His Ink

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Chapter Twenty-Seven

Erika Nadine

“So if we invest in a company like Wandy Fashions we wouldn’t make much profits out of it, unless Wendy Fashions changes their working style, business strategies and planning.” I watched as Mr. Kingston started off, leaning against the plush black chair with an arrogant smirk on his lips.

“Unfortunately, since Wendy Fashions is about to go bankrupt in less than two months, they don’t have the investors and at the very moment their strategies aren’t helping the situation.” His eyes danced on all the faces as he stated sternly.

When Ryan handed me few files in the morning before we entered the private meeting hall I did not understand that this raven haired man was not only planning to buy R&A but also merge Kingston Textiles with Wendy Fashions, a Paris based company was also about to go to bankruptcy.

When I asked him if he had a thing for bankruptcy his answer was calculated and confident, “the work is not worth it if it is not risky and challenging besides through all this turmoil Kingston Textiles will grow as a brand and make a place for itself in London and Paris Fashion Industry too.“ For that I had no choice but to agree and here we are proposing a merger to Mr. Wendy.

“I was thinking about a merger where I invest my money. My managing team will draft the strategies and implement them to change the fate of this company for better and bring it back into Paris’ market.” He added confidently, I pursed my lips and gazed at the CEO of Wendy Fashions, he wasn’t excited about Mr. Kingston’s proposal.

Mr. Wendy, the CEO of the Paris brand, ran a hand through his grey hair and sighed. From the looks, his team wasn’t willing too.

After a few minutes, a man dressed in a black suit dared to look at Ryan in the eye and spoke, “Mr. Kingston, your proposal is amazing, but” he let the words trailed and I swallowed the lump formed in my throat. There was a ‘but’. “your body ink has a terrible reputation in NYC, and I don’t think Paris’ market is willing either.”

My jaw was hanging wide open at his words. He just didn’t go there. Great, now my beloved employer would definitely snap. I glanced at my employer anxiously, anticipating his answer. He was striking the pen in his hand against the table in annoyance, any moment ready to snap.

He darkened his gaze at the man and snapped. “If I wanted your opinion about something I would have asked it, gentleman!” His voice was far from cool and convincing, his ego was bruised and he would want nothing less than to bruise the other man’s ego too.

For a split second his gaze met mine, I gave him a pleading look, requesting him not to utter spiteful words which he couldn’t ever take back and I watched his expression soften before his eyes flew back to his prey. “The market is never welcoming mister, but that never stopped me from acquiring massive profits, I, as one of the most successful and youngest CEO’s of NYC, suggest you to learn to analyze the situation.” He stated coolly. His smirk widened as Wendy Fashions’ employees’ faces fell in disappointment.

“Mr. Kingston, I can’t do this–” Mr. Wendy’s voice was cut off by a snap from my employer.

“Why may I ask?” He arched an eyebrow.

“I don’t want to be replaced as the CEO.” He sighed, while biting on his lower lip nervously.

“Of course not, Mr. Wendy! However, Wendy Fashions will be known as Kingston Textiles for the time being, my managing team will be sent to your company in Paris, and they will work on every contract of yours, I will check upon things once in a month and monitor things from NYC, your staff will not be replaced if they are up to my desired standards, we will lay terms and talking over plans in a week before I invest my money and time.”

“From the looks I’m sure I will have to fire a few of your employees, but since there is no prior notice I will sign their paychecks for the next six months and hire new employees. You can still be the CEO as long as everything is run as I command.” He offered and cocked his head to the side, watching Mr. Wendy and his team exchanging their thoughts.

“Where can I sign?” Mr. Wendy asked. His voice was brooding when he clicked on his pen.

“Miss Nadine!” I looked at him as he called my name out, I picked up the file when he gave me a nod and handed it to Mr. Wendy’s assistant from the corner of my eyes I could see Kingston’s arrogant smirk.

~

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“Erika, we have to go.” There was a knock on the door and I huffed, smoothing the dress once again and looked myself for one last time in the mirror. The dress I picked for the charity ball is a strapless red gown. It flowed down to the ground, swishing around my feet.

“I know, I’m done.” I sighed, opening the door which opened wide to reveal Ryan who was standing in a black and white suit that fitted his lean frame perfectly, his jet black hair was sleeked back, making him look extra sexy.

I was a bit nervous as usual but his reaction made me confident; I didn’t miss seeing him let out a breath, his eyes ran from tip to toe but that didn’t make me uncomfortable.

“You.. uh.. you look great Erika!” He rubbed the back of his neck and before I could reply heat rushed to my cheeks.

“Thank you.” I blushed harder and internally cursed myself for blushing like an idiot. As always, his phone interrupted our moment, and he gestured me to come out of the suite after locking the door, I took my clutch and my keys and followed him out.

I locked the door and turned to him who was still on call, I gave him a ’we have to go’ look, he rolled his eyes, lacing our hands together, he led me towards the elevator.

I was so eager to leave this city because with each passing day my anxiety was increasing; I hated this people; I hated the woman whom I used to call as Mum, I hated my sperm donor. I hated every little thing about this city and I wasn’t at all looking forward to meet new people and having them stare at me; I wasn’t ready to face the paps and their ridiculous annoying questions.

I wasn’t at all willing to go to this charity ball, yet I was here in the backseat of Ryan’s car beside him. I should have expected this when I agreed to fake this engagement.

I was stupid.

“Erika, hey, you okay?” Ryan’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. He was looking at me worriedly. I nodded my head, and I played with my fingers, mindlessly trying to calm my nerves, and glanced outside the window. “You are going to do great, besides I’ll be by your side all the night, calm down.” He said and placed his hand on mine to stop my fiddling.

Something about this entire event was making me uncomfortable, I had been to many charitable events when I worked for Mr. Evans, but I never had this feeling; I didn’t know if something terrible was going to happen or if I was just being paranoid, but my anxiety was only growing.

The car came to an abrupt stop, and the door flew open, Ryan sent me one last smile before sliding out ignoring the sound of camera flashes and babble. I took one last breath and grabbed his hand, which he was holding out for me. I slid out of the car; I straightened myself, I instinctively gripped his hand tighter when flashes of light blinded my sight.

I was thankful when he pulled me to his side, his hand trailed towards my waist. I could hear my name being called out multiple times, but I was too confused and lost even to turn my head in one particular direction. The photographers were demanding me and Ryan to look at them so they could click a picture of ours.

“Just ignore them.” He whispered the words, staring down at me. I nodded my head, forcing myself to smile at him, and we sauntered towards the entrance. I was thankful since it didn’t take over two minutes and I let out a breath, leaning against my employer.

“You did good,” he smiled down at me, his chocolate brown eyes warming my insides.

His eyes travelled from my face to the beautiful sights of crystal chandeliers hanging from the roof, a deep red carpet on the marbled floor, a rich silk cloth adorning every table which was running down till the floor gold-stamped place cards with the names of guests, the walls surrounding the ballroom were decorated with paintings, dim overhead lights were giving a stunning effect to the entire room.

As we moved around the room, my lips parted in awe at the sight of grandeurs event. Men were dressed in expensive suits and women were dressed in even more expensive gowns; diamonds adorning their ears, necks, hands and fingers, each of them were making a style statement.

“My family will attend too, so you don’t have to worry about your company, I’m sure Lily will be more than happy to accompany you.” Ryan gave me an encouraging smile and squeezed my hand reassuringly.

“I thought this is Kingston Industries’ charity ball, why will your family be here?” I asked him as he laced our fingers and sauntered on the red carpet.

“Because we are the Kingstons’?” He arched an eyebrow as he smirked arrogantly, I ignored his cocky attitude and gave him a small nod.

“Ryan Kingston!” A loud booming voice said in front of us, I turned my head in the voice’s direction and found a burly man coming towards us, he stood a good few inches shorter than Ryan, he had a smile playing on his lips, one that wasn’t welcoming, instead mischief.

“Ah! Mr. Burton, it’s great to see you.” Ryan’s voice was stern as he left my hand and stepped forward. My employer wasn’t welcoming either, and that suddenly flashed me that Mr. Burton was one of Perrins’ minions.

“This must be your fiancee.” Mr. Burton’s gaze fell on me, I smiled awkwardly and his gaze fell back on Mr. Kingston. “Rumours are that you’re paying her to act as your girlfriend, is that so boy?” He raised his eyebrow accusingly, and I swallowed the lump formed in my throat.

“I run a company, Mr. Burton! Do you honestly think I give a shit about these so-called rumours?” Ryan snapped, his jaw clenching for the first time in the night.

“Calm down, lad! What are you? 26?” I snapped my head at a taunting voice which came from a grey-haired man with green eyes.

“Age is just a number and wisdom doesn’t come with age, Mr. Miller. Need I have to be more blunt?” The CEO cocked his head to the side, “I suggest you to run a self test.”

Mr. Miller? Here goes another Perrins’ minion.

“Did your father not teach you to respect elders, boy?” I scoffed when I heard another annoying voice and a blonde-haired man standing beside Mr. Miller. This must be the other minion, Campbell.

“I’m not sorry that I’m brutally honest, Mr. Campbell!” My employer shot a glare at him. I couldn’t help the anger bubbling inside me. These men were utterly ridiculous and were only degrading themselves with their mean statements.

“Honesty is—”

“Save it for later, Mr. Campbell. Unlike you, I’m looking forward to enjoy this night.” Ryan cut him off and took two steps forward and picked up a glass of champagne and handed it to a confused Campbell. “Get yourself cosy and take this drink, there’s no rush, we have a lifetime to bite each other’s heads. I got to go, gentlemen.” He threw a reckless look. He laced his fingers with mine and lead me to another corner of the room.

“When you said they’re assholes, I didn’t know they’re this ridiculous.” I whined.

“Ridiculous isn’t the accurate word, but fuck them!” He huffed and lead me to a table. He pulled out a chair for me and I sat down after thanking him. He later pulled out a chair for himself beside me and sat on it.

Few minutes later Ryan handed me a glass of champagne, and I took it. The nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach had returned, and I did everything to calm my nerves. What could go wrong?

What if Perrins...?

No fucking hell! No! I was just being paranoid. This was how I felt about Tricia too, but she was probably the sweetest woman I had met.

“Erika Nadine! It’s great to see you again.” I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion for a split second before I recognised the voice, it was Lily, I flashed her my smile when she sat on the chair beside mine.

“The pleasure is mine.” I chuckled, from the corner of my eyes I could see a faint smile dancing on Ryan’s face.

“You look so pretty, sweetheart.” I turned my head aside to look at Tricia staring at me, with wide eyes filled and I instantly stood to offer her my seat, but she declined it with a polite gesture before sitting across me and Ryan.

“So do you, Mrs. Kingston.” I smiled, and she shook her head at my formal addressing.

“Ryan Kingston! You’re quite a hard man to find.” My lips twitched in amusement when I heard the voice, I glanced at the man who looked like he was in his middle age, he had a familiar jawline, even through the glasses I could see his ridiculously long eyelashes, a beautiful pair of chocolate brown eyes.

“Hmm, if only you weren’t so busy rooting for the minions I would have had time for you, old man.” My employer rolled his eyes.

Old man?

“Don’t be mean to grandpa!” Lily scoffed her brother as the man took a chair beside Ryan and I realised how similar Ryan looks.

My fucking god! Grandpa? I thought he was a man in his forties, WHAT’S IN THIS KINGSTON BLOOD?

Truth to be spoken, even the old man had stunning features and he was insanely hot.

“Listen, lad! You better take that head out of your ass before I tell all your embarrassing stories to your little fiance over here.” The man chuckled and Ryan rolled his eyes.

“Are you here to give me shit again about my tattoos?” Ryan huffed and while his grandfather slumped back in a chair.

“Nah, it only happens in weekdays.” His grandfather shrugged.

“It is a weekend, Walter.” Ryan retorted, fighting hard to keep his lips from curling into a smile.

“I work overtime, boy!” His grandpa waved a hand at Ryan and everyone broke out laughing at their conversation.

“I want you to meet Mr. Gates, he is willing to buy your NYC penthouse.” My employer’s eyes widened in shock at his grandpa’s words.

“You’re selling your pent house?” Lily growled, drawing unwanted attention towards our table.

“I don’t find it creepy at all that you know about my plan to sell my penthouse. No, not at all.” Ryan mumbled sarcastically, ignoring the stares and his whining sister, Walter Kingston arched his eyebrow at Ryan.

“I mean, I have never said I’m not a creep.” His grandpa sighed and adjusted his glasses.

“True! Gates can have my penthouse if he pays 100 million dollars.”

“150 million dollars boy.” The oldest Kingston challenged and my jaw hit the floor, but it was even more shocking to see Ryan’s jaw hanging.

“You’re not shitting me, right? The last time I checked–” The young CEO was cut off by his grandpa.

“You had your head high up your ass, it took you long enough to pull it back, so I had to act like I didn’t care about career, but I always did and now get your ass up lad, we have to meet Gates.” Walter pursed his lips and got up from the table, his grandson rolled his eyes but excused himself from the table and followed Walter.

I didn’t even realize when Jenny and Amy joined us, but it seemed like they weren’t interested in the business, so the female Kingstons’ were indulged in their own conversation. I picked up my glass of champagne and took a sip from it. Despite everything going calm till now, the feeling of discomfort wouldn’t leave me.

I internally cursed myself for over thinking and let my eyes dance all over the room, people were dancing with their partners, few were chattering too loud to annoy their neighbours, few were showing off their expensive jewellery and clothes, none of them looked like they have truly come to donate for orphans, but for some odd reason that wasn’t bugging me, it was something else.

My eyes travelled all the corners of the room searching for a particular raven haired man — that was my devious boss. Little did I expect my eyes to find a man standing a few feet away from our table. His greying brown hair was sleeked back perfectly, his face had wrinkles as he aged well, yet he looked the same.

I watched him anxiously as he chatted with few other men dressed in suits, seconds later their eyes travelled towards our table and I felt like a jab to my chest when the familiar green eyes glanced at me with a mischievous smirk and flitted back as the group broke out into loud laughter.

Suddenly I felt like everything around me vanished, my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach at the sight of the man and his laughter, I was having a hard time controlling my emotions, my emotions weren’t like waves hitting the shore but were like a hurricane as I stared at the man with blurry vision. A thousand emotions rolled over me, from anger to sorrow to fear hating.

After fucking my life up for a good 15 years within a night, here he was, laughing without a care in the world, for all he ever cared was for money. My body felt lump when I took in the figure of the man. He looked the same, the same work obsessed rich, greedy, heartless asshole.

It was him! My father... No! Your sperm donor.. RICHARD PERRINS!

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LMAO! I know I’m evil for leaving you guys hanging.....

This is your only chance to guess why Erika hates Richard Perrins.

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