The Love Game. Regina Hart

The Love Game - Regina Hart

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were staggered in a metal filing system on his silver-and-glass L-shaped desk. His black leather chair was tucked under his table. One of the twenty-ounce silver-and-black coffee mugs stood beside his computer mouse.

      Her office would drive him nuts.

      Tyler also seemed obsessed with time. His large desk calendar was covered with notes. Dates were crossed off the wall calendar opposite his desk. Project timelines were pinned to a board behind his chair.


      Iris noted his minifridge, microwave and radio. Was he preparing for a lockdown?

      Tyler came around to join her at the conversation table. Rather than watch him fold his long, lean body onto the smoke-gray padded seat opposite her, Iris distracted herself by pulling a writing tablet and pen from her briefcase.

      “Your proposal is impressive.” Tyler tapped the electronic tablet in front of him.

      “Thank you.” So far, so good.

      “I’ve also reviewed your firm’s website. The two seem to be in contradiction.”

      “How so?” Iris gripped her ballpoint pen as she forced herself to hold Tyler’s penetrating gaze. She really wanted this account.

      “You’re a one-person show. How can one person accomplish all the things you’ve promised in your proposal?”

      “I understand your concern.” She’d heard it before from other executives. “However, I assure you I wouldn’t have made those commitments if I wasn’t confident I’d be able to meet them.”


      Iris glanced at the tablet trapped between the table and the long, elegant fingers of Tyler’s right hand. “As I explained in my proposal, this isn’t my first product launch. I know what’s involved. That experience will make me more efficient with your project.”

      “You also mentioned other consultants you plan to work with.” Tyler leaned back on his seat.

      “Their costs are included in the budget.”

      “You, a designer, a printer and a media buyer. That’s a lot of people to depend on to meet deadlines.”

      Iris put down her pen, then rested one hand on top of the other. “That’s a legitimate concern. But, Mr. Anderson—”

      “Ty. Mr. Anderson is my father.”

      “Ty.” Iris inclined her head with a smile. “Even if you worked with a larger company, you’d still need those various roles. The only difference between my firm and a larger company is that those responsibilities would be assigned to their staff. But you’d still have to depend on a lot of people meeting their deadlines.”

      Tyler’s mind wandered as he watched Iris’s full, bow-shaped lips. It was only when her lips stopped moving that he realized he should have been listening.

      He tamped down his embarrassment—and his urge to trace a finger over her lips. “That’s a lot of people to keep track of during the project. We don’t have a lot of time.”

      “This launch does have an ambitious schedule. This is the second week of March and your release date is July tenth.”

      “That’s just over four months.” Tyler scowled. Why haven’t I heard from Peter Kimball about his company’s proposal?

      “Seventeen weeks and three days. It’s a tight schedule, but not impossible.” Iris spread her small, delicate hands. The movement briefly distracted Tyler.

      “You’ve worked with tough deadlines before?”

      Iris sat back and crossed her legs. “Many times and always successfully.”

      Her voice was matter-of-fact, her manner confident. Her proposal was impressive in its detail and vision. Still, Tyler hesitated.

      This was a big job. Iris Beharie had more than eight years of marketing and public relations experience. However, the results of his internet research indicated The Beharie Agency was only three months old. How could he entrust his launch of his company’s new computer game to what amounted to an untried agency?

      How could he trust her with his future?

      Tyler hardened his heart to her honey-brown skin although it looked as soft as silk. He pulled his gaze from warm, coffee eyes that threatened to brainwash him. Her subtle citrus fragrance would haunt his dreams tonight.

      He picked up his tablet and stared blankly at her proposal. Just say no, thank her for coming and call Peter Kimball—for the fifth time. “Your proposal is good.”

      “You read my website.” Her voice was strained. “You saw the list of other projects I’ve completed.”

      “You were with another company when you did that work.” Tyler was snared by her gaze again.

      “I don’t have a large company behind me, but I do have an experienced and talented network of professional associates with whom I’ve worked before.”

      Tyler dragged his finger across the tablet’s screen to flip through Iris’s proposal again. He’d practically committed it to memory: pricing, tasks, goals, detailed launch schedule. Could she pull it off? There was too much at stake to take the risk.

      He lowered the tablet. “I’ll consider what we’ve discussed, then call you with my decision.”

      Iris gave him a rueful smile. “Let’s be honest, Ty. You’re not going to hire me, are you?”

      Tyler hesitated but he couldn’t bring himself to lie. “No, I’m afraid not. I’m sorry.”

      “So am I.” Iris sighed. She repacked her pen and notepad before standing.

      Tyler stood with her. “Your proposal was really very good. In fact, it was great.”

      “But you don’t have confidence in my execution.” Her words were blunt but her tone wasn’t accusatory.

      “There’s a lot riding on this product launch.” Now that their meeting was over, Tyler didn’t want her to leave.

      “Every launch is important.” She adjusted her briefcase strap on her slender shoulder, then offered him her hand. “Good luck with your launch.”

      “Thanks.” Tyler took her hand, surprised by her gesture. Why wasn’t she being snide or sarcastic like other companies usually were when he turned down their proposal? “Good luck with your company.”

      “Thank you.” Iris led him to his office door.

      Their conversation was scarce as they walked down the hallway: the weather, traffic and the hard winter they’d just had.

      They stopped beside Sherry’s desk. Tyler offered Iris his hand again, one last time to feel her soft, warm skin against his. “Thanks again for meeting with me.”

      “Thank you for the opportunity.” Her smile wasn’t as bright as it had been when they’d first met but it was sincere. She slipped her hand from Tyler’s, then turned to Sherry. “It was nice to meet you, Sherry.”

      The receptionist smiled up at her. “Same here, dear. Have a good day.”

      “You do the same.” Iris pushed through the glass doors of the office suite, then disappeared down the hall to the elevator.

      Tyler sensed Sherry’s eyes on him as he returned to his office. He was certain he’d made the right decision regarding The Beharie Agency. Then why was he having second thoughts? Was it because of the undeniable strength of Iris’s proposal?

      Or her full bow-shaped lips?

      He tried to push thoughts of Iris from his mind as he settled behind his desk to call Kimball & Associates—again. He needed to partner with an established consultant, one they’d worked with before and on whom he could depend to produce a winning launch.

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