Tania Mathew tapped her foot on the floor as she surveyed the warehouse. The structure was sound and, even though it was dirty at the moment, once it was cleaned, the property would be worth a lot. It was a sound investment, and she was determined to make it. Angling her phone, she took some pictures and turned as she made a short video. Likely, she would have to get the place cleaned up and make another video to show the client.
But damn it! Once she sold this property, Tania would be way ahead of her competition. As a successful property negotiator, she was already climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder in her company, but once she successfully handed over this warehouse to the multimillion dollar company that was currently one of their best clients, she would secure a promotion and a hefty bonus. And from there, the sky was the limit.
After she’d gained enough experience and reputation, she intended to open her own firm. Once her name was established, she would be the undisputed empress of her field, and no one would be able to touch her. It would, of course, start from this very place. Jade Enterprises was looking for a warehouse to add to their considerable resources, and they would love this place. It was perfect for storage and its convenience to the highway was an added bonus. Their transportation costs would be immediately cut in half, and there was even a space behind the warehouse where they could park their trucks. Securing this property for them would be a major coup.
Mentally, she prepared the proposal that she would make and present to their board. If that didn’t catapult her to the top of their list of favorite agents, nothing else would. With her hand on her hip, she surveyed the place once more. Tania caught her reflection in the broken mirror that stood against the wall. The bright, red suit was perhaps a tad too flashy for her job, but she loved the way it clung to her curves and highlighted her dark mass of curly hair and her green eyes that sparkled even in the dim light. Tania was a hot, smart, and sexy woman, and she knew it well. Yet, her crowning glory was the razor-sharp mind that she used without restraint.
Tania loved to win and she relished her work. Nothing would deter her from purchasing this property. As she strode towards the door, she dug into her purse to take out the keys that were given to her by the manager of this place. She intended to speak to him in the evening and present the paperwork the next day. The sooner the better; she didn’t believe in allowing the grass to grow beneath her shoes.
As she came near the door, it banged open and she nearly jumped with fright. The man who sauntered in certainly didn’t look like a thief or a serial killer, but she decided to reserve judgment until she knew better. Putting her hand inside her purse, she tightened her fingers around the pepper spray that was nestled deep inside a pocket. “Who the hell are you?”
Casually, he lifted his hands, took off his sunglasses, and placed them in his pocket. The snug, blue jeans smoothed over his hard thighs and the green collared t-shirt emphasized the width of his shoulders. “Hello, sweetheart. I might ask you the same question.”
Her blood boiled at the cool tone and the sardonic lilt to the voice. Sweetheart? The last man who said that to her found himself lying on the floor, clutching his balls while he writhed in agony. Well, of course, he tried to accost her in an alley behind the club on Saturday night but, as a rule, Tania didn’t like men who thought that a woman’s place was in the kitchen or on the bed, and he certainly looked like he was one of the Neanderthals. “You’re not authorized to be here,” she said in a stern voice.
A frown winkled his forehead, but the smile that spread across his lips was full of amusement. He held up the keys of the place in his fingers and dangled them in front of her. “I beg to differ, sweetheart. The manager gave me these keys so that I can inspect this place. Now, may I know who you are?”
She pulled herself to her full height. This man intended to take this property from right under her nose. No way. Not in this lifetime. She wouldn’t let it happen. “I am a property negotiator and this is my turf, pal. I’ve already talked to Xavier and he agreed verbally to sell it to me, subject to my approval and, of course, to the owners of this place.”
“If it’s not in writing, it won’t stand in the court, sweetheart. Not to worry. You will be able to find something else. I’ve got my eyes on this place.” He strode in and began to inspect the building. “Good condition. Will need another touch of paint. The air-conditioning looks new and I like that they are up to date on all safety measures.”
Since these were all the points that she mentally made while she inspected it, Tania ground her teeth in frustration. She didn’t know who the hell this man was, but he was not buying this property. Once she selected something, she held on to it. No way was he snatching this from her. Taking out her phone, she placed a call to Xavier.
What the hell was he playing at?
“Xavier, there is a man in your property who is nosing around without permission. Why don’t you call the police while I keep him here?”
“What’s his name?”
“Hey, what’s your name?” she asked him.
“Riley Smith. Say hi to Xavier.”
She wanted to punch him in the face. Wait until she was done here. He wouldn’t be so cocky when the police bundled him off for trespassing on private property. “He says his name is Riley Smith. Do you by any chance…”
“I know him. He is a friend of a friend. They wanted to see the place, and I couldn’t say no.”
Tania nearly hissed as she kept her gaze fixed on the man who was now bounding towards the back, probably to see the backup generators. “We had an agreement. You’re not supposed to show this property to anyone else for a week.”
“I’m sorry, Tania, but I know these people personally. As per our verbal contract, I haven’t shown this to any one of your competitors, but, with this organization, I couldn’t say no. I have ties with them. I look forward to hear your bid for the property.” He hung up.
Tania seethed as she marched towards the back to find her nemesis. “Who the hell are you?
He emerged from behind the generator. There was a speck of dust on his sleeve which he removed with a causal flick of his fingers. “Riley Smith. Have you forgotten already?”
She raised an eyebrow, knowing that he was deliberately baiting her. “What is it that you do?”
“This and that.” He waved his hand. “I generally deal with all business negotiations for my company.”
Tania didn’t know what to make of this information. Still, she didn’t care who he was or which organization he worked for. All it mattered was she drove him off the property. “I am Tania Mathew.” She held out her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He clutched her hand, pumped it, and let it go. “You sure know how to change your tune fast, sweetheart. A moment ago, I thought you were going to send the police after me.”
She curbed her anger at his blunt talk. Acquiring this property was the most important thing that she needed to do now, and in order to achieve her goal, she was willing to play nice. “I apologize. Naturally, I was scared when you showed up here. I frighten easily.”
“When you vowed to hold me here until the police arrived, you certainly didn’t sound frightened,” he said. “But never mind that. Now that we’re friends, let me tell you straight on that we’re willing to pay top price for this property. You don’t stand a chance. Find something else.”
“My client wants this,” she said. Tania managed to keep a cool tone as she matched him step for step as he walked from one end to the other. “But I do have some reservations about this place.”
He turned around to face her. “Really, like what?”
His sudden close proximity unnerved her. Tania didn’t intimidate easily, and yet this man somehow made her nervous. There was something about him that told her that he wasn’t one of those idiotic men that she could easily manipulate. Still, she was willing to give this a try. “The roof needs some work, and I think I saw some signs of mold. I will have to bring the inspector here to be sure but whoever buys this place is looking for some major renovation.”
“I didn’t see any mold.”
She waved a hand. “I’ve been doing this for seven years, Mr. Smith. Trust me, I know my job. Also, it might be important to get a safety expert here and take a look at those pillars. I saw some chipped paint and underneath it, some loose mortar. You certainly don’t want this whole thing to collapse right on top of you while you are still signing the papers now, do you?” She laughed gaily. “I guess I should be off. It was nice talking to you.”
His smile was quick and cocky. “It was a pleasure to meet you, sweetheart. You’re a piece of work.”
“Don’t give me that bullshit, sweetheart. This building is sound and you’re not going to drive me away by your lies. I intend to buy it.”
Well, it was time to take off the gloves and deal with this man to man. Or in this case, woman to man, but certainly she was way better at it than him. “You’re mistaken. I am the one who is going to buy this place, and I would kindly advice you to get out my way. I don’t take any prisoners.”
“Neither do I.”
Tania glared at him. He sure had some nerve. She’d thought he would back off after she told him a list of negative things, but he was made of sterner stuff. She did applaud his presence of mind. He didn’t scare easily. Well, she was more than a match for him. Tania didn’t have any intention of letting him get the better of her. This property was ideal for what she had in mind.
“What the hell are you going to do with this place anyway?”
“We’re distributors of retail products, sweetheart, and this place is ideal for our work.” Taking out his sunglasses, he wore them again. “Why don’t you spend your time and money getting this place inspected while I will make the offer for it today? Let’s see if Xavier decides to wait until you’re ready to give your final word.”
He strode off. She ran after him. “Hey, wait a minute. You can’t do that.”
He stopped and turned to face her. “I can and I will, sweetheart. Let that be a lesson to you; not every man you meet is a complete idiot.”
“All right, sorry. I was only trying to dissuade you from making a quick offer. Listen, I saw this place first and it’s high on my list of priorities.” She gave him a winning smile. “I apologize if I came on too hard earlier, but this is important for my work. I really, really need this deal. Can’t you choose another place? In fact, how about I show you some other warehouses that will meet your requirements? Here is my card.” She took out her card from her wallet and handed it to him. “Why don’t we meet for dinner and you can tell me exactly what you’re looking for, and I will find it for you? That’s my job, and I am pretty good at it.”
He took the card from her hand. “I can see that. Hmmm…from intimidation to lies to flattery. Is there anything you will not do to get this place?”
Temper roiled deep in her gut. Another man wouldn’t have been able to resist her sob story and the quick pat of flattery, but he was certainly different from others. What the hell would it take to win him over? “I don’t like your insinuations.”
“And I don’t like your attitude, sweetheart. Be a real player and deal with this shit. Don’t try to flatter me or make a fool of me. I like a woman who can hold her own, but you spoil the game when you start throwing all these different strategies.” He smiled and put her card in his pocket. “I will see you in Xavier’s office.”
Shit! She ground her teeth. He was a real asshole. The man had a damning attitude. He made her angry, no doubt about it. Usually, all it took was a quick smile and a sob story and men fell all over themselves to complete her wishes, but he wasn’t buying any of this crap. As he walked away, Tania bit her bottom lip. If he made the offer, what would Xavier do? He might just choose him due to their personal connection.
At the door, he turned back. “Hey! How about dinner tomorrow night? We can talk about this some more.”
She wanted to tell him to go to hell, but, instead, Tania forced a smile to her face. He just gave her another opportunity to turn this around. Score one for her. “Sure, why not.”
“See you at the Rose Garden at seven tomorrow. My treat.” After blowing her a kiss, he walked out.
The man sure had some solid moves. It would be fun to play these games with him. Certainly it wasn’t often that she got the opportunity to meet someone who could hold his own. She liked it – a tad too much. But what the hell? This was her chance to prove that she was the best in the business. Tania didn’t have any intention to back off from this deal – and that was her final word on it.