Weekend Agreement

By: Barbara Wallace
Chapter One

Daniel Moretti tossed the gossip magazine on his desk, scowling at the young actress clinging possessively to her new director’s arm. He made a note to cancel Valerie Pinochet’s line of credit. Let her new director pick up the tab for her extravagance. His now-ex-girlfriend straying didn’t surprise him one bit.

“Sir,” a male voice interrupted. “Your eleven o’clock appointment is here.”

He swiveled back and forth in his chair, not bothering to reply to his intercom. The benefit of being Daniel Moretti was that he could make people wait while he did more important things.

Valerie’s picture shouldn’t have put him in such a sour mood. He gave the magazine another shove, and sent a small pile of papers fluttering from his desk. With a frustrated sigh, he walked around to retrieve them from their Oriental nesting ground, freezing when he saw the ivory invitation lying there.

Now here was something to put him in a bad mood. Mr. and Mrs. William Ferncliff Cordially Invite You to Join Them as They Celebrate Their Twenty-fifth Wedding Anniversary. He brushed his finger across the raised type. Talk about superficial women. His mother trumped them all.

The party was this weekend. He didn’t know why he was bothering to attend, except that William had been sort of decent to him. And who knew Mother would ever make it twenty-five years? It was a testimony to William’s stamina, as well as his wallet. He should skip the event. Would his family even notice? Of course they would—as soon as the press asked his mother where he was. That was the downside to being Daniel Moretti. He seldom escaped public notice.

“Mr. Moretti?” The voice on the intercom sounded again. “Are you ready to see Professor Doherty now?”

Ah, yes, the persistent Charlotte Doherty. He leaned over and jabbed the speaker button with a sigh. “Yes, Doug, send her in.”

Fingering the invitation, he walked toward the windows that lined one wall of his office and looked out. In the distance spread Boston Harbor, whitecaps dappling the blue Atlantic surface; that he stood on the top floor of one of the city’s tallest buildings was no accident. All those people who wanted a piece of him had to climb up. It was the office space equivalent to keeping your back to the wall.

He loved watching the ocean; he envied its freedom and unpredictability. On the horizon, a jet rose slowly, steadily, cutting across the hazy September sky. A hurricane was working its way up the East Coast, but the Boston skyline remained calm, serene. Behind him, his office door opened and shut. He didn’t bother turning around.

“I appreciate you seeing me,” a soft voice said.

“Well, Bob Wharton and I go way back,” he said, still watching the jet. “And he asked me to do him this favor. I admit, though, I’m intrigued by your need to meet with me face-to-face. What exactly does an expert on Sam Adams want from me?”

He turned around and his next sentence died in his throat.

The woman standing in his office wasn’t the dowdy, scholarly college professor he expected. To begin with, she wore emerald green. A shimmery, silky sundress that turned her body into a long stretch of curves. Before he could stop himself, his eyes traveled down those curves and over a pair of shapely calves. She stood ramrod straight and still, briefcase by her side, one foot set in front of the other, looking more like she was poised to walk down a runway than do business. It made for a very enticing picture.

“John Adams.” Her voice was low but even, like a person used to being listened to.

“Excuse me?”

“My book is about John Adams, the second president of the United States. Sam Adams was his cousin.”

“My mistake.” He sauntered to his desk. Her book could be about Pete Adams for all he cared. Some long-winded tome about the American Revolution wasn’t on his reading list, best seller or not.

He settled into his chair and motioned for her to take a seat. She moved like a model, too, he noticed. Fluidly, one hip at a time. He wondered how long it took for her to perfect such grace. When she sat down and crossed her legs demurely at the ankles, Daniel found himself slightly disappointed. He’d hoped for a better view of her legs.

“So what does an expert on John Adams want from me?” he asked.

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