After dropping off Sam at the studio, Walker came back to his hotel to clean up and figure out what was going on with Sam. She had been quiet on the way to the studio. The only thing that gave him hope was that she kissed him goodbye. He began peeling off yesterday’s clothes when his phone dinged indicating a text message. Hoping it was Sam, he quickly pulled it from his pocket, but instead it was Paul. Inhaling sharply, he hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst from his friend and employer as he read his message.
“Hell no Paul,” said Walker to the empty room as he furiously tossed his phone on the bed and ripped off his shirt. I’m not coming back until I get Samuelson to cave. I’ll go see that stubborn ass today and put more pressure on him, he doesn’t need to ‘stew’ and if old man Buchanan still won’t buy the agency then I might just have a new job at fucking Triple A. That last thought spurred an idea. Actually, that might just be the angle to make this work.
Later at AAA Advertising …..
“I’m sorry Mr. Kerns,” said the woman in the waiting room, “Mr. Samuelson is booked solid today.”
Walker glanced at the name plate on the her desk. “Jeanine, if you’ll let him know I’m here, he’ll want to see me and I’m willing to wait.”
“Excuse me,” she said, seeming to get distracted when her phone rang, “I need to take this, please have a seat and I’ll check with him.”
Walker settled down in the reception area, prepared to wait as long as necessary he picked up a magazine to pass the time.
“Oh no, okay Ms. McClain,” said Jeanine to the caller, “I’ll let him know.”
Walker’s ears perked up. Laurie McClain was the Marketing Director for Simmy Choo. I was right, he thought, that’s who the big account is. He pretended to read the magazine while focusing on her side of the conversation.
“Yes ma’am, I understand,” she said sweetly, “you need the names of the potential spokesperson right away so you can finalize your decision. I’ll tell him as soon as he’s free.”
“Yes, Ms. McClain, I understand, time is of the essence. I’m sure he’ll return your call today.” Jeanine hung up and went straight into Samuelson’s office.
Walker immediately dialed Paul and told him Simmy Choo was on the verge of pulling the contract and they had to act fast.
“Dammit Walker, he ground out, “Get out of there, there’s nothing you can do. Let them leave, then the company will be worth what Dad’s willing to pay.”
“Sorry Paul, I’m here now and have a plan,” he said with confidence, “I’ll fill you in later, gotta run, here comes Jeanine.”
“Who the fuck is Jeanine?”
Walker chuckled softly and disconnected the call. No way in hell am I leaving now, thought Walker, the timing is perfect. AAA is under pressure and Samuelson just might take my deal.
“Oh, are you still here?” asked Jeanine when she came out of her boss’s office.
“Yes Jeanine,” he said patiently, “I told you it’s important, important enough that I have nowhere else to be.”
“I’m sorry sir, you’ll have to come back another day, he’s very busy.”
The door to the CEO’s office opened and Zeek Samuelson himself walked out, “Jeanine, I’m headed to lunch, I need to get out of here for a while before I have to call Laurie back.”
Walker stood up and cleared his voice causing Samuelson to look his way making his scowl quickly go from bad to worse. “I thought I told you I’m not interested!” he bellowed.
“Give me 20 minutes, I have a new proposition for you,” said Walker, “I’ll even buy your lunch.”
“I just lost my appetite,” he sneered before relenting and motioning back to his office, “TEN minutes, then I don’t want to see your face in my agency again.”
Walker winked at Jeanine as he followed the man into his office and made himself comfortable. “Mr. Samuelson, if I were you I would wait until you hear what I have to say before making proclamations. You see, I couldn’t help but overhear part of Jeanine’s conversation with Laurie McClain. What would you say if I could get a celeb for you, use my connections to make it happen?”
Samuelson looked exasperated. “Damn Jeanine,” he grumbled, “if she weren’t so good, I’d fire her. She knows better than to talk when someone’s in the office and can overhear.”
“In her defense, she was clearly getting her ass handed to her, and probably didn’t think she said anything proprietary, so don’t be hard on her, she had your back.”
“Wait, you know Laurie?” he asked suddenly showing interest.
Walker wondered how long it would take for him to notice he’d just dropped Laurie’s name and smirked. “Not personally, but of course in our business, I definitely know of her. I hear she’s a bear to work with.”
Zeek sighed and sat back in his chair. “She’s expecting a choice of a couple of names and doesn’t want to pay up front – not until she sees the first draft. She’s only giving me until the end of next week and it’s already fucking Thursday.”
“Surely you have a campaign ready,” said Walker, “who exactly are you looking for?”
“You don’t work for me Kerns – I’ve already said too much.”
“Don’t be so quick to dismiss me, you need me or you’re going belly up. So, did you come up with a number yet?”
“My company’s not for sale.”
“I’m not so sure Mr. Samuelson, you look like you’re just one more stressful phone call away from a heart attack. So, as I said, I’ll help you secure your client, I have a deal that I think can work for both of us.”
“Right,” scoffed Samuelson.
”Here me out,” insisted Walker and began to put his idea on the table. “I will contract with you on a commission only basis, I only get paid if we save your client. However, it comes with a caveat, you WILL sell regardless of the outcome. We’ll make an offer based on whether or not we’re able to retain your client, and clearly we’d like to keep them, unless you’re stressing over a different Laurie McClain, which I doubt. So what have you got to lose Mr. Samuelson? You keep the client, walk away and retire in style or you lose the client and walk away not quite as rich but you stay out of bankruptcy. We’ll keep you on and negotiate a salary for you for a year, or however long we agree during the transition. You can’t lose and you just might fucking win. Why the hell would you turn that down? You’re headed straight for bankruptcy without me. Retire Mr. Samuelson, enjoy the rest of your life stress free.”
“Why do you want my company so damn bad? What’s in it for you?”
“We’re looking to expand to the west coast and the easiest way is an acquisition. Pure and simple.”
“I need to think about it,” he said looking defeated.
Walker leaned in and calmly looked at him in the eye. “You have two hours, I’ll be back after lunch. Remember, it’s a win-win Mr. Samuelson.”
Walker’s hotel suite …..
He’s going to take the deal, thought Walker as he poured himself a drink to calm his nerves and flipped on the TV to offset the resounding silence. He has to, or I’m going to be truly and royally fucked. He sat back and watched the predictable soap opera to clear his head. It kept his attention for all of five minutes before he knew he had to call Paul and rip off the Band-Aid.
“Don’t tell me – you stayed anyway,” growled Paul instead of saying hello, “that’s the only reason you’d be calling.”
“Nice to talk to you too,” replied Walker.
“So what did he say? Let me have it.”
Walker explained the offer. “So, I’m going back in two hours for his answer.”
“Fuck Walker, you may have just written a check you can’t cash even though it’s a damn good plan – if you had solid backing – which you don’t. You’re a fucking loose cannon.”
“No, creative, that’s why I get paid the big bucks.”
“If this blows up, you won’t get paid a red cent, I’ve half a mind to fire your ass right now so BCL won’t be dragged into this mess.”
“I’m not taking trade secrets to the competition, I’m trying to get us on the west coast. This contract is lucrative, but they are on the verge of losing it and we won’t be able to come in and swoop it up. They’ll go to another agency here on the west coast and we’ll lose the opportunity. Paul, this is our in.”
“My old man’s gonna shit a goddamned brick.”
“So don’t tell him yet,” suggested Walker. “Paul, I want this so bad I can taste it, I want to run the west coast, I can do it and you damn well know it and so does your asshole father. When are you going to have more say in things, why is he still holding the apron strings? Just fucking do it Paul, grow a pair.”
“I can’t dammit, he still controls the investments. All the excess cash is tied up, and as CEO he’s the only one who can liquidate it.”
“Then fucking convince him! Look, I gotta get back to Triple A in a few, hopefully soon to be the BCL Valley Division, run by yours truly. Make it happen Paul….”
Walker disconnected not waiting for a response and flopped back on the couch. His thoughts immediately drifted to Samantha, she had him under her spell and all he could think about was her. The sex last night was off the charts, it wasn’t just lust, no that’s what sex is like when you’re in love. And now that they’d both admitted their feelings, he was one thousand percent committed. So why in the hell did I almost ruin it by bringing up the past? Because she acted like she didn’t trust me, but ut why doesn’t she? Everything I’m doing is so we can be together, doesn’t she get that?
She made it painfully clear she didn’t need me, asking me to stay with her in her oversized and overpriced house, just so I could save money on this fucking hotel, like she was pointing out that I couldn’t afford to pay for it myself. Even her parents were judging me. And now, I have to depend on Paul’s dad for money. I have money dammit! Just not that kind of money. Fuck.
He looked up at the happy couple on the screen making out. Why can’t we be like that, he wondered angrily, why does it feel like I’m on the outside looking in? It wasn’t like this when Sam was in Newcrest, she seemed to trust me then, what’s different now? It wasn’t me that decided to put distance between us because I don’t run in her circles, I can’t help it if I’m not Drake with money to burn and rakish good looks, but I work damn hard and know what I’m doing, plus I’m fucking good at my job and enjoy it.
He picked up the remote to turn off the TV, sick of watching the happy looking couple. ‘Darling, it’s so strange being here with you and your friends,’ said the woman on the screen, ‘I feel like an imposter, pretending to be a small town girl when I’m not. I’m not sure I even know how to act, except when I’m in your arms like this. Then everything’s perfect.’
Walker sat up, suddenly interested in the conversation and turned up the sound instead of turning it off. ‘No baby, I’m the imposter,’ replied her lover, ‘the tag along, riding your coattails, I don’t deserve a woman as worldly and well connected as you.’
Well shit, he thought, and turned off the TV. I’m such a dumbass, Sam and I live in different worlds with completely different realities. That’s it exactly. She doesn’t know how to fit into my world and I don’t know how to fit in hers. When we’re together, we’re perfect, but when we try to merge into the other’s reality, it becomes uncomfortable for each of us and we feel like imposters. Hell, I’m a confident man and not poor by any stretch of the imagination, but my ego has taken more than a few hits by the sheer amount of wealth surrounding Sam. I’ll never have the kind of money she does, but she said she didn’t care and I believe she believes that. When she was in Newcrest, she had a hard time too. But she sucked it up and tried, and now it’s my turn. I need to take my own advice and grow a pair. “Suck it up Buttercup,” he said out loud and chuckled, Buttercup was a moniker he never thought he’d hear describing himself.
With that realization, Walker checked his watch. He still had a few minutes before he needed to get back to Triple A so he looked up a florist online and ordered flowers to be sent to Sam on the set. He added a note. ‘Forgive my arrogance today, my ego got in the way. My bags are packed and I’m checked out. I love you, Walker.’
Back at AAA…..
This time when Walker walked in, Jeanine was all smiles and politely asked him to have a seat, and that Mr. Samuelson was expecting him. A few short minutes later, she stood up. “Mr. Samuelson will see you now Mr. Kerns,” she said, and ushered Walker into Samuelson’s office.
“Thank you very much Jeanine,” said Zeek Samuelson softly, sounding very much like a defeated man.
Walker looked at the semi-broken man sitting across from him and actually felt sorry for him. He had no doubt he worked hard to build his business, but as advertising changed dramatically with the onset of social media and on demand media subscriptions, he hadn’t been able to keep up. “Well,” said Walker after a minute, “let’s cut to the chase, deal or no deal?” He chuckled softly and added, “I’ve always wanted to say that.”
Samuelson amazingly kept it together and only sighed at his comment instead of rolling his eyes. “You drive a hard bargain Mr. Kerns,” he said, “but I think we have a deal. I went home and spoke to my wife, and you’re right, I’m too old to keep this up and it would be be foolish to turn down someone of your caliber who is willing to work for just commission to secure this account. For my protection, however, you need to write in a non-compete on all of my clients. I don’t want BCL to try to pull the rug out from under me and steal this client then pay nothing for my company.”
“Fair enough, however, I assure you BCL is not out to steal your clients or your company from you. We’ll make a reasonable offer as soon as we know one way or the other. But we will need access to your books in order to do so.”
“You don’t get access to anything except this one client until they’ve signed, or god forbid they don’t. I’m not risking my business on a whim.”
“Understood, I’ll have a legal contract written up that outlines the terms of the deal, it should be done in two business days, but the agreement is that you WILL sell, one way or the other.”
“Agreed,” he said then got down to the business at hand. “As soon as the contract is signed I will give you the info on the client in question and we can begin to work out the details of the campaign, but not before. I’ve managed to put Laurie off for another week letting her know I have someone working on it, so we have two full weeks, but that’s all, so I hope you work fast Mr. Kerns.”
Two weeks, thought Walker, damn, I hope to hell I can keep this client for him. AAA might not be worth shit without them. Walker stood up and offered his hand, “It’s been a pleasure to do business with you Mr. Samuelson and I look forward to working together.”
He sighed and shook Walker’s hand. “Might as well call me Zeek, we’ll be spending a fair amount of time together over the next couple of months, Walker.”
“Of course Zeek, I’ll be in touch as soon as I have the contract.”
Walker sat in his car after leaving Triple A feeling both elated and sick to his stomach at the same time. Talk about shitting a brick, he thought gripping the steering wheel, Paul very likely will, but this is a damn good deal and Paul knows it. Somehow, together the two of us have to sell it to old man Buchanan so I can get a contract drawn up ASAP, because Zeek deserves it. I know it was a painful decision to put his faith in me, even though the was no doubt heavily influenced by his wife. With that last thought, Walker finally decided to email Paul instead of calling him. I’ll deal with him tomorrow because right now I need to get to Sam, and I have a helleva lotta groveling to do.
Author’s Note: I thought I’d give a quick explanation as to why it’s been 3 weeks since my last chapter. We are in the process of getting our house ready to list for sale while building a new one. We are downsizing since the kids have been gone for a while. This will go on through the end of October so there may be only a handful of posts between now and then. This is my stress reliever so I’m not stopping, they’ll just be farther apart due to time constraints. I love you guys and as always thank you so much for reading, lurking and commenting!