Author: Emma Swan


    Seeing him in the middle of that small crowd, feeling so uncomfortable, made Annalise Walsh smile. She was standing way back, observing him, trying to understand from his facial expression what ad execs were on his final list. For now, his most obvious choice was Helena Christiansen from ‘Empire Promotions’. The smile on that nasty woman’s face was too wide, she could not hide her happiness.

          A little bored and bothered, Annalise sipped some wine from her glass and looked around the ballroom. This fundraiser was one of the most tedious things she had to do in the last few days. But Elaine Styles, one of her bosses, asked her to be a part of this because it ‘would be good for business’.

          And Annalise couldn’t say no to such request. She had to take one for the team since she couldn’t refuse the woman who practically helped her stand again on her own two feet and be a winner. Besides, it was a good pond to fish for some other accounts for the agency, besides the obvious one.

          Across from where she was standing, Lance Hamilton was talking to a lot of people, women especially. He seemed relaxed, quite communicative and the smile she was seeing on his lips was making Lance so damn gorgeous if this was possible. Tonight, in particular, he was smoking hot. Lance was driving her crazy with his brown hair and his dark brown eyes. And that smile... Breathtaking!

        Tall, strong, beautiful, intelligent, Lance was the CEO of ‘Hamilton Enterprises' and the creator of 'HL Sportswear', a branch that was designing and selling sports items all over the world. He was heir to billions and a billionaire in his own right, the most eligible bachelor in the country, and one of the youngest CEOs in the States.

          During his college years at Harvard, he had been the captain of the Men’s Swimming and Diving Team, the captain of the Men’s Rowing Team, the captain of the Soccer Team, and the list could continue for days.

      Accomplished, rich, drop-dead gorgeous, sure of himself, powerful… Annalise liked these traits in a man. He had all of them and they were making Lance seem too perfect to be real. But he was real and he was standing in the same room with her, only a few steps away.  

          In their first unofficial business encounter, when, together with Elaine, she went to meet him, they exchanged searching glances, and for a brief moment, Annalise found herself daydreaming, thinking of what could happen if only… But no, she would never walk this path, not with a potential client, someone she wanted to work with for some time now. The gossip would kill her all over again.

          She wanted the account a great deal, but sleeping with the CEO of the company in order to land it wasn’t an option in her principles’ book. ‘Annalise, focus on someone else and quit watching Lance Hamilton like he’s the only man in the world,’ she said to herself and shifted her gaze towards other people in the room. ‘Come on! Concentrate on bringing home this victory!’  

          In the last year, Lance’s company worked with five advertising agencies, but none of them gave him what he needed, none of them offered him what ‘S & W Advertising’ could. Since Lance fired the last one, every single advertising agency in Los Angeles, including the one she was working for, entered the arena and started to fight for a place in the final.

          For days now, she and Lance kinda tiptoed around each other. Lance knew very well that she wanted him… well, to have him as her agency’s biggest client. Yes, she wanted Lance in her bed too, but this would remain just a fantasy.

          Now all she needed to do was to stay focused, to keep her eye on the ball, and to fight the other wolves that were trying to obtain this huge account. Annalise looked at him surrounded by her competition.

          Maybe she should go there too, to butter him up, but this wouldn’t be her style. Bending the knee wasn’t the way Annalise was doing business with important companies.

“Annalise, I’m so glad that you came. What is the situation?”

          Annalise turned and saw Elaine holding a glass of wine in her hand. The joy on her boss’s face was telling her how much fun she was having. Elaine was cut to work this kind of crowd, but this time she asked Annalise to come with her without protest.

“Hi, Elaine. Yes, there was some traffic on the way, but I made it just in time to enjoy the show.”

“Why are you not there with the rest of the ad execs?” she asked.

          Elaine gestured impatiently towards Lance and the crowd around him. When she saw Helena Christiansen talking to Lance, her smile disappeared.

“What is this bitch doing here? I should’ve imagined that she would crawl out from her hole and come here. Please, do something, anything… just don’t let this snake take this account from us.”

“Don’t worry, Elaine,” she calmed her boss down. “Let her enjoy the illusion of having Lance Hamilton in her pocket.”

“She stole two important accounts from us lat year, and that cost me half of my agency. I didn't need a partner, but I had to accept David's proposal since after she threw dirt on the agency, no one wanted to be associated with me and my name. 'Thanks to her' I lost half of my advertising agency... I want her annihilated, Annalise! Snatch this account from under her nose and make her suffer.”

“Elaine, listen, you helped me a lot in these past years. When I came to your agency, you bet on me, you chose to trust me. I need you to do it again. Lance Hamilton is mine. I know it and he knows it too.”

          She looked at Elaine with a confident smile on her lips.

“The fact that I’m not there to kiss his ring, is a point in our favor. We both know that we want to work together to make his company even stronger. I’ve studied him a lot, and I know that, when the moment is going to be right, he will come to me. I’m absolutely sure about it.”  

“This is very important for us… This account is our way out of the crisis, you know that. So, are you absolutely positive that he will say yes to us?” Elaine asked her after finishing the wine from her glass. “Because, as you very well know, without this account, we are doomed.”

“Boss, I know I’m asking you a lot, but please, trust me on this, and I promise you that I will bring this point home,” she said in a low voice. “Listen, I won’t go there and play the seduction card like the rest of them. Even if he’s expecting this from me, I won’t. You know very well that I’m not that good at this game. I work differently than the rest of those women. I spent hours and days of my free time putting together the perfect pitch. And when I tell you that Lance Hamilton is mine, I’m not joking, I’m not imagining things.”

          While she was talking to Elaine, from the other side of the room Lance was looking in her direction, checking her out quite intensely. Annalise turned to Elaine because he was distracting her a lot. In order to do her thing with Lance, Annalise needed to calm Elaine down and make her trust her instinct.

          Elaine wasn’t the easiest woman to work with. She was harsh, she was demanding, but she was also fair. The agency was struggling to maintain the course, and an account like Hamilton was, would have saved everybody from worrying always about tomorrow, about the future of the people working for the agency. Landing ‘HL Sportswear’ would also calm down Elaine’s business partner.

“Annalise, I have faith in your abilities. I know what you can do. I know that you’re extremely good and devoted to your work and to ‘S & W Advertising’. I trust you and I always will, no matter what. So, I will leave you here and go and do some mingling, while you’re going to convince Mr. Hamilton that we are the only logical choice for him.”

“I appreciate your words and confidence more than you know. Let me work my magic since what I know is what you taught me.”

          Annalise looked again at Elaine, but this time she noticed something that she never saw before. She knew how much Elaine was worried about the agency’s future. In fact, she was so worried that she lost her marriage in the process. The make-up was able to cover the lines around her eyes, but it was inefficient in hiding the tired expression that Annalise was seeing in Elaine’s eyes.

          This motivated her to try every single trick she had up her sleeve to land this account and to give her boss some room to breathe and go back to taking care of her life outside the office. It will be the perfect way to thank Elaine for believing in her when no one else did, Annalise included.

“Ok,” Elaine said, “he is looking at you, kid!” she added and left Annalise alone.  

          ‘It’s showtime!’, Annalise thought while sipping wine and glimpsing at Lance coming towards her. His way of moving was similar to a panther approaching its prey, but she stood there, calm, cool, and collected, even if her body was sensing him miles away. And his scent…

          Annalise found herself in the same room with him a few times, and even if the room was filled with people, she was always able to sense him. Lance was messing her up, but even so, she had to keep a poker face and talk to him like all was good.

          A waiter walked near her, so Annalise turned her back to Lance, put the empty glass on the tray, and took another glass of wine.

“Annalise Walsh…” he said in such a smooth, sensual way that she almost lost her balance. “So wonderful to see you here.”

Comments (1)
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Rhodora Agapay
Interesting story

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