“Please, do not get ahead of yourself Shatara, our deal wasn’t anywhere close to an “engagement”.” I scuffed, shrugging her grimy hands off my suit jacket. Anything this woman touched she destroyed. She may have the face of an innocent goddess, but her soul was the devil himself personified. Granted, if this was seven months ago I would’ve cared less that she showed her face, security would have thrown her ass out at the snap of my thumb and forefinger. But now, I have too much at stake, and the last thing I need is for Katherine not to trust me because of media vultures who only care about their damn paychecks. “I’ve entertained your presence long enough, so for the sake of both us leave now, or I swear to God you will not like the outcome.”
“I really don’t think you’re in a position to be making threats Liam.” That look on her face, she learned it from the best. Her father is the godfather of conmen, a master swindler who could fool anyone. I was growing impatient, to fucking impatient.
“What do you want?” She smirked at me, adjusting the expensive Jimmy Choo clutch in her red painted hands.
“I want to have lunch at the Hillcrest, the private rooftop, I know you can make it happen.”
“You have lost your damn mind!” I let out a butter chuckle, turning around towards the exit to walk out of the door.
“You and your father have a really bad habit of shutting people up with your very plentiful checkbooks.” Shatara scuffed, as she began walking towards me. “Especially at the expense of your dear little brother.” I turned around to face her, unsure where the hell she was going with this.
“Are fucking blackmailing me?”
“Not if you give me what I want.” She opened the top of her clutch, reaching in the lambskin interior for her phone, typing in her passcode, once it rested in her palms. She flipped her phone towards me, showing me a video of Luke and some woman in her camera roll. “Now, either agree to my terms or I release this little baby to TMZ, and the NDA your father made this woman sign.” Luke has gotten into trouble a few times, his free spirited life hasn't come without more than a few consequences. But whatever Tara was showing me right now, I had no idea what it’s contents were. “Do we have a deal?” I huffed, before clenching my jaw. I was making deals with the devil himself.
“Fine, I will send a car for you at noon, no reporters, no recording, no hidden cameras, nothing. This stays between us am I clear?”
“Do not order order me around like I am some submissive whore. I am not that bitch who decided to spend the rest of her life with you, God bless her soul.”
“Shatara I swear to God-”
“Ah” She lifted her hand up silencing me. “As for you, I will know if you send someone to follow me, so unless you want me to send this, you are going to wait like a good little boy until noon tomorrow and do absolutely nothing.” I am a sitting fucking duck.
“Fine, now get the hell out of my gallery.” Once, my palm had firm hold on her wrist, I dragged her into the hallway where Marcus and Daniel were waiting. “Make sure she gets into her car unseen.”
“Yes, sir.” I watched as they escorted Shatara through the back entrance, before I rejoined the party. My blood was absolutely past boiling at this point. The four times I slept with her three years ago will be one of the few regrets, I take to my grave.
“Champagne, Mr Harrington?” Rose smiled at me, flickering her green eyes down to her slightly unbuttoned blouse, before biting her full bottom lip. I took the glass from the tray, not sparing her another glance. Briefly greeting a few of the attendees as I made my way to my back office, hoping Hilary didn’t try to make a move on Marcus on my unwanted behalf. Using my thumbprint to open the door, I turned the curved metal handle to enter my office. Marcus was enjoying a glass of Cheval Blanc that rested on my glass table.
“Is it handled?” Hilary walked over to me in a hush whisper, being mindful of our guest.
“Yes, make a fifteen warning, that gallery will be closing.”
“Of course.” Hilary turned to Marcus smiling. “It was wonderful chatting with you Mr. Hewitt, Liam and I look forward to working with you in the near future.” I watched as Marcus moved his gaze from Hilary’s breast, before clearing his throat and returning her gesture.
“Thank you, for the company Ms. Stafford.” Hilary picked up the train of her dress, leaving Marcus and I alone.
“I apologize for keeping you waiting, there was a situation that needed my attendance.” Joining Marcus on my Italian imported coach, I poured myself a glass wine, and refilled Marcus’s glass.
“Nonsense, it is your gallery after all, I expected a few people to steal you throughout the night.” I chuckled.
“I suppose you’re right.” Marcus clicked his glass into mine, before we both enjoy the contents of the rich, red wine.
“Shall we talk Rome, I was thinking of making it my farewell tour, as I will be retiring at the end of this year.”
“I thought that was just a rumor?” Marcus chuckled, sitting his glass onto the table.
“I’ve been painting for the last forty-five years, I think now if anytime will be good, especially with you and your late mother’s work being the talk of the art scene.” I nodded, continuing to drink from my glass. “I do wish I would have gotten to meet her before she passed, she was a brilliant artist.
“That she was indeed.” Though I was finally somewhat at peace with my mother’s death, the womb was still raw at the mentioning of her in casual conversation.
“Forgive me, I didn’t make you uncomfortable did I.”
“Of course not” I sat my glass onto the table, unbuttoning the front of my suit jacket. “If my mother were here today, her head would be the size of a balloon after hearing your complements.” Marcus’s almond eyes crinkled on his face, as he let out a belly laugh beside me.
“Well that eases my soul.” Marcus reached into the pocket of his long trench coat handing me a white envelope. “Here are the details for Rome, read them over and give me a call when you’ve made your decision. I’d be honored to have you there.” Marcus and I stood up, shaking hands, bidding one another goodbye.
“Thank you, I will call you in a week’s time.” Marcus smirked, as I walked him to the door.
“Of course, you are man with a busy schedule.” Once, Marcus joined the rest of the few lingering guests, I brought my hand inside my pocket to unlock my phone.
Sent at 7:29 p.m.
-Are you awake?
I knew there was a long shot of her being awake right now, but I took my chances anyway, hoping to hear her voice before I tried my best to sleep tonight. My fingers hovered over the keyboard, as I watched the time change six times.
Sent at 7:35
-I love you.
“Sir, we’ve locked up for the night. The car is ready to take you back to your hotel.” Slipping my phone back into the left pocket of my slacks, I turned the lights out in my office, joining Terrance in the hallway.
“Has inventory been done?”
“Yes, sir. Bruce’s team checked before they left.” I nodded walking outside into the cool night breeze of Manhattan, as Johan opened the door for me.
“Sir.” Stepping inside the heated SUV, securing my seatbelt across my chest, relaxing against the black leather seats as we rode back to the hotel.
“Thirteen transactions today with an estimated revenue of 362 million dollars.” Coming here wasn’t a total waste then.
“Did you take your cut already.” I asked, grabbing my vibrating phone out of my pocket.
“No, but why don’t we talk it over celebra-
Incoming call from: Wife
The brightness of my phone screen reflected on the window in the dark car, as I answered Katherine’s call.
-I thought you’d be sleeping is nearly eleven back in Seattle.
-I’m not used to sleeping in your bed without you in it.
-You miss me then?
I could feel Katherine’s eye roll through the phone, before she answered.
-I’m not going to stroke you’re already enormous ego by answering that.
-Sleep baby, I’ll see Tuesday morning.
-I love you.
-Ditto mon amour.
“She was serious about you proposing?” I could hear the disbelief in Hilary’s voice as I turned to face her.
“Not that it’s your concern, but yes I did.”
“You’ve known her for what five months Liam, how could you possibly be thinking about marriage!” Johan and I’s eyes met briefly in the rearview mirror, before he brought his gaze back to the road.
“I’ve already had to deal with Shatara’s shit today Hilary, don’t add to my growing migraine.” Hilary scuffed, before her hand tilted my chin towards her direction, so we were face to face.
“You need a capable woman, who knows you Liam.” I’ve known for six years now, that Hilary has been interested in pursuing a relationship with me outside of work, but I wasn’t interested then and I sure as hell isn’t interested now. The last time we were here with Katherine and the incident in my office was bad slip of judgement because I was denying my feelings, which is no longer necessary now. I have the woman I want waiting in bed for me to return.
“Good thing I have her already.” I threw Hilary’s hand onto her lap, once Johan pulled in front of the hotel she was staying at. I wasn’t taking any chances this time around. I watched as Hilary gathered her purse and coat into her arms, swinging the back door open in frustration. Before she stepped out the car, she faced me now with a sly smirk gracing her lips.
“You’ll see that she won’t last, and there are more capable women who would kill to be in her place, and do it better.” With that she got out of the truck slamming the door behind her.