The Love Game. Regina Hart
for testing and talking points.”
“I’m vice president of a department.” Tyler struggled to mask his horror. “I can’t tie up my time on a product launch.” Not to mention the fact he didn’t want to interact with that many people.
“Learn to delegate.” Foster lifted a business card from his desk. “And I want you to interview The Beharie Agency.”
“I’ve never heard of them.” Tyler took the card from his father.
“It’s an up-and-coming firm. I know the family and I have it on good authority that the agency is creative, professional and customer focused.”
“I’ll give them a call.” Tyler rose to leave.
“I want you to succeed, son.” Foster’s words stopped him. “But if you don’t have loyalty from the people in the company, the company won’t succeed.”
Tyler nodded, then exited his father’s office. He felt the weight of Foster’s words—as well as incredible pressure. He had less than four months to gain the loyalty of Anderson Adventures’ seventy employees—not including himself, and his father, aunt, cousin and college classmate.
What if I fail?
Then the forty-three-year-old company founded by his father and uncle would be turned over to a stranger. He couldn’t let that happen.
Tyler glanced at the business card in his hand: Iris Beharie, President, The Beharie Agency.
Can you help me with the most important product launch of my life?
* * *
Tuesday morning, Iris Beharie pushed through the glass doors leading to the fifth-floor reception area of Anderson Adventures. She scanned the room, half expecting to be pounced on by a television crew, telling her she’d been punked. How would a multimillion-dollar company know about her little firm and why would they invite her to submit a bid for their product launch? If they didn’t have their own in-house marketing and public relations department, then surely they had a much larger marketing consultant company on retainer.
The friendly woman at the modern and modular front reception desk who’d buzzed her in regarded her with a curious smile. “Good morning. May I help you?”
Iris surreptitiously wiped her sweaty palm on the skirt of her cream business suit. She stepped forward. “Good morning. I’m Iris Beharie. I have a nine o’clock appointment with Tyler Anderson.”
With her pretty, wholesome looks; neat, blond bob; and twinkling, cornflower-blue eyes, the receptionist reminded Iris of an older Doris Day. Her nameplate read Sherry Parks.
“Just a moment.” Sherry picked up the telephone receiver and selected a few buttons. “Ty, Iris Beharie is here to see you.” Pause. “All right.” She stood as she replaced the phone, then gestured toward the crimson leather guest chairs beside her desk. “He’ll be with you in a few minutes. Please make yourself comfortable. May I take your coat?”
“Thank you.” Iris handed over her periwinkle wool coat. She kept her briefcase with her.
Sherry walked to a section of the cherrywood wall and slid it open to reveal a closet. The receptionist hung Iris’s coat, then slid the door closed again. “Would you like some coffee?”
“I’d love some, if it isn’t any trouble.”
Sherry waved a dismissive hand. “It’s no trouble at all. Cream and sugar?”
“Just cream. Thank you.”
Sherry’s brisk pace carried her past other administrative desks and into a back room.
Iris turned toward the crimson guest chairs. The two-inch heels of her cream pumps were silent on the thick silver-and-black carpet. Despite its cool glass-and-metal decor, the reception area gave the impression of warmth and welcome. It also was well-maintained. Her eyes skimmed the covers of the industry magazines neatly spread across the tempered glass Caravan desk in the far corner.
The walls showcased their most successful games, as well as candid metal-framed photos of employees smiling or laughing into the camera. Iris found herself smiling back. Some of the photos had been taken decades earlier, judging by the hair and clothing of the people in the pictures, including a much younger Sherry Parks.
Were Anderson Adventures employees really that happy? Perhaps if she’d worked for a company like this one, she wouldn’t have left her job to start her own firm on a leap of faith.
“I’m sorry I took so long.” Sherry reappeared with what looked to be a twenty-ounce mug of coffee.
“Not at all. I appreciate your trouble.” Iris took the hot drink from the receptionist. “This is one big mug.”
“The Andersons love their coffee. And they assume everyone else does, too.” Sherry returned to her desk.
The fondness in the woman’s voice implied a positive employee morale. A good sign.
Iris settled onto one of the guest chairs. “That’s a lot of pressure on whoever makes the coffee.”
“Whoever gets here first makes it. That’s usually Foster, Tyler, Xavier or Donovan.” Sherry settled onto her chair, pulling it under the desk. “After that, whoever pours the last cup makes the next pot.”
Very egalitarian. It was a credit to these high-powered executives that they didn’t wait for the staff to make the coffee. And the fact that Tyler Anderson—the vice president of product development—regularly arrived at work early enough to make the first pot explained how he could have responded so early Monday morning to the proposal she’d submitted Sunday night.
Iris took a sip. “This is delicious. Who made it?”
“If it’s good, it wasn’t Van. Everyone complains his coffee tastes like antifreeze. He says, if they don’t like it, they should get in earlier.” Sherry paused as they both laughed. “But the coffee goes pretty quickly. It’s nine o’clock. That’s probably the third pot.”
Iris’s eyes widened. “You weren’t kidding about their coffee addiction.”
“Sorry to keep you waiting.” A strong baritone resonated throughout Iris’s nervous system. “Ty Anderson.”
Iris looked up—way up—to the tall, dark, handsome man who’d stopped in front of her. This was the vice president of product development? She was definitely being played. The only way a desk jockey would look like Idris Elba was if he came from central casting.
His features were silver-screen perfect. His high forehead and bright ebony eyes indicated a keen intelligence that one shouldn’t underestimate. His squared jaw signaled a stubbornness that would be a challenge. His full, well-shaped lips implied a subtle sensuality she shouldn’t even think about.
Iris stood, taking his large, outstretched hand. His warm skin sent a shock up her arm. “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Anderson. I’m Iris Beharie.”
“Ty. This way, please.” He stepped aside, releasing her hand to gesture in the direction from which he’d come. “Sherry, thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Ty.” The Doris Day double gave him a fond look.
Iris settled the strap of her black briefcase onto her left shoulder and hoisted the mammoth coffee mug with her right hand. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Sherry lifted her hands, crossing her fingers. “Good luck.”
Iris tossed Sherry a grateful smile before following Tyler down the hall. His broad shoulders were wrapped in a white jersey. His long legs were covered in chocolate suit pants. She jerked her gaze from his butt and looked around the office suite. Tyler stopped beside a frosted glass door and waved her inside. She glimpsed his name and title on the silver frame beside the threshold.
“Have a seat.” He closed