Authors: Mary Suzanne
Gabrielle Fallon swiped the edge of the long envelope and unfolded the white sheet of paper. She quickly skimmed the contents and a shock raced through her. Surely, someone was playing a joke on her.
Someone by the name of
Cole Powers had brought a lawsuit against the Chicago Gazette and Gabrielle. In his complaint, he alleged the person writing the Dear Gabby column acted recklessly in giving advice to his sister Samantha Powers. The advice, in his opinion, caused his sister’s disappearance.
felt her future slowly slipping away. It had taken hard work to get where she was today. She loved everything about her job and had always wanted to write a lovelorn column. Growing up she couldn’t wait for the paper to arrive and always managed to latch onto that section to read. As the years passed, her dream never faded and after graduating college, her career became a reality.
Six months flew by for her after she’d found work at
the small newspaper in Chicago. She had managed to find a faithful following and some readers wrote more than once seeking her help. The increase in the mail flow hardly gave her enough time to answer all of them.
Joe Brandon, the owner of the newspaper
took a chance in hiring her to his staff. His small edition barely competed with the larger newspaper chains in the city, but somehow he managed to keep everything in the black.
Gabby's wandering thoughts returned to
the present. She still clutched the intimidating letter tightly in her hand. The name Samantha Powers pounded through her head, but she couldn't put the writer’s identity to any letter she had received recently.
glanced across the small office at Emma her coworker. "Have you got a minute? I’d like your opinion on something."
"What is it?"
Gabby handed the letter across to her. While she gave Emma time to look it over, she walked over to the file cabinet. The only thing left was to try to find a copy of the letter she’d answered to Samantha Powers. After sorting through the pile, she found what she wanted and carried it over to her desk.
"Do you remember
corresponding with Samantha Powers?" Emma glanced up as Gabby reclaimed her seat.
"I'm going to find out,
” she murmured, shaking the letter out of the envelope and glancing through it. “Now it's all coming back to me.”
"So, what's it all about?
For heaven's sake, don't keep me in suspense any longer."
"Samantha Powers had second thoughts about marrying her fiancé. I suggested she take some time and get away to sort out her personal life. Apparently, she did and also canceled her wedding plans."
"Advising his sister shouldn’t be ground
s for a lawsuit.” Emma shook her head. “This brother must be an idiot.”
Maybe he feels he’s right in what he’s doing,” she sighed heavily. "I may as well take this to Joe's office and talk it over with him. The newspaper’s involved, too."
"I'm not sure he's in.
I remember him saying something about taking a client to lunch and you know how long his luncheon dates last." She shrugged her shoulders. "Especially if it's one of our attractive advertisers. He has a penchant of showing those ladies a good time, if you know what I mean.”
"You're incorrigible, Em,
” she said lightly, hiding a smile.
"Oh, there he goes,” Emma said
, tilting her head toward the hallway. “If you hurry, you'll catch him before he becomes embroiled in work."
.” Gabby picked up the folder and carried it with her. When she reached his door, she tapped lightly. It wasn’t long before she heard his gruff voice telling her to enter.
Joe glanced up
as she walked in. "You look serious. What’s going on?”
"We have a problem, Joe
.” She placed the letter on his desk.
"What kind of problem?"
He picked it up and read through it.
"Someone's suing the paper and I'm the cause,” she
said quickly, drawing his attention away from the letter for a second. “I gave advice to a woman named Samantha Powers and it didn’t meet her brother's approval."
he asked, glancing again at the letter, his eyes narrowing slightly. "She’s Cole Powers’ sister."
"According to the legal notice from the lawyer
. Do you know Cole Powers?"
"He owns the largest newspaper in Chicago
. Why should he bring a lawsuit over his sister? This puzzles me."
Apparently, she took my advice and called off her wedding. She must have left town soon after because the lawsuit claims I'm the reason she's missing."
If it were anyone else, I wouldn't let it trouble me. From the few times I talked to Powers, I’ve noticed his attitude can be ruthless and he doesn't let anything, or anyone stand in his way. My reporter instinct tells me there’s more to this than we know."
"I'm sorry, Joe
. If it will help, I could print a public apology and explain that I'm giving up my column."
"You will not!"
He stood and walked over to the window. "We'll face this together no matter what the outcome.”
her eyes becoming moist, noticing the stubborn look on his face. She quickly blinked back the hot tears. Gratitude flowed through her over how he intended standing up for her. She didn't know too many people in the Chicago area and had come to think of Emma, Joe and Marty Jenkins, the reporter on the paper, as her family. "Thanks for your support, Joe," she managed to say, barely able to push the words out with the lump clogging her throat.
Just get back to your desk and finish the column before press time. We'll figure out something later about this so-called lawsuit."
"Thanks again, Joe
.” Gabby walked out into the hallway, feeling not so alone now.
ade her way to the restroom. When she glanced in the mirror, she saw how her cheeks looked flushed and her brown eyes held a worried look. Reaching up, she brushed her hand across her dark hair, and managed to put the tumbling curls back into order. Marty expected her to have dinner with him that evening, but she wasn’t in the mood to socialize. She intended dropping by his office and canceling their date.
entered her office, Emma wasn't around. She sat at her desk deciding to finish the column for the evening edition. She became so engrossed with work; she had shut the outside world out.
When the door to her office opened,
she didn’t pay any attention. What did catch her attention was the door slamming. She jumped and raised her head trying to find the cause of the interruption.
couldn't believe her eyes. A man glared across at her, with impatience stamped across his face. He wore a black shield over his left eye. His chiseled profile looked like some long ago movie star. Right at the moment, though, Gabby couldn't come up with the star’s name. Dark, straight hair dipped low over his forehead and reached the collar of his white shirt. Again, the thought that he looked like a brawny pirate came to mind and she smiled.
do you find so amusing, Ms Fallon?" he asked sarcastically. Even though his words held a stinging ring, she still felt a shiver of awareness listening to the deep velvety sound. The rich huskiness of his sexy tone made her shudder inside with a tingly sensation. She continued to stare at him, until she noticed how he cocked his eyebrow at her over her silence.
,” she stopped in mid-sentence because she didn't know his name, but a thought quickly struck her. He certainly knew hers. She couldn't understand how unless he read her column. Who is this man, looking so hot, standing staring at her as if he'd like to kill her?
"The name's Cole Power
s, Ms Fallon.” Again, his tone sounded sharp. "You gave my sister advice causing her to run away. We haven't heard from her in weeks."
"You're Cole Powers?"
Standing quickly, she accidentally knocked the sheets of paper off her desk. She watched how they all fluttered toward the floor as if in slow motion. Instead of picking them up, she let them lie in a jumbled mess.
“Yes, I’m Cole Powers
"I just received the letter from your lawyer this morning, but I didn’t expect you to
stop by.” She leaned down and started gathering the sheets. From the corner of her eye, she could see the frown lining his face over her keeping him waiting while she finished the menial task.
“I had my attorney send the letter, but I decided to visit you in person.”
"Why did you find it necessary to stop by?" She tried sounding as if his presence wasn’t disturbing her. She knew she was rambling, but she couldn't stop her nervous chatter. The man may intimidate her by just a look, but at the same time, he intrigued her. She couldn’t get over how his sensuous looks caused such turmoil in her.
"For starters, Ms Fallon, you can tell me where you advised my sister to go
reached up and brushed a stray lock of hair away from his smooth forehead as if it bothered him. The action almost brought another nervous smile to her face, but she decided not to irritate him any further. A friendlier approach was what she needed. If they were on a first name basis, maybe he would be a little less hostile.
We don’t have to be so formal. My first name is Gabby.” She smiled again at him. While she waited for his reply, her gaze traveled over his dark suit. It fit his muscular frame to perfection. She definitely liked what she saw. An incredulous expression lined his features when he caught her giving him the once over.
I’m not here to strike up a friendship with you,” he stated in a cool tone. “I want to discuss how the advice in your column caused my sister to run away. Let's get back to our discussion on where you sent her.”
took a deep breath and swallowed. Gabby didn’t miss the muscle working speedily along his jaw line. The feeling that he might attack her at any second filled her thoughts.
have no idea where your sister’s at.” There, she'd said it, she thought silently, and he could make what he wanted out of her answer.
’ll tell me one way or another!” His voice rose. “We can settle it in a courtroom, or it can be settled now. Which is it to be, Ms Fallon?”
A heavy silence developed
as uncomfortable thoughts kept drifting through her head. She stared at his dark features, his warning ringing sharply in her ears. That was the last thing she wanted for the newspaper and Joe. A day in court was out of the question.
Something about his demand for answers
continued to confuse Gabby. She had to find out why he was so persistent. "Why is it so important for you to find her? She's probably just taking some time away from everything to think.” The scowl covering his face proved her answer hadn’t pleased him.
"You know nothing about her
He folded his arms across his chest
. It looked as if he wasn’t ready to admit defeat. His fighting stance proved he wouldn’t give up until he found an answer.
"I know she was a woman
needing help and wanted someone to listen to her problems. Surely, you must have noticed how unhappy she was before she left." Again, she decided to try a little psychology on him. "You never did answer my question on why it’s so urgent for you to find her."
His face held an uncertain
expression. There was an inner battle waging through him and it showed clearly across his face, but it looked as if he was losing it.
They stood silently
staring at each other. In those few seconds, she noticed the eye that wasn’t covered was almost black in color. So dark, it looked almost like a stone she had once seen in a ring. There wasn't any warmth in it, without evidence of emotion.