other plans that include intense negotiations in cold, blustery Manhattan. What can possibly be worse than ending up snowbound in the metropolis away from family on Noche Buena? How about being stuck with the infuriatingly laid back and seductive opposing attorney!
No stranger to Latin holiday traditions, Cuban-born Raul Santos isn’t about to abandon the homesick Rebecca on such a special night. Not that the family-minded lawyer has the slightest intention of falling for his ambitious adversary. But Raul soon discovers that this is truly a magical white Christmas, and the snow has transformed the city into a shimmering, crystalline world with endless possibilities . . .
Caridad Pineiro Scordato
"Mami, don't worry. I'll definitely be home by Christmas Eve," Rebecca reassured, cradling the phone to her ear while she slipped a suit out of her closet and ripped off the thin plastic bag from the dry cleaners.
"Mi'ja. Noche Buena is less than a week away. I don't understand why this couldn't wait until the New Year," her mother complained, and quite frankly, Rebecca didn't know how to counter that grievance. She wished her trip could wait as well, but when a major client -- especially one who was responsible for placing her on the radar screen with her ultra-conservative, very chauvinist bosses -- said to "Jump", Rebecca did just that.
For that reason, she spent another minute or so trying to placate her mother. After she finished on the phone, she resumed her packing, all the while thinking about just why she was headed to New York City. It was never one of her favorite places to visit anyhow, she considered, having been there on more than one occasion for either business meetings or conferences. Rebecca found the city and its inhabitants just too hard and demanding.
She much preferred the friendlier, more tarried pace in her Miami hometown. Not to mention the Miami weather.
New York City in the dead of winter was a nightmare. The cold, rain and snow made the already crowded and bustling metropolis even more inhospitable. Sidewalks became slippery slopes ready to dump unsuspecting pedestrians on their butts. The pedestrian's umbrellas added to the mess, creating a walking obstacle course along those precarious sidewalks. And of course the taxis, always a strange concept to her, were never to be found when the weather reared its ugly head and became inclement. In Miami a car was both a necessity and a status symbol. Rarely did one use a taxi.
She wouldn't even think about New York's idea of mass transit for dealing with situations when above ground travel became impossible. Her one subway ride during a conference several years earlier had been a noisy, crowded abomination during which she'd had her pocket picked.
New York was definitely not her number one winter travel choice, especially with the holidays just days away as her mother had reminded Rebecca only moments ago.
But she had no choice. The rumors were flying all around the law firm. She was next in line, her name at the top of the list of erstwhile hopefuls for partnership. That was an amazing feat in itself. It wasn't often that the other partners at RLL, one of Miami's premier boutique firms, allowed someone into their vaulted ranks.
It was even more of a surprise considering her age, sex and ethnicity. If the rumors were true, and in an office the size of RLL the office grapevine was incredibly accurate and speedy, she would be the youngest partner chosen at the ripe old age of thirty. To make that accomplishment even sweeter, she would be the first woman and Latina. Quite a coup and one which she wasn't about to mess up.
Besides, she had brought this client into RLL with a lot of hard work, and the client had treated her well. They had started off slowly, testing the waters and when her abilities and dedication became apparent, they had gradually shifted all of their legal work to her and her colleagues at RLL. Because of that, she felt she owed them this one unreasonable demand, namely, snagging the rights to a hot new technology just before the holidays.
Celltech, a small, New Jersey biotech company had recently gotten FDA approval for a gene therapy to help counteract the affects of certain types of auto-immune nerve diseases and patents for both the therapy and the vectors used for transport. Her client already held the license to one of CellTech's other genetic mapping procedures and had hinted to CellTech that they were interested in the rights to these properties. In deference to her client's size and their past relationship, CellTech had entered into a gentleman's agreement of sorts whereby her client would get first crack at acquiring the rights.
Rebecca knew CellTech's current attorney was both savvy and determined from her contacts with him in negotiating the earlier patent license agreement. He would tolerate only so much, especially when his client's product was already in hot demand. In light of that, the draft Rebecca had prepared and was ready to discuss with her client in the morning was a little more giving than the standard licensing arrangements into which her client normally entered.
As she packed, adding one more dark-colored suit to those already on the pile on her bed, she considered the team that she would take with her to provide support during the negotiations. Andrew Waverly was technologically savvy and excellent at licensing arrangements. Sheila Smith, a paralegal they both shared on various projects, would help with the assorted tasks they might need over the course of the next few days. Rebecca was confident they could handle the sensitive negotiations and obtain what her client wanted, as well as make it home in time for Noche Buena and the holidays that followed.
She finished laying her clothes on her bed and packed them up into her bag. By tomorrow afternoon, she would be on a flight to New York City and the draft of the agreement would be on its way via fax to CellTech's attorney. After that . . .
She flipped on her television and surfed through the stations until she hit one of the channels offering weather information. Waiting until they gave the regional run down for the Northeast, she flinched at the freezing temperatures and at the possible weather front the meteorologist was sure would skip the area.
Rebecca was normally a trusting individual, but when it came to meteorologists and their forecasts she was always dubious. The weather front in question was a slow one according to the expert, and had already dumped light snows throughout the Mid-West. In her mind's eye, she pictured that front slowly getting bigger, growing until it filled the entire area over the Northeast with a large, angry mass filled with snow.
Rebecca shuddered, drove that image from her mind and instead convinced herself the weather reporter was right and the storm would be a small nothing that just skimmed over the area and did little damage. But just in case, she added her one and only pair of snow boots to her bag. Now nearly a decade old, they had been used only a half dozen times or so on those reluctant trips up North.
She hoped they would see no service during this trip.