Stolen the billionaire d.., p.6
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       The Billionaire Deception, p.6
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         Part #1 of Stolen series by Holly Rayner

  I woke up Monday morning with butterflies the size of pterodactyls in my stomach. I tried to have my morning coffee and toast, but it was evident there was no room in there for anything else. Not being interested in throwing up at my first executive weekly meeting I decided on water. While I was getting ready to go, I had to keep reminding myself that I was well qualified for the job and that was all that mattered. Beyond that, no one knew who I was or what I was doing there, and I wasn’t giving them reason to suspect otherwise.

  After I showered I put on my navy blue pants and blazer with a power red blouse underneath. I braided my hair into a French braid that went from one side of my head to the other. That would keep it neat, but it wasn’t quite as severe as a bun. I didn’t want to look like I was trying too hard my first day. I slipped on my red heels and took one last look at myself. Picking my compact back up I lightly dusted the light brown freckles that ran across my nose. I’d been told that they made me look like a teenager. That was definitely not what I wanted today.

  I parked my car in the employee garage this time, feeling proud when I flashed my badge. Then I saw the spot marked “CEO” and the Aston Martin that was parked there. I got angry all over again and for the first time in my life I considered scraping my keys along the side of a vehicle. I did a lot of self-talk and simple breathing exercises whilst I walked into the conference room a few minutes early. It was an extravagant place with dark wood walls and a long, shiny wood table surrounded by plush looking burgundy chairs. The wooden blinds were open and the morning sunlight was streaming in. The room smelled like coffee and cinnamon and I saw the pastry and beverage cart in the corner and knew why. No one else was in yet and my stomach was feeling slightly less offensive, so I helped myself to a cup of coffee. Instead of sitting down, I carried my coffee over to the window and looked out at the Manhattan skyline. It was a beautiful view and I almost got tears in my eyes as I thought about the fact that my own father probably stood in this very spot years ago and looked out at the same buildings and sidewalks. That thought made me sad for two reasons, one because my parents had died way too young and my father should still be here to reap the rewards of the company he built himself, and two because if my father had to be gone, this was a view that I should own right now. This was my building… my company…

  “Well good morning, Erin.” I turned to see Seth Hunter coming in the door. He sat his briefcase in the spot at the head of the table. My rightful spot.

  I forced myself out of my funk and with an obligatory smile I said, “Good morning. I haven’t had a chance to see you and thank you for this opportunity.” Seth was wearing a dark blue designer suit with a light blue tie that had dark blue stripes. The suit made his eyes look even bluer than they had looked the first time I met him. Looking into them was like staring into the deep end of the ocean and I had to remind myself to be careful and not get lost there. He was the best looking man I’ve ever seen and would have to see every day, knowing he was completely off limits. This task of mine was getting more complicated by the minute.

  “We’re thrilled to have you,” he said. I saw his eyes move over me quickly taking in my new business suit and lingering on my hair. He did it almost with complete discretion and not in a lewd way at all. It was as if he was sizing me up for the job and the look he gave me afterwards was an appreciative one. “Pick any seat you like,” he said. “I’m the only one who gets a little territorial about where I sit.” He laughed, so I did too. I wasn’t laughing on the inside though. I suppose it was good that he was so arrogant; it would help me to remember what I was here for when I wanted to get lost in his eyes. When this was all over, I would show him territorial.

  Seth sat down and as his staff entered one by one he greeted them with a, “Good morning!”

  They all greeted him back with smiles and “Good mornings” of their own. As I watched their faces and listened to their voices, I thought I heard genuine respect and admiration for the man who was decades younger than most of them. As the meeting went on it was easy to see that they actually trusted him and liked working with him. I let that little niggle of doubt seep back in, the one that said, “What if he doesn’t know what his father did and I ruin him in the process?” As quickly as it arose I tamped it back down. If I was going to do this, I’d have to be tougher than that.

  “Okay, it looks like we’re all here. By way of first order of business, I’d like to introduce our newest executive, Erin Summers. I hope you’ll all welcome her and do your best to make her feel comfortable here.”

  They all smiled at me and most of them uttered a friendly, “Welcome aboard.” Seth went around the table and had each of them introduce him or herself and say what they did for the company for my benefit.

  “Okay, Charles if you’d like to begin with your weekly departmental report.” Charles Landon had introduced himself as Director of Sponsored Charity Events. It was a title I was unfamiliar with. Everyone turned their attention to a middle aged man sitting on Seth’s left. Mr. Landon cleared his throat.

  “We need to work up a response for the Children’s Miracle Charity event that Brooks and Stafford are pushing us to be a part of.”

  Another man, a Ronald something said, “Brooks and Stafford are currently our most lucrative clients. Their business has kept our business in the black for the past several months now. I think we should bend over and kiss their…”

  “That’s fine, Ronald,” Seth said with the traces of a smile on his lips. “I’m sure everyone here is privy to what you think we should kiss… except maybe Erin, but she’ll come to know you. Go on, Charles.”

  Charles cleared his throat and said, “I gave you the proposal Seth, have you had a chance to look that over yet?”

  “No,” Seth said. “But now that Erin is on board that’s something that she can probably help me with.” He looked at me and I nodded and smiled. Mr. Landon went on to give a rundown on his department and what was happening there. It seemed that he was in charge of strictly charity events. It was a complete department and it was the first corporation I had worked for that had that. I gathered that rather than give haphazardly to this charity or that, Hunter designated areas of need based on the community and recommendations of their clients and Mr. Landon’s department took it from there. I hated to admit it, but I was slightly impressed. I told myself to reserve judgment until I found out if they did good work, or if it was just strictly for tax write-off purposes.

  Next, a woman that Seth called simply “Bev” gave a rundown of magazines, television news shows, radio shows and newspapers that wanted to schedule Seth for an appearance or interview. “That talk radio station 540 FM that does the “Wake up Manhattan” show has called three times this week.”

  I saw Harlan shaking his head adamantly and looked at Seth who was looking amused. “That’s the show with the big chicken, right?” Seth asked. “I see it everywhere, buses, billboards…”

  “Yes sir,” Bev said. “I know you like to do the local shows, sir, but they’re just not the most reputable.”

  “I’m sorry to interrupt you Bev, but do you remember two weeks ago when I was interviewed by that reporter from the top selling newspaper in Chicago… award-winning reports… completely reputable?” Bev looked embarrassed.

  “Yes sir.”

  One of the men said, “Well now that you brought it up, you have to tell us what happened.”

  Seth smiled again. I really wished that he would stop doing that. It was so distracting. He of course had perfectly white teeth and plump, gorgeous lips that I couldn’t stop myself from imagining kissing. It was more than obvious that he knew the effect that smile had on people too.

  “The reporter and I sat down and very professionally the first question she asked me was whether or not I had a girlfriend. When I said no, her second question was whether or not I had a boyfriend. When I said no to that, she asked me if I wanted to meet her back at her apartment that afternoon.”

  The men at the table
laughed and Bev continued to look embarrassed. Then as men do, several of them asked him if she was “hot” and whether or not he had at least gotten her number. Seth politely and professionally ignored the questions and without any fanfare he redirected the meeting back to business.

  “Harlan, why don’t you tell us where we stand this week compared to last?”

  “Our numbers have been growing since you took the helm Seth.” Harlan quoted numbers, from this time last year and compared them to now. Once again, I was impressed. Either James still kept a tight rein on what was going on, or the job Seth had been handed was more than just a familial obligation to him. It seemed that he was doing a great job running my company. Good, I thought. It would be in good form when I got it back.

  The meeting lasted another hour and I counted three more times when Seth said that he and “Erin” would take a look at one thing or another. It was looking like Seth and I would be spending a lot of time together. That might work to my advantage… but I would definitely have to continuously remind myself that he was my boss and I hated him… or at least the idea of him having my job and his family having my company. Damn him for being so good looking.

  When the conference room began to clear out he said, “Harlan, would you mind showing Erin to her office?”

  “I’d love to,” the older man said.

  Seth thanked him and then looked at me and said, “I have a few phone calls to make and then I will meet you there. It looks like you and I have a lot of work to do.”

  ~

  CHAPTER FIVE

  ~

 
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