“You sure can’t prove your very high success rate by me.”
“No.” She picked up the case containing the laptop and walked around the corner of her desk. “I admit you are a glaring failure. Most of my clients, however, are satisfied with the results they get here at Private Arrangements.”
And I intend to quit while they all feel that way, she thought, heading for the door.
Gabe grabbed his black trench coat off the coatrack. “Your matchmaking program sucks in my opinion.”
“You’ve made your feelings on the subject quite clear.” She opened the door. “And that is why I’m releasing you from your contract with Private Arrangements.”
“You’re not releasing me, you’re firing me.”
“Whatever.” She flipped the bank of wall switches, plunging the office into stygian gloom.
“What the hell? Hold on, damn it.” Gabe hoisted the monogrammed leather briefcase sitting on the floor near the coatrack. “You can’t just walk out on me like this.”
“I’m not walking out, I’m closing my office.” She stepped into the hall and jangled her keys in a pointed fashion. “I just told you, I’m on my way to see Dr. Flint.”
He shrugged into his trench coat, leaving it unbuttoned. “You’re certainly in a rush to keep the appointment. A sex therapist. I still can’t believe it.”
“I don’t have an appointment. I’m just going to drop by his office. I need to tell him something important.
Not that it’s any of your business. Furthermore, I don’t like the sarcastic tone of your voice. I’ll have you know that Anderson is a thorough-going professional.”
“Is that so? A professional sex therapist.” Gabe moved out into the hall. “Guess I should show some respect. They do say it’s the oldest profession. No, wait, maybe I’ve got that mixed up with another line of work.”
She would not dignify that with a response, she thought. She locked the office door with a quick twist of her hand and dropped the keys into her shoulder bag. Whirling around, she strode toward the elevators.
Gabe fell into step beside her. “Don’t forget, you owe me another date.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I only got five dates, remember? The contract guarantees six matches.”
“Don’t sweat it. I’ll refund one-sixth of the fee you paid me.”
“I don’t want my money back, I want my sixth date.”
“Better take the money.” She came to a halt in front of the bank of elevators and stabbed the call button.
“It’s all you’re going to get.”
He flattened one hand on the wall beside her head, leaned in very close and lowered his voice to a low, dangerous pitch that made tiny chills chase down her spine.
“Trust me,” Gabe said very deliberately. “You don’t want a lawsuit over this.”
She spun around to face him and found him standing much too close.
“Are you trying to intimidate me?” she asked.
“Just making an observation.”
She gave him a frigid smile. “I can see the headlines now. President of Madison Commercial Threatens Lawsuit over Cancelled Date . Talk about looking ridiculous.”
“You owe me that date.”
“Back off, Gabe. We both know you’re not going to sue me. You’d look like a fool in the press and that’s the last thing you’d want. Just think of what the publicity would do to the image of your company.”
Gabe said nothing—just looked at her the way Roman gladiators had no doubt studied each other before an event in the arena. Behind her the elevator doors opened with a soft sighing hiss. She turned quickly and got into the cab.
Gabe got in behind her.
She punched the floor number she wanted and then, without much hope, she also selected the lobby button. Maybe Gabe would take the hint and remain in the elevator when she got off on Anderson’s floor.
She stood tensely near the control panel, watching the doors close. She was very aware of Gabe there at her shoulder, dominating the small space, using up all the oxygen so that she could hardly breathe.
“Admit it,” she said when she could no longer stand the silence. “You lied on that questionnaire.”
“The questionnaire has nothing to do with this. You owe me a date.”
“You didn’t enter the truth when you made your responses. You put down what you thought the truth should be.”
He quirked one brow. “There’s a difference?”
“Night and day in most cases.”
The elevator doors opened. She walked quickly out into the hall.
Gabe glided out after her. So much for hoping he would stay on board and descend to the lobby.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she said. “I told you, I’m on my way to talk to Dr. Flint.”
“I’ll wait until you’re finished.”
“You can’t do that.”
“Why not? Doesn’t he have a waiting room?”
“I don’t believe this.”
“I’m not leaving until you guarantee me a sixth match.”
“We’ll talk about it some other time. Give me a call tomorrow.”
“We’ll talk about it today.”
“I refuse to let you push me around like this.”
“I haven’t touched you,” Gabe said.
She would not lower herself to his level, she thought. She was a mature, sophisticated woman. More to the point, she was a Harte. Hartes did not engage in public scenes. That was more of a Madison thing.
The only option to yelling at Gabe was to pretend he was not right here, shadowing her down the hall. It was not easy.
Obviously she had pushed her luck with Private Arrangements, she thought morosely. She had waited a little too long to go out of business. If only she had stopped accepting clients the day before Gabe had walked into her office.
She reached the door marked Dr. J. Anderson Flint , opened it and walked into the waiting room.
Gabe flowed in behind her, Dracula in a very expensive black trench coat.
The first clue that the situation had the potential to deteriorate further came when she noticed that Anderson’s secretary, Mrs. Collins, was not behind her desk. She realized that she had been counting on the woman’s presence to ensure that Gabe behaved himself.
She glanced quickly around the serene, vaguely beige room, hoping to spot the secretary somewhere in the shadows. There was no one in sight.