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Make Me Melt: The sale of Torstar’s Harlequin as a bodice-ripper

These are stories Report on Business followed this week.

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Chapter 1
The tension in the room was palpable. The fan blades twirled to keep the sweat from trickling off their bodies. They'd done similar things with other people, of course, but it was never like this. This was scintillating, and they ached just from the anticipation.

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Oh, yes, the bankers groaned, in their throaty way.

Yes, there, the lawyers moaned, passion mounting as they pointed to where to sign the deal.

Just hours before – really, it seemed like only minutes – the Torstar official had ripped off his suit jacket and was ready for business. The News Corp. representative, too, had removed his jacket, slowly, though, the muscles in his arms rippling, his tight shirt emphasizing his flat stomach.

In the corner of the room, on this warm spring day cooled only somewhat by the wind off the lake, stood Harlequin, arms crossed and still in shock that he wanted a divorce after 39 years.

True, he was desperate for money to pay his $160-million in debts. And, she had to remember, it was News Corp. that courted Torstar. The wandering eye wasn't his. Not at first, anyway.

But it chilled her to her very core. And obviously, he had forgotten the good times, when she was younger and more attractive, before her revenue and operating profit gave way.

She understood it, of course. It was a hard decision for him – he even said so in a statement to the press – and the $455-million was good money he so craved for his shattered industry. Which is why his hands were so lovingly stroking the paper that would seal the bargain. Intimate, really, like he used to be with her.

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And she knew this had been a bad spell for him, one of his toughest. Not only had a young ace reporter bolted for his competition, but he got beat badly on a story that should have been his.

Was there any way to still save this marriage, she wondered, though she kept the sentiment private, as she did so many of her thoughts. The Voting Trust, which controlled him so tightly, could always say no. But, seduced by a dividend, that was unlikely.

(While I was inspired here by the work of Karen Foley, and her Harlequin Blaze novel Make Me Melt, she of course does this far better than I, and this is meant to be a light-hearted look at the news.)

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