One Fateful Night
by Savannah Cross
Wind whipped the rain sideways, pushing Dani's rusted Pontiac Sprite with near-bald tires almost off the two-lane blacktop road. Fortunately, the headlights still worked.
Road to nowhere, she thought to herself, just like my life. If only she had done a credit check on her new roommate.
Writing stories longhand on recycled paper from her day job at Dudley, Croft, and Banks Attorneys at Law, was much cheaper than replacing the computer her "roommate" stole.
If only I hadn't moved to New York to be a writer.
Her family and friends had faith. You're destined to write . . . you just need one break . . . trust fate . . they all said.
As far as Dani was concerned, fate only laughed at her. Three years of writing classes resulted in one tiny publication and a forest of rejections. Even her boyfriend deserted her, opting for a Porsche-driving flashy blonde. Not that Dani wasn't a bombshell (albeit brunette), she was just more interested in writing.
When Mr. Dudley asked "his most trusted assistant" to deliver papers that a junior partner (stupidly) forgot to courier, Dani quickly agreed to drive to upstate New York to get the signature of the Winter Corporation CEO who, if she believed the clerical rumor mill, was totally dreamy and absolutely single. Dani's only interest in this venture was the company-paid overnight stay at a fancy inn with in-room hot tub and time to work on her novel. She just had to get the signature of the CEO, then leisurely drive back the next day. That's what Dani called fate.
"Ahhh!" She screamed and swerved as a dark something ran across the road. Jerking the steering wheel she sent the tiny Sprite into an uncontrolled spin. With frantic brake pumping and praying, the car stopped in the middle of the deserted road.
She closed her eyes and tried to gather her scattered wits.
"Ahhh!" The tap on her window scared the ghost out of her, but the deep blue eyes of the rain-soaked man melted her heart. She rolled down the window letting the cold and wet inside.
"You okay?" He repeated. "I'm sorry. My dog . . . ."
The dark monstrosity was, in fact, a small brown fuzzy terrier that now barked happily from Mr. Blue Eyes' arms.
"He got away from me. I didn't expect the storm to come up so quickly." He clutched the wet, wiggling dog closer to him.
Dani knew she shouldn't. She knew to be more careful. Her few years in the big city had provided enough unscrupulous experiences to be wary of any unknown person without a full background and reference check.
Dani asked, "Do you need a ride home?" The relieved look on his face and happy barking was all she needed. While her rational mind yelled No! her heart warmed to the very attractive, needy, man and dog sitting beside her.
"Where to?" She shifted the coupe into gear.
"Winterhaven. It's about-" He pointed down the road, but Dani already knew the directions.
"That's where I'm going." She could only glance sideways at him, fearful of taking her eyes off the dark, slippery road. "I'm Dani from Dudley, Croft, and Banks."
"I'm Eric Winter," Mr. Blue Eyes said.
Knit hat pulled to her eyes, granny-square scarf around her neck, and thrift store coat, she knew made her look like a total geek to this Chief Executive Officer of a Major American Corporation.
"I have some papers on the back seat for you."
"Great. I've been waiting for those." He reached behind him for a large manila envelope. "Must be fate." Dani turned the light on so he could scan the sheets.
"Hmm. Very interesting."
She peered over the steering wheel into the dark while he read.
"Did you write this?" He asked.
"Me? I'm just Mr. Dudley's assistant." Dani glanced at him, almost veering off the road when she saw him reading the loose sheets of her hand-scribbled novel. "That's mine! You-you shouldn't be reading that."
He smiled, "It's pretty good."
"It's nowhere near ready. It's-it's private," Dani wanted to grab the pages, but didn't dare take her hands off the wheel.
He flipped another page and smiled. "I never met a writer who didn't want to be read."
"I do. But . . ." Dani slowed, then turned into a long driveway, stopping at Winterhaven, a mini-mansion.
She pointed to a large manila envelope in the back seat. "That's the contract. I'll just get your signature then take off."
"You can't drive back in this weather." Eric Winter didn't hand over Dani's proto-novel.
"There's a hotel in town. I'll stay-"
"That's closed for the season." Eric smiled, hugging his dog and Dani's hand-scribbled pages. "You'll have to stay here and let me finish reading your novel." He jumped out of the car and disappeared into the house.
Fate stiffed her again. She ran after the CEO clutching the lumpy envelope with the contract he was supposed to sign.
"I really don't want to be any trouble." Dani stood in the hallway, letting the starched maid take her drenched coat.
The CEO already sat in a large leather chair holding her jumbled pages. He pointed the chair next to his. Dani sank into the soft leather, still holding the Dudley, Croft, and Banks package, and stared into his deep blue eyes silently agreeing with the secretaries that Eric Winter was, yes, totally dreamy.
"Arthur Dudley said he was sending his assistant but he never said you were so talented. When I sign that contract, Winter Corporation formally purchases Miller Publishing. Our new division is specifically devoted to undiscovered writers." He patted her crumpled pages, "From what I've read, I want to offer you our first book contract."
"I . . .sure," was all Dani could manage to stutter.
Eric Winter leaned towards her, "Arthur didn't say how attractive you were either."
Dani smiled. Must be fate.
Savannah Cross is the pen name of a college history teacher who loves to read and write romance stories and novels. The author lives in Arizona with her husband and 10 dogs.
Author's Web Site: www.savannahcross.com