The Love Game. Regina Hart

The Love Game - Regina Hart

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       Chapter 12

       Chapter 13

       Chapter 14


       Chapter 1

      “You’re not ready to take charge.”

      Tyler Anderson had heard those words from his father before. In the past, he’d been disappointed and hurt. But this time, Foster Anderson’s certainty that Tyler wasn’t ready to lead their family-owned computer gaming company fired him up.

      “I disagree.” He locked gazes with his father, who was also his boss.

      “All right.” Foster settled back on his chair. A spark of interest brightened the ebony eyes Tyler had inherited. “Convince me.”

      “I’ve worked at Anderson Adventures for more than twenty years, since I was fifteen.” Tyler straightened, laying out his case with confidence. “I’ve been around these offices, watching and learning what everyone does since I was eight. I know this company from the bottom up.”

      “That’s true.” Foster nodded. “You know the company’s operations.”

      “I’ve shadowed key people in every department—finance, sales, human resources, information technology, customer service.”

      His father was aware of the finance classes Tyler had taken. But no one could see the numbers as clearly as his cousin, Xavier Anderson, the company’s vice president of finance. Foster also knew Tyler had made sales calls with Donovan Carroll, his college classmate and Anderson Adventures’ vice president of sales.

      “I don’t dispute that you know this company almost as well as I do.” Foster balanced his elbows on the arms of his black leather chair, locking his fingers together in front of his pale gray shirt. “Son, you know how proud I’ve always been of your interest in the company. But Anderson Adventures is more than its departments.”

      “As vice president of product development, I’m aware of that.” Tyler leaned forward as he rushed to reassure his father. “I’ve designed several of our most successful games.”

      “You’ve designed all of them. You have a keen imagination, as well as great creative talent and programming skills. You’ve built a very fine product-development department.”

      “Then why don’t you think I’m ready to lead the company?” Tyler’s head was spinning. What am I missing?

      Foster’s sigh came from deep inside. “I’ve explained this to you before. Anderson Adventures is more than the computer games we develop. I don’t question that you know enough about the operation to run the business. What I question is whether you have the people skills to lead the company.”

      Foster rose from his chair and strolled to the window, sliding his hands into the front pockets of his slate-gray suit pants. Tyler’s father was a tall, lean, charismatic figure. Despite his quiet demeanor, people knew when he entered a room. Foster’s sepia-brown chiseled face was smooth and clean shaven. His tight curls were still dark brown with barely a hint of gray. Physically fit, Foster exercised at least five days a week. Tyler often jogged with him on the weekends and was sore by Monday morning, just as he was today.

      “I don’t understand.” Tyler stared at his father, trying to read the older man’s mind. “If you think I can run the business, why don’t you think I can lead the company?”

      Foster turned from his fifth-floor view of downtown Columbus, Ohio. It was the first Monday of March. Still, the threat of snow hung heavy in the clouds. “Did you know Jonas in accounting has a son who earned his master’s from Clemson University last semester?”

      “No, I didn’t.”

      “The company sent his son a gift card as a graduation present.”

      “That’s nice.” But what does it have to do with my running the company? “Last month, Trudy in purchasing became a grandmother for the third time. Her daughter delivered a healthy baby boy.”

      “That’s wonderful.” Why are you telling me this?

      “The company sent flowers to her daughter’s hospital room.” Foster cocked his head. “You didn’t know that, either, did you?”

      “No, I didn’t.” And your point is...?

      Foster crossed back to his desk, past the row of photos on his wall. Here, images of holiday potlucks, birthday festivities, engagement parties and baby showers memorialized Anderson Adventures’ celebrations. His father settled back onto his chair. “When was the last time you spoke to your coworkers, other than Xavier and Donovan?”

       Does saying hello when I pass people in the hallway, cafeteria or restroom count? Probably not.

      “I...” Tyler’s gaze shifted to the family photos lining the credenza behind his father’s desk. There was one of him and his father with Tyler’s mother, taken the last year of her life.

      “You know the business side of Anderson Adventures but you don’t know its people.” Foster took a drink of coffee from the World’s Greatest Dad mug Tyler had given him when he was nine years old. “And the fact is, it’s the people behind the company who’ve made it a success.”

      “I know.”

      Foster gave him a dubious look. “You need to work harder to show it, son.”

      “I will.”

      “Good, because I’ve decided to retire at the end of this year.”

      “What?” Shock and apprehension sent a chill through Tyler’s nervous system. “Why?”

      Foster chuckled. “I’m sixty-eight years old, Ty. This company has consumed more than half of my life. It’s been fun, exciting, frustrating and challenging. Now I’m tired. It’s time for me to move aside and let younger people—you, Xavier and Donovan—take the reins.”

      Now Tyler was apprehensive for another reason. “Xavier and Van aren’t interested in running the company. They’ve said as much.”

      “I know. But your taking over as CEO is not guaranteed, son.” Foster leveled a look at him.

      “If not me, then who?”

      “I’d have to go outside of the company.” Foster’s eyes were troubled.

      Silence crashed into his father’s office. Tyler took a moment to pull his thoughts together. “Anderson Adventures is a family-owned company. You’d hire an outsider to lead it?”

      “I don’t want to but I will if I have to.”

      Tyler rubbed his eyes with his thumb and two fingers. “Dad, I’ve got to tell you, I’m not happy with the idea of a stranger taking over our company. Xavier and Van won’t be, either.”

      “Then don’t let it happen.” Foster brooked no argument. “Step away from your computer. Prove you can run this business and lead its people.”

      “How am I supposed to do that?” Frustration tightened the muscles in Tyler’s neck and shoulders even as he strained to keep it from his voice.

      “We’re releasing your latest computer game in July.”

      “Right.” Tyler nodded. “‘Osiris’s Journey.’ We’re dropping it simultaneously online and through brick-and-mortar stores the weekend after Independence Day.”

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