Wife in the Fast Lane won't be in stores until April but, you can get a sneak peek at an exclusive excerpt from the book.
Christy shook her head as she unbuttoned the Chanel jacket. "I still can't believe you made me spend $5,000 for this suit." She was sick at the thought of wasting so much money on one outfit.
Fortunately, the cars started moving again. "Trust me Chris. You have to dress like you don't need the money or you won't get any. Kleiner wants to turn us down, just like the other venture capital firms," Katherine said, sounding like she knew what she was talking about.
"Shit!" Katherine yelled. "Did you see the way that asshole cut me off? He never signaled." She pulled over to the side of the road, behind the Cadillac, and stopped. A red-faced man shot out of the luxury sedan and inspected the damage, then began screaming and raging, waving his hands wildly in the air. He ranted at Katherine, "Why didn't you slow down? For Christ's sake, couldn't you see I was pulling over?"
Christy was overtaken by a sudden and overwhelming sadness. Is this it? Is this how the story ends? In her mind, she saw her fledgling company's life flash before her eyes: the first meeting around the dining room table; the moment Sasha, queen of hip-hop, bounded on stage in a pair of Baby G's; the next day when she and Katherine collapsed in laughter, overwhelmed by the orders pouring in; and then her hopes for the future.
Five minutes later, the heavens opened up. Torrential rain smashed against the asphalt highway. It lightened up. Then it poured again. Christy kept moving. A little water can't slow me down, she thought, imagining herself at the Olympic trials, her father cheering her. Christy threw her whole body into the run, head high, chest out, legs burning, lungs tight, heart pounding. She accelerated her pace, charging over wet gravel, glass and litter. Finally, she put on her finishing kick, sprinting like a contender down the last hundred meters of Sandhill Road to Kleiner Perkins Headquarters. Soaked to the bone, she stopped to catch her breath under their arched entry. Her legs were cramping, not used to running this hard anymore. She couldn't believe how winded she was and vowed to add interval work to her training regime. Okay, you look like hell. You feel like hell. But you're on time, she thought.
Walking inside, with less than a minute to spare, Christy caught the eye of the receptionist. She was pretty, perky, and athletic, which seemed to be the prereq in these west coast firms. She gave Christy a look of confused recognition.
Two-dozen trim men dressed in office-casual took note of her arrival. As Katherine said, not many women made the grade to get a meeting with this legend of venture capital. And Christy was a girl you couldn't help but notice, even soaked to the bone- a lean brunette, shoulder length hair, long, defined legs. So far, she hadn't met a man who could quite deal with her her looks, her obsession with work and her athletic notoriety. Everyone assumed that men were falling all over her, but in fact, the only ones she ever saw were her employees and accountants. A few weeks shy of her thirtieth birthday, though, she remained hopeful.
Christy was sure that her future husband wasn't among these timid gatekeepers. She had imagined venture capitalists as adventurers, but from what she had seen, they were sheep. Nobody wanted to say "yes" until the guy down the block did, and then they got into a competitive feeding frenzy. So far, no one was willing take a chance on Baby G and now it all came down to this last hour to make Kleiner Perkins believe in them. Her. She realized she would be alone today. No Katherine with her brilliant mind and intimate understanding of the numbers.
"Bill will be ready in five. Would you like something to drink?" The receptionist walked Christy over to an open kitchen full of yogurt, bottled iced teas with Zen-looking labels, fruit, and candy bars. Christy grabbed two bags of peanut M&Ms - when nervous, she was helpless in the face of sugar. She hoped Bill would be delayed long enough for her to scarf down both bags.
A tall, lanky guy in khakis walked up and introduced himself, though he needed no introduction - Bill Roche, venture capitalist par excellence, one of the few who had achieved name-recognition status in the wider business world. He was thin and wiry in that healthy California way. He looked like someone she would actually like to get to know, not like the other bean counters she had met this week.
"Not at all. I'm impressed that you ran to make it. Lucky for you we don't make investment decisions based on appearance," he laughed.
Christy had the strongest surge of hope since leaving New York a week ago. She floated down the wide, cushiony breezeway to a large, open room, all tropical greenery outside the glass. Bill motioned for her to sit at his small conference table made of beautiful inlaid walnut. She switched on the waterlogged laptop, which remained absolutely mute. Her panic rose as she tapped the keys. Nothing. She tapped harder. A black screen stared back at her. Usually she did the vision thing while Katherine presented the numbers and fielded those questions. Today she was on her own. No numbers. No Katherine. No safety-net.
Slowly, Christy closed the laptop. Her panic was giving way to the same adrenaline she used to feel at the starting block of a race. Just as her body prepared to take off, Bill said, "Stop! Let me get an associate to join us. Then I want to hear your story, start to finish."
In walked a familiar face, and sad to say, a familiar body, David Baum. He had been with an investment group Christy met with three years ago, just as Baby G was getting off the ground. Like the others they approached then, no one would back a girl Olympian trying to break into the competitive world of athletic footwear and Christy was treated dismissively at each meeting. But she and David had connected. A hot romance ensued. She had fallen hard for him, and it seemed mutual. They alternated between New York and San Francisco on weekends and became familiar faces on the red-eye. But in the end, Christy couldn't build a company and keep a bi-coastal relationship going. She ended it badly, as she did many personal things in those early days of struggle, just for lack of the energy and time to do it right. David and Christy looked at each other. She blushed, and he, smooth as all bankers, moved to cover his emotions. Dammit, of all the pitch meetings in all the towns in the world, he has to walk into mine,Christy thought miserably.
But she composed herself quickly, telling Bill and David her story. How they had gotten started using Christy's commercial endorsement money to stake the company, their market victories, the opportunities for growth. Bill asked completely different kinds of questions than the other bankers they met had. He wanted to know how Christy handled disappointments, to hear about the mistakes they had made, things they usually kept under wraps in these gigs. He asked about the toughest decision she had had to make, and she told them about the time their fall line came in from the manufacturer with a small defect in the architecture of the sole. They decided to pull the shoes, even though it almost put them out of business. Christy felt Bill understood what it was like to be an entrepreneur, to be lost much of the time, but to have the kind of grit that keeps you going anyway. Christy could feel she was in her zone. She was known for her power of persuasion - part passion, part looks, part vision. She hadn't felt it with the other venture sheep this week, but with Bill, this High Priest, she was soaring.
Just before the meeting ended, David pulled his lanky, athletic frame up and excused himself for another presentation, suggesting to Bill that they talk later. Christy shot him a pleading look as he stood to leave. She could read nothing in his eyes, even though he was looking right at her.
Christy smiled weakly and swore herself to chastity for life, or at least to gorgeous waiter-actors unlikely to show up when her entire future was on the line. She hoped with all her heart that David would act in the best interest of the firm or at least stay silent for his own self-interest.
When Christy finally emerged, Katherine was waiting outside the office in their rented Taurus, with the crushed left hood. As she got in, Katherine gave her the look, which Christy instinctively understood. "Yeah, I think we have a real shot. I do." She gave Kath the blow-by-blow as they drove back to San Francisco. "Bill was great; he was so excited about our business."
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