Trent grabbed the paper, the headline over the picture taunting him. “Coffee For Two: Legendary playboy cozies up with local small business owner.”
“How the hell is this possible? There were no photographers around.” At least he didn’t think so, yet there was no mistaking the picture of Addison and him having coffee at Ambrosia.
“My sources at the papers refused to give me a name but told me a customer took the picture. That doesn’t matter.” Marty pointed at Addison in the picture. “She’s perfect. I’ve already run a background check on her. She’ll remind people of your cousin Callie and Jake’s wife, Charlie. You know how much the public adores them. They didn’t even care that Callie was illegitimate. All they cared about was that your uncle pulled her into the family fold. And society loves that Charlie, one of its own, tamed Prince Charming. The only time you see Jake in the news these days is when The Falmouth Foundation takes action.”
He couldn’t disagree with how much the American public adored the two women, but he’d just wrapped his head around Marty’s initial plan.
Marty pulled two folders from his briefcase and slid one toward him. “Some of the information in here you may already know, but I’ll give you the condensed version. You can read the rest later.” He opened his own folder. “Born Addison Raimono to Marta and Salvatore Raimono. She has no criminal record. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University in interior design. Two years ago she started her own business, Designs by Addison. It does both interior design and decorating, although she’s handled more decorating projects since the business started.” Marty paused for a breath. “While the company regularly has clients, she’s just getting by. Several times a week she works at one of her family’s bakeries, usually the one on Federal Hill. My guess is to supplement her income. For the past two years she’s lived in Cumberland.” Marty turned the page in his folder and kept on reading. “Her mother runs the family bakery located up on Federal Hill and her father, a retired Marine, works as a correctional officer at the Maximum Security prison in Cranston.”
Trent followed along, amazed at how much information Marty had gathered in such a short amount of time.
“Addison is the youngest of five children and her family has strong ties to Rhode Island. Her mother’s grandfather, Giovanni D’Ambrosia came to this country and opened the first Ambrosia Pastry Shop and Cafe on Federal Hill. Later, his son opened another store in the North End of Boston. The third location on Benefit Street, where this picture was taken, opened twenty-five years ago and the family has just rented a location at Quincy Market for a fourth.” Marty took a sip from the coffee he’d brought in with him. “All that information is in your folder. You can read through everything again later.”
Marty fell silent when someone knocked on the door. As Shirley entered and laid out lunch, Trent looked back at the newspaper, his blood pressure inching skyward. Most of the time he ignored headlines. Rather than let them bother him, he let the comments roll off his back regardless of whether or not they were true. But this headline couldn’t have come at a worse time. It especially angered him because all they’d done was have a coffee and talk for a few minutes.
“You dug up all this information but couldn’t learn who leaked this picture to the papers?” he asked when the door closed behind his assistant.
Marty folded up the sleeves of his shirt. “It’s all a matter of importance. The who doesn’t matter. The wonderful opportunity it presents does. Now, I need to know everything. How did you meet her? How long have you known her? Have you slept with her yet?”
Trent pinched the bridge of his nose. Christ, couldn’t he have a cup of coffee with a woman without someone assuming he’d slept with her? “I met her just before you and I met last week. I bumped into her on the sidewalk and spilled coffee on her. When this picture was taken I had stopped in the bakery and when I saw her again I said hello. We talked for a few minutes before she left.”
As Marty chewed he jotted notes down on a legal pad. “That’s it? You didn’t ask her out to dinner? Get her phone number?”
Did the man think he asked out every attractive female he met? “More or less.”
Marty looked up at him. “More or less, I need to know everything. And when I say everything, I mean it.”
“I told her I wanted this office redecorated and asked if she might be interested. Shirley called and set up an appointment with her.” After giving Shirley the instructions, he hadn’t thought anymore about it.
“I’ll have to check my calendar.”
Marty tapped his pen against his pad several times before he spoke. “We might have to change our timetable a little, but I’d like to keep to it if possible. A wedding at the end of next summer is ideal. That would give you a solid year of marriage before the actual election.”
Caution flags jumped up as he listened to Marty. The advisor’s original plan had been acceptable. A marriage to a wealthy socialite who viewed their relationship as a way to achieve her own goals was one thing. What Marty proposed now was entirely something else.
“Perhaps we should stick with what we originally discussed. Why don’t I go through these and pick a candidate?” Trent reached for the binders Marty had put together. “Then there’ll be no need to adjust our timeline.”
“You hired me because you want to win.” Marty pointed his pen at the picture of Addison. “She’s your ticket to the Senate.”
Trent’s eyes focused on the picture. What had she just said to him when the picture was taken? It must have been funny because he had a huge smile on his face. Come to think of it, he’d smiled through much of their conversation. She’d had an easygoing nature with a great sense of humor. There had been no awkward moments or long gaps of silence. Under different circumstances he wouldn’t mind getting to know her better.
“The women in here may help repair your reputation.” Marty pointed to the binders he’d put together of potential wife candidates. “This one, though, will win the hearts of voters.” He nodded toward the newspaper on the table. “I don’t understand the problem. She’s beautiful and well-educated.”
Marty had him there. Addison was attractive and, from all he could tell, intelligent. Even with that knowledge, a corner of his conscience prickled at the idea.
Across the table Marty popped a pickle in his mouth and chewed as he waited. “If it helps, look at it this way. Her involvement with you will put her business on the fast track. The whole thing will still more or less be a business agreement.”
Trent nodded. Marty had a point. If he and Addison became romantically involved it would do more for her business than an ad during the Super Bowl.
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