Stolen the billionaire d.., p.14
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       The Billionaire Deception, p.14
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         Part #1 of Stolen series by Holly Rayner

  As the days went by and then the weeks, Seth and I grew closer. I did my best not to tell too many lies when he would ask me about my past. It would be too easy to slip up and forget one later on. If he asked me a direct question about my past, I would answer it as honestly as I could. Otherwise I tried my best to just not let it come up at all. It wasn’t hard, Seth obviously was not interested in talking about his either. When the subject of his father came up, it was the only time I saw that self-assured, cocky mask that he wore slip and reveal the vulnerability that he hid so well.

  At work we remained professional, except for the occasions when he would call me to his office and lock the door for one of our make-out sessions. They were getting hotter all the time and I wasn’t sure how much longer it would be before I couldn’t think of excuses any longer and I ended up in his bed. I had issues with that if I was going to continue this quest to ruin his father. I didn’t want to have to struggle with the idea that I possibly used my body to get ahead. It was contrary to every moral fiber in me, so for now, I resisted.

  We worked well together, bouncing ideas off of one another and coming up with new ways to promote the company and entice clients to sign on with us. After work we often dined together and on the weekend we would take turns deciding what we would do. We went to concerts one weekend and then ice skating the next. We saw movies and took walks and we even spent an entire day at the zoo. I was falling for him, hard and fast and what I needed to do was getting all twisted up with my emotions… just like Grant had told me they would.

  Seth and I had been dating for just under a month when one evening he came into my office and slumped down in the chair across from my desk.

  “Hi,” I said, smiling.

  “Hey.” He was staring at the desk, not even looking up at me. I could see worry or fatigue lines on his face.

  “Are you okay?”

  He finally looked up at me. I could see something in his eyes… hurt or anger… “Yeah,” he said at last. “Just a really bad day. I needed to see a pretty face to make me feel better. Sorry.”

  “Don’t be sorry,” I said. I looked at the clock; it was almost seven p.m. “I’m pretty much finished here. Do you want to go get a drink and talk about it?”

  “The drink and the company sound great,” he said. “I’m not so sure that I want to talk about it.”

  “Okay,” I told him, as I stood up from behind the desk. “Whatever you need.”

  Seth did smile then and running his eyes from my head to my toes, slowly, he said, “Whatever?” His look was so hot that the roots of my hair and the tips of my toes even felt it.

  “Within reason, but all subjects are open for discussion,” I told him, with a smile of my own. I slipped on my coat and grabbed my bag. “Are you ready?” He stood up but instead of moving towards the door, he moved towards me. Taking me into his arms, he nudged me back against the wall and kissed me… hard.

  I was gasping for breath by the time he let me go. His cheeks were flushed and his eyes half open in a sexy, almost glazed kind of way as he said, “We definitely need to have that discussion.” I knew he wasn’t talking about his bad day any longer.

  He got his coat and since the evening was a mild one we walked to a cozy little upscale bar nearby. After we ordered our drinks, we found a little booth in the back and sat down. His mood seemed to have soured once more so I said, “Are you sure that you don’t want to talk about whatever happened today?”

  He picked up his drink, a whiskey sour and downed it in almost one gulp. Then he looked at me and with a small smile and said, “I’m okay. It was just a bad day. Family stuff. It’s over now.” As soon as I heard “family” I saw an opportunity. I was torn as to whether or not I should take it. I had mellowed out considerably about the company and taking it back. But that was all because I was falling in love with this man. Did I really want to manipulate him into telling me things that could bring financial ruin to his family? The truth was, I didn’t want to… but if I wanted to get back what was rightfully mine, I knew that I needed to. I waved at the waitress. Whatever inhibition that was holding him back just needed a little encouragement to loosen up. When the waitress came over I ordered him another drink.

  Seth raised an eyebrow at me and I said, “I’ll drive you home. You seem like you need it tonight.”

  He looked at me then with genuine gratitude and said, “Thank you for caring, it means a lot.” He might as well have stabbed an arrow directly into my guilty heart. I almost changed my mind until the waitress sat down the next drink and he downed that one too and said, “Nothing is ever good enough for him… nothing.”

  I knew who “him” was and I knew I had to hear more. I ordered him another drink. Then to prove to myself I wasn’t a complete monster I said, “Are you hungry? Would you like me to order some food?” He shrugged so when the waitress came back I ordered us some sandwiches and fries. When she was gone I said, “When you say “him” you’re talking about your father?”

  He nodded and took a gulp of the new drink. “He’s so worried about what people think about our family. His father was a success and his father’s father… so he had to be a success and now I do too.”

  “But you are a success,” I said, honestly. “You’re the CEO of a multinational company and you do a fine job running it.” There was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to even imagine saying those words to one of the Hunters.

  “Not according to him. I don’t want to talk about it…”

  “Okay, you don’t have to,” I told him. Our food came and he picked at his, not eating much at all. I ordered him another drink. I felt like a horrible person trying to loosen his tongue and lower his inhibitions with alcohol, but at the same time it was the first time that I felt like I had a real chance at getting much needed information about James Hunter.

  After he finished that one and while he was still picking at his sandwich I said, “So, you said your father was a corporate attorney? Did he buy this company because he didn’t think of what he was doing as being successful enough?”

  He looked at me for a few seconds and I thought he was going to tell me again that he didn’t want to talk about it. Finally however he said, “Yeah. His father and his father’s father were both big on Wall Street and had investments all over the world. My father made good money as a corporate attorney, but not the kind of money they had made. My grandfather didn’t believe in trust funds and he always told my father that when he died would be when he would get his inheritance. When granddad died, he left most of his money to the church. My father felt like it was a slap in the face. He sold the property that granddad left him and he began to invest that money. Eventually he ended up with this business.”

  “Ended up with?” I asked. “It was already an operating business, right… a successful one? Did the owner retire or…”

  “No…” Seth looked genuinely sad as he said, “He died.”

  “Oh. So then your father bought the business from his heirs?”

  Seth picked up his empty drink and looked into the bottom of the glass. This time he signaled for the waitress and ordered another. He didn’t say a word while he waited, he didn’t even look at me. I was beginning to wonder if that was it and he was finished talking. After his drink came and he’d emptied it he said, “I don’t know the exact details. I was away at school. When I came home he already had the business. But I heard things that disturbed me about the acquisition of it. I tried questioning him but if you knew my father, you would know how much easier said than done that was. Over the years, Harlan has filled me in on some of the details. I actually got to the point where I asked him not to tell me anymore. My father pushed and pushed me to get a business degree and take over this company. I didn’t want to work there knowing certain things…”

  I raised an eyebrow. I was trying to look confused as I said, “Are you telling me he obtained the company illegally?”

  Seth was intoxicated, but not so much that he d
idn’t realize the implications of what I had just said out loud. He looked around to make sure no one was listening to us and then he said, “No! He was an attorney… a good one. What he did was totally legal. I just have concerns about the ethics of it.”

  “What did he do?”

  “I don’t know the details, Erin. I just wonder sometimes that since I continue working for him… details or not… am I as bad as he is?” He looked so distressed by that thought that the woman in me who wanted to ruin him was completely over-ruled by the one that wanted to love him. I reached over and took his hand and squeezed it.

  “Whatever he did, it sounds to me like you were just a kid at the time. How can you blame yourself for that?”

  “I don’t,” he said, squeezing my hand in return. “But I do worry about continuing to amass millions when… when I’m not even sure if we should rightfully be where we are today or not. I’m pretty sure the fact I keep going in and sitting in that CEO chair every day makes me as guilty as he is.”

  I was touched that he had opened up to me. I wanted to take him in my arms and make it all better… and I had to remind myself that he was right… If he knew they didn’t deserve what they had, then he had to know someone else had lost out or suffered because of it. He was guilty at least of being selectively ignorant. He lived with James Hunter… he ran his company… he had every opportunity to find out exactly what his father did, so why didn’t he?

  ~

  CHAPTER ELEVEN

  ~

 
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