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Kit leaned back against the office door and released a long, shaky breath. She'd done it! Ten minutes ago she'd burned the last major bridge behind her. She could take off on an exciting, carefree adventure any time now–if she could think of a single place she wanted to go.
Kit forced herself to focus on the familiar scene. The gleaming desktop looked unnatural without its usual piles of paper. Behind it, the leather bulk of her father's empty desk chair glared at her, emanating waves of cold disapproval. She fought down the familiar wave of guilt. She hadn't made the decision to step down lightly. If she was ever to sort out the chaos of her emotions, she had to get completely away from Florida and its memories.
Yesterday, after she'd performed the unpleasant task of informing Gunther Roth and his team that she could not approve the funding for the next phase of his genetic restructuring research, she'd handed the reins of the foundation over to her assistant Gordon until further notice. And, as of today, there would be no more Schofields running Schofield Pharmaceuticals. The board meeting had simply put the official stamp on Gordon's role as CEO.
She took a deep breath and stifled the panic that rose in her throat every time she thought about cutting ties and starting a new life.
She glanced hastily around her. The noonday sun poured through the picture window and glinted off the brass desk lamp onto the gleaming walnut desk. She gave herself a mental shake. She should take a memento of this six-year segment of her life. She picked up the onyx pen set Bart had given her when she had taken over this officesix years ago.
Their innocent affection had been so comfortable then.
She reached over to flip on the intercom. "Hi, Helen. Please tell Gordon I'm ready to go."
Thank goodness she'd already said her private farewells to her executive assistant and friend.
She straightened her shoulders and stood up as tall as her five-foot-two frame would stretch. The staff would see the fashionable, decisive Kit Schofield they were used to seeing. She grasped the doorknob and launched herself into the hallway where Gordon waited for her.
"Are you all right, Kit? Would you like to wait a bit to say your farewells?"
There was genuine concern in his brown eyes. Kit wished she could throw herself into his brotherly, middle-aged embrace and tell him what was upsetting her. Gordon would gladly take over and re-organize her tangled life for her. But she was the only person who could sort out that chaos.
"No, no. I'd like to get it over with," she said, fixing a bright smile on her lips.
As if she didn't have a care in the world, she sauntered over to the crowd of well-wishers who'd left their desks to say good-bye. After all, they thought she was heading off on a holiday to launch another phase in her glamorous golden life.
Solid as always, Gordon remained at her side.
They stepped out through the glass outer doors into the humid September day. The hot Florida sun beat down on their heads. The asphalt of the parking lot was so hot it glistened in the brilliant sunshine.
Kit stopped at the base of the steps and brushed a sisterly kiss on Gordon's cheek. "Thanks for everything, Gordon. You don't have to walk me to the car. It's right over there in the shade."
Annoying tears began to well up behind her eyes as she strolled across the quiet parking lot toward the privacy of her little red sports car. She had to think positively. Who knew what wonderful experiences were just around the corner? Maybe she'd take a long trip. Be away from Florida for the hurricane season.
Deep in thought, she was only vaguely aware of someone gunning a powerful motor about a hundred feet to her right.
Suddenly, tires squealed as a white van with darkly tinted windows turned sharply and skidded into the parking lot. Startled, she turned toward the sound. The van picked up speed and hurtled around the circular driveway in her direction. Was the driver drunk? She took a couple of cautious steps backward toward the curb to give the van plenty of room to get by her. But the driver seemed to be steering right for her.
"Kit! Get back here!" Gordon shouted.
She whirled around and leapt back toward the building. The van swerved and mounted the curb after her. Gordon, moving amazingly fast for a man of his age and girth, grabbed her arm and yanked her hard out of its direct path. However, the front bumper managed to catch Kit's left leg and knock her loose of Gordon's grasp. She spun, flying against the concrete steps of the building.
Copyright © 2006 Dee Lloyd.