“What I want, Elloree”—he spoke quickly, firing his words into the phone at her as if his rapid delivery would convince her—“what I need and what the company has to have is someone to head up this operation. Someone, not just to work up designs, but to get the goddamned thing rolling like I know it can and must. Someone to handle the artists—kick some temperamental butt, you know, while making them love every minute of it—and then put together some presentations that will knock the balls off those son-of-a-bitch buyers. I need a multidimensional person to get this off the ground and pull the whole campaign together.
Elloree’s hand tightened around the receiver. “I know you have a very large and capable staff now, Mark,” she said. “Alex Tenner is one of the best, and I read you stole him from Hallmark just last year.”
Mark laughed, the deep bellowing sound shaking the phone. “You’re right there, but we call it ‘making an offer he couldn’t refuse.’ Yeah, we’ve got him on our side now. But between you and me, the guy’s a light-footed ass who spends too much time thinking with what’s below the belt. No, this operation needs someone special.”
How very like him, Elloree fumed, pacing the kitchen, still clutching the phone. Today, without warning, one phone call had transformed an ordinary Saturday morning into something that was anything but. Impulsive, aggressive Mark Williams had always known what he wanted. And as he phrased it this morning, “I want and need you to come back to work, El. This project can’t fly without you.”
I wish I’d just let the answering machine pick up the call, she thought, I wouldn’t have had to talk to him and hear those persuasive words. Just like that, go back to work. Damn him. But even as she thought it, she knew she’d made her decision when she’d heard his voice. Still, she answered carefully. “You know I can’t just come back, Mark. I would need time.” She hesitated and then added, “Time to talk to Tom. And there are things here to work out before I could even think of it.” She tried to sound firm and in control, but her heart was racing with excitement.
“Fine, fine; take all the time you need. Call me on Monday with your answer.”
She wondered if he could detect the quiver in her voice when she promised to call on Monday.