and benefits. He told him once his wife recovers, he’ll send them on a cruise to celebrate.”

“How do you know this?”

“Amy is his assistant.”

“He needs replacing, then. Get me an interview.”

“Richard, have you not been listening to a word I said? Graham won’t hire someone like you.”

“He will if I can convince him I’m not what he thinks.”

“And how are you going to do that?”

“Get me the interview and I’ll figure out that part.” I took a long sip of my scotch. “This has to be done under the radar, Brian.”

“I know. I’ll see what I can do, but I’m telling you—this will be hard to sell.”

“There’s a generous finder’s fee if you get me in.”

“Is it worth it to prove to David you’ll leave? You want the partnership that much?”

I ran my hand across my chin thoughtfully, scratching at the scuff. “I’ve changed my mind.”

“What do you mean?”

“David hates Graham. Nothing would anger him more than losing me to him. I know a few of my clients would jump ship too, which would add insult to injury. I’m going to get Graham Gavin to hire me and when David tries to get me back, it’ll be my turn to say ‘things changed’ to him.”

“You’re rather confident.”

“I told you—that’s what makes it in this business.”

“I’m not sure how you plan to accomplish it, but I’ll see if I can get you in.” He pursed his lips. “I went to school with his son-in-law, and we still golf together. We’re supposed to get together for a round next week. I’ll feel him out about it.”

I nodded, my mind going a thousand miles an hour.

How did one convince a stranger they weren’t what they seemed?

That was the million-dollar question.

I only had to figure out the answer.


THE NEXT MORNING, I HAD an idea, but I wasn’t sure how to execute it. If Graham Gavin wanted a family man, he’d get one. I only had to figure out how to accomplish that small detail. I could do it—it was my field of expertise, after all—I was an idea man.

My main problem was the sort of women I typically had in my life. Female versions of myself. Beautiful to look at, but cold, calculating, and not interested in anything except what I could give them: the fancy dinners, expensive gifts, and if they lasted long enough, a trip away somewhere before I dumped them. Because I always did. I only cared about what they could give me, as well. All I wanted was something pretty to look at and a warm body to bury myself in at the end of the evening. A few hours of mindless pleasure until the stark, cold reality of my life set back in.

None of them would be the sort of woman Graham Gavin would believe I’d spend the rest of my life with. Sometimes I could barely spend an entire evening.

Miss Elliott knocked timidly, waiting until I shouted for her to come in. She entered, carefully carrying my coffee, setting it on my desk. “Mr. Anderson has called a staff meeting in the boardroom in ten minutes.”

“Where’s my bagel?”

“I thought you’d rather have it after the meeting since you’d be rushed. You hate eating too fast. It gives you heartburn.”

I glowered at her, hating the fact she was right.

“Stop thinking, Miss Elliott. I already told you, you get it wrong more often than you get it right.”

She glanced at her watch—a simple black one with a plain face, no doubt bought at Walmart or some other common store. “There’re seven minutes until the meeting. Do you want me to go get your bagel? By the time it’s toasted, you’ll have two minutes to wolf it down.”

I stood, grabbing my mug. “No. Thanks to you, I’ll be hungry in the meeting. If I make a mistake, it’s on you.”