The Love Game. Regina Hart
Lauren put her free hand on Xavier’s chest. “I’m still waiting for my answer. Why can’t you take over Anderson Adventures when your uncle steps down?”
“My passion is numbers. But numbers are only a small part of the company.” Xavier smiled. “Tyler’s passion extends to everything: numbers, distribution, software, hardware, technical support.”
“Saint Ty.” Lauren gave Tyler a cool smile. “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”
“Ty was born to run the company.” Donovan met Tyler’s gaze. “And he’d be good at it.”
The pride in the other men’s voices humbled him. Tyler braced his hand on his desk.
“Make the call, Ty.” Xavier’s words were quiet but firm.
“I will.” He waited until the trio left his office.
Tyler resumed his seat, then loaded The Beharie Agency’s website. Iris’s contact number was on the home page. He tapped it into his phone.
She was his last resort. Would their partnership help him achieve his goal? Or by this time next year, would an outsider be sitting in his father’s office?
There was only one way to find out.
Iris turned her cell phone back on as she left her client meeting Thursday afternoon. The voicemail message icon popped onto her display screen. She played the recording as she strode across the parking lot toward her car.
“Iris, this is Ty Anderson of Anderson Adventures.”
The unexpected sound of his warm baritone made her knees tremble. Iris paused to steady herself before continuing to her Camry.
“Could you meet with me this afternoon?” He left his phone number and asked her to call him back. His message was time stamped at twelve-eighteen.
Was it possible he’d decided to work with her? Or perhaps he wanted to return her business card. Iris’s hands shook as she unlocked her door. She tossed her briefcase onto her backseat. After their last meeting more than a week ago, she’d been pretty confident it would be years—if ever—before Anderson Adventures showed any further interest in her agency. Now, perhaps she was getting that opportunity she’d been hoping for.
She slammed her car door shut, then glanced at her silver Omni wristwatch. Two o’clock in the afternoon. She’d already kept him waiting almost two hours.
Iris got behind the wheel of her Camry and turned the ignition. She took a deep breath, then put on her hands-free device before calling Tyler. Her hands continued to shake.
His line rang three times before Sherry picked up. “Anderson Adventures. Tyler Anderson’s office. May I help you?”
“Sherry, it’s Iris Beharie. How are you?”
“I’m fine, and you?” There was a smile in the other woman’s voice.
“Living the dream, Sherry. Living the dream.” Iris pressed the button for her heater. Was it the temperature or her nerves making her hands shake? “I’m returning Ty’s call. Is he available?”
“Let me check.”
While she waited, Iris navigated out of the parking lot and headed toward her townhome about fifteen minutes away.
“Iris?” Sherry returned to the phone. “Ty’s back in his office. Let me put you through.”
“Thanks, Sherry. Enjoy the rest of your afternoon.”
Iris braced herself for her conversation with Anderson Adventures’ vice president of product development.
“Thank you for calling me back.” Tyler’s voice caused a tremor of pleasure to roll down her spine, in contrast to the tension tightening her shoulders.
She took a settling breath. “Of course. What can I do for you?”
“I’d actually wanted to meet with you in person but your website doesn’t have your business address.”
Iris stopped at a red light. “I work out of my home.”
The screeching silence coming over the phone line screamed, Wrong answer! She wouldn’t apologize for her cost-cutting measures. Once her business was on more solid ground she’d rent space in a cozy nearby office complex. Until then, she promoted her lack of an office as providing her clients with the convenience of her coming to them.
“You meet with clients in your home?” Tyler sounded as though her one-woman show had gone down even farther in his estimation.
“No, I meet with them in their offices, just as I met with you last week at Anderson Adventures.” Iris struggled to focus on Tyler’s words. His voice did wicked things to her insides.
The traffic light turned green. Iris pulled into the intersection and continued her drive home.
Iris frowned. “Did you ask me to call just so we could chat about office rentals? Is Anderson Adventures looking to expand?”
“Not at this time.” There was a tapping in the background as though Tyler was drumming his fingers on the glass surface of his desk. “Actually, Iris, I was calling to give you the contract for our product launch. How soon can you start?”
Did he just offer me the project he didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in hell of contractually completing?
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
“I said we want The Beharie Agency to handle the product launch for ‘Osiris’s Journey.’”
“What made you change your mind?” Iris pulled into a nearby parking lot. This discussion required her full attention.
Tyler hesitated as though he hadn’t anticipated her question. Had he thought she’d jump for joy, then sign the contract before he could change his mind? Anderson Adventures wasn’t the only one with a lot to lose.
“Your proposal was very strong and you spoke enthusiastically about the project.”
Iris parked in the first open space she found. “We discussed my proposal more than a week ago. At that time, you were adamant that, although my plan was strong, my solo practice didn’t inspire your confidence. What’s changed?”
She turned off her engine and stared through the windshield. She imagined Tyler, sitting at his desk, surrounded by his computer, minifridge and radio. What had happened to bring the gaming executive back to her?
“I’ve changed my mind.”
The lightbulb came on in Iris’s brain. “The larger company didn’t work out, did they? What happened? Did they charge too much money? They couldn’t commit to your launch schedule?”
“That’s not relevant. The fact of the matter is—”
“Come clean, Ty. If we’re going to be working together, we can’t have secrets between us.”
Another pause. “I’m not used to vendors being so...”
“I was going to say bold.”
Iris smiled. Did he think she’d be insulted? “You’ve never worked with me.”
Tyler gave her a noncommittal “hmm.” “The other company didn’t respond to my request for a proposal.”
Iris snapped her fingers. “Poor customer service. You know, I almost said that. Actually, I should have said that before guessing they’d asked for too much money. After all, Anderson Adventures is a multimillion-dollar