Home > Romantic Acquisition (The Attracelli Family #6)(6)

Romantic Acquisition (The Attracelli Family #6)(6)
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Carlo smiled with her at the memory. “And now? Who gets the gumball money? Or does David just decide for himself?”

Kate’s hands dismissed the idea. “Oh, that’s gone now.” The nostalgia in her eyes instantly disappeared and she took another bite of her pasta.

Carlo wouldn’t let the subject go although he could tell she wanted to drop the idea. He suspected that the gumball machine meant more to her than she was willing to admit. It represented more than just a previous president that she respected. The way she told the story, the gumball machine represented the difference between Phillip’s management style and David’s. “Where did it go?”

Without any expression on her face, she explained, “David Jamison had it stored somewhere. We have no idea where it went. It just disappeared one day and no one had the guts to ask him where he’d put it.”

“What did the staff say when it disappeared?”

“Well, most of the old staff left soon after Phillip’s retirement. The people who work here now don’t know about the old days and the gumball machine.” She tilted her head to the side slightly, “I don’t think some would like the idea.”

“Why?”

She shrugged slightly. “I just get the impression that most of the people on staff now are too career oriented to think about contributing to charity. And none would be caught dead chewing gum,” she laughed slightly.

“Would you?”

“Oh sure. Especially if it…” she stopped. “Yes, of course.”

“That’s not what you were going to say. Finish your thought,” Carlo asked.

“No, it isn’t relevant. Anyway, the gumball machine is gone and it is a very different place to work now. Not just because of a silly gumball machine.”

“Good or bad?”

“Neither, I suppose, just different,” she said but wouldn’t look him in the eye.

Carlo knew she wasn’t telling him the truth about her opinions on David Jamison’s management of the stores. But her lack of response said volumes. Both about her opinion and about herself.

Carlo decided to change the subject and come back to David’s management style another time. Hopefully, he could get her to trust him enough to voice her opinion of the current management team and give him some insight. “Why did you stay on? You could work in any store with your experience and knowledge. You also have a great reputation within the industry.”

Kate smiled, flattered that he knew about her. In answer, she shrugged slightly, “Because they kept promoting me and I love this place. It kind of got into my bones.”

He nodded, understanding that she had a great deal of loyalty to the previous owner which translated to loyalty to the stores but not necessarily to the current owner. Would it transfer to the future owners? That was the big question. He suspected that it would. “Is your mother still around?” he asked, extremely curious about the woman who raised such an intelligent and loyal woman on her own.

Kate smiled fondly. “Yes. Phillip left her a huge amount of money after he died. That, plus her retirement, has her living in relative splendor down in Florida.”

Carlo nodded, glad that her mother was taken care of. “What does she think about the changes?”

Shaking her head, Kate looked away. “She might have a few things to say about them.” She didn’t elaborate, not wanting to talk about her mother’s frustration with David Jamison and his management style.

Carlo wasn’t going to let her get away with that statement. He was too curious. “What would she say?” he asked, watching her face carefully.

Kate smiled brightly. “She’d probably say if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

Carlo chuckled at her evasive answer. “I take it she doesn’t really like David all that much?”

“He’s different than his father,” was all Kate would say, her eyes challenging him.

“Is that why she didn’t stay on as his secretary?”

Kate nodded. “Phillip and David Jamison have two completely different business philosophies. I don’t think David would have kept her on even if she’d wanted to stay. My mother was not a passive woman. When she disagreed with Phillip, she said so. I don’t think David would have liked that.”

“David likes yes-men around him?” he asked.

“That sounds negative. He’s kept me around and I’m definitely not a yes person, nor a yes-man,” she teased.

“I can definitely see that,” he laughed. “But they disagreed with each other on the direction of Jamison’s?” he continued.

“My mother liked the way Phillip ran the company. I don’t think she likes the way David does. But that doesn’t mean David is wrong, just that the two of them disagree.”

Carlo nodded his understanding and let that subject drop. He was interested in a statement she made a few minutes ago and the fact that she had avoided answering his question about her father’s current status in her life. “What about your father? You didn’t answer my question earlier.”

Kate shrugged her shoulders and took a sip of her martini, looking off at the other guests in the restaurant. “I don’t remember him,” was all she would say.

Again, he was going to be a bore and not give in to her evasiveness. He got the message but was too curious. “What do you mean? Where did he go? Did he die?”

Kate smiled but it was humorless. “Oh no, nothing so dramatic as that. He just decided one day that he didn’t like being a father or a husband and he went away. We never heard from him again.”

Carlo knew she was trying to hide her feelings, but a small amount of pain still came through in her voice and the way her eyes avoided focusing on any particular thing while she talked about her father.

“How old were you at the time?” he asked quietly.

“Four years old.” She didn’t elaborate.

“What do you do when you aren’t working?” Carlo asked, changing the subject. He could tell that it was a very painful subject for her. He wanted to know more, but she obviously didn’t want to discuss it and he didn’t want to push her. He decided to come back to that subject later. He already knew that he was going to have several of these kinds of conversations with this woman. He was too fascinated and wanted to get to know her.

Kate was eager to talk about something less emotionally charged. Her eyes lit up again and she leaned forward in her seat. “Oh, different things. I shop at other stores, see what they’re selling, compare prices and quality.” She laughed, “But I usually find the more interesting items to sell at Jamison’s from my own sources so it is just a self-serving mission when I shop.”

“How so?” He liked the way her eyes revealed whatever she was feeling.

“I like to know if I’ve gotten the best deals or the best clothes. Jamison’s is known for quality and originality. We cater to the business woman, but also to the individual.”

“How did you come up with that niche idea?” he asked.

The fork froze midway to her mouth. “How did you know it was my idea?”

He smiled at her surprised expression. “I researched the trends, cross referenced when you became the buyer and figured it out.” He winked at her from across the table. “I can be a very resourceful fellow.”

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