Stolen the billionaire d.., p.12
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       The Billionaire Deception, p.12

         Part #1 of Stolen series by Holly Rayner
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  I was up bright and early the next morning. I showered and dressed in a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved green t-shirt. People don’t realize when you’re a true red-head with green eyes, how hard it is to buy clothes. There are so many colors I can’t wear. Anything red or orange or pink is out. Most people have to match their clothes and shoes; I have to match mine with my hair. I wore a pair of short tan boots with a flat sole that would make getting in and out of the saddle easier. I pulled my wild hair back into simple ponytail and with more butterflies in my stomach than really had a right to be there, I left to pick up my date.

  Seth lived on the upper west side of Manhattan. I wasn’t even a little bit surprised about that. I’d expected his address to be somewhere pricey. I pulled up in front of the townhouse and debated whether or not I should go up to the door. It was a huge place and I assumed his father lived there too. I still didn’t know if I was ready to come face to face with James. I took out my phone and started to send him a text. Right in the middle of it I decided that was not only rude, but slightly juvenile. Sucking up my apprehension, I got out of the car and stood there looking up at the five story Renaissance Revival style townhouse with its turrets and rounded windows. I thought about the house I’d grown up in. It was big, just like this one and if James and Seth Hunter weren’t living in this house right now, maybe I’d be living in mine. I tried to shake off that thought as I made my way up the steps towards the massive oak doors with the stained glass windows. I reminded myself that Seth had been a child at the time, just like I was. He didn’t steal my father’s company. He wasn’t guilty for the sins of his father.

  I stood at the top of the stone steps wondering what the hell I was doing. I was about to knock on James Hunter’s front door. I must be insane. I turned and looked down the cozy tree-lined street. The houses were all big and wide and built in early 1900’s style. I wondered how long they had lived here. Did the money he made stealing my legacy buy this place for him. As I stood there letting my mind run off on a tangent, I heard the door open behind me. Sucking in a breath and praying it wouldn’t be James, I turned around. There was a woman standing there in a freshly starched gray and white dress.

  “Can I help you, Miss?”

  “Yes, I was looking for Mr. Hunter,” I said, quickly adding, “Seth.”

  “Yes, Mr. Seth is here. Can I tell him who is calling?”

  “Erin,” I said. She continued to stare at me so I said, “Summers. Erin Summers. He should be expecting me.”

  “Please come in,” she said, stepping back to allow me to enter the gold and black marble tiled foyer. The ceiling stretched up about thirty feet and a heavy crystal chandelier hung in the center of it. A staircase with a heavy oak banister spiraled up five stories just to the right of us. Everything was so clean and polished that it shone so brightly it almost hurt to look at it. “I’ll be right back,” she said. She disappeared down the long hall and while I was alone, I took the opportunity to look around at the artwork on the walls. The paintings looked to all be originals and some of them were Monet’s. The whole place reeked of money. Some of it had to be old money I assumed. Even in its heyday, my father’s business couldn’t have sustained all of this alone.

  “Hello, Erin.” I turned towards the voice and saw Seth coming towards me. I was glad that I didn’t have heart trouble because the sight of him in a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt might be enough to kill a woman with a weakened heart. His biceps bulged out underneath the short sleeves of the shirt and the jeans emphasized his long, muscular legs. He also had on a pair of black boots. He looked like a demi-God. He was gorgeous. It was really no wonder that he was so full of himself.

  “Hi Seth. Are you ready?”

  “I am,” he said, grabbing a black denim jacket out of a closet near the front door.

  He reached over and opened the door for me and I stepped out, sucking in a lungful of the fragrant spring air. I felt like I’d been holding my breath the entire time I was in there, waiting for James to appear. “Do you live in this big old house alone?” I asked him, on the way down the steps.

  “No. My father lives here too, sometimes. It’s a family house. He stays where he feels like it. I should get my own place, I know. But, we hardly ever even run into each other. I have the entire second floor to myself and Dad and I aren’t home at the same time a lot so I stay.”

  “It’s a beautiful home,” I told him.

  “Thanks. My mother decorated it herself. She was really into decorating. We haven’t changed anything since she passed away. I suppose some of it may be outdated, but it’s nice sitting on the things she picked out or seeing a painting on the wall that she loved.” I knew how he felt. I wish I had been able to keep more of my parents’ things to remember them by. Once we were inside the car he said, “So where are we going?”

  “Pelham Bay Park,” I said.

  He raised an eyebrow, “In the Bronx?”

  “Yes. Is Mr. Upper West Side too good for the Bronx?”

  “Stop it,” he said with a smile. “I’m not a snob. I just haven’t been to the Bronx in a really long time. Not because I’m too good,” he said with a smile. “I just haven’t had reason to go, I suppose.”

  “Well today you are going and you’re going to love it.” As we drove I decided I was going to try and gently coax information out of him to make myself at least feel a little better about dating the enemy’s son. “So, when I was doing my research on Hunter Corp, the history only goes back about eleven years. What did your father do before that?” I could see an almost imperceptible change in his posture out of the corner of my eye. The mention of his father made him sit up straighter… stiffer in his posture and more serious in his expressions.

  “He’s an attorney, actually.” That was new information. Nothing I’d read about him told me that. I wondered why.

  “An attorney, interesting. Was he in private practice?”

  “No, he was a corporate attorney. I was a kid back then; I’m not sure what made him want to go into business.”

  “Wow, so a guy with a law degree and not a business degree took a fledgling business and turned it into a billion dollar industry? Impressive.”

  “Yeah,” he said. “I suppose. Where do your parents live?” I shuddered at the question. I could tell he was changing the subject, trying to take the focus off of him and his family. That was fine; I’d already gotten a new piece of information that might be useful. I wanted to talk about my family less than he wanted to talk about his.

  “My parents died in an accident when I was young. A family friend raised me from then on. She still lives in Queens. So… when was the last time you were on a horse?”

  Seth seemed as relieved as I was to change the subject, but first he said sincerely, “I’m sorry to hear that about your parents. It’s hard to lose a parent.”

  “Yes, it is. Thank you.”

  He went on to tell me that it had been at least ten years since he’d been on a horse. I didn’t tell him, but I haven’t been on one since I was thirteen and was forced to sell mine. This day should be interesting, if nothing else.

  ~

  CHAPTER NINE

  ~

 
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