Merger Of Fortunes. Peggy Moreland
Creed rose to pace, dragging a hand over his hair. “Surely there’s a way to force his hand.”
“I’m working on the daughter. She’s the cog in the wheel. Reynolds has decided to leave the company to her, instead of selling it to us, as he’d agreed.”
Creed stopped to peer at Case. “Daughter? I didn’t know Curtis had any kids.”
“Neither did I, until he told me he’d changed his mind about selling to us.”
“Does she have any business experience?”
Case snorted a laugh. “Hardly. She’s an author. Children’s books, no less. As far as I can tell, she has no interest in the company at all.”
“Then why does Reynolds want to leave it her? You know as well as I do how volatile the oil and gas industry can be. If she gets hold of the refinery, she’ll bankrupt it in a month.”
Case scowled, having already considered the probability. “You’re not telling me anything I don’t already now.” He opened his hands. “But what can I do? Reynolds has decided he wants to leave it to her as a legacy of sorts.”
“You’re going to have to force his hand. Make him go through with the merger.”
“I’m working on that,” Case assured him. “The daughter’s the key. It’s just a matter of persuading her to convince her old man that she doesn’t want the company.”
“And how do you plan to do that?”
Case folded his hands behind his head, his expression cocky. “Don’t worry, little brother. I know how to handle women.”
Creed rolled his eyes. “Forgive me,” he said, and turned for the door. “For a moment, I forgot who I was talking to.”
When the door closed behind Creed, Case dropped his hands and frowned, the confident act no longer necessary. The truth was, he’d been blowing smoke when he’d told his brother he could handle women—at least, this particular woman.
How the hell was he going to persuade Reynolds’ daughter to help him, when he couldn’t even talk to her? he asked himself. The woman had outfoxed him. A nerdy writer of children’s books had duped Case Fortune, a world-class negotiator.
He huffed a breath, as he recalled the innocent smile Gina had offered him when she’d given him permission to call. Hell, the woman had known damn good and well he wouldn’t be able to call. Not when her phone number was unlisted.
Getting her number wouldn’t be all that hard, he reminded himself. A few calls to the right people and he’d have the number quickly enough. But he couldn’t chance obtaining it that way. The minute she heard his voice, she’d know he’d acquired her number by dubious means, which would give her even more reason to dislike him.
And she disliked him enough as it was. Or, rather, men like him, he remembered her saying. And what the hell did that mean, anyway? he asked himself in frustration. What kind of man did she think he was? Some kind of pervert?
He gave himself a shake. Didn’t matter what kind of man she thought he was, it was obviously the wrong kind, and it was up to him to convince her differently.
A smile slowly spread across his face, the answer so obvious he was amazed he hadn’t thought of it before. Stretching out a hand, he punched the intercom for his secretary.
“Yes, Mr. Fortune?”
“Marcia, call the florist and order three dozen yellow roses to be delivered to Gina Reynolds.”
“Is her name in your personal or business database?”
“Neither. She’s Curtis’ daughter. You may have to dig a little to find her address. Have someone in legal check the county tax records. I’m sure she’s listed there.”
“Will do. How do you want the card signed?”
He considered a moment, then bit back a smile. “Toad lover.”
“Toad Lover,” he repeated. “T-O-A-D. I assume you know how to spell lover.”
“Uh, yes, sir, I do.”
“And ask the florist if they can find a container shaped like a toad to put the roses in. Preferably crystal or silver.”
“Whatever you say,” she said, sounding doubtful. “Is this some kind of joke?”
“No. More like war.”
The first time the doorbell rang, Gina ignored it. Perched on a stool before her drafting table, she was riding a creative wave, the images in her mind all but flowing off the end of her pencil. If she stopped now, the images might vaporize before she had the opportunity to commit them to paper.
The doorbell rang a second time and she hunched her shoulders against the intrusive sound, trying to block it out. The third time, she muttered an oath and slapped the pencil down. Prepared to hang and quarter the person who dared interrupt her work, she marched to the front door of her loft. Mindful of “safety first,” she rose to her toes to peer through the peep hole.
And saw roses. Yellow roses. What appeared to be a field of them. Curious, she swung open the door and fell back a step, clapping a hand over her heart. “Oh, my word,” she breathed, stunned by the sheer size of the arrangement that greeted her.
“Delivery for Ms. Gina Reynolds.”
The male voice came from behind the roses and obviously belonged to the person holding them.
She strained to peer through the blooms. “I’m Gina.”
“Where would you like me to put these?”
“I’ll take them,” she offered stretching out her hands.
She shifted left and right, down and up, searching for something to grip, but finally gave up.
“Maybe you better bring them inside,” she conceded. “Hang on a minute and I’ll guide you.”
Stepping out into the hallway, she positioned herself behind the delivery boy and placed her hands on his shoulders. “Straight ahead,” she instructed, then warned, “Careful. There’s a large support column on your left. Good,” she praised as he shifted slightly to the right and avoided bumping into it. “My dining table is directly in front of you. You can set the arrangement there.”
Heaving a sigh of relief, the young man deposited the roses on the table, then pulled an invoice from his pocket. “Sign here,” he said, pointing.
“Who are they from?” she asked curiously, scrawling her name.
The boy tucked the invoice back into his pocket. “Beats me. There’s probably a card in there some place. Usually is. If not, you can call the shop. Somebody there will probably know.”
Nodding, she drew a five dollar bill from her purse. “Thank you,” she said. She handed him the tip, then eyed the arrangement dubiously and added, “I think.”
After locking the door behind the delivery boy, she returned to the dining table and began searching for a card. Not finding one among the blooms, she squatted down to see if it was attached to the vase.
“Oh, my gosh,” she cried, when she found herself staring into the jeweled eyes of a silver toad. Charmed by the intricately crafted creature, she spied the card and removed it, sure that she’d find her agent’s name there, along with his congratulations on her receiving the Newbury Award.
“Toad Lover?” she read with a frown, straightening. She turned the card over and read the neatly typed message “Call me. 555-9436.”
Not recognizing the number, she picked up the phone and punched in the digits. She listened to three rings, then heard the click of an answering