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The Billionaire Deception, Page 2

Holly Rayner

  I got to Hunter Corp. at 8:45 a.m. the next day. I’d been up since five, and the truth be told, I hadn’t slept much of the night. I had my long, wild, red Irish hair tamed back into a nice, neat, professional bun and my make-up said I cared about my appearance, but not too much. The green tortoise shell glasses that I wore helped me see, but they also highlighted the green in my hazel eyes. I was dressed to impress. Now hopefully the fact that I was a nervous wreck wouldn’t work against me.

  I let the receptionist on the fifth floor know that I was here for an interview. I gave her Brenda’s name since I wasn’t sure who I would be seeing today. I was both hoping for and dreading a meeting with the great and powerful James Hunter himself. He’d been lauded in more than one financial periodical as, “The Greatest Businessman Alive.” Every time I even thought about that headline, I became furious and a little bit sick to my stomach. He was no better than a common thief as far as I was concerned, plain and simple. He may as well be a purse-snatcher, or even a shoplifter. A thief was a thief and I had no respect for someone that would take something that didn’t belong to them for any reason. If he was such a great businessman, why couldn’t he build his own legacy?

  “Miss Summers?” the receptionist called for me.

  “Yes!” I stood up quickly with a smile. My stomach was turning somersaults. She smiled at me like she knew I was anxious and sympathized. I hoped that it wasn’t apparent on my face and I willed my hands not to shake as I reached for my portfolio.

  “Mr. Hunter will see you now.”

  Those six words sent my stomach from a somersault into a free-fall. I was usually the picture of confidence, at least in public situations and business arenas. I knew that I was qualified for this job and any other time I’d be on top of my game, but this was James Hunter… the man I had hated for the past eleven years. The man I intended to destroy. I nodded at the receptionist and forced a smile. As I followed her into the next office I swallowed the anxiety that was stuck in my throat. My stomach could take the brunt of this. I needed my brain sharp and my limbs steady.

  “Mr. Hunter, this is Miss Summers.” The big leather chair behind the heavy oak desk turned around. Sitting in it was the most drop-dead gorgeous man that I’d ever seen in my life. There was no way that this could be James Hunter.

  He stood up and held out his hand. Smiling to the full effect of the deep dimples on either side of his face, he looked at me with the bluest pair of eyes I’d ever seen and said, “I’m so happy to meet you Miss Summers. I’m Seth Hunter.”

  It took me a full five seconds to find my voice. It seemed like minutes, or even hours as he stood there waiting for me to shake his hand. On the verge of an embarrassingly long pause, I finally took it and felt a spark of electricity shoot up my arm just with that simple touch. I mentally kicked myself in the butt and again I re-focused.

  “Hello Mr. Hunter. I’m so pleased to meet you, and happy to be here.”

  “Have a seat Miss Summers, and please, call me Seth. Mr. Hunter is my father.”

  That was what I needed to snap back to reality. Yes, this man was absolutely beautiful, and yes, the room felt like it was suddenly charged with sexual energy… but I was here to destroy this man’s father and if I had to, him in the process. I needed to hold onto the anger I felt surge through me when he’d mentioned his father’s name. It was going to get me through what I needed to do.

  I sat down in one of the chairs opposite him just as a middle-aged, balding man with a paunch rushed in the door. “I’m sorry, Seth. I just got out of the meeting with the auditors.”

  “It’s fine, Harlan, we were just about to start. Harlan Broderick this is Erin Summers. Harlan is our CFO and he is also someone the person who accepts the position you are interviewing for will be working closely with.”

  “I’m honored to meet you Miss Summers. I read your portfolio and I have to say I wasn’t only impressed, I was quite envious of all that you’ve accomplished at such a young age.”

  “Thank you, sir. I’ve heard great things about you as well,” I told him. I wasn’t making that up. My research about Hunter Corp. had netted me more than one fan of his. It seemed that he was a competent, intelligent man who was also very easy to work with. He attracted clients to the company like flies.

  “Please, no sir’s around here unless you run into the senior Mr. Hunter in the hallway,” Harlan said. It was good that they kept mentioning him. It kept that anger surging. “Call me Harlan,” he said.

  “Thank you,” I said to him. “And both of you please call me Erin.”

  “So Erin,” Seth said, opening the file he had in front of him. “What do you know about the position you’re applying for today?”

  “The CBDO is in charge of developing elaborate business plans and designing and implementing processes to support business growth…”

  “And how would you support business growth?” he asked.

  Not by stealing it, I wanted to say. Instead, I said, “Through customer and market definition. That would include working together with clients as well as business partners such as suppliers and sub-contractors, JV partners, our technology providers…”

  Seth was nodding, and Harlan looked impressed. Seth started to ask another question, but I wasn’t quite finished with that one yet. “I would also be responsible for building and maintaining high-level contacts with our current and prospective customers and other business and project partners.”

  Seth smiled. I wish he wouldn’t do that. I found it easier to hate him when he didn’t look good enough to eat for lunch.

  “Very good,” he said. “So let me ask you this… let’s say you bring in a prospective customer and he’s on the fence about his business with our company versus another. Would you hand him off to our marketing director from there?”

  “Absolutely not. Once I identified a prospective client, it would be my job to drive them through to the contract award. I’d do that of course by emphasizing to them how skilled we are at identifying new customers and markets and developing new approaches to old markets. I would also be on top of all proposals and follow their preparation from start to finish.”

  The men looked at each other. I could tell that my business acumen was not only impressive to them, but somewhat startling. No doubt, even though they’d obviously read my resume and portfolio they still hadn’t expected a twenty-four year old woman to be so prepared. Harlan went next, asking me what other strong skills I had that I thought would be beneficial for this position.

  “Well, one thing I have had a lot of success with at Lyon is developing marketing strategies.” I gave them some examples of that and then I went on to say, “I have also managed entire proposal teams and client account managers… very successfully if I might add.”

  The interview lasted about forty-five minutes. Seth was obviously smart and in spite of being James Hunter’s son, well-educated and suited for the role he currently filled within the company. I wasn’t sure if that was more to my advantage or disadvantage… I guess time would tell. He asked me a lot of tough questions, and I answered them. I didn’t feel like there was anything he asked me that I wasn’t familiar with. Harlan seemed to like me a lot. I think I had him at the description of my job duties. Seth also seemed impressed with me and not bored or in a hurry to get rid of me so that was a good sign. They gave me the opportunity to ask questions and once again I was prepared with some of what I thought were intelligent, insightful questions and comments. When the interview was over, Harlan told me once more how impressed he was with me. Then I turned to Seth, who seemed to trap me in his blue gaze.

  “I’m also impressed with the amount of work you put into researching this company. A lot of people forget that’s a vital part of an interview. I’m glad that you didn’t. Listening to you talk about our company sounded as if you’ve already worked here for a decade. I think you could teach me and Harlan a few things that we didn’t know.” If he only knew. “We have a few more interviews a
nd hope to make a decision by early next week, so someone will be in touch Erin. Thank you so much for coming in.” I shook both their hands and thanked them. I could feel my insides shaking as I made my way outside. As I was going through the outside door after saying good-bye to the receptionist, a tall man with dark hair and gray at the temples was coming in the door. He was well-dressed in an expensive suit and his skin was tanned and healthy looking with just a touch of fine lines around his dark blue eyes. I didn’t have to look twice to know it was James Hunter… the man who had stolen my life.

  He didn’t even seem to notice me as he somewhat rudely brushed past me and barged his way into his son’s office unannounced. He was just as ill-mannered as I would have suspected a thief to be.