Stolen the billionaire d.., p.19
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       The Billionaire Deception, p.19
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         Part #1 of Stolen series by Holly Rayner

  The next morning, I got to work early as I normally did. The building was still practically empty except for security and some of the cleaning staff. I put my bag in my office and when I got to the door of the conference room for our Monday morning executives meeting it burst open and a man brushed roughly past me. Once again, I had encountered the great and powerful James Hunter and he hadn’t even noticed me.

  I had to stand there for a moment until I stopped shaking and then I reached for the door again and went inside. I hated that he had that effect on me. I forced all thoughts of him out of my mind and sucked in the sweet aroma of coffee and cinnamon rolls. As usual, the room was set up for the meeting, including muffins and rolls and coffee and tea. Seth’s assistant was in the building at the crack of dawn sometimes. She’s wonderful.

  She was sitting in her usual spot and I thought it was strange that she didn’t even look up when I came in the room. “Good morning, Deborah,” I said to her. She looked up as if she just noticed me.

  “Oh. Good morning, Erin.” Her voice was shaky and I thought that was odd. It dawned on me that someone needed to tell her how much what she did was appreciated.

  I went over to pour myself a cup of coffee and said, “I don’t know if you get the credit you deserve around here or not, but I have to tell you what a wonderful job I think you do, and thank you.” I turned around and was instantly horrified at what I had done, although I wasn’t even sure what that was. She was crying.

  “Oh Deborah, I’m so sorry. Don’t cry, please.” I sat down next to her and lay my hand gently on her arm. She reached over with her other hand and took mine and squeezed. She wasn’t making any noise but the tears were rolling rapidly down her cheeks. “I’m sorry,” I said again. I had no idea what I was apologizing for. She sucked in a deep, ragged breath.

  “Don’t be sorry, Erin. You didn’t do anything. Thank you for the compliment. I’m sorry. I’m so embarrassed.”

  “Oh no, don’t be embarrassed. Is there something I can do? Do you need to talk?”

  She looked up towards the door and said, “I’m just a stupid woman. Unfortunately, there’s nothing anyone can do about that but me.” She looked at me then, right in the eyes and said, “Seth’s a good boy, he’s not like his father… but be careful, don’t make the same mistakes I did.”

  “I’m sorry…” I was confused. Did she know about Seth and me? I suppose neither of us hid it very well, the clandestine meetings in our offices, the laughing and joking and sometimes a pat on the shoulder or a touch of the hand. Before I could finish my question however the door had opened again and the room began to fill up with the usual players. Deborah had wiped her face on a napkin quickly. Then she looked at me and discreetly placed a finger to her lips. I nodded and looked up in time to see Seth. He smiled at me and I smiled back. Then I looked around the room and wondered how many of the rest of them knew what Deborah knew. Then I wondered if it mattered. Then I wondered what she had meant about making the same mistakes that she had. James Hunter had left the room just before that… Deborah and James?

  ~

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

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