The skyscrapers of Manhattan gleamed under the bright sun as it peeked over the horizon. My office faced the west, so I got to see winter sunsets when the sun sank behind the horizon and disappeared.
My hand moved across the document I was marking up, filling my silent office with the quiet scratching of the pen tip against the thick paper. Sometimes I was in the mood for dead silence, focusing on my work with such discipline I could rip a hole in it with my pen alone. And other times, like today, I was in the mood for a quiet tune.
I grabbed the remote, hit a button, and Frank Sinatra’s voice filled my space.
Floor-to-ceiling windows took up the back wall of my office, and my white desk matched the bookshelves on either side. The dark wood at my feet was covered by a gray rug, and the two blue armchairs faced my desk with a white coffee table in the center.
It wasn’t dark and foreboding like most offices I’d been to. My goal wasn’t to intimidate potential clients and partners, but to expose them to the sleekness and elegance I preferred. There was always a fresh vase of flowers on the coffee table.
It was one luxury I couldn’t live without.
The door to my office opened, but I didn’t look up from my work, knowing exactly who it was.
Jessica walked inside and set the coffee cup and saucer on the edge of my desk. A silver spoon rested on the white plate. It clanked from her jittery movements. She was either experiencing a caffeine crash, or she was just nervous.
Since it was her first week, I knew which one it was.
“Here you are, Ms. Titan.” She moved the cup closer toward me, spilling a drop on the white wood. “Oh god, I’m so sorry.” She patted it dry with a napkin.
“That’s alright.” I smiled with my eyes peering down. I remembered my first day of work. I had been just as nervous as she was. Before I lost my train of thought, I finished what I was doing and dropped the silver pen that was the perfect width for my slim fingers.
That’s when I noticed the cream-colored coffee.
Jessica had just turned away to head back to her desk.
“Jessica.” I called her back without raising my voice.
“Yes, Ms. Titan?”
“Call me Titan.” It saved time instead of stating two words every time she tried to address me. My first name was rarely uttered by anyone, only those who crossed the line of my inner circle. And even then, they usually called me by a nickname instead.
“Oh…sorry.” She cringed, her hands balling into fists at her own stupidity.
“It’s okay, Jessica. These things take time.” I looked her in the eye and smiled. “I like my coffee black with two sugars.” I pushed the cup closer to her, sliding it across the textured wood until it was easily accessible.
She realized her third mistake with another cringe. “Of course. I must have gotten confused with…” She trailed off, unable to find an excuse for her lack of commitment. “I’ll fix this right now.”
She picked up the saucer and the cup, breathing harder than necessary. It seemed like she was a soldier in the military and I was her drill sergeant. She was scared to make the slightest mistake because that would cost her ten push-ups.
“Can I give you some advice, Jessica?”
“Of course.” She gripped the saucer closer to her, standing at attention with her eyes trained on me. They were bigger than usual, a permanent look of surprise on her face.
“It’s okay to make mistakes.” Throughout my life, I learned more from my failures than my successes. When I accomplished a goal, there was nothing to gain from it. But my failures always led to greater success down the road. Failures were the moments that stuck with you, the ones that kept you up late at night. “But it’s not okay to repeat them.”
She nodded slightly, expressing her understanding.
“I give new employees two weeks to learn the ropes. So take a deep breath and relax. The more you overthink it, the more mistakes you make. Just be confident.”
“Of course,” she said breathlessly. “I guess…never mind.”
“What?” Vague comments and vague questions irritated me. I liked conversation to be clear and concise. When there were misinterpretations, that led to wasted time. And there was nothing I hated more than wasting time.
“I’m just intimidated by you, Titan.” She finally broke our locked gazes. “Extremely.”
“You know what I do when I’m intimidated by someone?”
She let out an involuntary chuckle.
I raised an eyebrow.
“Oh…you aren’t joking.”
I lowered my eyebrow and suppressed the little smile that wanted to form on my lips. “I give them a reason to be intimidated by me. So, Jessica, do your worst.”
I finished three meetings, had lunch, and now I sorted through my emails and filtered out the rest of my week. Work never rested, and unfortunately, I didn’t either. There was a club get-together this Saturday, and I’d have to make sure I swung by. After a few drinks, I’d end up on the dance floor. And when I spent the night on the dance floor, I always had a good time.
Jessica rapped her knuckles against the glass door before she stepped into my office. “Titan, I have Diesel Hunt’s assistant on the phone.”
I knew Diesel Hunt, not by face, but reputation. He was one of the many billionaires in this city, though definitely the youngest. At the age of thirty-five, he possessed more wealth than most people could even grasp. He was ruthless, cold, and determined.
I respected him.
Jessica continued when she knew I was listening. “He wants to schedule a meeting.”
I’d never met Diesel Hunt, and our businesses had nothing in common. Whatever he wanted was a mystery to me. “What is it regarding?”
“She didn’t say.”
“Then you need to ask, Jessica. When you present information to me, I want all the facts then and there.”
“Of course, Titan. You got it.” She pulled the glass door shut and walked away.
I had four assistants, all of them handling different zones. One focused on my schedule, one focused on my transportation, another handling my personal agenda, and the remaining floated in between.
Jessica came back five minutes later. “She said Diesel Hunt wants to discuss a business opportunity with you.”
Without knowing the sound of his voice, I could feel his arrogance. Did I look like someone who needed a business opportunity? There weren’t enough hours in the day for me to manage my own empire. To expand with someone else didn’t suit my financial interests. Like a lone wolf, I did everything alone. “Tell him no.”
“No?” she asked.
“Yes. Tell him I’m not interested.”
“Uh…” She held the door open in her palm, her silver bracelet clanking slightly against the silver cylinder that stretched from top to bottom and acted as the door handle. My office was modern and open, glass walls that divided employees from one another, giving them silence for phone calls but not much privacy. “You want me to say that to Diesel Hunt?”
I swallowed my annoyance at her uncertainty. Diesel Hunt had a powerful reputation that stretched to every single person in the city, and perhaps, the country. He was a man with a strong fascination for cars and women, like all other rich men. No wasn’t a word he heard very often.
“Yes, tell him I’m not interested.”
After two heartbeats passed, she walked out.
I let myself inside and stepped into the spacious penthouse that overlooked the river. The tinted windows didn’t hide the breathtaking view of the sun disappearing from world’s eyesight. “It’s me.”
Thorn sat on the couch in the living room, his back facing me. He held up his glass to greet me. “I’ve got your drink right here—with an orange peel and a cherry.” He shook the glass, the ice swirling inside with the dark whiskey.
“And you have my attention.” I took the seat beside him and crossed my legs. I snatched the glass out of his hand and took a deep drink, downing it like water instead of whiskey.
In a navy blue suit with a matching tie, Thorn sat with his leg crossed. His ankle rested on the opposite knee, and his crisp suit lacked a single wrinkle. Pressed by professionals, his clothes exuded distinct power. He brought the glass to his lips and downed it. When he was finished, he licked his lips. “I don’t understand your fascination with Old Fashioneds. Too strong and too sweet at the same time.”
“Really?” I took another sip. “Not strong enough if you ask me.”
“I would have made you a double, but I wasn’t sure if you drove the Bugatti.”
“Nope. My driver dropped me off.”
“In that case, I’ll make the next one a triple.” He rested his arm across the back of the couch, taking up twice the amount of space he needed.
I slipped off my heels and ran my fingers through my hair, no longer required to put up the front I constantly wore to the rest of the world. Thorn had seen me at my best and my worst. Secrets didn’t leave our hideaway. “Got something for me?”
“You know me.” With a chiseled jawline and pretty eyes, he looked at me with a slight smile, like he had something fun to share. “Bruce Carol’s new company is rumored to be a big mistake.”
“Really?” I kept my fingers around the glass, my nails tapping against the condensation. “I’ve heard otherwise.”
“He’s putting all the PR out there to disguise it as a success. But I’ve seen the books.”
He shrugged. “I don’t kiss and tell. You know that.”
I did—all too well. “Is it terminal?”
“Definitely. I give it six months.”
“Really?” I pulled my knees toward my body and pivoted myself to look at him.
“Really.” Now he wore his boyish smile, looking like a childhood friend rather than a grown business associate. “He invested more than he should, and his other businesses aren’t doing so hot. It’s only a matter of time.”
“You know I’m not interested in buying other businesses and reinventing them.”
“But this is a money grab,” he said. “Meet with him in private and find the right price. You could take this before it hits the market.”
My eyes narrowed as my interest was piqued. Money wasn’t the most important thing to me. Getting a great deal was. Like a sickness, it consumed me. If this really was a great business opportunity, I wanted it.
I wanted them all.
“It’s ironic.” I took another drink until the glass was empty. I returned it to the coffee table, feeling the warmth burn my throat and stomach on its way down. The second a strong drink was sitting inside me, I could think even more clearly than usual. “Diesel Hunt contacted my office today. Wants to discuss a business opportunity.”
“Really?” Thorn cocked his head, his eyes narrowing. “He doesn’t do business with anyone.”
“And that can only mean he wants to buy something from you.”
“That’s what I concluded as well.” Thorn and I were of one mind. It explained our deep connection, our bond that extended beyond our business relationship.
“When are you meeting him?”
He held his glass close to his chest, his eyes focused on me with devout attention. “You aren’t? What does that mean.”
“I said no.”
All seriousness died away, and he was left with a grin that would soon turn into a laugh. “You said no?”
I gave a slight nod.
“To Diesel Hunt.”
I nodded again.
He finally let the laugh escape his chest. “Man, he didn’t like that one bit. The word no isn’t in his vocabulary.”
“Now it is. Looks like he learned something.”
He laughed again before he took a drink. “I doubt that will be the end of him. When he wants something, he gets it.”
“Well, when I want something, I get it too.”
“Maybe he’s met his match. Are you still the keynote speaker this Friday?”
“Yep.” I ran my fingers through my hair again, feeling the softness stretch down to my shoulders.
“He might be there.”
“Men like Hunt don’t attend business conferences. I’m only speaking as a favor.”
“He might if he knows you’re there.”
“Well, I’ll keep him on my radar. Not sure what he looks like.”
“How do you not know what he looks like?” Thorn asked incredulously.
“Because I’ve been too busy running an empire to care about the appearance of my competitors.”
He rested his arm over the back of the couch, holding his now empty glass. “Well, as busy as he is, I’m sure he’s taken the extra five seconds to care about yours.”
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