Falling For My Dad's Friend - Page 1

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I slam my fist down on the table, the sound echoing through the dining room.

The man at my side, Renner Langley, doesn’t even flinch, not that I expect him to. He’s always been right by my side, following me like a shadow I can’t shake not that I would ever want to.

For years, we’ve been as thick as thieves. He is my right hand, and closest friend, we were raised practically like my brother. There is no one closer to me, no one I trust more than Renner.

I sigh, blowing air through my nose. The papers that are spread over the table, illicit agreements with petty criminals and other major organizations, barely shift. They’re the source of my ire. One of them, however unimportant as it may be, is missing from the shuffled piles.

I try to control the press of anger that tears through me like a wildfire.

“These things happen,” Renner says in a calm voice. “We have a new secretary. Your mother hired her. She probably just mixed up the files.”

“She better hope we find them,” I respond in a hard voice. My teeth are clenched so hard for a moment that my jaw aches. “Or she’ll be out on her ass by the week’s end.”

Renner stares at me and for a moment, I think I see a challenge in his eye. But it’s gone in a flash. He shakes his head as if clearing whatever thoughts entered his mind. Good. My right hand man has no business testing my authority.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Renner says, nodding as he runs a hand through his graying brown hair. “Now, there’s the matter of your father’s estate. What are you going to do? Your mother wants to keep it in the family.”

“My mother still harbors sweet sentiments for my father,” I tell him, rubbing a hand over my face. “I have no qualms about selling it and forgetting him altogether.”

Footsteps echo down the hall over the polished hardwood floors just outside the room.

“Well, my love,” my mother calls from the doorway. “I suppose we should talk, then.”

Piper St. James still carries herself like she did decades earlier. Her limbs are stiff, but her back is straight and her posture is all but perfect, her trousers crisp and pleated. Her fur coat is faux because she’s always cared more for animals than people. Her eyes are a sharp blue, the icy color of a harsh winter.

She is the backbone of the family, of the entire business.

Long, silver hair is swept back in an elegant updo, accentuating her features. She points a finger right at me as she comes over.

“My boy,” she says in a soft voice. Her voice may be soft but there is power there, beneath the gentle facade, and I raise my chin in her presence. “You must accept your father’s misgivings and move on.”

My father was a weak man, too soft-willed to ever be a leader. He taught me that the soft-hearted never succeed and that the only way to win is to push. His portraits still hang on the walls of the manor around me, a picture of strength, though I know the truth. He continued the business his grandfather built, but my mother was the one always behind him. She was the one that carried the family in the end.

But I learned from his mistakes. No one needs to push me.

“I want you to understand why I want to keep the old place,” my mother says, looking very serious. She is a small woman, tiny in stature, but she exudes power and strength.

“We should discuss this later,” I say, keeping my voice even. I don’t want to talk about William St. James or my temper might burn a hole right through me. “I’ll have the cooks prepare something and we can talk over dinner.”

“I’ll do it,” she chimes and moves to stand in front of the fireplace. “Your new assistant will have them fix it. You don’t need to worry about it.”

I look over at where she stands, shaking my head in dismay.

“Assistant, mother?” I ask her, leaning my palms on the table and bowing my head over my documents there. “I thought she was a secretary for the business. I’ve told you I’m done with assistants. The last one was too incompetent to even tie her own shoes.”

My mother just stared at me with a glint in her eye and then turned back to the fireplace, warming her thin fingers.

Renner begins to gather the papers from the long mahogany table, pushing them into Manila folders that will only land on my desk later.

I glance up at the sharp click of another pair of heels and stare without restraint as a woman I’ve never seen before enters the room.

I’ve only ever dreamed of meeting a woman like the one who stands across from me.

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