Stolen:Business or Pleasure

By: Holly Rayner

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CHAPTER ONE



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ADELE





Seth stuck his head in the door of my office, “Hey gorgeous! Are you ready for this?”



I looked up at him from behind a stack of files. I felt frazzled and overwhelmed. He looked perfect, as usual. Sometimes when I was really grumpy, I wondered if he worried over the company at all.



“Yeah, I guess,” I said, none too confidently.



Seth moved into the office and around the desk. Taking my hands into his, he pulled me to my feet. Looking down at my face he said, “We’ll get through this, baby. We’ve already weathered the worst, right?”



I tried to smile at him. I didn’t want to be grumpy with him. I loved him so much that I could hardly breathe sometimes, but I was afraid that he didn’t realize how serious things had gotten for us. The shareholders were split; half of them were still loyal to James and resented my very presence. Our executives were following suit. A lot of the older ones had been there since James first took the business over. He hired them and he gave them a job that paid them well enough to support lavish lifestyles and send their children to Ivy League colleges; they were afraid that with a twenty-four year old woman and a twenty-six year old man at the helm, the lifestyles they were accustomed to would be in jeopardy. They were willing to back Seth when he was in charge, but that was because they knew James was backing him. I was certain that James had made it clear to them all he was in no way backing this current union  … not personally, nor professionally. When I took over, I made it clear to everyone that James Hunter was no longer privy to anything that went on in the company behind closed doors. I doubted that the people who were still loyal to him had taken that to heart and sometimes, I worried that Seth hadn’t either. In spite of the way his father treated him and me, Seth still had a dysfunctional need to please him.



Finally, calming myself down with a deep breath, I straightened my spine and told him, “You’re right. We’ve come through a lot; we’ll come out the other side of all of this as well. Maybe a little broken, but not beyond repair.”



Seth bent his head down and his luscious mouth found my lips. He kissed me softly and then let his tongue lazily trace my bottom lip before looking at me with those amazing sexy blue eyes and saying, “No matter what happens, I love you.”



I smiled from my heart that time. “I love you too. Let’s go do this.”



Seth let me go first and as I made my way down the hall towards the boardroom, I had a rare nostalgic wish that I was only attending today as one of the other executives. I took another calming breath as Seth reached around me and opened the door. Twelve faces looked up at me and then Seth as we walked in. I knew that at least half of them were judging me and as much as I didn’t want to care, it was still unnerving. I had chosen a sharp-lined tailored navy pencil skirt and jacket that allowed for my curves but at the same time it projected a very professional image. I despised having to use my femininity in any way, when I knew that my brain and business acumen were more than enough to get the job done. But what I also knew, whether I liked it or not, was that the biggest percentage of the people against me here were men. It is a well-documented fact that even the opinions of stubborn old men can be swayed by an attractive woman.



“Good morning everyone,” I said, with my most confident smile. Seth and I took our seats at the head of the table and I looked around the room at the shareholders again. There were six men and two women. There were only four of the executives there out of eight, but it was still a few minutes before nine so I hoped the other four were on their way. I opened my laptop to get my power point presentation at the ready. I was pitching an idea that Seth and I had hashed out for a new project. Seth hadn’t been enthusiastic about it at first, but after we had a few heated debates over it and he gathered his own information about it, he had come around. I was hoping that I could bring the rest of them around as well.



As I took out my Gantt charts, the other four executives arrived. One of them was Harlan. He gave me a wink and a smile. Since this all happened, Harlan had been one of my staunchest supporters. I was grateful for it. Besides thinking of him as a friend, he was well-respected in the corporation and I was hoping some of the confidence he had in me would rub off on the others.

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