The Playboy's Proposal (Sorensen Family)(3)

By: Ashlee Mallory

The start of another song blared over the speakers, which he’d only had installed last month. He briefly considered pushing the limit of Benny Sorensen’s patience, to see if she’d really have the temerity to call the police on him—or, preferably, march back over here sans bra and lay into him again.

Maybe another time.

He noted the level of volume before turning it to a whisper. “That’s it for tonight, folks. Thanks for coming.”

It was close to nine the next morning when Henry reached his office. Marion, his assistant, was already leaning against his desk holding a cup of coffee in her hand.

“I was starting to wonder if you’d forgotten you worked here.”

He took the cup and grinned at her. “You’d think after last week’s announcement that Studio 180 is a finalist for the best ad campaign from a small agency I would earn a little slack from you.”

“Not a chance.” The woman smiled despite her words. “Becks was just here and wanted you to come by later today. Murdock also called and needs you to call him back ASAP and, in case you forgot, you’re scheduled to meet with the department at ten on the Crombie account. Oh, and a Mrs. Davenport has called twice this morning. Says she’s from your HOA. Seems kind of anxious to talk.”

Good grief. Benny Sorensen hadn’t taken long in making her complaint. “Thanks, Marion.”

With coffee in hand, prepared just as he liked, Henry headed down the hall to Becks’s office, returning well wishes and greetings from the half dozen people he passed. Outside her office, he paused long enough to make sure his boss wasn’t on the phone or with someone before knocking. She waved him in, and he sauntered into the large corner office that was a smidge bigger than his own.

Becks gave him the same look of disapproval as his assistant when he walked in. “Glad to see you decided to come in today. What with the late nights you’ve been keeping and the high-profile guests you’ve been entertaining.”

He didn’t make any apologies, instead coming to stand casually in front of her desk. Becks, who managed to emanate authority and confidence but also cool beauty with her blond hair tucked back in a neat bun, didn’t even look up, still staring at something on her computer screen.

Becks had taken him under her wing nine years ago, when he first came on the scene at the agency, and taught him what it took—once you had the talent, of course—to play the game in the advertising world. He’d risen in the ranks pretty fast with her help and his marketing finesse. He knew how to sell just about anything and it had been that talent that earned him the position of creative director two years ago. Although Becks was still his boss, she was also a good friend. A friend who didn’t pull any punches.

“I figured that since I nailed the Crombie account I was due a little indulgence of a late night and even later morning.” He took a drink of coffee, noticing she looked more high-strung than usual. “You and Stewart might want to try it some time.” Stewart being her husband. “Might take the starch out of that shirt.”

“I’ll be sure to pass that on to him.”

“I was referring to you.”

“I know.” She finally looked up from her computer. “Although I’d love nothing more than to spend the rest of the morning engaging in the usual bullshit, I do have something I need to talk with you about.”

“You look so serious. Should I have a seat?”

“If you like.”

He’d humor her. He leaned against the corner of her desk.

“We have a meeting this Friday with a prospective client. You may have heard of them…AirPro Athletics? They’re an older, well-established company specializing in fitness wear based here in Salt Lake, but they also operate across the western United States. They want to overhaul their whole image. I have it on good authority they were in talks with Blaine Thomas but decided they wanted to go with a more locally based ad agency. It would be quite a coup for us to gain someone of their stature as a client.”

“Sounds exactly like my kind of challenge. What’s the problem?”

She leveled her gaze on him. “You. Or, I should say, you and the playboy image you’ve been fostering for far too long. It’s finally catching up with you.”

She turned the computer screen around so he could see it. It was a picture of him and a few scantily dressed women in a hotel room in Cannes taking shots. The photo was contrived to make it look like he was almost part of some orgy—never mind the fact he’d been there with three other guys from the office and their wives, unwinding after a long week of workshops, presentations, and networking.

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