“Oh, my.”

“An equal exchange of stock between the companies. Family members only would be allowed to possess shares in the new corporation. The board of directors would consist of an equal number of Hartes and Madisons. I would be the CEO.”

“Oh, my.”

“In many ways, there is a lot to be said for the deal,” Gabe continued, sounding as if he was reading from an investor’s prospectus. “It would double the assets of the company overnight. It would allow us to extend the range and scope of our activities. It would give us the opportunity to provide extended management and consulting services to our clients.”

“Oh, my.” She felt the laughter bubble up inside and hastily clapped a hand over her mouth.

“It is also of course, my worst nightmare.”

“I can understand that.” She gave up the attempt to swallow her laughter. “The very thought of having to ride herd on a board of directors and a group of stockholders composed entirely of Hartes and Madisons would be enough to strike terror into the heart of any prudent, cautious, sensible CEO.”

“You can say that again.”

“But you’re a Madison. I’ll bet you didn’t even swallow hard or blink. So, what are we going to call this new company?”

“The suggestion was made that the new firm should be known as Harte-Madison. Your father’s idea, I believe. Some sentimental claptrap about re-creating the original company founded by Mitch and Sullivan. I, however, took strong exception.”

“So what is it going to be?”

He turned away from the portrait and came toward her, giving her the patented Madison grin, the really sexy one that showed his excellent teeth and made her pulse beat faster.

“Madison-Harte, of course,” he said.

“Of course. I like it. It’s got a ring to it.”

“It does, doesn’t it?”

He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. His mouth came down on hers in a kiss that demonstrated once again that nothing came between a Madison and his passion.

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