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Authors: Susan Wright

Good Girl

BOOK: Good Girl
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Good Girl

 

By Susan Wright

 

 

 

COPYRIGHT AND LICENSE INFORMATION

2013
Edition

Copyright
© 2013 Susan Wright

All
rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form
or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording,
or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in
writing from the copyright owner.

 

Cover image of the
Pink Crystal Chainmail Choker Collar with Rhinestone Heart Lock courtesy of
Brain of Jen:
www.brainofjen.com

 

www.susanwright.info

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Kali stared dreamily out the window of
the high-rise conference room at the skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan. She still
couldn’t believe she was living in the city, but the incredible view was a
constant reminder of how far she had come.

The door opened, startling her. She was
supposed to be switching the covers on the proposals by the two finalists, and
if her boss caught her sitting there looking at the view, Kali would be in big
trouble.

But it was only the receptionist, Lindy.
Her eyes were wide as she announced, “One of the artists is here!”

“Which one?” Kali asked.

“Hunter Munro. Why didn’t you warn me?
He’s so hot! I would have worn my cleavage shirt.” Lindy pulled her sweater
smoother, and checked her lipstick in the chrome plate behind the door handle.
“Wish me luck!”

With that, she headed back out to the
lobby. Lindy wasn’t the most picky girl, so Kali took her enthusiasm with a
grain of salt, but still...

Flipping open the cover of the blue
proposal, Kali looked down at the black and white headshot of Hunter Munro. He
was handsome, though a bit moody and mysterious with half of his face covered
by shadow. Kali’s boss Selina didn’t do “moody.” Selina thought Hunter’s
headshot was arty and pretentious. But the two proposals had received the most
votes in their online campaign, so Selina had no choice but to offer up both to
the executive committee of SunTech. After all, the competition had been her
idea.

Actually it had been Kali’s idea, but
Selina took credit for it because she was the head of the PR department.
Through the windows, far down below, Kali could see the old stone fountain that
practically filled the plaza. It looked so solid and permanent that each day
she came to work, she wondered if that fountain would outlast her in the end.

Her boss, Selina, had ruined everything.
Kali’s move to New York City after getting her dream job doing PR for SunTech,
an up-and-coming environmental business, was hanging in the balance. Kali lived
every hour in dread of making a fatal mistake that would end up in her being
fired. Then what would she do? She had gotten the job only because of the
recommendation from a journalism professor at Jefferson College who had once
hailed Ryan as a visionary. Kali’s mom was a fellow professor and had finagled
the recommendation out of him.

If she lost this job, there was no way
Kali could pull off that kind of nepotistic feat on her own. She would be lucky
to waitress at the TGI Friday in Midtown Manhattan.

For six glorious months so far, Kali had
balanced on top of the world. From where she stood in the fourteenth floor
conference room, the Lower East Side spread out before her, punctuated by a
dozen other modern glass towers poking above the brown tenement buildings. They
were all built right before the financial bust, but SunTech was the only one
with its own wind-powered generator and water recycling system. Far to the
left, the Williamsburg Bridge spanned the East River, pointing to the Brooklyn
neighborhood where she lived.

Kali was determined that the city
wouldn’t beat her. She had to do well on this plaza redesign project.

She decided to go out to reception to
get a good look at Hunter Munro.

***

Sidling up to a frosted glass partition,
Kali peeked through the narrow clear strip below the sunburst SunTech logo.

There he was. Dark hair, tanned skin,
and nice broad shoulders. She could hear his laugh through the glass, and he seemed
relaxed sitting in the chair closest to Lindy’s reception desk. Lindy was
giggling self-consciously, touching her hair too much, chatting about a
restaurant she had been to the night before.

Suddenly Hunter turned and looked at
Kali, meeting her eyes through the glass.

She drew in her breath. Blue eyes. He
had bright, piercing blue eyes framed by long black lashes and dark brows. She
had expected his eyes to be dark, like the Latino he appeared to be. But even
from ten feet away, she was struck by the vivid blue color.

He stared intently at her, while Lindy
kept chattering as if she hadn’t noticed anything.

Kali forgot how to breathe, mesmerized
by his hold on her through his eyes.

Then she blinked and the spell was
broken. Kali ducked down. She was being stupid, of course. He had seen her! And
now he could see the shadow where she hunched behind the frosted glass.

But nothing could make her look through
the narrow chink in the glass again. Bent over, she turned and hurried down the
hall to the conference room. She felt like a real idiot. But she couldn’t help
herself. The way he had looked at her… almost as if he was reading her mind.

Kali was so flustered that she didn’t
tell her boss that Hunter Munro was waiting in reception. She tried to forget
about it, so she would be relaxed when he came in. He had only seen her
eyes—the rest of her had been hidden behind the frosted glass. He wouldn’t
recognize her if she kept her cool.

The senior executives arrived at the
conference room, including Robert Ryan who was now pushing sixty and had an
overwhelming passion for renewable energy that inspired everyone in his
company.

Before they called in the two artists,
the proposals were discussed by the executives. Kali didn’t say a word. She took
notes for Selina who led the discussion and was in charge of the project.
Selina pushed Tami Han’s concept of wide bamboo planters that served as benches
as being better suited to their building over Hunter Munro’s modernistic
sundial design.

“Bamboo is renewable,” Selina said,
holding up the red folder. “And it will cast some shade on the plaza, which
really needs it since we’re facing south.”

“That’s why the sundial would work.” Ryan
lifted the blue folder with Hunter’s proposal. “But I’d like to hear from the
artists themselves.”

Lindy showed in Tami Han and she looked
just like her photo—a pretty Asian-American woman with an easy smile. Tami had
plenty to say for herself and her “green design” and what she didn’t say,
Selina said for her. Kali had to admit that the idea of islands of lacy bamboo
forests sounded appealing. She could sit there and eat her lunch.

Ryan asked a few questions, but the bulk
of the discussion came from the CFO in regards to re-piping the plaza to water
the bamboo in the giant planters. The dozen or so participants who were
gathered around the table seemed to like the idea of bamboo. Kali didn’t see
any reason why Mrs. Chapel, the Director of Human Relations, should be involved
in making this decision, but Robert Ryan always made a big deal about how he
liked to work from consensus. This project was tailor-made to bring his entire
company together in one giant PR stunt, and they all seemed to like Tami Han.

“I can work with her,” Selina said after
Tami left the room. “She’s got an international appeal that we can parlay into
overseas coverage.”

Nods met this observation from around
the oval table. Kali thought Selina was overly-pushy and domineering, but then
again, her boss had been fighting her way through the New York corporate world
for nearly twenty years so she probably knew what she was doing.

“Hunter Munro,” Lindy announced as she
opened the door.

He was suddenly there, his eyes sweeping
the room. Kali thought he hesitated a moment when he saw her.

Selina went forward to greet him.
“Welcome, Mr. Munro. We have a seat for you here.”

But Hunter just smiled and nodded to
her, going straight to the man at the head of the table. “Mr. Ryan, it’s a
pleasure to meet you. I wanted to tell you how impressed I am with your work.
I’m very proud to be a finalist for this project.”

Kali watched along with the others as
Hunter Munro shook hands with their founder. The sculptor knew a fair bit about
SunTech and Robert Ryan, which he displayed as they chatted quietly for a few
moments. Kali wanted to be cynical; she had seen enough of Selina’s maneuvers
to know a practiced charmer when she saw one. But Hunter was so relaxed,
wearing black jeans and a navy suit jacket, his curling hair in need of a cut.
He didn’t fit the image of a slick self-salesman or a huckster trying to steal
a buck. There was a distinct whiff of bad-boy about him, and she was sure he
had at least one tattoo covered over by his business-casual clothes.

Hunter worked his way around the table,
shaking everyone’s hand. They were pleased, and showed it.

When he got to Kali, her hand was in his
before she knew it. It felt square and hard, a little rough like he worked with
them a lot. And then she was looking into those remarkable blue eyes again.

He recognized her.

How could he not? The nerves in her hand
seemed electrified, like a spark ran from his body through hers. His smile
deepened at her reaction.

“This is our copywriter, Kali Jones,”
Selina was saying behind her.

“We’ve already met,” Hunter said. His
voice was low and confidential, as it had been with everyone.

“You know each other?” Selina demanded.
“How?”

“We met in reception,” Hunter said.

Selina dismissed that as irrelevant, and
directed him to the empty seat at their end of the table. Kali sat down
quickly, suddenly wishing the table was square so she could hide behind Selina.
She was sure she was red in the face because the pressure was unbearable. But
she tried to act like nothing had happened as she opened the blue folder and
stared blankly down at Hunter’s graceful rendition of a sundial in geometric
shapes—a triangular base, long spear for the dial, and round balls grouped in a
semi-circle marking each number of the clock.

Hunter noticed that they were all
looking at the image in the folder. “That’s an old drawing. I brought a newer
one for you to see.”

He unzipped the black portfolio he was
carrying. Selina protested, “I told you not to bring new materials. We have to
consider each project on the same basis.”

Hunter paused, the large painting half
out of the portfolio. Looking down at Robert Ryan, he grinned. “Then it’s a
good thing I didn’t bring the clay model of the sundial. I was afraid it
wouldn’t fit in the cab.”

In the midst of general laughter, Hunter
pulled out a striking watercolor of the blue-glass SunTech building. The
concave front of the tower seemed to catch the light of the afternoon sun. In
the front of the semi-circular plaza stood the dramatic slash of the sundial.
Hunter had given the painting a low perspective, showing the dark purple shadow
of the sundial crossing the bench that was labeled IV.

Kali drew in her breath as did several
others around the table. She had always liked the idea of a sundial.

“I love it,” Mrs. Chapel said
immediately. The plump forty-something woman was leaning forward eagerly. “The
antiquity of a sundial is unexpected. It’s exactly what the architect intended
when he put a 100-year-old fountain in front of our modern building.”

There were murmurs of agreement from all
of the women. Even Mr. Ryan was nodding, though not as enthusiastically. Were
they looking at the painting or Hunter Munro?

Hunter’s eyes met hers again for a
moment, and Kali quickly glanced down at the proposal. She couldn’t breathe
when he looked at her that way! But it wasn’t her fault; the others seemed just
as enthralled by him. Including Larry, Mr. Ryan’s assistant.

“Get Hunter an easel,” Selina ordered.

Kali jumped up and went to pull out the easel
from a narrow closet in the wall paneling. Hunter had certainly gotten around
Selina easily enough. She wasn’t protesting his use of unauthorized materials
anymore.

On her way back, Kali checked the
thermostat. It felt too warm in the conference room. But it was reading 78
degrees, as usual, and Ryan wouldn’t allow them to lower it any more than that.

She set up the easel next to Hunter’s
chair and took the watercolor from his hands without directly looking at him.
She wasn’t going to turn into a giggly girl like Lindy. She was a professional
and planned on making something of herself in this company. She wouldn’t let
him get to her.

As Hunter turned back, he knocked his
pen off the table. It landed on the floor between his chair and the easel. He
started to reach for it, but Kali was already bent over picking it up. Their
heads came very close, so close that she was enveloped in his musky scent.


Good girl
,” he murmured under
his breath.

She looked sharply him.
He didn’t
just say that!

Selina was busy looking at the specs in
the blue folder as if she hadn’t really considered them before. She acted like
she hadn’t heard anything.

Hunter took the pen from her slowly, so
slowly that Kali had to look at him again. He was smiling at her, seeing her
embarrassment. But there was approval in his eyes.

Kali pulled back, feeling flustered.

How dare he say that to me!
Like I’m a trained collie or something.

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