Workaholic Susan Collins wasn't the Gold Buckle Ranch's typical visitor--or camp counselor. The high-powered CEO was more likely to write a check to help disabled children than to teach them arts and crafts. For Susan, it was all business, never personal. So the last thing she expected was a rodeo cowboy to ride into the Gold Buckle and sweep her off her feet.
Clint Scully was more at home dodging bulls in the ring than charming pretty but prickly executives from New York City. But there's a reason they say opposites attract...and sometimes that reason just might be true love!
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August 01, 2007
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Excerpt from The Cowboy and the CEO by Christine Wenger
"I can't spare the time to fly to Wyoming," Susan Collins said to her administrative assistant, Bev Irwin. Susan held up the clipboard that was packed with papers. "Many of these orders require my personal attention."
"It's nothing that we can't take care of." Bev shook her head. "You haven't had any kind of vacation in ages. This would be a good compromise. You can fly to the Gold Buckle Ranch, enjoy their new spa and do a little business."
Susan didn't even look at the pamphlet Bev shoved in her hand, and began to pace. "Look, Bev, I appreciate your concern, but I have a business to run. I'll send one of our sales people to the Gold Buckle to handle whatever Emily Dixon needs in sportswear for the campers. I'll only charge her half of our cost, or I'll donate whatever she wants. Anything for the kids."
"Mrs. Dixon didn't ask for any donations. All she asked for was you," Bev insisted. "She's heard of the fund-raising you've done for physically challenged children, and wants to see what you can do for her program."
That was flattering, but she didn't raise the money for any accolades. She did it in memory of her sister, Elaine. The money went for research, for any special equipment the kids might need, for tutors and books while they were in the hospital, and for fun. All children needed to have fun. She could help a little with the fund-raising, but she didn't have time for more.
Susan sighed. Surely whatever the owner of the Gold Buckle Ranch wanted could be done by phone, fax and e-mail. She flipped through the papers on her clipboard and paced. Where was the order for uniforms from that high school marching band?
Bev handed Susan another colorful pamphlet. "You're exhausted and you know it. You need a change of scenery, Susan. You need to relax.Besides, Emily Dixon seems like the nicest lady. You'd love her."
"How on earth did she hear about me out in Wyoming?" Susan asked, stopping her pacing long enough to lean against her desk.
Bev smiled. "Mrs. Dixon also liked the fact that your company is called Winners Wear. And she loved our motto--For Those Who Try Their Best. She said that's the very philosophy of the Gold Buckle Ranch. They try to reinforce the same goal to each of their campers--to do their personal best in spite of their handicap. Isn't that terrific?"
Susan nodded. Clearly, Emily Dixon got it. Bev slid an unopened brochure across Susan's desk and began to unfold it. "You should see all the programs they have for children with different disabilities--Wheelchair Rodeo, the Gold Buckle Gang, Cowboy Quest for emotionally troubled kids who are facing legal troubles..."
Susan barely listened to the litany of programs. She didn't want to turn Mrs. Dixon down, but she had plenty of competent salespeople who could handle this project.
As she looked at her to do list on the clipboard, the page began to blur. Her eyes were tired, scratchy, and she was having a hard time focusing. She didn't panic. Small things. Easily correctible with a squirt of eye drops and another cup of high octane coffee.
Bev continued to push. "Why can't you just let your very talented staff do their thing and take a break?"
Because Winners Wear was her company, and she had to be involved in every detail, that's why.
But maybe Bev was right.
Bev snapped her fingers. "Uh-oh. None of the other salespeople are free to go to Wyoming. They'll be at the big trade show in Orlando that week."
The twitch under Susan's eye returned. "I forgot about the trade show."
"Susan..." Bev took a deep breath and held up the brochure. "Emily wants you to experience the essence of the ranch so you can develop a meaningful logo. She also wants cowboy-style shirts and jeans to give to the campers for each program. Then she'd like all kinds of other gear to stock a little camp store. She thinks it'll be a good fund-raiser and that the parents, caregivers and all their donors would want to buy that kind of merchandise."
Susan rubbed her forehead, feeling the start of a headache. She liked the fact that Emily Dixon chose her company, and really liked the fact that Emily was so dedicated to helping children.
Her sister, Elaine, would have loved to spend time at a place like the Gold Buckle Ranch.
Susan stood and leafed through the clipboard again, not remembering what she was looking for. "A week is too long."
Truthfully, she was exhausted. If she had enough energy to stand at the window and lookdown at the street, she'd see people pushing clothes racks from building to building. Vendors would be hawking goods from tables on the sidewalks, and shoppers looking for bargains would be haggling with them for better deals.
There was no place like New York's Garment District, and Susan loved the hustle and bustle and the energy of it all.