Stolen: The Billionaire Deception - Page 26

I knew who “him” was and I knew I had to hear more. I ordered him another drink. Then to prove to myself I wasn’t a complete monster I said, “Are you hungry? Would you like me to order some food?” He shrugged so when the waitress came back I ordered us some sandwiches and fries. When she was gone I said, “When you say “him” you’re talking about your father?”

He nodded and took a gulp of the new drink. “He’s so worried about what people think about our family. His father was a success and his father’s father… so he had to be a success and now I do too.”

“But you are a success,” I said, honestly. “You’re the CEO of a multinational company and you do a fine job running it.” There was a time when I wouldn’t have been able to even imagine saying those words to one of the Hunters.

“Not according to him. I don’t want to talk about it…”

“Okay, you don’t have to,” I told him. Our food came and he picked at his, not eating much at all. I ordered him another drink. I felt like a horrible person trying to loosen his tongue and lower his inhibitions with alcohol, but at the same time it was the first time that I felt like I had a real chance at getting much needed information about James Hunter.

After he finished that one and while he was still picking at his sandwich I said, “So, you said your father was a corporate attorney? Did he buy this company because he didn’t think of what he was doing as being successful enough?”

He looked at me for a few seconds and I thought he was going to tell me again that he didn’t want to talk about it. Finally however he said, “Yeah. His father and his father’s father were both big on Wall Street and had investments all over the world. My father made good money as a corporate attorney, but not the kind of money they had made. My grandfather didn’t believe in trust funds and he always told my father that when he died would be when he would get his inheritance. When granddad died, he left most of his money to the church. My father felt like it was a slap in the face. He sold the property that granddad left him and he began to invest that money. Eventually he ended up with this business.”

“Ended up with?” I asked. “It was already an operating business, right… a successful one? Did the owner retire or…”

“No…” Seth looked genuinely sad as he said, “He died.”

“Oh. So then your father bought the business from his heirs?”

Seth picked up his empty drink and looked into the bottom of the glass. This time he signaled for the waitress and ordered another. He didn’t say a word while he waited, he didn’t even look at me. I was beginning to wonder if that was it and he was finished talking. After his drink came and he’d emptied it he said, “I don’t know the exact details. I was away at school. When I came home he already had the business. But I heard things that disturbed me about the acquisition of it. I tried questioning him but if you knew my father, you would know how much easier said than done that was. Over the years, Harlan has filled me in on some of the details. I actually got to the point where I asked him not to tell me anymore. My father pushed and pushed me to get a business degree and take over this company. I didn’t want to work there knowing certain things…”

I raised an eyebrow. I was trying to look confused as I said, “Are you telling me he obtained the company illegally?”

Seth was intoxicated, but not so much that he didn’t realize the implications of what I had just said out loud. He looked around to make sure no one was listening to us and then he said, “No! He was an attorney… a good one. What he did was totally legal. I just have concerns about the ethics of it.”

“What did he do?”

“I don’t know the details, Erin. I just wonder sometimes that since I continue working for him… details or not… am I as bad as he is?” He looked so distressed by that thought that the woman in me who wanted to ruin him was completely over-ruled by the one that wanted to love him. I reached over and took his hand and squeezed it.

“Whatever he did, it sounds to me like you were just a kid at the time. How can you blame yourself for that?”

“I don’t,” he said, squeezing my hand in return. “But I do worry about continuing to amass millions when… when I’m not even sure if we should rightfully be where we are today or not. I’m pretty sure the fact I keep going in and sitting in that CEO chair every day makes me as guilty as he is.”

Tags: Holly Rayner Billionaire Romance
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