Taking Care of Business

By: Brenda Jackson

One

“M s. Williams, Mr. Teagan Elliott is here to see you.”

Renee Williams took a deep breath, slipped off her reading glasses and pushed aside the medical report on Karen Elliott, bracing herself to deal with the woman’s son, who from what Renee had heard was causing problems.

Since learning of his mother’s breast cancer, and trying to assist Karen in dealing with all the paperwork for her upcoming surgery, Teagan Elliott was going about it the wrong way by putting unnecessary pressure on the hospital staff just because his last name was Elliott.

She pressed down the respond button on her phone and said, “Please send him in, Vicki.”

Renee silently prayed that her confrontation with him would go well. She didn’t want to remember the last time she had taken a stand against a man who thought his last name was the key to open any and all doors.

Her job as a social worker at Manhattan University Hospital meant helping everyone and making sure they were treated fairly, regardless of their economic, educational and cultural backgrounds.

A knock on the door brought Renee’s thoughts back to the business at hand. “Come in.”

She stood and placed a smile on her face when the man she knew to be Teagan Elliott, of Elliott Publication Holdings, one of the largest magazine conglomerates in the world, walked into her office dressed as if he had just posed for a photo shoot in GQ magazine. Renee had to concede he was a handsome man with all the sure-sign characteristics, which included expressive eyes, a symmetrical face, a straight nose and a chiseled jawline.

Moving from around her desk, she met him halfway and offered him her hand in a firm handshake. He automatically took it. “Mr. Elliott?”

“Yes, and you’re Ms. Williams, I presume.”

His northern accent was polished, refined and spoke of old money and lots of it. “Yes, I am. Would you like to have a seat so we can discuss the matter concerning your mother?”

He frowned. “No, I don’t want to sit to discuss anything. I want you to tell me just what will be done for her.”

Renee lifted a brow as she stared into the icy blue eyes that were holding hers. So he wanted to be difficult, did he? Well, he would soon discover that when it came to handling difficult people, she could be a force to reckon with. She crossed her arms over her chest. “Suit yourself if you prefer standing, but I’ve had a rather long and taxing day and I don’t intend to stand.”

With that, she resumed her seat. The glare he gave her was priceless, and if it weren’t for the seriousness of the situation at hand, she would have quirked her lips into a smile. Evidently, not too many people sat down and left him standing.

“Now, about your mother,” Renee said after taking a sip of her coffee, which had turned cold. “I see that her surgery is scheduled for—”

“I think I need to apologize.”

Renee glanced up, put down her mug and gave him a look. The eyes staring back at her were no longer icy but were now a beautiful shade of clear blue. “Do you?”

“Yes.” A smile touched his lips. They were lips that Renee thought were beautifully shaped.

“Normally I’m a likeable guy, but knowing what my mother is going through right now is a little hard to deal with. It wasn’t my intent to come across as an arrogant ass. I just want to make sure she’s getting the best of everything,” he said, coming to take the seat across from Renee.

A part of Renee wondered if there was ever a time an Elliott hadn’t gotten the best of everything. “That’s what I’m here for, Mr. Elliott. My job is to make sure that not only your mother, but anyone faced with emotional concerns that can impede their recovery is given help to deal with those issues.”

He nodded and his smile widened. “Have you met my mother?”

Renee returned his smile. For some reason she was drawn to it. “Yes, I had a chance to talk to her a few days ago. I found her to be a very beautiful person, both inside and out.”

He chuckled. “She is that.”

Renee could tell Teagan loved his mother very much. In talking with Karen Elliott, Renee had discovered the woman had three sons and a daughter. Teagan, at twenty-nine, was the third child, youngest of the sons, and a news editor at one of the family magazines, Pulse. Renee had also discovered during her talk with Karen that of all her children, she and Teagan had the closest relationship.

“So tell me, what are we up against, Ms. Williams?”

Teagan’s question broke into Renee’s thoughts. “Now that the doctor has given your mother the diagnosis and a decision has been made for surgery, what Karen needs from her family more than anything is support. I understand some of you don’t comprehend her reasons for having a double mastectomy when a tumor was found in only one breast. She wants to have both removed as a precaution. Doing so is her choice and should be accepted as such.