By Design – Chapter 9

Eli sat in his office with his head resting against his desk. How on earth was he planning to pull this off?

He had to admit, his first attempt to win over Gracie Parker had been nothing short of a disaster. He should have known better. When she hadn’t taken to him at the party and had been confident enough to write her true feeling about him, he should have known she wouldn’t be easy to win over. He had been stupid to think that he could convince her so easily. But he wasn’t ready to give up yet. One thing he had learned through business was that with every challenge that stood in the way, there was an opportunity for gain.

He raised his head and grabbed the file sitting next to him. It was the one Ken had prepared for him on Gracie Parker. He opened it to a page he had tabbed. Parker had gotten a job with her magazine almost immediately after graduating college. She had written primarily social pieces since the start of her career, and she seemed to favor stories over young professionals. However, she still hadn’t gotten her big break in the writing world. It was something she was still chasing after.

Perhaps this is the key, Eli thought. A new plan was formulating in his mind. He didn’t have all the pieces together yet, but the seed of the idea was there. The problem was, he couldn’t accomplish anything if he didn’t give himself the opportunity to meet with her again. Not only that, but he needed to be more conscious this time of her likes and dislikes, her goals, her expectations. Only by paying attention to these things would he be able to get through to her.

He looked over the page once more, trying to figure out what he was missing. She was a part of the media, but she was new to the field. She needed something that could help her build her reputation. She needed a personal invitation from someone like him for an exclusive interview and an exclusive story. It was perfect. But perhaps it was also a bit too obvious.

Eli turned on his computer and opened up the word processor. He typed “Plan B” across the top and began to take notes. He would hold another event. Not something as extravagant as the Year One party, something intimate, something tasteful. It would be a way for him to spend some time with Gracie without it looking like that was what he was trying to do.

He pressed the button on the intercom. “Ken, I need you to come in here for a moment.”

As always, Ken was at the door within moments. “What can I help you with?” he asked.

“I want to host a media event,” Eli announced.

Ken raised his eyebrows, suspicion written on his face.

“Not something big,” Eli assured him. He was doing his best to make this seem as natural of a request as possible. He didn’t want Ken to think he was up to something. “I want to do a small, private luncheon with a handful of representatives from the media. I think it’s time I give a few outlets the exclusive interview they’ve been asking for.”

“I see,” said Ken, obviously skeptical. “And were there some representatives you had in mind?”

Eli handed him a list of names he had prepared earlier. They were people he had worked with before, for the most part. He had been careful to pick a group of people he wouldn’t mind spending the afternoon with and who he knew would have positive things to say at the end of the day.

Ken’s eyebrows went up as he scanned over the list. “I see Gracie Parker managed an invitation,” he noted. Eli didn’t really like the tone of his voice when he said it. It was as if he was questioning the decision.

Eli just shrugged, trying to act nonchalant over the matter. “I thought she might appreciate the opportunity to get an ‘in’ in the business,” he said.

Ken seemed unconvinced, but he took the list anyway and walked out of the office to prepare the invitations.

Eli collapsed into his seat after Ken left and released a deep sigh. Plan B was now in action. It was no use turning back. Good. Now that he was committed he could focus on making sure everything was perfect for the event. It would be the first step in fixing the mistake he had made during his initial interaction with Gracie Parker. And hopefully he could eventually make up for acting like an idiot outside her office building as well.

He knew everyone else, Ken included, probably thought he was being ridiculous over all of this. He had seen the expression clearly on Ken’s face when he had seen Gracie’s name on the invitation list. Perhaps everybody else thought he was just being vain and obsessive when it came to getting a bad review, the only one he could remember receiving since he had debuted in the business world. But the truth was it was more than that. The truth was he couldn’t give his father any room to criticize him. Even one bad review—one reporter saying Eli didn’t have what it took to be a charming and charismatic business leader—would be enough for his father to jump all over him. He would take any excuse to tear Eli down.

He had to convince Gracie Parker to change her opinion of him before that happened. Otherwise, everything he had worked so hard to accomplish over the last year could be gone in the blink of an eye.

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