Fake Marriage with the CEO(7)

By: Amanda Horton

“There’s a reason she got into acting. She can’t deal with the real world.”

“Julie, the art curator? She seemed like a decent girl. What happened to her?”

Wolfe rolled his eyes. “I felt like one of her paintings on display. She tipped off the paparazzi whenever we went out on a date.” He looked at his mother. “Look, Mom, I don’t have to explain all my failed romances. That’s my personal business, not yours.” He smiled to take the sting

off his remark.

“I know and I’m sorry. It’s just that I do worry about you. A string of girlfriends and each one always comes up short. Instead, you put so many hours into running the company that you hardly put yourself out there. How will you ever meet a decent woman?”

“The company needs me now. I can’t trust anyone to do things for me.”

Diane looked up sharply. “Is something wrong with the company?”

“No! Of course not. Everything’s fine. I meant it’s hard to choose a person you can trust to run a business for you. That’s the reason I do it myself.”

Diane frowned at her son. “If there’s one thing your dad taught me, it was to hire the best. Treat them well and earn their trust. That way he could share the responsibilities and have more time for the things he loved.”

“Yeah, okay,” Wolfe conceded. “I’ll work less and put myself out there and meet someone nice and get married and have tons of children.”

Diane laughed. “You’d better, or I’ll hand over my share of the company to Bruce so you won’t have a choice in sharing the responsibility.”

Wolfe stiffened. “Has Bruce ever suggested that to you?”

“He jokes about it. Bruce says that having shares under his name will make him feel relevant instead of like a male mistress to the Hawkins fortune.”

Warning bells rang inside Wolfe’s head. Diane might think it was just a joke, but he knew Bruce was a manipulative bastard.

Before he could reply, Jenna knocked and entered the room. “You have a call from the catering company, the one distributing the food packs at the health center this afternoon. I tried taking the message but he insists on talking to you personally.”

Diane studied the secretary, her frown increasing as she took in Jenna’s habitually low cut blouse. “Surely you can see that Wolfe is busy—”

“Jenna wouldn’t interrupt unless she thought it was important.” Wolfe picked up the phone, nodding to the secretary. “I’ll take the call in here.”

As Jenna slunk out of the room, Diane folded her arms. “Men! A woman shows some cleavage and she can do no wrong—”

“Jenna’s a very good secretary — despite how she dresses.” There was a click from the receiver, as Jenna transferred the call. “Wolfe Hawkins speaking.”

Diane made her feelings clear at the interruption by flipping through the magazine with more vigor than necessary.

After a second, Wolfe barely noticed her. The report from the other end of the line had his complete attention. “Of course. I’ll be there immediately. Make sure those packs aren’t delivered.”

He slammed the phone down, striding to his office door. “Jenna, have Simms meet me

outside the foyer immediately.” He turned back to his mother. “Sorry I have to cut this visit short. I need to go to the center. That was Mr. Rodriguez, our contractor for food for the company’s outreach program. He thinks the food packs being delivered are spoiled.”

Diane started. “Good Lord! How did that happen?”

“I don’t know. That’s the reason I have to go now.”

“Can’t someone else go instead? Why does it have to be you?”

Wolfe pulled his office door shut. “Each of those food boxes has our company logo emblazoned on them. If someone gets sick and the media picks it up, they’ll have a field day. We can’t risk the negative publicity.” He grabbed the keys to the car. “That’s why I’m going there myself.”

There was no one else he could trust.

Chapter Three

Wolfe maneuvered his BMW expertly through the downtown traffic. “Simms, I need a couple of your men at the outreach center. Stop that food truck from distributing those food packs.” He braked, as once again, the traffic came to a halt.

Simms whipped open his cell phone. “They’re on their way, Sir.”

Wolfe clenched his jaw. He knew Simms well enough to know the calmness in his voice belied deep agitation. Like himself, Simms knew just how disastrous this could be. The traffic began to move, and Wolfe put his foot on the accelerator. The car glided forward, and he slipped through a gap in the traffic, stealing a second’s advance. “How far are we from the center?”

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