Mr. Beckman’s Secretary
by JoAnn Carter © 2008
When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing.
As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?
EXCERPT : MR. BECKMAN’S SECRETARY
“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
Daniella’s nine-year-old heart hammered in her chest, like a jackrabbit chased by a hound dog, as the boy stormed toward her.
“Hey, you little runt. Give me that bat!”
The heavy wooden club dropped from Daniella’s grip and landed with a puff of dry dust. The pungent smell of dirt overwhelmed her, and, coughing, she waved away the cloud of grit with a chubby hand.
The granules hadn’t even settled before the bully sneered, “You ain’t never gonna be on my team, fatso. You ain’t good enough.”
Daniella took a step backwards; her breath came in quick, shallow gasps.
The large boy loomed over her and the gym teacher called out, “All right, Troy.”
The boy continued to stare holes into her. Daniella somehow managed to drag her gaze away from him and looked across the field to where Mr. Hunt stood on the sidelines. He called out in a gruff voice, “I said, that’s enough.”
Troy spat in the dirt, narrowly missing the toe of Daniella’s worn left sneaker. “Aw,” he complained, “why do I always get stuck with the nerds?”
Mr. Hunt scrubbed a hand over his sweaty face and sighed. “Troy.”
Troy groaned, “Yeah, yeah, I know.”
Slump-shouldered, Mr. Hunt said to Daniella, “I want you to pick up the bat and at least try to keep your eyes on the ball this time.”
Daniella’s pulse pounded in her ears, making the teacher’s voice sound miles away. She fixed her eyes on the bat and wished the ground would swallow her up whole.
* * * *
The relentless beep, beep, beep of the alarm startled her awake. Dani slipped one hand from beneath the flannel sheets to slap the snooze button. Same old stupid, horrible dream she thought, burrowing deeper under the covers. Just a dream, but…
She rolled onto her back. Dani knew she had to get a grip, had to do something about this disruptive nightmare she’d had since elementary school.
Unfortunately, she’d always been one of those ‘once I’m awake, the night’s over’ types, so she flung the covers aside and slid both feet into her slippers, then shuffled toward the window. One quick tug at the bottom of the shade sent it flapping and snapping to the top, and the warm winter sun, peeping over the horizon, slanted across her room.
The clutter certainly had accumulated over the years. Stuffed animals scattered across the red carpet stared sightlessly through wide, shoe-button eyes. Her desk, littered with dictionaries, magazines, monitor and computer tower, sagged from the weight of its burdens. Rumpled bed linens spoiled the ‘look’ of her beautiful canopied bed, while Precious Moments collectibles collected dust on the bookshelves. There was even her baby blanket crocheted by Aunt Thelma, hanging over the back of Grandma Faye’s overstuffed chair. She really did need to get a grip, because the nightmare had overflowed from her dreams into just about every area of her life.
Like every other morning of her twenty-six-year existence, Dani squeezed her eyes shut, as if that could blot out the ugliness from her room… from her life. But if pretending for those few tranquil seconds that her life was, indeed, in order hadn’t worked in all these years, she had no reason to hope it would work today.
Eyes opened and teeth clenched, she folded her arms across her chest and straightened her spine. She had to start somewhere if her dream of an organized life was to come true.
I’ll start right after work, she promised herself.