In my historical novel Birthright or Birthright (Kindle), I wanted to create a scene that would show the tempestuous nature of Deborah's first meeting with David Holtz, whose family has long held grudges against the Kronengolds and who wants to take over the same company Deborah is intent on taking over; I wanted to show, too, how well-matched they are and how attracted they are to each other.
Here’s an excerpt:
He appeared angry. "Three or four weeks from now, we would have been ready to go after Columbiana ourselves."
"Which means you aren't ready now." Deborah tried to probe further. "Why do you want an insurance company anyway? Stodgy business."
"The same reason you do, I think." His anger was subdued now, she could see, a negotiating stance he called on when needed.
She feigned ignorance. "What's that?"
"Its cash reserves."
They both smiled, sensing in the other a match to their skills. Each was impressed differently, however. David was thrown off guard because her beauty concealed a formidable mind; he wasn't used to that in the many women he had easily, almost thoughtlessly, conquered.
After a long time without an interest in a man, Deborah felt more surprise than elation at her very strong attraction to David Holtz. She usually rejected within a few minutes after meeting nearly all the young men with whom she came into contact. But David Holtz, with the energy and the agile mind of a self-made man, had a toughness that matched hers; she had been unable to make him yield an inch. Deborah shook herself. Such thinking was crazy at a time like this—and about a man who threatened to topple everything she was trying to build.
"You and your father seem to have come a long way," Deborah said, assuming that he would want to tell her more.
"Not bad. Nowhere near what the Kronengolds are worth, but we're getting there." He paused, the bantering negotiating tone dropped for the moment. "It must be a great feeling to be born with all of this—to know it's yours and no one can take it away from you."
"Yes, it must be." David failed to note the irony in her words.
"Be honest with me," he asked. "What is a young, damned good-looking Englishwoman doing in a jungle like American investment banking? It's rough enough for men."
"To put it in a sentence," Deborah answered as honestly as she dared, "America is a country where anyone, even a young woman, can become wealthy and successful on her own. Even if she's a Kronengold."
The two stared at each other for several seconds, each assessing the strength and commitment of the other to a fight over Columbiana.
David was the first to speak. "Regardless of whether the Kronengolds are up against us, I'll put everything on the line to acquire Columbiana. We're ready to make an offer to pay ten dollars a share above your offer."
But Deborah thought she heard more in his voice than tenacity. She thought she could make out the merest hint of bluff.
"Are you sure this is the right battle to pick with the Kronengolds?" Deborah asked, her own tone a challenge.
"Am I picking a battle with the family or only with you?" he wondered aloud.
That was a question she could not let him ponder.
"Are you prepared to try to find out?" She let a smile play over her face. "Besides, I think you're too good a businessman to raise the stakes of the game to the point where the prize is no longer worth the struggle— for the winner or the loser. Don't forget, I already own about ten percent of Columbiana's stock through exercising warrants. I have to buy only another forty percent. You have to convince shareholders owning fifty percent to sell to you. The odds favor me."
She thought she could sense that he was struggling, hating to yield such a fat prize, yet fearing the consequences of a battle and all the while concerned that he might be cutting himself off from her. Now was the time to offer him a different prize.
"David, rather than scrapping over this company, to no one's benefit, let us find you another insurance company with excess cash in the reserves, a bigger one that's really worth your going after. We're investment bankers. It stands to reason that if we could do it for ourselves, we can do it for our clients."
"I've had enough of small investment banks. We have an appointment tomorrow with Landy at Hazelton, Lieb."
"Van Landy can't tie his shoelaces without help. I'll make you an offer you can't ignore. To show you how good we are, I'll find you that big insurance company and, when I do, charge you only half the usual fee."
He had not been diverted. "I still want Columbiana."
"Fight and all?"
He paused an instant. "I ought to warn you. I usually get what I want. How about dinner tonight?"
She shook her head and stood up. "Not while we're adversaries."
"That's up to you."
Read more: Birthright or Birthright (Kindle).