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IT WAS paperwork that kept Sadie Morrissey tied to Spencer Tyack. He was hopeless at it.
If paperwork were left to Spence it would never get done. And that was no way to run a business. Tyack Enterprises was an enormously successful property development business because Spence had a good eye, great insight and a prodigious work ethic—and because he had Sadie to take care of the details.
She'd been doing it for years, ever since she'd been in high school and he'd been barely twenty-one, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks with grit and goals and not much else. Now, twelve years later, he owned a multinational business and had his finger in property developments on five continents.
He'd have taken over the world by now, Sadie sometimes thought, except she couldn't keep up with the paperwork.
"You need to file faster," Spence always told her, flashing that megawatt drop-dead gorgeous grin of his as he breezed through the office on his way to London or Paris or Athens or New York.
"Not on your life," Sadie always replied, wadding up a piece of paper and throwing it at him. The grin flashed again and he winked at her.
Sadie resisted the grin, resisted the wink. Resisted Spence— something else she always did. "I'm busy enough, thank you very much," she told him tartly.
"And it's not only filing."
Of course he knew that. He knew it was Sadie who kept things organized, who could lay her hand on any piece of paper at any given moment, who could set up a meeting between people on four continents at the drop of a hat, whose address book was even more stuffed full of information than his own.
He only said it to annoy her. Then he'd grinagain, rattle off half a dozen more things she needed to do, and then he'd vanish, off to catch another plane while Sadie got back to work.
Not that she cared.
Until last year she'd had a reason to stay in Butte. She'd been determined to care for her elderly grandmother, to make sure Gran would be able to stay in her own home as long as possible.
Now that Gran had been gone six months, her parents were urging her to come to Oregon where they lived, and her brother, Danny, had promised her job interviews galore if she came to Seattle.
But Sadie hadn't gone. She liked Butte with its wild and woolly history. Loved Montana. Delighted in the change of seasons, in the wide-open spaces. It was still, as far as she was concerned, the best place on earth.
And she liked her life—what there was of it. Mostly there was her job. But that was all right. She and Spence had always worked well together, and the job was exciting and demanding, even though she was always going like mad, working insane hours as she did her best to keep the ducks in a row and the details aligned so that Spence could get on with buying up the world piece by piece.
Some days—like today—Sadie thought she ought to have been born an octopus. But even eight arms would not have been enough to deal with all the Tyack Enterprises projects she was juggling this afternoon.
The phone had been ringing when she'd opened the office door at eight-thirty this morning. By lunchtime she had talked four times to an Italian determined to encourage Spence's interest in some condominiums in Naples even though she'd assured him that Spence wasn't there, he was in New York. She'd listened to an imperious Greek tycoon namedAchilles who wouldn't take no for an answer, either. And in between those and all the other calls, she'd worked on finalizing Spence's meeting in Fiji next week.
Arranging the logistics for him and his co-investors to spend a week on one of Fiji's smaller islands at a resort for stressed-out and overworked businessmen and women was, to put it bluntly, a challenge. Movers and shakers like Spence and his partners did not have schedules that permitted them to laze around for a week in paradise.
"We don't want to laze around," Spence had told her last time he was in Butte. "We just want to go, see the place, crunch the numbers and, if it works out, buy in."
"That's what you want," Sadie had agreed. "But Mr. Isogawa wants you to experience the peace you're going to be investing in."
That had been clear during the first conversation she'd had with Japanese businessman Tadahiro Isogawa. Mr. Isogawa wanted partners, yes. But not just any partners. He wanted partners who believed in the resort's concept—and who would experience it firsthand.
"The piece we're investing in?" Spence had frowned. "We don't want a piece. We want partnership in the whole place."
"P-e-a-c-e," Sadie had spelled patiently. "He expects you to all turn up and spend a week getting to know the place—and each other—and reconnecting with your families."
"I don't have a family."
"So tell that to Mr. Isogawa. He's very big on marriage and family. It's why he works, he told me. But he believes sometimes people who work so hard get their priorities mixed up. Hence the need for Nanumi. It's Fijian for 'remember,'" she'd informed Spence. Mr. Isogawa had told her that when he'd explained his reasons for the resort development.
It hadn't impressed Spence. He had given her that sceptical brows-raised look Sadie knew all too well. She'd just shrugged. "Up to you. But he says if you want in, he wants all of you— and your spouses—there for a week to experience it."
Spence had rolled his eyes. But his desire for the resort won out and finally he'd shrugged. "Fine. Whatever he wants. Set it up."
And so she had.
Besides all the rest of her work, it had taken her days to make sure everyone had a clear schedule for the week to come and then to make all the necessary travel arrangements from the far corners of the world to the island resort. In the process she'd answered thousands of questions from astonished spouses who had rung to be sure the proposed week's holiday in Fiji was actually on the level.
"We never get holidays," Marion Ten Eyck had told her. "John is always working."
Steve Walker's wife, Cathy, had said much the same thing. And Richard Carstairs' wife, Leonie, had rung her every day, saying, "Are you sure? Quite sure? Does Richard know?"
And Sadie had assured her over and over that indeed Richard did. She was beginning to think Mr. Isogawa knew what he was talking about.
And just when she finally got everything sorted and began to go over a contract Spence had faxed her for a development in Georgia he was involved in, the phone rang again.
Sadie closed her eyes and prayed for patience. It actually wasn't eight hands she needed, she thought wearily as she reached for the phone. But eight ears certainly wouldn't hurt.
"Tyack Enterprises," she said and was rewarded by the crackle of a transoceanic connection and a voice whose first language was clearly not English. On the plus side, it wasn't Italian or Greek, either.
"Ah, Isogawa-san, konnichi wa. How lovely to hear from you!" And it really was. Mr. Isogawa was the one person she hadn't talked to. "Everyone arrives on Sunday. I have all the details right here."
She happily relayed the information and smiled at his cheerful approval.
Mr. Isogawa, she had discovered, had had little experience with westerners beyond the ones he saw in films. Since Sadie was more given to hard work than car chases and shooting people to get things done, he thought she was a miracle worker. He took all the information as she relayed it, then said, "You must come, too."
"Thank you. I'd love to," Sadie replied with a smile. Who wouldn't want to spend a week in a South Pacific paradise? "But I have work to do here."
"Even so," Mr. Isogawa said. "You work very hard. You should have a holiday, too. A life."
How did he know she didn't have a life? "You talk to Spencer," he said. "He will arrange it." Spence didn't take vacations himself. She knew he wouldn't see any reason for anyone else to, either. Officially she had two weeks a year. She couldn't remember ever taking them.
"Maybe someday," she said to Mr. Isogawa. When hell froze over.
Still, after Mr. Isogawa hung up, she thought about what he said. Not about going to Fiji. There was no chance of that. But maybe she ought to consider getting away. Moving away. For years she'd assured herself that she thrived on the variety and busyness of her life.
But was it really a life?
Rob McConnell, the man she'd been dating for the past few months, was sure it wasn't. "You never have time for anything but your damn job," he complained over and over. "You're not getting any younger, Sadie."
Usually Rob wasn't quite that blunt, but she knew he was getting irritated at her refusal to want more than a casual relationship. She didn't blame him. He was a genuinely nice man. He wanted to marry and have a family. He'd said as much. And he was right, she wasn't getting any younger. She was twenty-eight. If she was going to get serious, she needed to start.
Sadie wanted to get serious. Truly. But not with Rob.
And that was the problem.
Maybe she should move on. She'd been thinking about it ever since her brother, Danny, had come home from Seattle to visit last week, bringing his wife and their one-year-old twins with him. That had been a shock. Danny had always been as footloose as Spence. Seeing her brother as a devoted family man had jolted her.
It seemed to have given Danny pause for thought, too. "Who'd have thought I'd settle down before you," he'd said the night before he'd left. He'd been sitting in her living room with a twin in each arm, looking exhausted but content. And then he'd considered her slowly, making her squirm under his gaze as he'd said, "But then, you are settled, aren't you, Sadie?"
"What do you mean?"
His mouth twisted. "You're settled in as Spence's drudge."
"I am not!" Sadie had tossed down the copy of Spence's itinerary she'd been going over, making some last-minute adjustments, and jumped up to prowl around the room. "Don't be absurd."
"It isn't me who's being absurd, Sade. It's all work and no play with you. Always has been as been as long as I can remember."
"I play," Sadie had protested.
"When you work seventeen hours instead of eighteen? Hell, you're as driven as Spence." "We have goals!" she informed him loftily.
"Spence does," Danny had corrected with an elder brother's ruthlessness. "You're just hanging on."
Sadie had whirled around to glare at him. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Danny met her glare head on. "You know damn well what it means"
"I have a great job!"
"But do you have a life? Come on, Sadie. You're the one who always used to name your kids when we were growing up. You're damn near thirty and you barely even date!"
"I'm twenty-eight, not damn near thirty! And Rob—"
"You're not serious about Rob McConnell. If you were you'd have invited him over while Kel and I were here. You didn't. So find someone you are serious about. Get married. Have that family you always wanted." He threw the words at her like a gauntlet, and Sadie couldn't pick it up.
"I'm fine," she'd said stiffly.
"Yeah. Sure you are. You could get a job anywhere. Come out to Seattle. Kel will find you a hundred dates. Believe me, you're wasted on Spence."
"I'm not dating Spence."
"And thank God for that," Danny said. "He's my friend, but he's not exactly marriage material, is he?"
He wasn't telling her anything she didn't know. But she shook her head. "I work for him, that's all," she said.
"Why not? Does Spence own your soul?"
"Oh, for heaven's sake. Of course not!" But her face had burned and Sadie had hoped Danny wouldn't notice.
Fortunately he'd just shaken his head. "Well, it makes a guy wonder.You've been working for him for years! Since high school." "Because he needed the help. You know Spence. He's great at wheeling and dealing. Great at finding properties and renovating them. Great at potential. He can see the big picture. But he's not great at paperwork. Not at details."
And Sadie had always been marvelous at both. She could organize anything.
"Anyway," she'd reminded her brother. "I didn't stay. I left, remember? I went away to college. Four years at UCLA."
"And then you came back, you idiot. To him."
"To the job," Sadie insisted. "He pays me a mint. And I get a percentage of the business, for heaven's sake. And where else could I possibly go and manage a global property-development business at my age? And still live in Butte?"
"Oh, yeah, that's a real plus. Butte! The hub of the western cultural world."
Of course it was anything but. But the old mining city was making a comeback. Long depressed, Butte was making a slow climb back toward prosperity, thanks in large part to Spence and a few other guys like him who were determined to turn things around.
"Don't be sarcastic. And don't knock Butte." Sadie's voice had been frosty at his dismissal of their hometown. "It's home. Spence doesn't knock it, and he has more right than you do."
She and Danny had had a good childhood with stable, loving parents. Spence had not. For all that he was now a real-estate tycoon of international scope, Spencer Tyack hadn't been born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
"Not even a copper one," he'd once said with a wry grin, a reference to Butte's copper-mining past. "But I survived."
No thanks to his own parents, that was for sure. Sadie remembered Spence's grandfather as kind and caring, but the old man had died when Spence was ten. From then on his life had been hell. His alcoholic father hadn't been able to keep a job and rarely turned up at home except to fight with his mother or take a swing at Spence. And his mother's bitterness toward her husband found its most convenient target in their only son.
Sadie, whom Spence had never permitted to set foot in his house while she was growing up, had still got close enough on occasion to hear her shrieking at him, "You're just like your father!"
He wasn't. Not even close.
Unlike his father, Spence had always been driven. Even when he'd been something of a juvenile delinquent in high school, he'd been determined to be the best delinquent of the bunch.
A probation officer who had insisted they meet not in his office but in the cemetery by Spence's grandfather's grave had put an end to the delinquency. After that Spence had been determined to do the old man proud. To succeed. To achieve. To become the best man he possibly could.
He'd gone to work wherever he could. He'd saved and scrimped and had bought his first house the week he turned twenty-one. To call it a "fixer-upper" would be kind. It had been little more than a hovel with a leaky roof.
As soon as he could, he'd gone to work in the mine, making better money driving those behemoth trucks all day. Then he'd come back and work on the house all night. Several months later he sold that house at a profit, bought another, then did the same. He did it again and again.
By the time he was twenty-two he'd been able to apply for his first commercial-property loan. And that's when he'd hired Sadie to create order out of the paperwork chaos—in his truck. He hadn't had an office.
"I can't waste money on an office," he'd told her. So for the first year she'd worked out of the back of his truck camper, using a shop light run by a battery, and a filing system that she carried around in a cardboard box. It was primitive. But it worked.