“You stupid cow!”
Brooke yanked her gaze away from the computer screen, her heart plummeting to her toes like a stone. Kristen Wright-Davis. Not again. With a surge of adrenaline, she raced out of the office toward the grooming room, where her nemesis shrieked in short, staccato blasts, punctuated by the yapping of her hyper toy poodle, Mimi.
“I have asked you repeatedly to sedate Mimi, Mrs. Wright-Davis.” Her groomer’s voice wobbled and Brooke moved faster to stave off disaster.
Pushing the door open, Brooke wasn’t surprised to find that Kristen—a life-sized, hard-gloss, Barbie-zilla—had backed poor, disheveled, worn out Rachel into a corner physically as well as verbally. Her groomer was buckling under the pressure and looked like she was about to burst into tears. Kristen loomed over Rachel, her tanned, pampered skin in stark contrast to the groomer’s pale face.
The hair on the back of Brooke’s neck popped up like porcupine quills. How dare that self-absorbed witch attack poor Rachel!
|Kristen Wright-Davis - Trophy Wife|
"Don't talk back to me, dog groomer girl. You are nothing but a service provider, and you aren’t entitled to an opinion!" Kristen snapped, wagging her head like Mick Jagger on steroids. “Look what you have done to my Mimi!” She pointed a trembling finger at her noisy dog for emphasis. “This is outrageous! She has a show this weekend! You have ruined any chance she had to win. You stupid, stupid cow.”
Brooke stepped forward, summoning her most soothing manner. “Kristen, why don’t you and I discuss how we might solve this problem to your satisfaction?”
The woman’s head snapped around and homed in on the new target, just as Brooke hoped she would. As smooth as silk, Brooke maneuvered herself between Kristen and a cowed Rachel, squeezing her groomer’s shoulder reassuringly as she ushered her out of the room with a quick whisper. “Go hide in my office.”
“Look at what she’s done to my baby. It-it-it’s intolerable,” Kristen screeched, pointing again with a blood red-tipped finger, then settling her fists at the waist of her tight leather pants with a huff. Her collagen-puffed lips evolved from a pout to a nasty snarl.
|She would have looked so pretty if she had stayed still.|
Brooke looked down at the spoiled furball that still yapped and growled and snapped the air, straining to reach Brooke and sink in her needle teeth. The tension inside the small room scraped against Brooke’s skin. Obviously Mimi was simply reacting to the tension and to her owner’s state of mind.
And then Brooke finally took a close look at the poodle’s cut. What a disaster. Fur was missing in clumps scattered throughout her otherwise precise and professional show cut.
Brooke mentally threw up her hands. Half of this animal’s problem was that she had such an indulgent, spoiled, pretentious woman for an owner. The other half was she had an indulgent, spoiled, pretentious woman for an owner. Maybe Kristen should be the one to take a sedative before coming into Pawlish.
“I’m so sorry this happened just before a show.” Brooke cleared her throat, reaching for a more mollifying tone. “I sympathize with your disappointment. I would be happy to offer you six months of grooming for free, and I’ll refund the full amount of the entrance fee as compensation.”
Kristen’s eyes narrowed and her face darkened. “Six months free? Entrance fee? My baby looks like this, and…and you insult me with six months of grooming free and money? That’s a slap in the face. I will never use your cut-rate joint again.”
She grabbed Mimi and stuffed the yapping, snarling bundle into her Louis Vuitton dog carrier. Mimi shoved her head up over the zipped closure and snapped at Brooke again as Kristen swept past her toward the door.
Brooke’s first line of defense and strongest skill was her ability to defuse tense situations, to turn snarling lions into pussycats. It was definitely time to put her lifetime of practice to work as skillfully as she could. Fast.
As the young wife of an older, wealthy, and prominent lawyer, Kristen had a great deal of influence in New York City, especially in the social circles where Brooke found most of her clientele. It would be all too easy for this woman to bad-mouth Pawlish to all her friends and sabotage the business Brooke had made successful by providing unparalleled and skillful service.
Staying calm and thinking creatively should do the trick. “Kristen, my policy is that no client leaves Pawlish unhappy. Let’s work together to make that happen.”
Kristen turned around and stared over Brooke’s shoulder. Brooke looked behind her, frowning. What was she looking at? Rachel stood at the office door, tear tracks marking her face. She was the sweetest, most helpful girl, and was the only one at Pawlish who would work with Kristen’s unruly poodle. Brooke’s heart turned over, and she wanted to go comfort her, but she had to deal with Kristen first.
With a hard-edged, steady gaze at Rachel, Kristen snarled, “Fire that stupid cow.”
Brooke’s head whipped around, her face stiff with shock, her jaw slack. Rachel’s sobbing and the slam of the office door struck her heart with a hard, painful thump. Was this woman serious? Fire Rachel, an employee who had been with her since she’d started her business, who took on any task that was asked of her, who worked so hard that Brooke had to shoo her home to her kids? Brooke had no words—well, she did, but those words weren’t professional. Kristen’s callousness was simply mind-boggling.
Fire exploded in the pit of her stomach and flashed up her torso, heating her face. It wasn’t enough that Kristen insisted on bringing her nasty, fidgety, contrary little dog for grooming without sedating her first. Noooo, this woman—who had more money than she could spend—wanted Brooke to fire a hard-working, very competent employee just to satisfy her spiteful whim. Kristen’s smug look only fanned the flames of Brooke’s determination. Rachel wasn’t going anywhere.
For the first time since she’d opened her doors, Brooke decided this particular customer was not right.
“Oh, Kristen, there’s no need for such drastic action.” Brooke waved her hand in dismissal. “We can come up with something much more palatable. Like a yummy basket of homemade, totally organic doggie treats for sweet Mimi? How does that sound?” She needed to unclench her jaw so the next words she spoke sounded more calm and self-assured.
Kristen tilted her head. “Ahhhh…you’re placating me, and usually I’m all for that. A little groveling always makes my day. But in this case, no. I insist you give me what I want. And I always get what I want.” Her smile was full of sunny, self-satisfied condemnation.
“I’m trying to make amends. Please, let’s put this behind us.” Brooke smiled, too, trying to extend an olive branch without wishing at the same time that Kristen would choke on it.
Kristen wrinkled her nose in mock cheer, but her eyes projected just plain mean girl. “Ooooh, you’re so cute when you’re insolent.” Kristen took a step closer, getting right into Brooke’s face. Her eyes narrowed, her voice low with a steely calm. “You’ve made a big mistake, Brooke. I’ll ruin you any way I can. Just wait and see if I won’t.” With that, she flipped her unnatural blonde hair and flounced out.
Oh, shit, that chick was scary.
Brooke took a deep breath to calm her pounding heart. Surely she could find a way to win Kristen over. She’d been able to convert cranky old Mr. Witherspoon into a fan when she was a kid. If she could do that, Kristen should be easy. It was just a matter of time.
Brooke dragged her hands through her hair, rolling her eyes. Turning to her receptionist, she said, "Really, can a dog have a bad hair day?”
“Maybe," her receptionist laughed softly, “but I'd wager that poor Mr. Wright-Davis didn't get the first place trophy with that wife.”
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