Madigan sincerely hoped, she wouldn’t need Mike’s number, but she was relieved he had offered it. This was what happened when she couldn’t calm her anger and went off in the wrong part neighborhood. The biker guy – Heavy – scared her and the fact that he knew who and where she was, left her vulnerable in a way, Madigan strongly disliked. She had to be in control. This vulnerability was inacceptable. However, clearly, Madigan couldn’t intimidate Heavy. She had to let it go and put it behind her.
Madigan poured the rest of her beer into the sink. Beer wasn’t her drink of choice, and she had lost her happy buzz from earlier. Madigan contented herself with getting ready for bed.
He was so close to her, Madigan felt his warm exhalation on her face. His hands moved up her body under her silk chemise, his touch rough and purposeful. Madigan squirmed with desire. Her nipples called for his touch. When he finally flicked a nipple with his thumb, Madigan was ready to combust. Madigan opened her eyes and focused on his face. She saw the outline of his head under the buzz cut and his muscular frame against the ambient light in her bedroom. She sought his face, running her fingers over his square jaw and the stubble. She longed to feel its roughness on her body. He looked down at her with an almost smile, his black eyes piercing every barrier.
Madigan shot up from her pillow, covered in cold sweat. She stared around her in the dark bedroom. It was empty. He wasn’t there. It was just a nightmare. Madigan struggled to control her breathing. It wasn’t a nightmare. It was a fantasy with herself and Heavy staring side by side or rather on top of one another. This couldn’t happen. She needed to forget about it. She couldn’t carry any thoughts of him around with her. No nightmares, no fantasies. It would take focus from her work and Madigan wanted to keep focus on her position at Allister Consolidated.
Madigan got up and changed her sweaty chemise to another one in the dark. Out of the periphery of her vision, she saw movement outside on the street. A shadow moved around the corner, and her heart flung into a gallop.
‘Don’t be silly, Madigan! And now I’m talking to myself. This is not going well.’
Madigan shook her head. The shadow could’ve been anyone. Just someone walking along or even a cat. She hadn’t seen more than the movement. She couldn’t be this jumpy, not in her line of work. Madigan was a prime negotiator. She needed her cool to perform.
She crawled under the covers again and willed her eyes shut. However, sleep eluded her.
Madigan was in a meeting after lunch, playing devil’s advocate to a product development team. It was an easy task for which Madigan was grateful for today. She wasn’t on top of her game. She told herself that she was just tired, but that didn’t explain the fidgety crawling under her skin.
‘Ms. Gardner,’ Bethany pocked her head in, disturbing the meeting.
Madigan joined her outside the conference room, where Bethany presented her with a thick envelope. Inside was the settlement, Madigan had offered Balducci, signed by the chairman of the board in duplicate.
‘It’s signed, isn’t it?’ Bethany’s curiosity was uncontainable.
‘Indeed it is, thank you.’
Madigan walked briskly down the hall with her signature heels clicking on the floor. She had done it. She had closed the deal, bringing yet another company under the umbrella of Allister Consolidated.
Mr. Ollivers was in front of his desk, gently swaying his putter.
‘Good news, Miss Gardner?’ he said with a smile already spread across his face.
Madigan nodded and handed him the signed contracts. This felt so good. Months of research and preparations followed by weeks of negotiations led to this moment. Madigan felt the surge of prowess that accompanied success.
‘You’re an asset for this company, Madigan,’ Mr. Ollivers said, shaking her hand. ‘Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to call Grugger and gloat.’
Madigan left him to it and went back to her office.
Bethany had already summoned Gavin and Jimmy without giving them the news. They were twitching in their seats.
‘Well,’ Gavin prodded as Madigan entered and leaned against her desk.
‘Now it’s a done deal,’ Madigan told them with a smile so wide she was straining her cheek muscles.
Jimmy shot out of his chair with a shout and his hands victoriously over his head. This was his first big win with the company. Gavin gave him a pat on the shoulder.
‘Beats a touchdown, doesn’t it?’
‘Sure does. This is amazing. I can’t believe it.’ Jimmy still couldn’t get his hands down.
Madigan and Gavin shared a glance. They remembered their first deal, the exhilarating high after all the hard work.
‘Furlani’s?’ Gavin asked.
‘Of course,’ Madigan answered.