The Doll Making Delta
Delta House Novels
Gretchen S. B.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Date of Publication: Oct 15th
Number of pages: 175
Word Count: 45,700
Cover Artist: Gretchen S. B.
and Jeannette Takashima
Reneé Edward has a lot on her plate. She took over as President of the Reneé-Gal company from her father a few months ago. Just in time for a merger with a new parent company.
As if that timing was not bad enough she finds out several Junior Executives have been ruining the merger from within. Just as she is scrambling to pick up the pieces, Ruben Blackthorne strolls into her life. He is sexy, tall and clearly into her. Though she is excited about this new development in her love life Reneé finds it a little hard to juggle the new addition. As everything in her life finally seems to fall into place for the first time in almost a year Reneé finds herself confused as Ruben begins to pull away.
Had she imagined their connection? Were things moving too fast? Lost and confused, at least she has her family and her fellow Deltas to get her through. That is until everything takes another unexpected turn.
A warn breeze whipped by her as Reneé practically burst from front doors of her office building. She paused a second to take a deep breath of the fresh Seattle air. The layers of her blond pixie cut fell across her face as she tilted her head back. Did she ever need a break! This had been a terrible day proceed by a terrible month. Opening her eyes she looked diagonally across the street at her own personal escape.
Late Night Fix was a simple one story brick building with large panel windows along the two street facing walls. It was Reneé's home away from home. Not just because of its cozy atmosphere or because it hosted local events. It was her escape from work because her best friend owned it.
Reneé didn't try to stop the grin from forming on her face as she waited at the light to cross the street. Naomi had been one of her closest friends since the two of them met in kindergarten. Their parents lived about half a mile from each other. Which meant they were with each other constantly growing up. They both received the Delta House scholarship and even earned their MBAs together.
Having Naomi within walking distance saved Reneé's sanity the last month or two. Even if she did not see her friend, knowing Naomi was so close was a comfort in the hostile board room.
Reneé's father, Stan, and uncle, James, started a doll company when she was about a year old. Their flagship doll was Reneé-Gal. She grew as Reneé did, made friends, picked up hobbies. The Reneé-Gal company grew in popularity and became a regional favorite.
About three years ago a national toy company approached her father about buying Reneé-Gal and giving her a wider audience. He and James would still be at the head of the company, they would just have people to answer to and more resources at their disposal. Stan and James discussed it for over a year before agreeing to entertain the idea.
Her father retired six months ago after grooming Reneé to take his position. The original plan had been to wait until after the merger but her Dad suffered a mild heart attack and everyone agreed in would be best for him to retire and relax. Now she and her uncle, who was semi-retired himself, were trying to close this merger.
They kept hitting a wall and could not figure out why. Until Monday morning when Reneé's assistant Debbie stumbled upon emails from three junior executives sabotaging the merger and trying to negotiate one of their own. James and Reneé promptly fired all three of them on the spot.
That however created a void in the workload that needed to be filled. Reneé had been pulling eighteen hour days this week scrambling to save this merger and fill in the gaps. She was exhausted and couldn't believe it was already Thursday and she had not been to see Naomi yet.
As the bell over the front door jingled Reneé felt a weight fall off her shoulders. The shop was mostly brick with steel bar style seating at the counter and along both windowed walls. There were two and four person circular table everywhere. But at two pm on a week day only half the tables were occupied. The two registers were about twenty feet away, facing the door.
Reneé smiled at Kelsey, the young college student behind the register.
"Hey Kelsey, is Naomi here?"
The young blond nodded before yelling over her shoulder. "Hey boss!"
Reneé swore she heard Naomi muttering from the kitchen through the partially open door behind Kelsey. A few seconds later Naomi appeared, wiping her hands on her apron.
"Really Kelsey? Really? You could just come get me or barring that at least use my name."
Naomi's inky black braid slid off her shoulder as she looked up at the barista, then she saw Reneé and smiled. "Hey hon, long time no see."
Her tone was light and her face was pleasant but Reneé could see Naomi assessing her to gage the level of stress.
"You here for lunch or just a pit stop?"
"Lunch but I can't stay too long."
Naomi nodded and waved to the closest empty stool to the left of the coffee equipment. Reneé took the gesture for the command it was and sat on the stool. Every once in a while Naomi wouldn't let her pay, usually when stress was high. She must have looked as exhausted as she felt.
A few moments later Naomi set a large mug in front of Reneé, presumably her usual dirty vanilla soy Chai, alongside a chicken salad sandwich. Then she set another full foamy mug across the counter and pulled over one of the two staff stools so she could sit across from Reneé.
"Okay, sip and spill. What kept you away for the better part of a week?" Naomi asked before tipping her cup to her mouth.
Sighing Reneé unwrapped her sandwich. "You remember how Uncle James and I couldn't figure out why there were all these hang ups with the negotiations right?"
Naomi's eyes grew cautious and narrowed as she nodded over her mug.
"Well as it turns out three of our junior board members were sending emails sabotaging the merger. They claimed I was holding on to information to sweeten the deal for our side. They also said that they could, with help, oust me and make a more agreeable deal."
Naomi's eyes widened as she set down her mug. "Wait, what? Isn't that illegal or something? Are you going to sue them? Can you save the deal? How did you find out?"
The shocked disbelieve from her friend made Reneé feel better. It made her feel like she wasn't losing her mind to have someone as upset as she was. Uncle James had seemed more downtrodden than upset.
"One of their assistants got wind of what was going on and clued in Debbie. You know how she gets about finding information. She found the email correspondence between these guys and our soon to be parent company. When Debbie showed the emails to Uncle James and I we fired them. As for suing, I don’t know. Our lawyers are handling it.
We think the deal may be salvageable but they are sending in one of their acquisitions and negotiations guys to do the rest in person. That way there can be no mistakes. Uncle James is all for this. He says the guy they are sending is the same one that approached him and Dad years ago. That he is a trustworthy guy. I still don't know. While I appreciate that they still want to negotiate it almost feels like I am being chastised for not having a better handle on the board." Some of the stress crept back in as Reneé finished.
Smiling sympathetically, Naomi reached across the counter to squeeze her hand. "I'm sorry you have to deal with all this. But it is going to get easier right? I mean once this thing goes though your load will be lighter. There are maybe six months left, yes a hard six months but there is light at the end of the tunnel." She gave another squeeze before letting go and grabbing her cup again. "Now eat your sandwich!"
Rolling her eyes Reneé complied, knowing full well Naomi wouldn't let her talk again until at least half the sandwich was gone.
They sat in a companionable silence for several minutes when the bell above the door rang several times. When one particular time Reneé saw Naomi's face light up she turned to see who entered. Then it was like she stopped breathing.
He was tall, maybe six-three and gorgeous. He had shaggy light brown hair, a sharp nose and jaw. As well as the palest blue eyes Reneé had ever seen. The mystery guy had one of those lithe builds that suited the jeans and t-shirt he wore as well as the guitar case strapped to his back.
Reneé made herself start breathing again as he came to stand next to her, beaming at Naomi.
About the Author:
Gretchen is a Seattleite that loves her home. She has a day job as a Program Coordinator a local university. She is a struggling Indie Author, struggling as in she is trying to make her living writing books. She loves to read, write and create characters. As well as knit and binge watch Netflix. She is also on a sporadic book blog and internet radio show with some of her college friends. She currently lives with her husband and their mischievous Rotti mix, who always seems to find something new she shouldn't be chewing on.