Stolen the billionaire d.., p.31
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       The Billionaire Deception, p.31
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         Part #1 of Stolen series by Holly Rayner
Grant was knocking on my bedroom door again. “Argh! I’m fine, Grant. It’s Saturday. I can sleep in on Saturday. Leave me alone!” I wasn’t under any delusions that he was going to listen to me. I knew that Grant did what Grant wanted to do. Sometimes I loved him in spite of it and sometimes I wanted to choke him because of it. Right now was one of the latter. He pushed open the door that I knew I should have locked.

  “I made pancakes.”

  “I’m not hungry.”

  “You have to eat.”

  “I eat. I’m just not hungry right now.”

  “When was the last time you ate?”

  “Yesterday.”

  “What did you eat?”

  “Geez, Grant! What are you, the food police?” He came over with the TV tray and sat it next to the bed. Then he sat down next to me. I rolled over so I wasn’t facing him. He got up and came around the foot of the bed and sat down on that side. “God, you’re annoying!”

  “I know. You have to eat. You need to get out of this bed…”

  “Why? Huh Grant? What do I really have to get out of this bed for? I don’t have a job. I don’t have parents. I don’t have a boyfriend.”

  “You need to do it for you. This is not you and you know it. You’ll feel better if you get up and get your life back. You don’t need that job. You know that you can walk into any corporation in this city and get a job and be the most highly qualified person there. Or if you don’t want a job, take some of that money you’ve made over the past three years and never spent and go on a vacation, take a cruise… do something! You haven’t left the house in a week, every day that you let go by like this will make getting back out there that much harder.”

  “I should have listened to you in the first place. You called it. You said I was going to get hurt… that I couldn’t have it both ways…”

  “I say a lot of things. I like to hear myself talk. Baby girl, you have a beautiful heart and that heart fell in love and no matter what a big bag of wind like me says, you can’t stop that from happening when it’s right. So if for no other reason, get out of this bed, get dressed and go fight for that man you love so much.”

  “I don’t know how. How do I do that? He’ll never trust me again.”

  “Never say never baby. He’s had a week to think about things. He’s had a week to figure out why you did what you did. Now go find him and tell him that you still love him. Tell him he’s more important than a company.”

  “That’s true. I’d be willing to walk away from it… for him.”

  “I know. I can see how much you love him. He’s the one you need to convince. You can’t do it looking like this though. Damn! You should see that hair. You look like a cavewoman. And that breath! You ever heard of mouthwash?”

  I laughed, which is exactly what Grant was going for. “I’ll shower and brush my teeth,” I told him. “Then we’ll see.”

  “Good. One step at a time. Personally, I will appreciate the shower…”

  “Shut up!” I said, socking him in the arm. I hadn’t left the house for a week, or paid attention to what I looked like, but I showered and brushed my teeth every day and he knew it. He was trying to make me feel better and as usual, he had.

  He stood up and headed for the door. When he got there he looked over his shoulder and said, “Eat the pancakes too.”

  “You’re not my mom,” I told him with a smile.

  “If I were, you’d be a lot better behaved,” he said. “Now get in there and shower and then come back and eat!”

  “Okay, Mom.” Still smiling I got up and headed into the bathroom for my shower. When I got there, the mirror confirmed what he’d said: my hair made me look like a cavewoman.

  I spent a long time in the shower. As the hot water cascaded across my shoulders and down my back and I breathed in the warm steam, I tried to reach a new perspective on things. Maybe if I told Seth that I loved him enough to give up my quest, he would believe that I hadn’t just been using him. Was that me being weak? Was that compromising my values and giving up what I believed in? Maybe, but if I was forced to choose, I decided that love was the way to go.

  I had just finished dressing in jeans and a t-shirt and was pulling my hair back into a ponytail at the nape of my neck when there was another knock on my bedroom door. I sighed heavily. I loved Grant, but he could be the biggest pain in my neck sometimes. “I showered and brushed my teeth! I don’t want the pancakes!” I was still in the steamy bathroom when I heard the door open. The reply made me drop the brush I was holding in my hand to the floor.

  “Okay, no pancakes. How about a latte?” It wasn’t the words that surprised me. It was the voice. It wasn’t Grant. It was Seth.

  I tentatively stuck my head out the door. He was standing there holding two paper cups looking as fresh and gorgeous as ever. “I’d love a latte, thank you,” I said. I worried for a second that I was having a hallucination. He held the cup out to me and I stepped over and took it out of his hand. As I did, our fingers brushed. I’d never been so tempted to throw myself into someone’s arms in my life. I suddenly realized what a mess my room was. I hadn’t had the energy to do much of anything the past week. Cleaning my room was low on the agenda. “Excuse the mess.”

  Seth glanced around the room. Great! I’ve called it to his attention. “I don’t mind,” he said. “Can we sit down for a minute?”

  “Of course,” I said. I went over and swiped things off the bed and then with what I’m sure was a goofy smile I said, “Have a seat.” The corner of his mouth quirked up, it was definitely a hopeful sign. He took a seat on one end of the bed and I sat down with my back against the headboard and pulled my legs up tight against me. I silently sipped my coffee and waited for him to talk. In the meantime, he was killing me with those sad blue eyes.

  “I need to know your story… the whole story and the honest to God truth.”

  I had held it all inside for so long. Grant was the only one who knew the full story and I didn’t even discuss it that often with him. I had to learn to live with my new name and my new story. That would have been too hard if I hadn’t remained Erin Summers twenty-four seven. The problem had always been that Adele Morgan was always still there… sometimes deep down and sometimes right on the surface, begging to get out. I unlocked her cell now and told her that she was free to state her case. I nodded at him.

  “I was born Adele Louise Morgan. My parents were Sean and Maddie Morgan. My father was brilliant. He was one of those people who were just born with a knack for numbers. Before he finished college he had already started a little business drawing up investment portfolios for people he knew. He and my mother had just gotten married as well. He was working full-time for an accountant in Mid-Town but on the side he started a tiny little business of his own. He had this inherent business sense and he started out telling his friends and family where they should invest their savings. By word of mouth people from all over the Bronx began coming to him, talking to him about what they should do with their money. My mom told me once that he started out only charging them two percent of their profit. He took that two percent and invested it for himself and my mother. Then he eventually used that money to buy his own firm. When he bought Morgan Corp. there were only five full-time employees. The original owner had retired and moved to Florida. My father kept all the original employees. He didn’t want anyone to lose their jobs.” I stopped for a second and took a sip of my coffee. Seth was listening intently and when I realized he didn’t have anything to say yet, I went on.

  “By the time I was born, the business was already doing pretty well. My father told me he had a hundred employees that year. He had moved to a bigger office… the one that your company is still in today. He was so proud of that company, but he was also proud of me and my mom. We spent a lot of time together as a family. I was given what I needed and I was taught to work for what I wanted. They never just handed me anything, but if I did my chores or got good grades I got pretty much whatever I wanted. I had a great chi
ldhood. My mother went back to school when I was five and she became a nurse. Our house was busy, but it was so full of love. I never went a day without knowing how much they loved me and how hard they worked for my future…”

  “It must have been so hard on you when they died.” Seth looked so sad. It was my life we were talking about and I wanted to give him a hug and tell him it was okay. I nodded again and went on.

  “I had just turned thirteen a few weeks before I found out they were never coming home. They had been involved in a big pile-up on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. They’d gone there to see about expanding the business and died on their way home. The first few weeks were so dark and confusing and then there was a question about where I would go and who I would live with. Once it was finally settled that I could stay with Louisa, the lady who took care of the house for us, that was when the lawyers called and told us we had to vacate the house.”

  “Why did you have to leave your home?”

  “We were told at the time that the estate had to be sold in order to pay back a lot of people whose money my father had taken to invest. I was told that he hadn’t invested it properly and they were entitled to a full refund. There was a lawyer who claimed that these people had come to him to file a suit prior to my father’s death. He was filing it at that time against the estate. They froze everything while it was going through court. I realize now that it went through really quickly… too quickly. Within weeks they had taken everything and I was left penniless.”

  “That lawyer, the one who sued your father’s estate… that was my dad?”

  “Yes. Suddenly he owned the company and I’ve never really been able to find out exactly how that came about. I promised myself that I would though. I worked and studied and did little else until I had my MBA. I excelled at all things business, just like my dad. My plan was to get a job with Hunter Corp., prove that James Hunter had committed some kind of fraud in order to take the business and cause me to be left with nothing. I was angry. For over ten years it sat inside of me and smoldered. Every time I picked up a paper or a magazine and they talked about your father or showed a picture of him, the rage would flare up.”

  “So you got the job with our company with the intention of bringing it and my father to its knees?”

  “Something like that. I never intended to do anything that would hurt the company. I wanted it back, more than I’ve ever wanted anything. It was my legacy. My father intended for it to be mine. I took the job thinking that once I was inside I could find something that would help me in that cause. I didn’t bank on falling in love with James Hunter’s son.”

  Seth was staring at me, looking into my eyes and I was dying to know what he was thinking. I was going to let him speak when he was ready without pushing it though. I could tell that he was processing all of what I told him. After a few beats I said, “When I started dating you, I was using you. About that, your father was right. But it only took me a few weeks to realize that I was falling hard for you. After that, getting back the company became a secondary goal. Being with you was the primary one. I do love you Seth. I love you so much. I’m not faking that part, I swear.”

  He nodded. His blue eyes were watery as he said, “I hired a private investigator.”

  ~

  CHAPTER TWENTY

  ~

 
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