Calvin Boone must adjust to life now as a married man while trouble brews at corporate with an attractive woman and the embezzlement of millions of dollars from the company.
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Calvin Boone has everything—good looks, a fast food empire that he built from scratch, and more money than he could ever spend. He even married the woman of his dreams, but she’s divorced with a young child. Calvin, who’s been a bachelor all his life, now finds himself an instant family man, and making adjustments does not come easily.
Trouble is brewing at corporate. A beautiful, young woman buys one of Calvin’s franchises, but she’s more interested in him than her business and has no problem letting him know that. In the meantime, Calvin uncovers a scheme where millions of dollars have been embezzled from the company. Someone has messed with the wrong man. He wants justice and his money back.
Joe called Calvin mid-flight as he studied Michael Frazier’s information. “You’re the only Boone who lives in Swamp Creek. I figured Myra was related to you.”
“She’s my wife,” Calvin acknowledged.
“What do you want me to do with her application?”
“Treat it like the rest.”
“What if she interviews well and is the best candidate for the position?”
“Hire her. It’s what I’d do,” Calvin replied.
“Is that what you want?”
“What I want is irrelevant. If you like her, hire her. If you don’t, then don’t offer her the position.”
“I usually don’t make a habit of hiring wives of wealthy men. They make lousy employees, and then they expect the rules to be broken for them. It’s an unwritten policy not to hire them. You know what I mean.”
“Myra’s different, but don’t change your policy for her.”
“I’m not comfortable here, Calvin. Tell me what to do.”
“I’m telling you. Treat her like any other applicant, and if it’s your policy not to hire women of her status, don’t. It’ll have no effect on our relationship as colleagues and friends.”
“Thanks, Cal. If she’s married to you, I’m sure she’s not a brat, but policy is policy. I wanted you to know first.”
Calvin’s attention returned to the file in his hands. He liked what he saw. Mr. Frazier was a business graduate with wide-ranging experience in restaurant management. Now he expressed an interest in owning the next Fred’s Fried Chicken franchise in Jackson, Mississippi.
Calvin rented a black Audi upon his arrival to the airport. He plugged in his GPS and followed its instructions. A traffic jam made him twenty minutes late. As he hurried to get to his appointment, he spied the property a block away. An old building rested there years ago, leaving behind cement remnants and brown rocks mixed with sand and gravel. He drove up beside a smoky gray Audi already parked on the barren ground. Calvin was impressed again. Like him, this person appeared to like Audis. He opened his door and stepped out. The door to the gray car opened.
“Sorry, I’m late,” Calvin stated as he walked up with an extended hand. An attractive woman dressed in a black business suit grabbed his hand and stood. Her large, expressive black eyes drew his attention first. Her round face and perfectly formed, substantial lips made her look more like model material than a business woman. She looked about thirty years old, the peak of her beauty. Her smooth, medium brown skin radiated with a healthy glow. She was only a couple of inches shorter than him which made him estimate her height to be around five eleven in her heels.
“No problem,” she stated and grinned. Her large, flawless smile exposed more teeth than most people. “The traffic is awful this time of the morning.”
Calvin looked past her expecting to see a male associate.
“I’m Michael Frazier. It’s nice to finally meet you, Mr. Boone,” she stated.
He stood in stunned silence with raised eyebrows, but then laughed and shook his head. He’ll get Andrew Payne for this one.
“Your staff forgot to mention I’m a woman,” she stated, unraveling his reason for laughing.
“Yes they did, intentionally,” he replied.
“Sounds like you work in a fun office.”
“I throw most people with my name. My dad wanted a boy,” she added.
“Well, it’s a pleasure, Ms. Frazier. I read your impressive file and you’re the type of person we’re looking for.”
“My friends call me Mickey. So this is the site where you plan to build.” She took the lead and strolled toward the middle of the lot. Her four inch, skinny heel black pumps made her body sway as she walked. Her close fitting skirt hugged her thighs and hips and stopped just above her knees; and her long, super curly, black hair hung almost to her tiny waist.
Calvin turned his back to her and looked around to take in the immediate surroundings, including the lot’s proximity to the interstate. “I believe this will be a suitable place to build. With the shopping center across the street and Global-Mart next to this lot, this restaurant should see a lot of traffic.”
“I agree,” she stated as she stepped in front of him and smiled.
“Do you have any questions or reservations you’d like to address?”
“No. This property is perfect.”
“How about joining me for lunch to discuss the agreement?” Calvin asked.
“I know the perfect spot,” she answered.
Calvin drove well beyond the speed limit to keep up with Mickey as she sped down the interstate. She even spent her wheels when she pulled out of the lot, throwing dust and rocks behind her. The last thing he needed was a speeding ticket. He chuckled at the thought of sending the bill to her if he got pulled over. This provocative woman showed no timidity in their conversation. From their meeting, Calvin determined she was used to responding to men that way. He would be no different. She’d try to use her good looks and prowess against him to manipulate circumstances to her advantage. This had happened before.
Fifteen minutes later her car slowed and turned into the parking area of a building that looked more like a resort than a restaurant. He read the sign. The place was called Smyth’s Tavern. He met her on the front steps and held the restaurant door open for her as they entered.
Calvin liked this upscale European restaurant. The feel was not only cozy, but romantic. He’d have to bring Myra here someday. Mickey requested a table in a corner to minimize distractions. They ordered their meals, and Calvin kept the conversation casual.
“Tell me more about who you are,” he stated.
“I’ve always lived and breathed restaurants,” Mickey began. “When I was a young girl, I wanted to be a gourmet chef.”
“Your resume says you started your education in culinary school.”
“I worked as a chef for a number of years before going back to school and earning a degree in restaurant management.” She leaned forward and gazed at him. “Something tells me you know more about me than what’s written on paper. There’s nothing I can tell you that you don’t already know. I also did my homework, Mr. Boone.”
“What homework?” he asked.
“Learning about you.”
“Okay,” he stated. “What do you know?” He leaned back in his chair and looked her in the eyes.
She grinned, pushed away from the table and crossed her legs, revealing half of her long, fleshy thighs. “You built Fred’s Fried Chicken from the ground. You operate in twenty-one states, but that’s not enough for you. Your goal is to expand into all fifty. You’re aggressive, Mr. Boone and you like challenges. Meeting you today tells me there’s a bit of shyness mixed in your character, and it comes through only in intimate moments. You reveal no more than what you want the world to see, and you choose your friends wisely. There’re just a few friends in your inner circle, like maybe one or two, and you value your privacy. Your multimillions haven’t gone to your head. You recently married. She must be quite a woman if she stole your heart. You like Audis, the A8 model; but just black ones. Your best friend is Barry Armstrong who has partnered with you in this venture. Though you’re in the business of selling franchises, you still own twelve of your restaurants, and they’re doing very well. You’re an interesting man, and I find that fascinating. You were featured in BBO magazine a number of times, and I’ve read each article at least twice.”
“Black Business Owners is a great magazine,” Calvin commented.
“Most people don’t realize your tentacles stretch beyond the fast food industry. You own stock in some other companies that are hot commodities right now. You’re making money and plenty of it.” She hesitated and her look was that of total satisfaction and a dare to Calvin to dispute her observations.
He smiled at her. If she was waiting for a comment, she’d be disappointed. He wasn’t about to discuss his business ventures with her or confirm her remarks. However, she impressed him with her knowledge and ability to read people. She was dead on the money about him. Could he have possibly met his match?
His cell phone rang and he glanced at it. “Excuse me, Mickey. I need to take this.”
Disappointment replaced her confident expression, and Mickey pursed her thick lips into almost a pout; but then she smiled. “Sure. No problem.”
Calvin walked away and stood outside the restaurant door. “Hey, Baby. How did the interview go?”
“I’m not sure,” Myra stated. “Everything went well until I met Joe. He kept sighing through the interview like I was wasting his time.”
He sensed her melancholy and felt bad for her. It was how he felt whenever she cried. He debated in his mind whether he should tell her about his conversation with Joe. Perhaps he should have told Joe to hire her. “Do you want me to call him?”
“No. You were right about my getting the position on my own merits. It would have been wrong to have gotten it any other way.”
“Myra, Joe has a problem with hiring affluent women who are looking for something to do to stay busy. They usually make poor employees and I can vouch for that. Money has to be part of the motivation for wanting to work. Because I know you’re different, I don’t mind calling him if it’s what you want.”
“Thanks for offering, Honey, but I don’t think so. Eboni called me today. We’re hanging out all day tomorrow so that should be fun. The praise team will be practicing Thursday and Saturday evening. Things are picking up.”
“Good,” Calvin replied elated. “Before you know it, you’ll be busier than me.”
Myra laughed. “I doubt that seriously. How are things with your new client?”
Hearing her laugh made him smile. “He’s a she. Andrew let me discover that on my own. It’s going well though. I think we’ve found a new restaurant owner.”
“Well, get back to your lunch meeting.”
“I’ll call you when I’m done here. Myra, I love you so much.”
“You’re making me swoon,” she said.
“I’ll do more than that when I get home.”
He snickered. “I can’t wait to see you Friday.”
When he returned to the table, his food waited for him.
Mickey looked up at his approach and grinned. “May I call you Calvin?” she asked.
“No,” he answered as he loosened his necktie and seated himself.
She shrugged at his response. “Good choice,” she said nodding at his plate. “I’ve had the salmon here and it’s delicious. Next time try the orange bourbon glazed. It’s to die for.”
The small talk was over. Calvin opened his briefcase and pulled out a file. “Mickey, if you’re satisfied with the location and understand the terms of the contract, I’m willing to approve your application for ownership. You’re highly intelligent and possess extensive knowledge of the restaurant business. There’s a lot of potential in you.”
She tightened her lips again. “Thank you for the compliment.”
“That wasn’t a compliment, but a stated observation. Now, you do understand that the nonrefundable deposit of four hundred fifty thousand is due at signing. This does not cover insurance, licensing, and other start up fees. The remaining two hundred thousand will be due during various transactions at specific times. This money must not have been acquired through a loan.”
“I understand and been saving my money for years for this opportunity.”
“We’ll build the restaurant, finish the parking lot and supply all the equipment. We offer three different types of furnishings and decor which you’ll be responsible for selecting and purchasing.” He handed her a thick booklet. “This outlines how the franchise is to operate following our guidelines. It also includes my obligation to you as the franchisor, like marketing, etc. You’ll need to spend six weeks at our corporate office to be trained in our business concepts.”
“I can review this information today and be ready to further discuss it over dinner,” she said, searching his eyes.
Calvin chuckled to himself. He felt her attraction to him earlier and this confirmed it. “I’m having dinner tonight with some of my district managers. If you agree to the package, Andrew Payne will be your contact.”
“Are you always so serious?” she asked.
“When it comes to business.”
“Even businessmen take time to play.”
He didn’t bat an eye or smile as he looked at her and offered no response.
Her eyes darted back and forth and up and down as she concentrated on his features and physique. No shyness here. “So I won’t see you again,” she stated.
“You will during the training at corporate.”
“I’ll look forward to that, Mr. Boone.” She gave him a sly, mischievous smile.