Fake Marriage with the CEO(5)

By: Amanda Horton

The department heads assembled in silence, their footsteps muffled by the rich carpet. Those that caught Wolfe’s eye blanched. Wolfe’s frown increased at the reminder of the urgency for this meeting. As the last man took his seat, Wolfe strode over to stand at the head of the table.

“I won’t beat around the bush. You know why I’ve called you all here.”

The cool interior of the conference room seemed to go down another notch. The department heads exchanged glances although no one seemed eager to say anything.

The Head of Research spoke, “The error that caused us to lose a shipload of raw material.”

His neighbor, the head of quality control, flinched. Wolfe couldn’t blame the man. It had nearly been a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions. “The raw material was tested when it first arrived at our loading office. The labs declared it of pure quality—”

Wolfe held up a hand for silence. “I’ve reviewed the tests. I’m satisfied that the material was pure when it arrived. At some point during the processing stage, an unauthorized substance was introduced into it. We’re extremely lucky a chemist noted the strange discoloration in the finished product during the tablet pressing stage. Thanks to his diligence, we discovered that the entire batch was tainted.”

The Head of Research leaned in. “Has the substance been identified?”

“Not yet. I’ve hired an outside laboratory to do the testing.”

The room was silent.

Wolfe examined the department heads in turn. He knew them all. The majority had been with the company since it first began thirty years ago. He’d grown up with their children. The idea that anyone in the room intended to sabotage the company was ridiculous. He trusted them.

But he couldn’t ignore the evidence.

“Because the chemical process involved in manufacturing those tablets is so complicated, the investigation team has not yet identified the origin of the mistake.” Wolfe watched the reactions of his audience with hawk-like intensity and attention. “Until we get to the bottom of this, I’m putting the storage facility off-limits to anyone not cleared by security. In the meantime, the investigators are checking surveillance cameras for any suspicious behavior over the last two weeks. Any objections?”

No one spoke.

Wolfe smiled thinly. He hadn’t expected any response. “Thank you for your time.”

There was a mad rush for the door. Wolfe couldn’t blame them. But while his conscience protested taking such a hard-line approach to his trusted employees, Wolfe had to be certain there wasn’t a Judas among them. Hawkins Pharmaceutical was more than a company. It was his father’s legacy.

A legacy Wolfe had been dangerously close to losing.

His father, William Hawkins, founded the company. Wolfe was on his last year of Business School in Cambridge when he passed away. His grieving mother took over the company reins while he finished his degree. When Wolfe returned a year later, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. His mother gladly handed over running the entire company. Wolfe discovered financial records in disarray and company morale at an all-time low. He kept the company afloat only through sheer guts, showing the same knowledge and dedication his father possessed. Every decision was calculated, every move meticulously planned to achieve the best possible outcome.

Now, Hawkins Pharmaceuticals was one of the top companies in North America and making its presence felt in Asia and the rest of the world. Wolfe’s strategy was simple – make medication accessible to everyone.

Alone in the conference room, Wolfe leaned forward, resting his elbows on the conference table. He wanted nothing more than to loosen his tie, but he resisted the urge. While he was equally comfortable at home in sweats and a hoodie as he was in the expensive Burberry suit he wore now, he knew that Hawkins Pharmaceutical relied on him to steer them through the current crisis — and he would not let them down.

Ignoring how tired he felt, he stood up. He glanced at the window as he tugged his jacket straight. A tall angular man glanced back. Wolfe was proud of his resemblance to his authoritative father. I won’t let you down, Dad. Hawkins Pharmaceutical will come out of this better and stronger than ever.

Wolfe’s brow furrowed. He stared past his reflection, out into the vast metropolis. The best minds in the company were baffled. How to get to the bottom of it all?

“Mr. Hawkins, Mrs. Simpson is in your office.” The honeyed voice of Jenna, his secretary, cut through his reverie.

“Mom? What is she doing here?” Wolfe turned toward her. “Did I miss an

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