only going there because I’m running out of coffee and cheese,” Electra said. Seneca stood up and walked over to the cookie jar that held her petty cash stash. She took out a twenty, handing it to Electra. “Smoked salmon on a bagel with scallion cream cheese.” “Do you want anything else?” “I don’t need anything else.” The calorie-laden sandwich added up to one-fourth of her daily allowable caloric intake. “I’ll be back,” Electra intoned in her best Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation. Seneca returned to her bedroom to get dressed, snippets of the conversation she’d had with William Jacobs coming back to remind her that her future hung in the balance. If Booth Gordon didn’t accept the terms Jacobs presented to him, then she would have to decide whether to give up modeling and resume her full-time student status or continue as she had for the past two years—modeling and attending classes part-time. Regardless of the outcome, she would know for certain within a matter of hours.
Booth didn’t bother to glance up when his executive assistant, the last employee holdover from his uncle’s tenure, placed a cup of steaming black coffee on the corner of the rosewood desk at nine-ten. The cup sat for a full five minutes before hepicked up the fragile china cup to take a sip. It was the perfect temperature, going down smoothly, the caffeine providing him with the energy he needed to stay alert throughout the morning. He knew he had to stop sleeping with Krista. Either the woman was a nymphomaniac or she was trying to kill him. At forty he could get and sustain an erection, but he couldn’t go as often as he had in his twenties and thirties. He’d literally thrown Krista out of his condo when she woke him up at three in the morning to complain that she was horny. Instead of banging the hell out of her he’d sent her packing. His office ritual hadn’t varied since he’d taken over as CEO of BGM. He came in at sunrise, worked out for an hour with his personal trainer at the in-office gym, showered and shaved, then selected what he would wear that day from a collection of tailored suits, custom-made shirts, ties and imported footwear. His office on the top floor of the four-story townhouse off Madison Avenue had become his home away from home. “What’s on today’s calendar?” He knew he irked the woman because he never addressed her by name. Booth figured if he related to her like a piece of furniture she would get the hint and retire. Joan Powers didn’t bother to hide her disdain for her late boss’s nephew when she glared at his lowered head. A few times she’d contemplated adding something to his coffee that would either make him sick or have to spend most of the day on the toilet, but then had to remind herself it wasn’t good to harbor impure thoughts. Booth Gordon wasn’t a tyrant—he was a monster. “You have a meeting with the head of television at ten, and the head of music at eleven.” “What about lunch?” “Lunch is open.” Booth raised his head, meeting the icy gaze of the woman whose loyalty was tied to a dead man. Joan didn’t think he knew that she’d been his uncle’s mistress for nearly forty years. She’d given up her youth and the chance to marry and have children because she’d been in love with a married man—a man who wasn’t willing to leave his independently wealthy wife. He hated Joan and he knew she detested him. Why, he thought, didn’t she just hand in her resignation? He was even willing to offer her a generous severance package just so he wouldn’t have to put up with her cheerless expression. “Order my usual. I also want you to call my barber.” “What time do you want him to come, Mr. Gordon?” Booth lowered his eyes, staring at his manicured nails. His insisting Joan address him as Mr. Gordon was another source of contention for her. She’d called him Booth until he took the helm of the agency, then everything changed for