His Instant Heir(8)

By: Katherine Garbera

“Yes, how else would I view it? It’s all about the bottom line. That’s how we were able to take over your company.”

“I’m not a driven-by-the-bottom-line type of COO. I like to see my staff working and being productive.”

“Maybe you should have been more focused on the bottom line,” he suggested. She hadn’t argued when he’d called her the heart of the company. In his experience, that meant the emotional one. He had the feeling that she had an open-door policy and never said no to any of her staff. He would love to be proved wrong, but he seldom was. That meant they were going to be at odds at work. Mentally, he shrugged.

What he wanted from Cari had nothing to do with business. He’d do his job and he intended to get to know her, as well. The two things were separate in his mind.

“I don’t know. I mean of course I understand that profit has to be a driving force, but I always think about the people behind it. They need to feel safe to work at their best.”

“It will be interesting working with you. I have the feeling I don’t know you at all, Cari,” he said.

“I’m sure you don’t,” she said. “Most men only see what they want to when it comes to women.”

“Interesting thought,” he said. “Whereas you see me as I really am?”

She flushed. “Sorry. I just hate the thought of you looking at a piece of paper and saying we need to cut head count when I know that head count means a person. A person who has a life that they are trying their best to balance.”

“I’m not going to randomly reduce staff. We need to see where you are losing money, Cari. You have to know that your company isn’t as profitable as it could be.”

“Yes, I do. As you said, we’ll have to work together to make it profitable again,” she said. She reached for the door again and he had the feeling that she wanted to get away from him. Who could blame her? He’d given her two things to think about this morning.

“I’m sorry,” he said quietly. Because he hadn’t meant to reenter her life this way. Well, to be honest, he hadn’t really meant to reenter it at all. She wasn’t the kind of woman with whom he could have an affair. Even if there wasn’t a decades-long feud between their families.

It wasn’t just that she was the heart of the gaming company, she also was caring and compassionate and, he knew, worlds too soft for Beau and Helene Montrose’s adopted son. The boy they’d fought over and eventually, when his mother had lost the argument, handed over to Thomas Montrose to be honed into a weapon to be used in this war against the Chandlers.

“This was never going to be easy,” she said.

“How do you mean?”

“You left me without a backward glance, and probably thought our paths wouldn’t cross again. Definitely like this. Now we have to work together and I’m going to try to save as much of my company as I can and you’re going to—”

“Do what I do best.”

“What’s that?”

“Make this a profitable move for Playtone Games and somehow convince you that despite all of that I’m not really a Tin Man.”

* * *

Cari entered her office and picked up the phone to call Emma. Then immediately put it down. The time to go running to her big sister had passed. She was a mom now, a decision maker. At work she didn’t need Emma’s advice and she’d made the difficult decision to stand on her own in her personal life, as well. She knew better than to backpedal now.

She couldn’t help it, though. She felt scared and panicked at the thought of Dec just down the hall from her. And little DJ downstairs in the nursery. Two males who had the most influence in her life. One by her design, the other…by fate?

She shook her head. She wasn’t going to figure this out right now and didn’t want to try. She instant messaged her assistant.

Ally knocked on the door and popped her head around. “You wanted to see me?”

“Yes. I need you to draft a memo to the staff from me and my sisters letting them know that Playtone Games has taken over our company and we will be using the next six weeks to merge.”

“Okay. Anything else?” Ally asked without hesitation or concern. Her assistant was thirty-two and had gotten married last summer, and Cari knew she’d just signed a mortgage on a new house. She had to be worried.

“Let them know that Dec Montrose is going to be observing them for the next few weeks. Everyone who works to their full potential need not worry.”

“Okay. I’ll draft an email and send it to you for approval,” Ally said.

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