The Russian's Acquistion(4)

By: Dani Collins



She’d come away more fired up than ever to get the foundation off the ground. She had to keep people like Mrs. Downings, with her understanding and compassion, available to children with the same aching, empty hearts that she had.

“Are you shutting down the whole firm?” Clair asked Aleksy with subdued panic.

He turned stony. “That’s confidential.”

She shook her head. “You can’t let everyone go. Not immediately. Not without paying buckets of severance,” she guessed, but it was an educated one. There were hundreds of clients with investments managed here.

“I can dismiss you,” he said with quiet assurance.

Another jolt of anger pulsed through her, unfamiliar but invigorating. “On what grounds?”

“Not turning up for work last week.”

“I had the time booked months ago. I couldn’t have known then that my employer would pass away right before I left.” And she would have stayed if Victor’s family hadn’t been so cutting. If someone, anyone, had said she was needed here.

“You obviously cared more about enjoying your holiday than whether your job would be here when you returned.”

The annual blitz of cleaning and repair at the home was the furthest thing from a holiday, not that he wanted to know. “I offered to stay,” she asserted, not wanting to reveal how torn she’d felt. With her world crashing around her here, she’d been quite anxious to escape to the one stable influence in her life.

“The VP granted my leave,” she continued, scraping her composure together by folding her arms. With her eyes narrowed in suspicion, she asked, “Would I still be employed if I’d stayed?”

“No.” Not a shred of an excuse.

What a truly hateful man! His dislike of her was strangely hurtful too. She tried hard to make herself likable, knowing she wasn’t naturally warm and spontaneous. Failing without being given a chance smarted.

“Mr. Turner assured me before I left that another position would be found for me. I’ve been here almost three years.” She managed to hang on to a civil tone, searching for enough dignity to disguise her fear.

“Mr. Turner doesn’t own the company. I decide who stays.”

“It’s wrongful dismissal. Unless you’re offering a package?” She hated that she tensed in hope. She knew exactly how marketable her skill set was: barely adequate. Going back to low-end jobs, scraping by on a hand-to-mouth existence made her insides gel with dread. This job had been her first step into genuine security.

The Russian tilted his head to a patronizing angle. “We both know you’ve enjoyed the full package long enough, Miss Daniels. If you haven’t set aside something for this eventuality, that’s not my concern.”

“Stop talking like I was—”

“What?” he demanded, baring his teeth. “Victor Van Eych’s mistress? Stop acting like you weren’t,” he snarled with surprising bite. In a few long strides he was at his desk, flipping open a file, waving a single sheet of paper. “Your qualifications are limited to typing and filing, but you’re occupying an executive office.” Another sheet flapped in the air. “You’re paid more than his personal secretary, but he still needed one because you were dedicated to ‘special projects.’” He cracked out a laugh as he snatched up the next record. “You live in the company flat—”

“In the housekeeper’s wing because it’s one of my duties to water the plants,” she defended, hearing how weak it sounded even though Victor had made it sound so logical.

“The janitors who dust the place can water the plants. You’re a parasite, Miss Daniels. One who’s being pried off the host. Take the day to pack your things.”

A parasite. She was doing everything in her power to pay back the system! This job had been a golden egg, but she’d tried not to take advantage of Victor’s generosity. Now she was finally on the brink of being able to help others instead of focusing on her own struggles—something she wanted not for the recognition, but to support children like what she’d once been—and he was calling her a parasite?

“You reprehensible, conscienceless…” Her voice dried up, which was probably best. She was shaking and liable to get personal. Mention that scar, for instance.

“Conscienceless,” he repeated through lips that peeled back in a snarl. He closed her file and took up a memo of some kind. “Do you even know what you’ve been sleeping with? Read that, then tell me who is conscienceless and reprehensible.”

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