Authors: Holly Rayner
Business or Pleasure
By Holly Rayner
Copyright 2015 by Holly Rayner
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part by any means, now known or hereafter invented, including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, is forbidden without the explicit written permission of the author.
All characters depicted in this fictional work are consenting adults, of at least eighteen years of age. Any resemblance to persons living or deceased, particular businesses, events, or exact locations are entirely coincidental.
The sequel to this story is available now!
Stolen: Meant To Be -
Also by the author:
The Billionaire’s First Christmas -
The Billionaire’s Obsession – An Heir At Any Price Book One -
Table Of Contents:
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.
Once everyone had taken their seats, Seth welcomed them all and thanked them for coming. He gave a very brief introduction to what I was about to go into detail about for them. He’d asked me to give the presentation because he thought I was better informed than him. I wanted him to do it because they liked him better but then I decided that was exactly the reason I needed to do it. I had come across a fledgling company that I strongly believed Morgan & Hunter Inc. would be able to buy low, revive and sell high. The problem that I was sure I’d run into convincing these guys was at least two-fold. Although one of my strong points was recognizing the potential in an investment, these people didn’t trust me. The other problem was that the business was a record company that had names signed to it I would bet my next paycheck that ninety percent of these people had never heard of. The company produced and promoted Reggae albums exclusively. I had a vision to take it way beyond that if Morgan & Hunter Inc. took it over, but I would need shareholder approval in order to make it happen.
I stood up next to the white screen that the power point was being projected upon. My first slide was a photo of the building in Harlem where the company was originally located. The neighborhood around the building was crumbling and someone had even defaced the side of the building with graffiti. I gave them all a few seconds to let that sink in and then I brought up the next slide. This one was of a building in Manhattan. Across the top of the glass and steel structure were the words: Reggae One Productions. My next slide was a Gantt chart. I had painstakingly re-created the company’s public finances onto a chart where I had also very meticulously decided where the company went wrong. My chart showed that the company was founded in 1991. It had an immediate rise in revenue upon the release of the first album after signing a new superstar. That rise leveled off, but stayed consistently in the black for the next ten years. In 2001 the company was moved to the expensive real estate in Manhattan and that was where their trouble seemed to first begin. I started talking then. I talked them through the decline of the Reggae popularity, the mismanagement of revenue and the steady decline of the business. It was currently on the brink of bankruptcy and the owners were looking for a way out that left them out of debt. In walks Morgan & Hunter Inc.
I had another chart with my projected plans and projected revenues for the company once we took it over. So far, everyone in the room sat silently. When I finished that chart, one of the shareholders named Bob Stanley cleared his throat and said, “I’m sorry Adele, not to be rude but I’m finding this all to be a huge waste of my time.”
Not to be rude my… “
Why is that, Bob?” Seth asked with his piercing blue gaze locked onto the older man’s face.
“Reggae? Music? Really? This is not the direction that Ja—this is not the direction this company was meant to take.” He was about to say “James” and everyone knew it. All eyes were on me to see how I would react. Bless Seth, he was going to keep trying to come to my rescue.
“Can I take this one, Seth?”
“Bob, I understand this is a new concept as far as this company is concerned, but let me show you this next slide.” I put up the next slide. It too was a Gantt chart that showed production hours and revenue. It also showed the projected revenue which was a lot more than the actual, and the projected cost which was a lot less than the actual. This chart didn’t have any names on it of the company or the project. I looked back at Bob and said, “Does this investment look like a good idea to you?”
Bob snorted and laughed. He looked at his friend, another shareholder sitting next to him and said, “Yeah, sure. Barney and I probably voted for that one.”
I had to try hard to keep my neutral expression as I said, “The facts here Bob are that you did.” I projected the next image where the names of the company and the project were visible. The company was Hunter Corp., the date was two years ago and the project was one that James Hunter himself had pushed for. The silence in the room at that moment was deafening. The climate during the days of James Hunter’s reign had been such that they put all of their faith in his decisions and rarely balked at any direction he wanted to take the company in. The facts that I was finding out as I delved deeper into corporate affairs were that James Hunter wasn’t quite the business wizard people had thought that he was. He made a lot of mistakes and he had been very good at covering them up. Unfortunately those mistakes and cover ups eventually came back to haunt you and financially, that was where our company was at now. Things that James had done were beginning to catch up to us. It was exactly the reason why Seth and I had come to the conclusion, after many heated discussions, that the company had to be taken in a new direction, or it wasn’t going to survive.
An executive broke the silence by saying, “What would you need to make this happen?” I smiled at him, bringing up the next slide. If nothing else, the attention in the room after that seemed to be more focused. They were at least giving it some thought. Considering they had been willing to straight out axe everything I had suggested over the past several months, I guess that was a good sign.
The meeting ended with the members wanting time to think it over and a follow-up meeting scheduled for the next week. It wasn’t the best possible outcome, but it wasn’t the worst. Once the meeting was adjourned and everyone had left the room except for me and Seth, I kicked off my heels and dropped back down into my seat.
“Ugh! They hate me!” The atmosphere in the room when I had been talking to these people was thick with it.
Seth smiled at me. “They do not hate you. They’re coming around, I think. They didn’t say no.”
“You know what they want the extra time for, right?” I asked him.
Seth looked like he didn’t want to admit it, but he finally said, “To talk it over with my father.”
“Yes! They are all making a travesty of this company by giving away corporate secrets to the man who should be least involved in all of this.” I didn’t have any proof of it, or I’d have them out on their ear. But I was sure, and Seth seemed sure as well. I hoped that he didn’t have any proof either. That would mean he was holding out on me and I would hate that.
“Maybe it’s not such a bad thing,” he said. “My father does have a good head for business. Maybe he’ll steer them in our direction.”
I looked at him like he had two heads. I couldn’t help it. After all we had gone through to relieve us of James’s presence in our company, and all the things I’d found and brought to Seth’s attention, with regards to bad investments his father made or project failures, he still hadn’t completely lost faith in the man himself. Sometimes, that frightened me. “Please tell me that you don’t share with him,” I said.
Seth looked insulted. “Of course not,” he said. “I can’t believe you would even suggest that. I’m just doing my best to put a positive spin on things. My father has his poor qualities, I’m the first to admit that, but you didn’t know him before the bitterness and greed began to eat him alive. The rest of us did. I’m just saying that I understand that may be the part of him they’re having a hard time letting go of.”
I didn’t want to have a conversation about James Hunter’s merits. I truly didn’t believe he had any. I didn’t want to argue with Seth either. Sometimes I marveled at the fact that I could love any part of James Hunter the way I did his son.
“Do you have anything pressing for me today?” I asked him, changing the subject. We were going anywhere but down with that one anyways.
I looked at the clock. It was after one already. I was hungry and tired. The meeting had taken over four hours and had gone straight through lunch. On top of all of that, I had stayed up much of the night before preparing. I was in a rare mood today, one that was begging me to go home and put on my pajamas and veg out for the rest of the day. The past two weeks had been all sixteen hour days and not a second to spare for anything else.
“I was hoping I could get out of here early today. I just desperately need to decompress.”
“Sure, of course. I’ll come with you. We can go to my place and…”
“No Seth. Thank you, babe, but I need to just go home and have some quiet time for a while with nothing that reminds me of work.” I knew that was going to hurt his feelings. That wasn’t my intention, but I knew if he came home with me that I wouldn’t be able to just relax.