A Courageous Battle (Chapter 8, page 1 of 5)

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Chapter 8

JAKE EDMONDS looked over the railing at his flag-ship bookstore while he munched on a sandwich. The open concept store spanned three floors and was located in the heart of the huge Eaton Center shopping mall in downtown Toronto. His offices were behind him. No one was working there today. It was Saturday.

Jake was only in because he had a backlog of paperwork after returning from a cross-country tour of his stores. And there was a book signing this afternoon. He often attended these. He liked to meet authors and publicists, and anyone else for that matter. Jake firmly believed that networking was largely responsible for his success.

He heard the fax machine ringing behind him. With a last, satisfied look at the throngs below, he turned and went to the fax center. The pages were still coming through but he could see that they were from his banker. With a quickening heartbeat he picked up the first page. 'We are pleased to inform you that your loan application has been approved.'

"Yes! Here we go! Look out Canada, BestBooks Incorporated is on the way!" he shouted out loud, pumping the air with his fist.

Jake had heard about bookshops cum coffee-houses in Europe. Why not in Canada? he'd thought. He envisioned fluffy sofas in front of fireplaces, soft lamps beside comfortable chairs, a place for children to play and enjoy story-time. He thought customers would like to buy coffee, dessert, and maybe even wine. For a full year he had pored over his plan to turn all his stores into such places and to give them a national brand name. Three months ago, he had submitted his loan request to the bank and had answered endless follow-up questions.

Now, at last, the moment to begin had arrived.

He'd skip the book signing; just go down and shake hands with the author and then leave. When he reached the ground floor he noted with approval that stacks of Rosalie books were set out beside the table where the author would sit. A large photo of the author and a blow-up of the book cover sat on easels offset from the table. Paravi Saxena, his Community Relations Coordinator, smiled at him as she set out water jugs, bookmarks, and pens. Already, a few people were lurking near the set-up. It had been a long time since Jake had seen this much enthusiasm about a first book. Early reviews had been raves and the store had received many calls asking if it was in yet.

Solly Farber, a Parker House representative whom Jake had met before, came toward him, trailed by a tall, slender woman with a deer-in-the-headlights look on her face. "Good afternoon, Mr. Edmonds," Solly said. "May I present Lacey Wilson, author of Rosalie."

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