I don’t get excited for meetings. Some CEOs get hard for them. They get off on the attention and the ass-kissing. I like a good display of power. I like a signed deal. But the meetings themselves don’t do it for me.
Except this one.
The anticipation of this meeting is so fucking delicious I can’t pay attention to my phone conversation.
“—intercepted from an estate sale in Northern California. Once it arrives on the mountain, I’ll confirm the provenance.” Cyrus Van Kempt is going to be here any minute, and everything I’ve planned will be in motion. “I gave a man at Sotheby’s a heart attack for you, Mason, and you’re not paying attention.”
“You love terrorizing people. Consider it a gift.”
“Bullshit.” I’m almost certain it’s impossible for him to have hurt feelings about anything. I met Hades after he outbid me at an estate auction. I’d traced a few pieces of my mother’s jewelry to that particular sale. After she and my father died and everything fell apart, we lost everything, including her jewelry.
I’m in a position to get it back. More than a few of those pieces have ended up with Hades, on the mountain where he lives and where his diamond mine is located. I gave him shit about it early on—the fact that he lives on a mountain, even though he’s filthy rich.
And then he sent the pictures.
It’s not some survivalist cave with steel-framed bunk beds. It’s like my penthouse, if the penthouse were the size of a small city and literally carved out of black rock and gold.
He laughs. His laugh gave me shivers the first time I heard it. I’m used to it now, mostly. “You’re distracted.”
“I have a meeting.”
“Is it more important than the fact that I’ve located another impossible-to-find piece? More important than a ten-carat emerald nestled in diamonds?”
“Well then, tell her I said hello.”
He hangs up without waiting for an answer, and I’m left with my folio full of documents and several minutes to savor the black words on crisp white pages.
The intercom on my desk beeps. “Mr. Hill, your four o’clock is here.”
I stand up from my seat, the ache in my knee barely registering. “Show him in.”
It took fourteen years to build my fortune to this level, for this deal, for this day.
Now it’s here.
I cannot fucking wait for this.
Except it’s not an older man who walks into my office. It’s a woman.
It only takes a second for me to understand who came instead. His daughter.
I have a few vague memories of Charlotte Van Kempt. Pigtails. Blue eyes. She should be the image of her mother now. Pretentious and fake, the way society women are supposed to be. Bred to be. Instructed to be.
My throat goes dry.
She’s come from the rain, that much is clear, and droplets cling to the perfect twist of her hair like diamonds. The reality of her batters me like rain batters the windows of my office. Flushed cheeks. A delicate jawline. The pretty shape of her lips as she murmurs a quick thank-you to my secretary.
Her sapphire eyes meet mine. They take me in, standing behind my desk, and widen for a fraction of a second. It’s less than a breath, far less than a heartbeat, but I feel my own response like I would feel a bullet through flesh. The force of the impact. The shock of recognition. The muscles around my right knee become part of this cascade of muscle and bone, tightening around the ligaments, mired in memory.
What the fuck did she see? I’m struck by the urge to tilt her face to mine so I can stare into her eyes. As if that clear-cut crystal would reveal the thoughts in her head.
She only saw what I wanted her to see.
It’s an impossible thing, to feel this hot rush of desire for Charlotte Van Kempt.
I thought Cyrus Van Kempt would show up to his own destruction, but I guess not. He sent his daughter to face my wrath.
She’ll be my revenge. She’ll be the person I’ll carry it out on. Her family’s sacrifice.
There’s no disappointment, really.
It will be even sweeter this way.