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Beyond The Boardroom

By:Maureen Child

Beyond The Boardroom
Maureen Child

       Chapter 1





"Okay then," Rachel Adler said, keeping her voice pitched to be heard  over the thumping of running feet and the hum of the treadmill. "I've  got you booked for dinner with Tawny Mason tonight at eight."

"At Une Nuit?" Shane Elliott asked, reaching for his water bottle, tucked beneath the cord at the head of the machine.

"Where else?" Rachel muttered with a little shake of her head. Why in  heaven would he even ask? she wondered. Hadn't she been taking care of  every detail of Shane's life for four years now?

"Good." Shane took a long drink of water and Rachel's gaze locked on the  bobbing motion of his Adam's apple. Seriously, even the man's neck was  sexy.

When he'd finished off the last of the water, he wiped sweat from his  face with the towel looped around his neck and tossed Rachel the empty  bottle. "And call ahead. Have Stash order in some flowers for, um … " He  waved one hand in a silent attempt for help.

"Tawny," Rachel provided dryly as she set the empty bottle down on the  floor beside her. For heaven's sake, the man couldn't even remember his  date's name.

Plus, he knew as well as she did that Stash Martin, manager of Une Nuit,  never missed a beat when getting the Elliott family table ready. There  would, she knew, be flowers, champagne and some delicious appetizers  just waiting for Shane and Tawny.

Tawny.

What kind of woman named her daughter Tawny? A stage mother, hoping for a  starlet daughter? Or had the woman taken one look at her newborn baby  girl and decided … future bimbo?

"Right." Shane nodded. "Tawny. She says her mother named her for the color of her eyes."

Rachel rolled her own green eyes.

Shane grinned at her and Rachel's stomach did a quick dip and spin.

If she could have managed it without looking like a complete idiot,  she'd have kicked her own ass. Honestly. Why was it Shane Elliott who  could turn her insides to mush with a simple smile?

The first three years she'd worked with the man, everything had been  fine between them. They'd had a good working relationship and Shane even  appreciated Rachel's sometimes quirky sense of humor, when most of her  previous employers hadn't. Then she'd had to go and ruin the whole thing  by falling for him.

For the last year she'd suffered silently, wanting him every day,  dreaming about him at night, all the while knowing that he thought of  her only as Good ol' Rachel.

Idiot.

"What do you think?" he asked, clearly oblivious to her thoughts. "Roses?"

"Huh?" She blinked, shook her head and reminded herself to concentrate on the moment. "Right. Flowers. Roses are boring."

"Really?"

"Trust me."

"I always do," he said, giving her another of those smiles that had the power to zap an unwary female at twenty paces.

She couldn't do this much longer, she thought. Couldn't keep working  with him every day and dying a little more every day. Couldn't set up  his dates with other women and imagine him in bed with every one of  them. Couldn't keep wasting her life away waiting for the wrong man to  wake up and stumble on her.

Sighing, Rachel flipped through her memo book, scanned the notes she  kept on the legions of Shane's women and found what she was looking for.  "Tawny prefers daisies."

"Sure, I remember now. Such a simple girl."

"Simpleton, you mean," she muttered again, keeping her voice low enough  that her boss's running feet would drown out the comment.

"What was that?"

"Nothing." She automatically handed him the second bottle of water she'd  brought with her to the executive area of the company gym on the fifth  floor.

"Rachel, what would I do without you?" he mused, not really expecting an answer.

But oh boy, could she give him one. Rachel was Shane's right hand at The  Buzz, one of the magazines in the Elliott family empire. As a weekly  entertainment magazine, The Buzz covered all the new movies, did  interviews with up-and-coming directors and fawned over whichever actor  or actress was the current hot topic.

And as editor in chief of The Buzz, Shane did his best to keep on top of everything going on around him.

Of course, when she'd first come to work for him, he hadn't been so involved.

Instead he'd tried to avoid the office as much as humanly possible. But slowly, Rachel had convinced him to enjoy his job more.

Back then, he'd resented being pulled into the family business. But  Rachel had seen just how good he was at not only handling the day-to-day  running of the magazine but at dealing with people and managing  disasters. She'd eventually convinced him that he was meant to run this  business.                       
       
           



       

And he'd really come into his own over the last several months-ever  since his father, Patrick, had kicked off a competition among his  children.

Old man Elliott had determined that the best way to name a new CEO of  Elliott Publication Holdings was to see who was willing to work hardest  to earn it. At the end of the year the editor in chief of whichever one  of the magazines showed the most proportional profit growth would become  Top Dog.

And The Buzz was the front-runner.

Shane's father was due to announce the winner any day now.

Patrick was a sneaky old man, in Rachel's opinion. Nice, sure, but  sneaky. He'd found a way to make his grown children admit just how much  they wanted to succeed. By pitting them against each other, he'd been  able to sit back all year and watch them discover themselves.

And there had been plenty of discoveries, she thought, remembering all of the turmoil over the last year.

"Did you put that call in to Fin for me?" Shane asked, breathing hard as he picked up the pace on the treadmill.

"Yes," Rachel said, flipping back a page in her memo book. Smiling, she  read off, "Fin says and I quote, ‘Tell Shane he needs to get away from  the city and smell some fresh air. Come to Colorado and I'll teach him  to ride a horse.'"

Shane laughed. "A month on a ranch and she's Annie Oakley?"

Rachel chuckled along with him. She couldn't help it. Shane's twin  sister had been sad for so long, it was good knowing that she was  finally happy. She'd reconciled with Jessie, the daughter she was forced  to give up for adoption so many years ago. She was married to a man she  was clearly nuts about and her newly discovered pregnancy was the icing  on the cake. "She's happy."

"Yeah," Shane said, his running steps slowing a little as he thought  about the sister he was so close to. "She really is. But damn, I miss  having her around."

His eyes narrowed thoughtfully as he stared straight ahead, out the bank of windows overlooking Park Avenue.

"I know," Rachel said. "But she'll probably come back home for Christmas."

"Christmas." He shut off the treadmill, stepped neatly to one side and  used his towel to wipe his face again. "It's December, isn't it?"

"All month," she agreed.

"Have I started shopping yet?"

"No."

"Damn." Grabbing the second bottle of water, he chugged down the liquid,  then handed off the empty bottle. "No time to worry about it now,  though. I'm gonna grab a shower, then I'll see you back in the office in  half an hour. I'd like to take a look at the new copy for the magazine  before it heads out to production."

"Right." Rachel winced as she thought about one column in particular that he'd be going over.

As if reading her mind, he turned and called back, "The new Tess Tells All column was turned in on time, right?"

"Oh, yeah. She's very dependable."

From across the room, Shane winked at her. "Just like you, Rachel."

She watched him disappear into the men's locker room and as the door swung shut behind him, she whispered, "You have no idea."

A few hours later, Shane listened with half an ear as his art director,  Jonathon Taylor, laid out plans for next summer's Fourth of July edition  even as snow flurries dusted the windows. On a weekly magazine, they  usually operated months in advance. And the specialty editions required  even more in-depth planning.

Jonathon really thrived on the rush of trying to outdo himself with  every holiday issue. And damned if he didn't pull it off most of the  time. Right now Jon was in the midst of describing, with wildly waving  hands, his salute to patriotism, centering on celebrities dressed in  red, white and blue. Not original, but knowing Jon, it would be great.

Sandy Hall, the managing editor, was practically frothing at the mouth.  No doubt she had a complaint or two about the money Jonathon was  budgeting for his blowout edition.

And Shane would have to listen to both sides and make a decision. Used  to be that he hated being here, listening to all of the day-to-day drama  of the magazine's inner circles. Now, though, he was enjoying himself.

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