“Excellent.” He turned to leave.
“She asked for your name,” the director said.
He wasn’t surprised. Molly had asked him on the limo ride over, right before she put her hand on his crotch and offered to pay him back. He’d let her down gently, moving her hand away. She’d collapsed against him, crying, and he’d let her, offering his handkerchief when she was done.
“What did you tell her?” he asked, already knowing the answer. She’d say nothing at all, of course.
“That names weren’t important around here, only deeds.”
“We’ve need of a director for a new house in Glasgow. Know anyone?” he asked.
The director didn’t blink. A breeze blew a lock of platinum hair over the scarred side of her face. Her ex-husband had taken a razor to her, and since owning a gun hadn’t been an option, the restraining order had become just as shredded as her face when he’d broken into her flat.
A nosy neighbor had saved her, and brought her to Childers, where his father had been a patient at the time. Sebastian heard the story, and had paid for her to be moved to a nicer place, with private medical care.
She’d healed, written him a thank you note, and he’d responded by offering her a job, but not before doing a thorough background check on her.
“I might have someone in mind. Unfortunately,” she said.
He watched as the director went inside, using a code that even he didn’t know, and locked the door behind her.
Suddenly, he realized that he was tired. That he was lonely, and he wanted his old life back. It was time for him to quit feeling sorry for himself and move forward.
Two days later
Jules: I’m back.
Jules: Getting there.
Daisy: I missed you. Did you meet someone?
Jules: Would it have mattered if I had?
Daisy: Yes, and it only took a week of not talking being able to you everyday to realize it.
Sebastian’s fingers froze over the keyboard. It was time to end the charade. He was in too deep and was dragging her after him. But the place he was in right now, the place he’d most likely forever be, was no place for her. He had to end things. Make up an excuse, tell her that he had in fact met someone, or lie, like he’d been doing all along.
Only he couldn’t, because he loved Daisy.
But he wasn’t all sorted out, yet.
Jules: Give me time, darling, and I’ll be all yours.
Daisy: My time belongs to you.
Oh yeah, he was done for, and completely confident he could find a way to reveal the truth to her and make their virtual relationship a reality.
One month later
Sebastian sat at his desk, going over the fine print of the Xeron-Chang Contract, when Liam walked in his office.
“You’re fired,” Liam said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Happy now?”
Actually, Sebastian thought he’d be elated at the outcome, but he felt as though someone had punched him in the gut and the groin. Simultaneously.
Fact: He had planned for this, by making shady deals with even shadier characters on project guaranteed to lose money.
Fact: He’d wanted this to happen. The total embarrassment of his father had been his ultimate goal.
Fact: His father had been killed, most likely murdered, so that goal was no longer attainable.
Result: Well, Liam had given it to him.
None of that signified, however. He could repair the damage, and convince the right people to see thing his way once more. “I can’t be fired,” Sebastian said, glancing at the paper in his hand.
He forced himself to look at the man standing to his right. “Yes?”
Liam stared at him, worry and concern shining in his dark eyes. “You’ve been voted out. Five ayes, one no, and an abstain.”
The voice of his dead father slithered inside his head. You are nothing without me. You are nothing without Romanov Industries. I made you.
Steeling himself, he cleared his throat. “I assume you were the abstain?”
“Actually, I voted aye.” Liam’s dark brows drew together. “You really can’t expect me to let you continue down this path of self-destruction. You can’t punish everyone else for your father’s crimes.”
So Liam knew. “Shall I collect my things and be off?”
Liam held up a hand. “I made a motion that you be allowed stay on, and the Board agreed.” He canted his head to one side. “In a completely limited role, of course, as a consultant and point man for the—”
“How magnanimous,” he couldn’t help but saying.
“It’s very magnanimous, you pompous ass,” Liam snapped. “I put my reputation on the line for you.” Shoving his hands into his pockets, his best friend began to pace the room. “They think you’re a loose cannon, like your father, in regards to your personal life, and this little ‘Oh I’m back and will be so very good, sir’ act is just that to them—an act. No one trusts you.”
Not even you, Liam? he wanted to ask, but he didn’t want to know the answer. “What do you propose?”
“You could actually start properly dating a woman, perhaps let it lead to an engagement, sort out things with your brother—”
“You want me to lie?”
Liam stopped in front of Sebastian’s desk, placing his hands on the top and leaning forward. “Don’t pretend to have grown a conscience in the past two minutes.”
Sebastian shot to his feet, getting right in his best mate’s face. “I am not Vladimir Romanov, and you, of all people, should know that,” he growled. He slammed his fist against the desk, but the only reaction he got out of Liam was a mocking smile.
Sebastian’s phone buzzed, but he didn’t answer it.
Liam’s gaze went right to where Sebastian’s phone set on his desk, and that mocking smile turned into a smirk. “Oh, what a tangled web we—”
“Shut it,” he muttered, straightening. He smoothed back his hair and readjusted his tie.
Palms up, Liam stepped back. “Seriously, get back together with Kate. Hell, fill her in on the entire scheme. Make it look like you give a damn about anything and anyone who isn’t you. Make them think you want this job. Be the exact opposite of your father and make your family want to be around you.”
Sebastian wanted to defend himself, and say that he wasn’t a cold bastard like his father, but since his father’s death, he had actually become one. Most of his friends, like Liam, had overlooked it for the most part, since he’d seen the light. He owed them his gratitude, and an apology.