Stolen: Meant To Be (Contemporary Billionaire Romance)

Stolen

Meant To Be

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Also by the author:

 

The Billionaire’s First Christmas -
http://amzn.com/B00QSO9J36

 

The Billionaire’s Obsession – An Heir At Any Price Book One -
http://amzn.com/B00NR3JW2E

 

~

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

~

SETH

 

 

I sat there for a while after Adele left my office wondering why the only relationship that ever really mattered to me was the hardest one. I suppose that was my answer. The other ones hadn’t mattered, so I didn’t have to put out any effort, or worry that they would walk away. I’d never felt like this before. Suddenly, that free feeling being in love with her gave me was like a gnarled hand, wrapped tightly around my neck. Without her, I wasn’t sure I would be able to breathe. I grabbed my keys and headed out. There was something I needed to do, and now. I drove straight out to my father’s estate. I’d let the old man push me around for way too long and I was fed up. Once and for all I was going to tell him how I felt and I was going to lay down the law with him about how he would treat Adele if he wanted to continue having any relationship with his son at all. I wasn’t deluding myself that this was his entire fault. I knew that much of the responsibility was mine and I was ready to accept that. But I also knew that he took great pleasure in the things he told Adele, and I wanted him to feel at least a little bit of the pain that was consuming me.

 

I drove too fast on my way out to the estate. It was only by luck and the grace of God that I didn’t get pulled over, or get into an accident. When I got to my father’s home I slammed on the brakes of my jaguar right outside the front door and left it there, keys and all. Then I burst through the front door, startling poor Hannah so badly that she almost dropped the expensive vase full of flowers that she was arranging. I suddenly felt like an ass.

 

“Oh! Mr. Hunter, you nearly scared me out of my wits.”

 

I forced a smile and said, “I’m sorry, Hannah. I wasn’t thinking. I need to see my father. Is he here?”

 

“Yes sir, he’s in the library. Are you okay?”

 

“Not really, Hannah… but I will be. I need to make some changes in my life, starting today.”

 

“Well, I’m rooting for you sir,” she said.

 

With a genuine smile then, I kissed her on the cheek. She was such a sweet lady and always so positive. I wondered how she stayed that way, working for my father. Her face, already a shade of dark pink naturally, turned beet red. “Thank you, Hannah,” I said.

 

“For what, sir?”

 

“Always being on my side and always having a kind word. I haven’t had much experience with that lately. I appreciate it.”

 

“Well, you deserve it sir,” she told me. I smiled again and headed towards the library. I took a deep breath when I got there and knocked on the door.

 

“Yes?” my father called out. I pushed the door open to find him sitting in a chair by the window, reading a book. Seeing him so casually enjoying his day while mine was falling apart made me angry all over again. He looked up and said, “Well, hello Seth.”

 

“Father,” I said. “Are you having a nice day?”

 

James sat the book he was reading down and said, “I rather am, thank you for asking. How is yours?” He looked so smug and self-satisfied. Sometimes it was hard for me to not hate him outright.

 

I took a seat on the leather sofa across from him and said, “I’m glad you asked. You see… my girlfriend, who I love very much came to see you…”

 

James smiled, “Yes, she did.”

 

“She asked you about Liz.”

 

Again with the smile, “Yes, she did that too.” He was enjoying this too much. Destroying my life was what he called fun.

 

“Father, why do you hate me?” I asked him.

 

He let the smile drop then and looked genuinely confused. “What? I don’t hate you. Why would you ask me a thing like that? You’re my son. Everything I’ve ever done has been about you… for you.”

 

I couldn’t help but doubt that completely. “I just assumed that you did,” I said. “You seem to take such pleasure in ruining my life. It’s hard to imagine you would do that to someone you actually cared for.”

 

Father sat forward in his chair and squinted at me over his glasses. He was studying my face, no doubt to make sure I hadn’t been taken over by aliens. He looked angry that I was talking to him this way. I didn’t care. I was tired of kissing up to him like everyone else. I was tired of being a coward. I was spoiling for a fight.

 

“Ruining your life?” he finally said. “Are you talking about what I told that simpering little red-haired fool when she came by earlier today?”

 

I stood up and looking down at him I said, “Do not talk about her like that ever again!” It was the closest I had ever come to being physical with him.

 

My father stood up then too. Toe to toe with me now and probably not even knowing how badly I wanted to punch him, he said, “All I did was tell her the truth, where is the crime in that?”

 

“You made the “truth” as you call it sound to her like I ever wanted Liz, number one. That was never my idea. That was always something that you and Rick cooked up and Liz ended up wanting. I count my blessings every day that I didn’t go through with that. Number two, you made her think that maybe Liz and I were “re-kindling” something that never existed in the first place. You wanted her to believe all of that. You wanted to hurt her, and if you hurt her, you hurt me.”

 

“I told her the truth,” he said again. “No matter how I told her or how much I enjoyed it, it was the truth. If your relationship was strong, she could handle it. Hell, if it was strong, she wouldn’t have had to come to me in the first place.”

 

“You’re right,” I said, surprising my father. He hadn’t expected me to admit that he was right. I went on to say, “I should have told her why I was meeting Liz in the first place and then there would have been no reason for her to come to you seeking answers. She should be able to come to me and me to her. I’m willing to accept every bit of responsibility that’s mine. But our relationship is new and it was built on the chaos of her trying to take her company back that you stole from her. We were making it work though, until you did your best to undermine it.”

 

“If you were making it work, she wouldn’t have been here, looking for answers to questions she shouldn’t have had in the first place. She’s using you, Seth and you’re a fool for not seeing it.”

 

“I think that you really wish that she was. I think that you really do hate to see me happy. You want me to be as miserable as you are. That’s not ever going to happen. I’m not you… thank God. I love Adele Morgan, Dad. Nothing you do will change that. If I have to walk away from that company in order for us to have a life together, then I will, and gladly.”

 

“Then you would be an idiot. For whatever reason, she let you keep half of that company. Maybe the fool does think she loves you… the point is, if Liz takes it over, she will gladly let you keep your half if you agree to merge with hers. It seems like a no-brainer to me. You could force Liz out later. I would help you.”

 

I looked at my father in disbelief. The man was an ice statue. I was supposed to steal the company from Adele, the way he’d done so many years ago, and then steal it from Liz as well? I wondered if he even heard himself sometimes. I wondered if the man who used to be my father even existed inside of him any longer. If he did, he was buried so deeply that I feared we would never see it again. I thanked God sometimes that my mother hadn’t lived to see him this way.

 

“How could anyone have so little feelings… especially towards their own flesh and blood?” I asked him. I ran a hand roughly through my hair, thinking of tearing it out. To my horror I realized my eyes were tearing up again. I hadn’t cried since I was eight years old, other than over the loss of my mother. Today it had been twice in one day. What the hell was going on? I was in love, I was young, and I ran one of the most successful companies in the city side by side with the love of my life. I was supposed to be happy, damn it! I tried to turn away before my father noticed the tears. He would see it as a sign of weakness and any sign of weakness offered him another opportunity to strike.

 

“Seth?” Dad lowered his voice and his tone went from haughty and self-righteous back to slightly confused. “Does this girl really mean that much to you?”

 

I looked back at my father. Was it possible he was beginning to see what I had been beating my head against the wall, trying to tell him? “Yes, Dad. She means that much and more. I’ve never felt this way about anyone. I love her with all my heart. I would do anything for her. I want to spend my life making her life a happy place. I don’t ever want her to have to worry about anything and I always want her to know how much I love her. That company is glass and steel. She’s my heart.”

 

He looked torn. He was silent for a bit and I was just about ready to leave. I didn’t have any real hopes that I could change my father’s mind anyways… “I didn’t realize,” he said, finally. It seemed like there was more to that sentence, but he stopped there.

After a moment I said, “What didn’t you realize, Dad?”

 

“I didn’t realize that you feel about her the same way I felt about your mother.”

 

“If you loved Mom more than life itself, then I do.” It was hard to imagine, my father loving someone that much. I did know that he loved my mother though, and when I’d get angry with him for working so much, she would always defend him and tell me how much he loved us both.

 

“I’m sorry, son,” Dad said. “I’m sorry that I’m a miserable, bitter old man. But please believe that I do not hate you and I do not want you to be unhappy. I want only what’s best for you. I’m suspicious of Adele’s motives, but if she loves you half as much as the love I can see on your face for her… then you’re a lucky man.”

 

Almost choking on the surprise I felt, I had to remind myself they were only words. Words can be easily manipulated and my father was a master. “I will believe that you believe that when I start seeing some changes, Dad. I need you to treat me and my girlfriend with respect and maybe someday you can even find it in your heart to offer her the apology she deserves. She didn’t deserve any of the things that you’ve done to her, starting with the takeover of her company when she was just a kid.”

 

I left him standing where he was, apparently trying to decide if having to apologize to Adele would be worth having his son in his life or not. I drove straight from there to Adele’s apartment. I stopped at the door, and almost chickened out. I didn’t though, no more cowardice. I was finished with letting fear dictate my life.

 

I forced myself to knock and I stood there holding my breath, hoping she would talk to me at least. When she didn’t answer after a few minutes, I knocked again. There was still no answer and I started thinking that maybe she had gone back to the office. I finally turned and started to leave when I heard the door being pulled open behind me. I turned back and she was standing there, dressed in a pair of blue jeans and a green t-shirt. She had taken off all her make-up and her long hair was pulled back into a ponytail at the nape of her neck. I didn’t know if I’d ever seen her look so beautiful. She looked so fresh and natural that I wanted to breathe her in. It strengthened my resolve.

 

“Hi,” I said. I know it wasn’t a great opening, but it was all I had at the moment.

 

“Hey,” she said. When I still didn’t go on she said, “What are you doing here?”

 

I finally found my voice and said, “I need to talk to you, please.”

 

Adele looked like she was going to say no. I was ready to argue. I wasn’t walking away from here today without talking to her. I would camp on her doorstep if I had to. I wouldn’t be able to rest until we straightened this all out. I worried for no reason. She didn’t say no. Instead, she stepped back from the door and made room for me to come in. She closed the door behind us.

 

“Have a seat. Do you want something to drink?”

 

The nervous lilt of her voice tugged at my heart. We had already gotten past all of that. We were comfortable with each other and now it sounded like she was talking to a stranger. It all seemed so awkward to me and so formal. It made my chest hurt. I went over to her and took hold of her hands and then I led her over to the sofa and guided her down next to me.

 

“No. I don’t want anything to drink. I want us to work this out, Adele… I need for us to work it out. I can’t go on like this and I refuse to lose you… at least not without a fight. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to hang on to us.”

 

“You’re right. We do need to talk. I’m just not sure where to start. I wasn’t angry with you any longer when I walked away today, but I didn’t know what to say and I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. It seems like there is always so much suspicion and ugliness between us. I don’t understand how something that feels so beautiful and right can turn ugly so quickly.”

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