The Sweetest Revenge

By: Emma Darcy

CHAPTER ONE

Monday morning, and as usual, the staff of Multi-Media Promotions was abuzz with the swapping of weekend news before everyone settled down to work. Nick Armstrong exchanged only brief greetings as he strode to his private office, trailed by his friend and business partner, Leon Webster. The moment his door was shut, he released his pent-up anger to the one person who should understand his situation.

'You know what Tanya said to me on Saturday, lifter I'd called off our planned outing once again?' he exploded.

Something undoubtedly designed to cut you off at the knees,' came the voice of experience.

Nick grimaced, remembering that Leon had just gone through a nasty break-up with a live-in girlfriend ‘She said what I really wanted was a toy doll whose feelings wouldn't be hurt from being left on a shelf until I had time for playing.'

Sounds good! A toy doll wouldn't nag.' Better still, a fairy princess doll...' Yep,beautiful, glamorous, long blond hair, sparkling-eyes , a smile to warm a man's heart...with a magic wand that would give me the energy to be the kind of lover that even a plastic toy would expect of a man.'





Ooh.... . . . we're getting into kinky stuff here.'

Leon, this is serious. And we are going to have a serious discussion.'

Eyebrows lifted mockingly. 'About women?'

‘About business,' Nick glowered at his friend as he rounded the- desk and dropped into his chair. 'Take a seat. And i am going to wipe that smirk off your face. This is deadly serious

'This man is wounded,' Leon muttered, settling into a chair with a mournful expression. Seeing Nick's Irritation, he made an effort to present a suitably serious countenance

It was' dangerous to rile Nick in this mood. He was the- darkly brooding type—-a creative genius and a computer whiz from way back—and he often needed lightening up, but this was not the moment, Leon decided. They were opposites in many ways. Even in looks. Nick—tall, black-haired, blue-eyed, had a face and body that were stamped with masculine strength, both physical and mental. Oddly enough, Leon never felt diminished by him. While he himself was only average height and his colouring wasn't so dramatic, having fairish brown hair and brown eyes, he had the gift of the gab and could attract any woman he wanted.

They made a great team—the design king and the salesman—and Leon was not about to allow anything to disturb it. Besides which, his partner's mental well-being was of paramount importance to their success. 'Business!' Nick tapped the desk with a strong



Index finger for emphasis. 'You know how much the Internet stuff has taken off, Leon. I'm snowed under. I need two more graphic designers to help take the load.'

'That will cut into our profits,' he cautioned. 'I need a life, too,' Nick bit out. Leon rolled his eyes. 'Just because Tanya got in a snit over not getting your undivided attention? She doesn't own you, Nick, and take it from me...'

Blue lightning flashed straight back at him. 'I take a lot from you, Leon. You're a fantastic salesman and we're doing great, but I will not work to this pressure anymore.'

Hands instantly lifted into a truce position. 'Okay, okay,' he soothed. 'So long as this is you talking and not Tanya. You always said if we worked like dogs until we're thirty...'

'I'm thirty next week. Both of us pocketed over five million dollars last year...'

'And may well pocket twice that this year.' 'But we've paid a price for it. You lost Liz...' 'There you go, bringing women into it...' 'Damn it, Leon! I want a life beyond work, even if you don't. I'm thirty next week. Enough's enough. I need more staff.'

'Okay, okay. I'll ask around. Head-hunt someone good for you.' Nick held up two fingers.

Leon sighed. Two more salaries to pay. 'So we'll get someone good and one out of design school to be trained. How's that?'





Cheapskate

Not at all. Common sense to train them our way. You know that, Nick.'

Nick privately conceded the point, but was not about to relax his stance on the issue. 'Get right onto it, Leon. And don't be giving me any delay tactics. I don't care what it costs. It will cost a damned sight more if I reach burnout.'

'Don't mention that word!' Horror-struck, Leon jackknifed from his chair. 'Your wish is my command, dear boy. I shall go forth this moment and head hunt.'

'A trainee, as well.'

'No problem. They'll be storming the portals to get in here.' He strode to the door and paused, looking back with cynical eyes. 'I bet Tanya is still coming to your birthday bash. She likes what our money can buy. Don't forget that when she turns the screws again.'

'Business, Leon,' Nick tersely reminded him, and he went.

On edge, disgruntled with his world, Nick turned to his computer, switched it on, and tried to settle himself to work. But Leon's words stuck in his mind. The flaming row he'd had with Tanya had ended with her saying that the party would be his last chance with her. If he hadn't made some move to reorganise his life...

His lips thinned. She'd gone too far, expecting him to order his life to suit her. It wasn't as if he was being unfaithful, taking out other women on the side.

And she certainly didn't mind him spending the big money he earned, always asking him to take her to the most fashionable restaurants and get the best seats at the live shows she wanted to see. Leon was right about her suckering him for all he could give.

Not that it was an overly disturbing factor. What was money for, anyway, if not to buy life's pleasures? Except Tanya wasn't delivering much in the way of pleasure herself. In fact, she was becoming an unreasonable nag, picking fights at the end of the night which inevitably turned him off wanting to have sex with her. It wasn't so much energy he lacked, but desire.

His last chance...

He had a good mind to finish it before the party, which of course she didn't want to miss. Who would? Leon had organised a marquee on Observatory Hill overlooking Sydney Harbour, a hot jazz band, top caterers. All the young successful men who were making their mark in business would be there for her to cast her eyes over.

Let her, Nick thought grimly.

Maybe he would cast his eyes around, too. There had to be someone who'd be more amenable to his needs... who wouldn't mind occupying her own shelf while he dealt with the stimulating challenge of business. He could certainly do without an unreasonable nag.

Leon headed for his own private office, hoping he'd just spiked Tanya's guns with that last comment—selfish trouble-making bitch. She pumped Nick for all he was worth and never gave anything back, as far as Leon could see. Maybe he should rope in some hot party girls for Nick's birthday bash, show him there were many more fish in the sea, fish that would only be too happy to swim with him without kicking up a storm.

Better still....

Leon smiled.

Why not a fairy princess doll? With a magic wand that would turn Tanya Wells into an ugly croaking frog.

The smile broadened to a gleeful grin.

'Party Poppers,' Sue Olsen announced brightly, tucking the telephone receiver on her shoulder as she reached for pad and pen, hopeful of a lucrative booking. 'How may we pop for you?'

'You supply acts for birthday parties?' a male voice answered.

'Yes, indeed, sir. What do you have in mind? We have The Singing Sunflowers, The Cuddly Animal Farm, The Jellybean...'

'I want a fairy princess with a magic wand to sing "Happy Birthday" and sprinkle some sparkle around,' came the decisive demand

Sue grinned at her friend and business partner, Barbie Lamb, who still felt ragged from yesterday's clown act for thirty screaming five-year-olds. 'We have the perfect fairy princess for you,' she answered with proud confidence.





Barbie rolled tired eyes at Sue. Clearly she needed a sprinkle of magic dust herself to raise some enthusiasm this morning. Four children's parties over the weekend was a heavy schedule and a huge energy-sucker. On the bright side, the fairy princess job would be a breeze for her, much easier to carry off than the clown act.

'What date are we looking at?' Sue inquired of the caller.

'I want to be sure of the goods first,' came the wary reply. 'Perfect, you said. I need beautiful...'

'Absolutely beautiful,' Sue assured him, grinning at Barbie.

'Long blond hair? All loose...like flowing around her shoulders?'

That describes her hair exactly.' It's not a wig? A wig won't do.' ‘I promise you it's not a wig.' Fine. What about her smile? Good teeth? A big warm smile?'

' A dazzling smile. Any dentist would be proud of her’

Dazzling, huh? Well, that fits the bill so far. How tall is she?'

Tall?' Sue frowned over this requirement. I don't want a midget. I mean, we're not talking a dressed — up kid here, are we?'

No. Our fairy princess is a beautiful young woman, taller than average but not quite model

Barbie pulled a face, distorting her lovely features baring her teeth and raking out her hair to produce her Wicked Witch of the West look. Sue poked out her tongue.

'Great!' Her caller enthused. 'This is sounding good. Just one more question. How does her figure rate?'

'I beg your pardon?' |J

'Her figure. You know... curves in the right1 places?'

'Uh-huh,' Sue said non-committally, waiting to see how far he would go on this contentious point.

'A skinny rake won't do,' he stated emphatically. 'If she's got sexy curves, that's the ticket.'

'Hmm...' Sexy set off alarm bells in Sue's mind and raised a nasty suspicion. They did occasionally get weirdo calls. Time to nail this one down. 'Is this booking for a children's party, sir?' 'No. No kids at this party.' 'Would this happen to be a buck's night?' Sue asked sweetly, ready to pour acid on the idea.

'Believe me. Weddings are not in the air,' he answered sardonically. 'This is a big party for my friend's thirtieth birthday and I want this act as a special surprise for him.'

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