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#Excerpt: RHONY's Barbara Kavovit Addresses Sexism in the Construction Industry in New Novel

4min read
People

Heels of Steel follows the journey of Bridget Steele, the Bronx-born, tough-as-nails and sexy construction company CEO, who is determined to be the first woman to get a contract to build a New York City skyscraper. Fighting for her life and career in the male dominated world of the Big Apple's real estate industry, Steele also finds herself falling for her biggest rival, who could impede her rise to the top. In this summer's hottest beach read, Kavovit gives readers a look into the cut-throat business of hardhats and hammers, delving into the sexism, corruption, harassment and how far people will go to land a contract.


In the excerpt below, Bridget has a shot at signing her first major commercial construction project. This job would catapult her career in construction and give her the break she needs to compete with the Boys' Club of the industry. Her first assignment: negotiate with the misogynistic union delegate who shut down the project to begin with. Bridget has to think on her feet to navigate the sexist comments and ridicule that comes with being one of the only women in the business, because if she doesn't, she'll have to start again at square one.

Excerpt from Heels of Steel:

It was odd, Bridget thought, where life takes you. If she hadn't been mugged, her father might not have brought her a model to build, and if she hadn't built that model, she might not now be standing dockside in the middle of a dead construction site, waiting for the union delegate, Sal Delmonico, from the Local 6, to show up.

Once a site bustling with hundreds of carpenters, electricians, and masons all working like ants to build an ultra-exclusive condominium development for the mega-rich, now all that remained were stacks of rotting wood, moldy drywall, and crumbling bricks strewn across the ghost town that had been advertised as the new premiere private community in downtown Manhattan. Bridget shook her head at the abandoned garbage dump this priceless piece of property had become.

"It's a real shame, eh?" said a voice behind her.

Bridget turned to face a man wearing a blue polyester suit and what she was pretty sure was a fake Hermes tie. He was smoking a cigarette and his mustache put Sam Elliot to shame.

"You Steele?" asked the mustache.

"You must be Delmonico," said Bridget. She put out her hand to shake.

Delmonico waited a beat before he took it. His grip was so tight and clammy that Bridget could swear she heard a squelching noise as their hands parted.

"A girl, huh? What's Hannity's game here?"

Bridget shrugged. "No game. I was asked to negotiate a deal so we can move forward and get this project built."

Delmonico stared at her for a moment and then casually spat off to the side. "Let me paint you a picture," he said making a sweep of his arm toward the water. "Women who look like a young Cindy Crawford sitting on the decks of their husbands' 200-foot yachts, which are strategically docked smack dead in front of their condos that jet right out over the river. 360-degree views, floor to ceiling windows, plunge pools and gold plated faucets. Chefs kitchens that actually come with their own personal chefs." He paused to inhale from his Marlboro and then blew the smoke out of the corner of his mouth. "It was going to be a candy land sprinkled with diamonds, mink, big dicks, fake tits, and cocaine."

"Sounds nice," said Bridget.

"It would've been."

"And you ended it all," said Bridget.

Delmonico smiled a big, satisfied grin. "And I ended it all. Kicked `em in their balls so hard that they're still down on the floor crying like little girls. They came whining to me about how they couldn't afford to hire union labor. Wanted to make a deal so they could bring in a bunch of scabs. Said the whole job would go down if they couldn't cut costs. So I pulled the plug. One hundred percent union or no deal, I always say."

Bridget nodded thoughtfully. "How about fifty percent union?"

Delmonico's face scrunched up. "Did you not hear what I just said?"

"It sounded to me like you said you killed the chance for a whole lot of your guys to get some solid work. I wonder what they thought about that?"

Something passed over Delmonico's face and Bridget knew that she'd hit a nerve. "My guys got more work than they can handle."

"Yeah? Because at the very least this is a two-year contract, and if the client likes what your guys and my non-union guys can do, there'll be plenty of future projects for everyone."

Delmonico sneered. "What makes you think there will be future projects for you? I only brought you here to set you straight. You want to work with me and my local? You gotta know the score. Other guys have messed with me and see that river?" He pointed out to the steel-gray Hudson, still dotted with chunks of late spring ice. "That's a real strong current. You'd get sucked right under the ice, if you happened to fall in."

Bridget felt her stomach clench, but she forced herself to laugh. "So now you're going to throw me in the river? Listen, Hannity told me to tell you that it's me, or no one. He's sick of screwing around. If we can't make a deal, he's donating this property to the city to make a waterfront park and taking the tax write off. How do you think your boys would feel about that?"

Delmonico looked at her sharply. Bridget kept her face carefully neutral, but her heart pounded. Hannity had said no such thing.

Delmonico threw the stub of his cigarette and ground it under his heel. He looked back at her. "And what do I get out of it?"

She frowned. "What do you mean? How about none of the guys from your local will be sitting on the bench for at least two years? That's what you get."

Delmonico took a step toward her. "Yeah, but say I agree to your terms—fifty percent union, fifty percent whatever dregs you bring in—what are you going to do to sweeten the deal?"

"Are you talking about a kickback? About money?"

He shrugged and grinned. His teeth were yellow and stained. "Money or…" he let his eyes drop to her breasts. "Whatever else you think might make me feel good about things."

She folded her arms over her chest. "Not if you were the last man on earth, Delmonico."

He laughed and reached for her. "Look at them nice big titties."

She grabbed his wrist and twisted just like her dad had taught her.

"Ow! Shit! That hurts!" he yelped.

She twisted harder. "You know what else I've got, Delmonico? A nice big mouth. You think the press would like to hear the story of the union head who molested the sweet, innocent girl contractor?" She glanced at the ring on his finger. "You think your wife wants hear about that, too?" She threw down his arm.

He sneered at her as he rubbed his wrist. "You're going to be sorry you ever met me, Steele."

She turned to go. "I already am."

Excerpted from Heels of Steel by Barbara Kavovit. Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Kavovit. Use with permission from MIRA Books.

3 min read
Lifestyle

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! My Friend Is a No Show

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.

-Sadsies

Dear Sadsies,

I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.



I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!



- The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment or emailarmchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get some advice of your own!