Chapter 1

The silver Jaguar pulled smoothly into the parking stall marked "Reserved" in the underground parking of one of the world's most prestigious and successful advertising agencies--Section One. A few moments later a tall, slender woman dressed in a thick white sweater, faded jeans, and dark brown boots emerged from within. Long blonde hair was swept back and fastened with a plain clasp. Her eyes were hidden behind a pair of dark shades.

It was only mid October but already winter was setting in. The woman shivered as she reached back into the car for her coat and slipped it on. She fumbled around, searching deep into the pockets. A moment later she withdrew her cell phone and flipped it open as she grabbed her attachi with her other hand. She frowned as she looked at her watch. The morning flight from Chicago to New York had been delayed by half an hour and as a result she was running late for her first appointment.

Time to check in with Rose.

Hitting the speed dial, she connected with her assistant's com unit and heard the familiar, firm, voice on the other end.

"Nikita, where are you?" Without waiting for a reply, the older woman began to bring her employer up to speed on the day's events. "You have exactly six minutes before your first appointment. Reminder, at 11:00 you have a videoconference with Section 3. They've already sent over their quarterly reports. I skimmed through it and everything seems to be in order. I've gone ahead and forwarded a copy to your father and down to accounting. You've got a luncheon with Revlon..." she paused, clicking her tongue absently as she reviewed her list. "... Peterson's on vacation so it should be his assistant, what's his name?"

"Briard. Joseph Briard."

"...uh huh." Rose continued. "Well you've got lunch with him. Peter called to remind you that the color schemes for the VF spread needs to be finalized. Stephen called--wants to know if you're free for dinner. And your father has left three messages for you already this morning."

"Great." Nikita frowned. She had a feeling she knew what he wanted. And it had nothing to do with business. Nikita angrily punched in her code for the executive elevators then waited impatiently for the doors to open. Stephen was going to get an earful if it turned out he'd recruited her father to try and change her mind about going away to the Bahamas next weekend. She'd already told him no - twice. But in typical Stephen fashion, he'd practically ignored her answer and proceeded to act as if he alone knew what was best for her. The trip wasn't the only thing bothering her too. It was this whole relationship thing. Lately Stephen had become a lot more possessive and demanding of her time.

"You're the boss's daughter," he had complained the week before. "There's no need for you to work the same hours as others in the company."

Nikita shuddered inwardly at the memory of Stephen's comment. Perhaps he didn't realize it but she felt as if he were indirectly implying that the only reason she was an executive at Section was because of her last name.

"Nikita? Are you still there?"

"Yes, Rose."

"What should I do about your first appointment? At the pace you're going you'll never make it on time. Are you dressed already?"

Nikita glanced down at her jeans and sweater. "No."

"Didn't think so." Rose sighed on her end. "I laid your gray suit out. Still don't think you'll make it. Shall I ask him to wait? Or maybe have Dave see him?"

"Who am I meeting again?" Nikita asked. "The art guy, right?"

"Michael Samuelle. Owns a string of art galleries throughout Europe and is expanding to the states." There was another pause and then Rose asked: "So shall I shift him over to Dave?"

"No." The elevator car arrived. Nikita entered and pressed the button marked Suite 3. "We need his contacts in Europe and he might be offended if we push him off to one of the juniors. How's my mother's schedule this morning? Is she free?"

"I --- think so."

"Find out. Let her know what's going on. Ask if she can see - what's his name? Michael--"


"Right. Tell her I'll be there as soon as I can."

"O-kay," Rose answered. "Buzz if you need me." And with a click she went off line.

Michael Samuelle picked up a magazine on the table before him and casually glanced through it. It was 9:07. His appointment had been for 9a.m. A mild seedling of irritation began to take root inside of him. He hated when people weren't punctual. It showed a lack of organization. Discipline. Professionalism.

He replaced the magazine on the table and looked up at the clock above the receptionist's desk. He contemplated asking her if there was a problem that was causing the delay when the same woman who had asked him to take a seat ten minutes ago, reappeared before him.

"Mr. Samuelle? Thank you for waiting. If you'll follow me, sir, I'll show you to Mrs. Wolfe's office. This way please."

Michael's brow arched in a question. "Mrs. Wolfe?" Somewhere in the space of the past few days he had gotten the idea that the woman he was supposed to meet this morning was unmarried. Not that it mattered one way or another.

The secretary paused and looked over her shoulder at him. Her face bore an expression of polite patience. "Yes. Mrs. Madeline Wolfe is Vice President of Operations. You were scheduled to meet with her daughter but she's had a bit of delay. She'll be joining you shortly though."

Michael mentally ticked off another black mark against Section as he followed the woman down the wide hall to the opposite corner. Personally he didn't like these family type of businesses. Too often the children inherited their positions within in the echelons of the company by merit of their genes rather then any true understanding of the family business. He suspected this Ms. Wolfe was a prime example of that. Late to work and therefore pushing her responsibilities off to the parent. He had half a mind to cancel his appointment and go with another ad agency. But Section came highly recommended to him by several of his contacts here in New York. Never one to act on advice alone, Michael had done his own research and, previous to this morning's appointment, had been very impressed with what he had found.

Paul Wolfe had started his company back in the early 70's with little more then five thousand dollars, hard work, and a lot of guts. He and his wife started by writing jingles for commercials and slowly worked their way up. Now, twenty-six years later, Paul Wolfe's advertising agency extended from New York to California and several locations overseas.

Michael glanced at the double oak doors to his right and read the gold name plate: Nikita S. Wolfe.

Ahh...the tardy daughter.'

He wondered briefly at the cause of her delay, then dismissed the thoughts completely from his mind. It didn't really matter why she was late, only that she was. And it didn't make for a good first impression.

Nikita shut the door to the private room adjacent to her office. She'd changed clothes and brushed her hair up into a tidy French twist. She did a final check to make sure that, in her haste, she hadn't buttoned her buttons wrong, then picked up the file on her desk, headed out her office and came face to face with Rose.

"Samuelle's in with your mother," Rose said. She eyed Nikita's appearance with a critical eye.

"I look alright?"

"It'll do," Rose said. The corners of her mouth twitched. "Although after seeing your morning appointment I've a feeling I should have chosen the white silk instead."

Nikita arched her brows, a smile forming on her lips. "That good, huh? It's lucky for him I don't date clients."

"Lucky for Stephen too," Rose replied dryly, before turning away.