Made for Me (Danielle Grant Book 1), page 1
Made for Me
Copyright © 2016 Sarah Gerdes
All rights reserved.
Library of Congress cataloging-in-publication data on file
Printed in the United States of America
First American Edition 2016
Cover design by Lyuben Valevski
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPRODUCED OR TRANSMITTED IN ANY FORM OR BY ANY MEANS, ELECTRONIC OR MECHANICAL, INCLUDING PHOTOCOPYING, RECORDING, OR BY ANY INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEM, WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE PUBLISHER.
P.O. Box 841 Coeur d’Alene, ID 83816
Made for Me
Table of Contents
“What about Mom? I wasn’t there for her when she needed me.”
“It’s time you let that go,” her father said. Danielle stared at him, his once chiseled jawline now puffy from illness and age. “How many times do I have to repeat that you were on a plane when she passed, and because she was a God-fearing woman, probably waved to you as she went to her final destination? David said to go and I second the opinion. What are you waiting for?”
Danielle withheld her frustration at the absurdity of the question. “Your health to improve. What’s so complicated about that?”
“Nothing. My health will never improve. I’m telling you Danielle, take the job of your dreams. Waiting around, taking care of me isn’t a life. It’s a living death.”
Danielle sought a quick answer, a dilemma she never faced at the office. She cursed David, her managing director, for calling her father and telling him about the extraordinary job offer. MRD, the world’s most profitable gold-trading firm wanted her, in Zurich, in three weeks. She’d make multiples of what she earned at Russelz and for poaching her away, MRD offered an override on what she earned for a year. She could pay off her father’s bills, keep up with the new ones and put money away for investments or retirement. The money was enticing. It was also irrelevant.
“Dad, I can earn money anywhere, but I only have one family, and its here.”
Her father pursed his lips. “You are so stubborn.”
“All you,” she retorted.
“Danielle, David is right. You could move mountains at MRD, not just change the course of a river here and there by staying in Portland.”
He held his hand up when she opened her mouth to interrupt. “Let me be clear Danielle. You either take this opportunity or you will find yourself without a father to worry about. I won’t have you wasting your life, and if that takes ending mine to help you get on with yours, then so be it.” The finality of his words stunned her into believing he was serious. “Now that we have an agreement, I suggest you start packing. Every day you arrive early is fifty-thousand in your pocket, and that’s in francs, not dollars. Well? Don’t just stare at me, get going!”
In a daze, Danielle walked to her room, examining what had become of her life since leaving New York and returning to Oregon. Computers. Trading. Dating older men who didn’t want emotional attachment, an arrangement perfect for her family situation. The only extracurricular activity she had was sailboarding on the Columbia River, the dissection line between Oregon and Washington.
She sat motionless on her queen bed. Living with the guilt of not being by her mother’s side when she died had eroded the joy of working in a high-paying, intellectually satisfying job. She’d devoted herself to being with her father, taking him to church, making his meals, being his caretaker, and now she was being ordered to leave. The thought her father might die of kidney failure crossed her mind but it was a worst-case scenario. For the time being, he had stabilized, but dying by his own hand, because of her…
“What choice do I have?” she spoke softly. Either way, she’d be emotionally ripped apart and alone.
Danielle stood, opening the top drawer. At least she had Lani and Stephen, a fact David pointed out. They lived not far from the restaurant she’d heard about regularly for the last year. She wouldn’t be entirely without friends.
With a bit more enthusiasm, she removed to the second drawer of clothes. Only a year, she thought, tossing clothes on the bed. I can do anything for a year.
Six days later, Danielle arrived in Zurich at four in the afternoon and was in the city by five. The water glimmered off Lake Zurich, sparkling in a way that felt welcoming. She arrived at her new apartment and the owner, a female physician, took extraordinary care to explain the four-inch thick metal door with five locks, the remote controlled metal blinds and the use of the private lift. Danielle thought the locks were overkill, but then, the flat wasn’t a first floor apartment. It was the penthouse, replete with an indoor sauna, baby grand piano and panoramic decks overlooking the lake. Nothing but the best for a gold trader at MRD Danielle had been told.
An hour later, a bubble of anticipation pushed against the walls of her chest when she saw the black Helvetica font spelling out Monroe’s, the name Lani and Stephen had chosen as an ode to the famous American actress. Lani wasn’t expecting her until tomorrow night and Danielle anticipated a look of shock, a few screams and a massive hug before Stephen gave her a sedate smile and brotherly embrace.
Danielle gripped the brass handle on the black door of the restaurant and pulled. Her heart gave a bounce, and for a second she doubted she was at the right eatery. The room was empty save for one couple who were rising from their seats. Then Stephen came around a corner, his look of shock lighting his fair skin.
Danielle immediately put her index finger to her mouth, smiling wide.
“Such an American thing to do,” Stephen murmured, his arms wrapping around her. Striking in his dark, grey suit, his full head of blond hair slicked back and smooth, she kissed him back, feeling every ounce of affection for her best friend’s husband. In quiet tones he asked about her trip, if she was settled and whether she was hungry.
“Uneventful, yes and starved!” she replied. “Is she in the back?”
“Sorry ‘bout that. It was short notice for all of us.” She glanced around. “I don’t want to cause a distraction.”
“You already have. I’ll close the place after they leave.”
Danielle glanced around the quiet room, taking in the white-linen covered tables and subdued sconces with soft-yellow lights shooting skyward. She was grateful she’d arrived on a slow night.
A shriek made her jump. Lani came towards her, the white chef’s apron smudged, her matching hat hiding a mane of obsidian-black hair.
“And a day early, you dog,” exclaimed Lani, giving her a bear hug and kisses.
“I only had one chance to surprise you,” Danielle retorted, giving her a friend another look up and down. She’d lost a little weight and the circles under her eyes were darker than she remembered, but other than that, her nails were just as long and skin as toned and wrinkle free as it had been a year before at their wedding. Only a woman of Hawaiian and Puerto Rican descent could look glamorous after a long day in the kitchen.
“They must have wanted you ba—ad,” Lani said, slurring out the last word as she ushered to a corner table.
“They wanted the money bad,” Danielle corrected.
Lani sat across from Danielle and immediately fired off questions about the trip, her new apartment and first impressions of the city. Danielle did her best to give succinct answers, recalling the neon blue walkways at the airport, the motion detection water fountains and a metro service so clean she could eat off the seats.
“Just wait until you use the metal bathroom stalls at the parks,” Lani added mischievously. “You’ll think you’re in a spaceship they are so high tech. The seats fold when you stand and the water goes on to encourage a good hand-washing—”
“And look for the needle holders on the right,” added Stephen as he walked over holding plates of food. At Danielle’s look of confusion, he continued. “Free disposal centers right at eye level.” Danielle’s eyes opened wide with disbelief. He nodded. “If you are going to do drugs, we Swiss want you to be clean about it,” Stephen said dryly.
Danielle shook her head and laughed. “Welcome to Switzerland.”
Thirty minutes later, the plates were mostly clean of food and the tenor of the conversation moved from frivolous to serious.
“Danielle, I’m so excited to have you here I can barely talk, but…are you really sure this was—and is—the right thing?” Lani’s fork hovered over her plate and Danielle instinctively felt the worry behind her expressive eyes. Lani had been in her life since their sophomore year in college. She’d witnessed Danielle’s mother’s declining health after graduation and attended the funeral along with her parents. Only Lani knew of Danielle’s constant struggles with loneliness, seeing through her illusion of working long hours to fill the time.
“Was it the right thing?” Danielle mused aloud, pulling out the clip in her hair and massaging her scalp. “According to both my father and David, it was the only thing to do. Dad told me career advancement takes sacrifices, and he did so in a way that made me feel like a bird being heaved out of the nest.”
Lani cocked an eye at her. “Maybe you needed more shove than invitation.”
“There is a reason he always loved you,” Danielle said in her driest tone. “The unspoken opinion being that a fresh start might open my mind to men and a relationship, although he didn’t say the words.”
Lani glanced at Stephen. They’d both seen what dating had gotten her during their time at college.
“But you still weren’t going to come?” he asked. Danielle replayed her father’s demand and corresponding threat. “How long do you think you’ll stay then?”
“The length of my contract, twelve months. If I want retirement money, they have to let me trade currency.”
Lani shook her head, dismissing the financial jargon as she always did. “Talk in English girl.” Danielle started to explain but Lani raised her glass. “I was kidding. I don’t need or want to know what trading currency means. Here’s to you, in Zurich, with us, because we will take you as long as we can have you.”
Back at her apartment, Danielle unpacked only enough to get her through the week before she called her father. She updated him on Lani and Stephen, the restaurant and did her best to describe the lake and her apartment in relation to the rest of the city.
“Finally,” he said tritely. “Top floor, getting what you deserve: a place with a view of your favorite part of nature. Now,” he said, abruptly changing his tone. “Don’t be calling me every night. You have better things to do.”
“Please,” she growled in mock severity. “Being a phone call away gives me every right to check in on you.”
“Checking in is different than checking up on. I’m an adult, just in case you weren’t aware. Besides, Sheila has already been over, set a schedule for taking me to dialysis and arranged home delivery for food.”
Still holding a dress on a hanger, Danielle felt slightly deflated. He sounded completely comfortable, but her surly, teenage-self wanted him to miss her, or at least pretend. “I’m going to suggest talking once a week on Sunday nights. You have to work and your research always takes precedence, plus there’s the time difference. That good for you?” Danielle was about to argue but thought better of it.
“I miss you dad,” she said abruptly.
“Good. You should.” His trite response made her laugh and with that she said it was time for her to get to bed.
“Tomorrow starts early.”
“Don’t forget to keep an eye out for a nice young man to date,” her father remarked.
She rolled her eyes. “Dad, I’m here to work, not get involved with some guy.”
“Don’t make it so complex Danielle. You don’t have to fall in love to have a good time. Plus, you think you’ll only be there a year. Make the most of it.”
Danielle put the phone between her ear and shoulder as she slipped a St. John knit dress on the hanger. “Sure Dad. I’ll make the most of having a fling that won’t interfere with work. Love is completely optional. How’s that?”
Her analogy produced a deep, hearty laugh which turned into a hacking cough. “See what you’ve done to me?” he choked out. “Now go before you kill your old man from half the world away.”
Danielle said good bye and put the sound of his torn up lungs out of her memory. She finished setting out her clothes for the next day, put on her pajamas and got into bed with her laptop on her thighs.
Research and analysis would be her two bed-time companions for the foreseeable future, and that was all the fun she was going to imagine until something better fell into her lap.
The following morning, Danielle sat in the conference room of MRD in the heart of Zurich, Switzerland, her back facing the lake. She pretended to read the words on her tablet as she waited for the head of human resources to join her, surreptitiously observing those who walked by, a mix of men and women ranging in age from late twenties to early forties. She replayed her conversation with David when she accepted the offer.
To say her former managing director was exuberant was like saying the deceased had come to life. He confided to her that MRD had been watching her since her Goldman days and had actually contacted him twelve months prior with a buyout offer. He’d said no, twice.
“It took me three years to get you away from Goldman. I didn’t want to make it too easy for them.” Since Danielle knew David didn’t need money any more than Midas needed gold, she wanted to know what finally made him change his mind. “Every commodities firms wants the bragging rights for having the trader with the best numbers, and in gold, you’re it. But honestly, Danielle, it wasn’t the money or the ego. If you were my daughter, I’d want you to jump at the right time. It was time to let you go for bigger things. That’s why I went around you and called your father.”
That day he’d arranged for her to get on the phone wit
“And please note the obvious clauses around dating, cavorting or otherwise becoming involved with clients in the future,” intoned the attorney for MRD who was on teleconference video from Zurich. When Danielle pointed out that meeting with clients was a part of business, MRD’s attorney clarified. “As long as you aren’t engaging in a non-professional relationship, then it’s fine.”
Non-professional is rather broad, thought Danielle, as she tapped her pen on the table before her. In any case, it wasn’t the client who was the temptation, it was invariably the friend of the client. With her mother’s death, then her father’s ill health and keeping the family afloat, she had neither the time nor interest in engaging in more than an occasional night out.
Danielle took a sip of sparkling water and glanced at the reflection of the lake on the glass wall behind of her. This morning the lake was as smooth as glass, but she had read that evening winds could change that almost instantly. It was going to be awesome to sail on that body of water, and the summer was just starting.
Winds of change, she thought, recalling David’s last bits of advice.
“Don’t be impressed,” he cautioned. “No awe. Just keep your head down and beat the numbers. Kindness is not your friend until you prove yourself.”
Danielle saw a pear-shaped woman wearing a tailored grey pant suit and high heels coming towards the door. She sat up straighter, subtly smoothing her top. She’d chosen a blue, pin-striped suit with a wide belt synched at the waist, and black, Ferragamo heels and had pulled her thick, shoulder-length dark brown hair into a messy bun, with one single curl hanging to her cheek. Elegant but contemporary, just like her surroundings.