ten : hera langford, the gold of the depths
P H I L L I P
♥ ♥ ♥
THE WEIGHT IN my hands lifts above my body, letting it rest there for a moment before it comes back to me, towards my chest. A heavy breath releases from my lips before doing that movement over and over again.
At least fifty times. Maybe more.
Or around. I don’t even remember the number. I place the weight back down on its place before pulling my body from the long seat, my bare chest filled with sweat from the workout that I’ve been doing ever since that meeting last night.
Last night was chaotic.
No . . . it was insane; something that should have never happened to me. To me of all people.
No one threatens Phillip Whittaker and expects they would get away with it, no consequences in return. Nobody gets to talk like that to me and get away with it.
And yet, that woman—that infuriating woman who thought that she was better than me, decided to blackmail me with the whole BDSM thing.
Like there aren’t other men in New York City who don’t do the same thing as me?
But she thought that she needed to blackmail me. Reason? She doesn’t have any. She just thought that blackmail was a good idea. However, it was her fucking fault. If she was never in my office, kissing the hell out of the man, who in the end, ran out like a sad dog with his tail between his feet. She was there. I was not.
I shouldn’t even describe her as a human being. A human would never do what she did. A monster would though. A monster who has a body of a goddess; more like a Succubus.
Succubus are known to enter a man’s dream, seducing them with their body and their looks into the male’s bed. They are demons and yet, when they enter a dream, they appear like an enchantress or a temptress or one of those water nymphs from Greek mythology. They lure their prey in like a siren, calling to lowly sailors that sail past their island and force them to crash into the jagged rocks, killing and drowning the sailors on board. Then after, feasting on the remains of the bodies. Succubus are like that, just like that.
And that woman is the definition of one.
I shouldn’t even be calling her a her. There should be something else to call her.
Maybe monster. Maybe siren. Maybe something else.
I ran a hand down the length of my face, over the spine of my nose and towards the skin of my chin, pulling on the skin. There is pain but not that much. Nothing that I couldn’t handle. I sigh in response and my head falls down so that I’m looking at the ground.
I’m so fucking tired. Of life. Of everything.
I haven’t seen the love of my life since last night. Since I left her alone in the hallway to rush to my office from a text that came from Simon. I still remember her face: the wide eyes, the pain in them and the expression of surprise that came upon her. It still aches in the depths of my chest. And since then . . . my life has been a complete mess.
Not like it wasn’t like that before that event.
I stand from the bench that my ass was firmly planted on and make my way across the room and in the direction of the floor to ceiling mirrors that are customized to wrap around three of the four walls of the room. The last wall—the one that is not covered by glass—is a floor to ceiling window that gives a marvellous view of the New York skyline.
The roads are busy; the skies are filled to the brim of clouds that are not pouring down water onto the grounds but instead just rest there, making sure that no harsh light comes from the sun, just a little bit of light, instead, coming through the clouds and blanketing the city instead.
My eyes stay on the build of my body. The sweat that lines the pecs of my six-pack, the skin being seen as gold in its molten state. The pecs are tight, rough skin that is scattered with light brown—almost golden—hairs that are across before leading to the V of my hips. The very well defined V. Then my thighs are held in place by the shorts that are black in colour and create a rather large contrast between my skin tone. The muscles of my chest are well defined, the hard ridges becoming even firmer with each time that I push the weight up into the air and then towards my body before repeating
But this is the only way that I cope with my anger.
A morning out in the indoor gym of my penthouse is a nice time to spend before taking the twenty-minute drive in the direction of Whittaker Industries.
I turn sharply and my hand clutches on top of a towel that I placed before entering the room and bringing it to my body. The sweat on my chest, on my forehead and everywhere else, is being slowly wiped off by the strokes that I make on my skin. Each stroke makes my skin drier and the towel damper.
Taking one final swipe on my brow, I make my way out of the gym when the first rays of sunlight come in and take a swipe in the direction of the gym. On my way out, I pick up my Apple watch only to see that the time is six in the morning.
And that I’m late.
Drowsiness hits me harder but right now, the only thing that I care about is getting to the office.
The woman can wait until later to invade my thoughts.
♥ ♥ ♥
I TIE THE last of mybuttons on my wrist, wrapping the expensive clothing there before moving it back and forth, making sure that the fabric is not that tight but at the same time, not that loose.
My blond strands are still damp from the shower that I took just moments ago and now, they drip down the nape of my neck but not that much that it stains the white clothing.
My silver orbs look up from my walk to look at the interior of my room. I had just finished taking my shower and getting ready for a new day at work after spending more than four hours in the four walls of my gym. It was helpful—the time that I spent in the gym but right now, I just want to go back there and hit something. Maybe a punching bag. Maybe the face of the hazel-eyed woman from last night.
I walk in the direction of my table, pick up my expensive platinum Rolex and weigh it in my hand. My hands go up and down, bouncing the metal and my mind thinking if taking it is my best idea. I could take the Rolex watch, flaunt my wealth in the faces of others or take my Apple watch.
I jump it in my hand just a little bit before my hand tightens on it.
Rolex it is.
I push the sleeve of my expensive white shirt a bit up so that there’s enough space to place the watch on. The metal feels cold on my wrist and a small tremor pushes through my body.
I ignore it and just walk out of the room, black blazer in hand while the matching trousers are on my legs, the black material rubbing against the tightness of my skin. My phone is in my other hand, my thumbs focus on scrolling while my eyes watch.
Even though it’s Emily’s job—as my assistant—to look through my emails, I feel a sense of normalness at doing things myself. All the emails are the same and bore me to death so I pull up messages and send a quick one in Emily’s direction to look through the emails and send me the important ones that need my help.
Before I know it, I end up in the lounge of my penthouse. I breathe in deeply when the smell of coffee and bacon filters in through the kitchen and in my direction.
Looks like Maisie is here.
Maisie Edwards is a woman who has known me since I was in little diapers, with a tuft of blond hair on my head and running through the halls in Whittaker Manor, creating drama and chaos in my trail. When mother Whittaker was too busy with her career and then after, her love life with dead ol’ dad when I was younger, Maisie, who is also the chef at the Manor, would take care of me. She would make me chocolate brownies from scratch and then she would place them on the bench, cooling them down. However my dumbass decided that it would not matter whether the brownies were hot or cold, they would get in my mouth in the end. The result of that bad decision was burn marks on the sides of my mouth and that I couldn’t chew for a week after. I did other stupid things other than that; nearly setting the stables on fire, plucking out roses from the garden, that the gardeners spent months perfecting, and creating horrible and messy bouquets from them, shaving my eyebrows as well.
A wince carries through me at the memory.
I still rather regret that choice because it took months before they grew back to what they were before.
I took a few more steps in the direction of the kitchen before entering the area.
The kitchen of this Upper East Side penthouse matches the rest of the place. The counters of the kitchen are a black granite that runs in an L shape around the area and has a gas stove, a sink that is made out of stainless steel and a huge walk-in pantry at the side, before a black granite island in the middle of the space with waterfall edges is placed. That island has nothing on top of it except on the side, closest to the kitchen, it houses a few drawers that Maisie had filled with the most random shit. Towards my side are four bar stools that are made from black leather and feel wonderful on my ass when I sit there.
Upon walking into the kitchen, I see Maisie standing in front of the stove, bacon frying and popping in the oil that it’s making while in another, eggs are doing the same thing. The brown-haired woman—Maisie is moving the pan with the eggs in her hand, a hum coming from her lips while the soft sound of music comes from somewhere else.
I look around the kitchen, trying to find where the soft piano music is originating from only to find an old radio that is grey in colour with an antenna peeking out from the top. It is an old little thing; might not even be from the past few years with the blaring of bright gold numbers at the front to show the station.
Maisie looks over the pan, her back to me before placing it back down. And then she turns around.
“Oh!” she exclaims, placing a hand over her heart from the shock that must have been there. “Phillip, I thought that you were still sleeping.”
“I don’t sleep in, I wake up early instead.” I shrug my shoulders and then walk over towards the woman. Maisie gives me a bright smile, her hands out wide and when I get close enough, she pulls me into a hug.
She still smells the same.
The scent of lavender mixed with the slightest hint of cinnamon radiated off her like a beacon of light at dawn. Her body feels warm and the soft curves of her plus size body show off in the blue dress that she wears and the white apron on top that’s decorated with black polka dots. Maisie pulls me from her body before her eyes rove over me.
“Now let me see you, my dear boy.”
Those brown orbs of hers—that hold warmth that is beyond what my own mother can give Lyn—take me in, one feature at the time. First at my feet, then my arms and followed by the soft blond locks on my head.
To take one into her hand, Maisie makes a move to rise onto the edges of her feet before she snatches a blond curl into her hand. And then she tugs on it.
A slight bit of pain follows just after the action and I swat at her hand playfully. Maisie giggles in that soft voice that a woman her age would have. “Even when you were a little child, causing mayhem and trouble, the only thing that would make you stop was just a tiny pull off a blond strand on your head”
She chuckles once more, her head moving side to side before turning back to the gas of the stove, continuing what she was doing before I walked into the kitchen.
I take a step back from her, looking around the space to seek the black liquid that dragged me here in the first place.
Walking back around the island so that we are on opposite sides of the island, I lean against the counter. I could feel my muscles, the tone of my stomach, stretching against the material of my shirt while the tightness of my thighs rubs against the trousers.
I watch the woman.
And seeing as she could feel my silver gaze on her, she bristles before saying, “I know what you want and it’s there—” she points to her left side “—get it before it gets cold. You are more than capable of getting it yourself.”
I don’t let that comment get to me that harshly
I look in the direction. The coffee machine stands there in all its glory, the bright red colouring of its side should’ve been a dead giveaway to where it must have been. My whole kitchen’s in shades of black and white and whatever can be found in between. I walk towards it and the dark black liquid can be seen as a harsh colour against the white tiles on the wall.
Along the way, I grab a mug from the cupboard right next to it, the words, Boss of the motherfucking world, scribbled in white and has a navy blue background stands out to me and a chuckle comes from my lips
Lyn gave me this cup. And she certainly had a reason to give it to me because yes, I am the boss of this world. And the next after it.
The mug’s cold glass shocks my hand but when I walk up to the coffee machine, pour the black liquid into the cup, the hand’s shock of cold turns into a pattern of heat. I touch both sides of the glass and drink the coffee.
Black coffee, the best coffee that one can have.
“I have no idea how you can drink that disgusting black coffee that tastes like the worst poison that someone might have . . . but you drink it like it’s lemonade right now.”
I gaze in her direction, the deep inhale that she takes and then the same exhale just moments after.
“I could never. Cream and milk need to go in or I’m throwing the whole jug out the window and pray that it lands on someone’s head.”
Maisie moves away from the gas stove and towards a bowl with a metal whisk in it. She takes the whisk in her hand and starts whisking the batter inside.
I take a sip of my coffee before jerking my head in her direction. “What’s that for?”
Maisie just continues to steer the batter.
I shake my head. I just asked her a question and she’s acting like I didn’t say anything and instead am sitting here, like a good little boy who will sit and wait for breakfast.
You’re not anything good; evil is in your blood.
“You know,” I place the mug down before leaning into the counter behind me. “You don’t have to make anything. I would’ve just taken a cup of coffee before heading into the office. I have some important meetings to do for the company today and I can’t be allowed to be late.”
I have nothing important to do today. I never have anything important to do unless it has to do with the company and the money that is being made. Emily is more than capable of doing everything else.
Those words snap her out of her place. “You own the damn company,” she places the glass bowl to the side, “whether you’re late or not it doesn’t really matter.”
“How do you know that?”
Maisie raises an eyebrow at me. “I am far older than you, boy. I have seen your father go to work at ungodly hours after he has had a little tumble with the Mrs of the house in one of the showers in the spare bedroom.”
Now that is too much information. “You could have come up with another example. Why did you have to pick that one?”
“Because making you flustered makes me remember you from when you were younger.” Maisie gives me a grin, showing teeth and all as well and I know she is happy about the way that I reacted. “Plus, I’m making waffles. So sit your ass down or I’m putting you on house arrest for the rest of the week.”
I narrow my eyes. “You can’t do that!”
She has that I know everything look in her eyes and her entire face in this very moment.
I sigh. “Nope. I’m still going.”
Now Maisie looks angry.
But before she could say a single word of her protest, the doorbell rings.
I give a pointed look at the woman next to the waffle batter. “Did you call someone?”
“Now why would I do that?”
“To help with the cooking?” I hope that these words distract her from my words just from moments ago. I really hope so.
Maisie turns away from me but not before doing a shooing motion to me. She grabs the bowl and continues to steer the batter. “Go and see who is at the door. Then we can continue our conversation later.”
She stops steering, places the bowl back on the counter and starts to rummage through the drawers, looking for something. She comes up for a second to give me a pointed look. “Who’re you waiting for?”
I shake my head, grab my coffee and make my way out of the kitchen and towards the lift. The doorbell rings once again. Who’s at the door?
But my answer comes when a dark-haired woman with dark coffee coloured eyes opens the door with a pair of keys in her hands.
“Gemma.” The word comes out breathless, unexpected.
Well, she is unexpected. I didn’t know that she was coming; she never told me that she was coming and yet, here she is, standing in front of my door in a pair of denim high waisted jeans and a black tank top and a white Gucci bag in her left hand.
“Hi.” Her eyes turn warm and she takes one step in. “How are you?”
Such an innocent question that she asks. And fuck, even in an innocent voice as well. What am I supposed to tell her? Hey, Gemma, baby. I would just like to tell you that someone has found out what I do and now the siren is blackmailing me to marry her. I hope that we can still keep fucking and using the red room while I’m married to someone other than you.
No. I can never tell her that.
“I’m good.” I turn around and walk deeper into the apartment. The sound of shoes tapping against the ground is the only way that I know that Gemma is following me. The elevator closes and then the both of us are in the kitchen.
The smell of bacon is faint as well as the eggs and now the sweet and sugary smell of waffles is left cooking. “Who is it, Phil—? Oh! It’s just Gemma.”
Gemma gives Maisie a soft smile while placing her bag on the counter. “Hi, Mrs Edwards,” she glances at the food. “What’cha making?”
“I just finished making bacon and eggs and now, it’s waffle time.” Maisie beams at the woman beside me. “It would have been done earlier but someone kept arguing with me about not wanting to eat something before heading into work.”
It’s no coincidence that I’m the someone in this context.
“Well, that’s not good.” Gemma shakes her head and gives me a hard, harsh, long look before glancing at Maisie. “Don’t worry, I’ll make him eat everything that you’ve made with your own hands this morning.”
“You would do that?”
“Phillip is not going to take care of himself so I have to do it instead.”
No. This is wrong. I can’t even look Gemma in the face and now I need to have breakfast with her. I can’t do this. I have so much to tell her and I know with just one look into those eyes of hers that, a glimmer of love and admiration shining through them, I’ll spill everything and then what would happen?
That woman would have won everything and I would end up with nothing.
“You don’t have to—”
Gemma gives me a hard look. “It’s done and decided. We will have breakfast together.”
Ten minutes later, Gemma and I are sitting at the table a few feet away from the kitchen, food in front of us in white glass plates with a lining of gold on the edges. I can see the shadow of Maisie in the side of the kitchen and she’s staring at us. It’s quiet. Too quiet.
The plate in front of me has everything on it; some bacon strips that are crisp to perfection, eggs sunny side up with the egg just runny enough to not be considered raw and a stack of waffles that are drenched in maple syrup. Gemma has a similar arrangement to mine; the only difference being that she has fewer eggs and more bacon.
I take one bite of the bacon and a shiver passes through me.
It’s not that the food is not bad—it’s better than usual because it’s made by Maisie’s hand—but I just don’t feel like eating. My brain is churning and when your brain is churning, nothing can stop it. Not even food.
The fork in my hand moves around the plate and I take a glance at Gemma.
There’s a rift between us. One that can never close but instead, it’s getting bigger and bigger by each secret that I keep. I want to close it.
Fuck, I really do. I love this woman.
Isn’t love supposed to keep us together, forever, instead of breaking it apart?
Gemma is doing the same thing that I am: moving the food around her plate, the bacon mixing with the syrup and butter, and the waffles having golden yolks running on the sharp edges.
I stand from my place.
Gemma raises her eyes to me.
I take a deep breath and release it. “I can drop you home before going in for work today. If that’s what you want?”
Gemma stands and that’s all I need as an answer from her.
♥ ♥ ♥
THE CAR STOPS right in front of Gemma’s townhouse and before I can say bye to her or even turn to face her body, she is already out of the car and marching towards the front door. I see her stop at the front door and for a split second, I had a feeling that she will turn around, just once to see me before entering her house
The small tilt of her head in my direction makes me hold my breath while gazing out the window. Gemma had already closed the door while on her way out. She might’ve been mad at me but she is not rude as to leave the door open when she can close it.
But then I see her shake her head before pushing something into the door before it opens.
Then she’s gone.
My face turns from where she once was and my gaze drops to my legs. I sigh once before bringing my face up and staring at the man who’s driving the car.
“Seth,” the man gives me a single glance in the rearview mirror, “let’s head to the office shall we?”
“Of course, Sir Phillip.”
Then Seth pulls back into the busy New York streets and heads in the direction of the office.
During the ride, I get a call from Emily. The redhead tells me that a few files have come from a man in the office. Her voice holds worry in it but I reassure her that I know who dropped off the files and then after, place them on my desk where I can have a read through them.
That call lasted a total of twenty minutes.
And right when I click the blaring red button on the screen, the car stops in front of the entrance to Whittaker Industries.
The building stands tall and proud against the New York sky. The building is quite tall, reaching the fucking clouds—right where my office is around. The colours are bold, dark and more professional than I wanted them to be after the many renovations since the building was built and the Whittaker name had become as powerful as it has over the past few hundred years. Whittaker Industries is written in bold colours that light up the usual grey skies of New York and something that I like, since it leaves a message to everyone around me that we, as a family, are powerful.
I open the door of the grey Rolls-Royce, stepping outside before the sound of the car accelerating filters from behind me. Then it’s gone.
Taking powerful steps towards the front door, it opens upon my command and I see the pristine, modern layout of Whittaker Industries’ lobby. The woman at the reception gives me a gentle wave, a bright smile on her face and I give her a nod in return. Her wave falters, the hand starting to come down before it’s back to typing on the iMac in front of her, all the happiness gone.
I take a walk in the direction of my private lift—which opens as soon as I stop in front of the doors. I step into the small compartment and I press the small button at the side that makes the lift go up to my floor.
In the silence of the elevator, my thoughts go to the pile of papers that my private investigator had given to Emily. Files over files; papers over papers all depicting that woman and her whole life. Before she came to me, her childhood, her likes, her dislikes, everything that she has ever known and will ever know will be known to me and I will use it.
Somehow I’ll use it to get that fucking bitch of my back.
Getting off the lift and onto my floor, the first thing I spot is the red of my assistant. Emily Stark is in modest clothing for a day in the office. The black pencil skirt of her ensemble shows the small curves that she has while the blue blouse makes her eyes stand out stronger.
“Mr. Whittaker!” The woman sounds excited for some odd reason.
I raise an eyebrow and continue on my way to the office. “Yes, Emily, it’s me.” I shake my head. “Where did you place those papers that were given by that odd man. You remember which one?”
Emily takes her lower lip in her mouth and starts to nibble on it. “Yes, I do have it . . .”
“But that guy who gave it in was so . . . shady.” A shiver goes through her body for a moment. “Dressed in all black like a run-down version of Batman, but you can find the papers on your desk.”
I send a nod to Emily. “Good. Then I’ll check on those files and you can forward me the emails that I need to look through.”
Emily beams at me. “Already done.”
“Being quite efficient, aren’t we?”
“Well . . . after the incident with the wrong file on your hand, I have become, you know,” she shrugs her shoulders, acting like it’s nothing, “more onto the work.”
“That’s good. But right now, I have nothing you need to do, so why don’t you go grab my schedule and bring it to my office. Oh, and knock before entering.”
Emily gives me a small smile and then she’s gone.
My feet move swiftly in the direction of my office, shrugging off my blazer on the way before opening the door and entering. I close the door behind me and make my way towards the desk. My silver eyes look at the black file on my desk and a frown comes onto my face.
The file is small.
Barely more than ten, maybe fifteen pages.
Why is it so small?
My hand enters my pocket, ready to pull out my phone and call my private investigator when I see a note stuck on top in a bright yellow colour. In anger, I yank it off the file.
This is all that I can find on Hera Langford. So don’t call me demanding more info. I don’t have any more to give you.
Of course, this happens to me of all people.
Right after the party, when sleep just couldn’t come into me, I called Omar and told him to get everything and anything on a woman called Hera Langford.
Hera Langford? he’d questioned in a drowsy voice into the phone. Isn’t that the name of that hot woman with the green eyes? Nice hair too?
I had pinched my eyebrows and sighed. Like I know what type of eyes she had when she blackmailed me into marrying her?
Wait, what? And then he had the audacity to laugh in my face. This is good, he said and then there was quietness. But I’ll see what I can find on her.
That was five hours ago.
And this is all that he could find of her?
I place my blazer onto the backside of my chair before pulling it out and placing my ass on the leather. The leather feels comfortable on my ass and I pull it into the desk. My gaze keeps on darting to the file, my fingers fidgeting just waiting to place my hands on the paper and see what secrets this woman has in her belt.
My self-control lasts about five seconds before the soft texture of the paper in my hands and the pages start to flip at a fast pace. My orbs take in each word that is written on the pages. Words about her career—as an actress—; the people that she hangs out with; the movies and TVs shows that she’s been in; the places that she has visited; the favourite ice cream shop of hers that is placed right in front of the entrance to Central Park; the time that she had been to Bainbridge Hall, the piece of our family that was gifted to Brooklyn as an early birthday present.
And that the world calls her Hera Langford, the gold of the depths.
This file has everything that one would want to know about the siren.
Except for one thing: the pages only tell me about the last five years of her life.
The other twenty years of her life (it’s stated in the file that she’s twenty-five) is not written within the pages.
Smacking the file onto the surface of the table, I push my chair back the slightest before I lean back into the chair. This—the file in my hands and the information that it holds—is absolutely useless to me. There is nothing in here to incriminate the woman or to make sure that she gets off my ass with her blackmail and shit.
I press my fingers to the bridge of my nose, a heavy breath releasing from my lips while I close my eyes.
Then I hear a knock on my door.
Another sigh. “Come in.”
Emily comes into my office, a cheery smile on her face that comes off instantly when she could sense my mood. The redhead stops in her tracks. “Umm . . . I could come back later with the schedule if you would like that?”
I roll my chair back into its place right under the desk, I lean forward, weariness coming into place. “No. Just place it on the desk and then you can go and do other things that need to be done.”
Emily nods her head before coming over to my desk. She places the paper in front of me and points at something in her clean handwriting. “You have a meeting in fifteen minutes with the broker about the land that you wanted to purchase.”
“Of course. When Mr. Smith comes in, just direct him to the conference room.”
Emily nods her head once again before turning and starting to make her way out of the room.
“Oh, and Emily?”
She stops right when she places her hand on the doorknob. “Yes?”
“Can you do something? Call my lawyers. I have a few things that I want to run down by them before I make a decision.”
♥ ♥ ♥
chapter ten in its greatest form possible.
hope u guys like it!