Marriage Terms(10)

By: Barbara Dunlop

“Yes! We have a plan.”

Chapter 3

Daniel was a man with a plan. Of course, Daniel was always a man with a plan.

But this one was better than most.

The door opened, and Cullen entered the office on the nineteenth floor of the Elliott Publication Holdings building. He tossed a sheaf of papers on Daniel’s desk. “The new sales figures.”

“Thanks,” said Daniel, giving the report only a cursory glance.

Regina and Hopkins were probably his best bet. They were a reputable firm specializing in corporate law. He supposed getting Amanda a job offer up-front was probably too heavy-handed, but maybe he could drop a few hints regarding their billable hours and their profit margin. He was pretty sure Taylor Hopkins would give him that information.

“Last month’s numbers look iffy,” said Cullen, cocking his head in an effort to make eye contact. “We’re not going to pull ahead with numbers like these.” He paused. “It’s so frustrating not knowing where we are in the competition.”

“I see,” said Daniel with a nod.

Amanda obviously didn’t understand the amount of money to be made in corporate law. Or the fact that the money was all made during business hours. If she was invited anywhere in the evening, it would be to an art museum opening or a new production of La Bohème.

Daniel was willing to bet Taylor Hopkins had never, not even once, been called out at midnight to drop by the Fifty-Third Street lockup and arrange bail for a drug dealer.


Not even once.


Daniel blinked up at his son. “Yeah?”

“We’re probably losing this race.”

“You have your Mom’s phone number programmed into your cell?”

Cullen didn’t respond.

“Never mind,” said Daniel, pressing the intercom button. “Nancy? Can you get me the number for Amanda Elliott, Attorney? She’s in Midtown.”

“Right away,” came Nancy’s voice.

“You’re calling Mom?” asked Cullen.

“Somebody has to.”

“Dad, I really think you need to back up and—”

“You said something about sales figures?”

“Oh, now you want to talk sales figures.”

“When have I not wanted to talk sales figures?”

Cullen rolled his eyes. “We’re not gaining any ground.”

“We expected that.”

Cullen pointed to a number on the top sheet. “This is a problem.”

Daniel glanced down. That was a low number all right. “How are hits on the new Web site?”


“People buying subscriptions?”

Cullen nodded.


“Eighteen to twenty-four is the fastest growing sector.”


“Not fast enough,” said Cullen.

The intercom buzzed. “I have that number for you,” said Nancy.

“I’ll be right out.” Daniel stood up and clapped his son on the shoulder. “Keep up the good work.”

“But, Dad…”

Daniel slipped his suit jacket off the hanger on the corner coatrack.

“You’re leaving?” asked Cullen, glancing from the sales report to Daniel and back again.

“I’m thinking you’re right. A phone call is probably a bad idea.” He’d drop by Amanda’s office. That way she’d have a harder time saying no to a drink. He could call Taylor Hopkins from the car and have the facts and figures all ready to present.

Cullen walked backward, keeping himself between Daniel and the office door. “The reps will be expecting a conference call.”

“We can conference call tomorrow.”

Cullen came up against the door, effectively blocking Daniel’s escape. “You do realize we’re losing hope of catching Finola?”

“We’ll make it up in Web sales. That was the strategy all along.”

Cullen paused. “You do realize you’re on a suicide mission with Mom?”

Daniel cracked a small smile. “Your faith in me is inspiring.”

“Just laying out the facts for you.”

“Your mother’s an intelligent woman. She’ll listen to reason.”