Wife wanted

By: Bella Grant

Chapter 1

 Riley groaned as he glanced out of the helicopter door. He hated these meetings. They were utterly pointless. Forced him to throw on a silk tie and shave his stubble. He rather liked having beard stubble. Brought all the ladies to his side. He smirked. Just like the girl from last night…what was her name? Jill? Jane?

 He snapped his fingers towards his young assistant’s face and laughed. “Julie! She was the girl last night.”

 Ben smiled. “You’re an idiot sometimes, you know that?”

 “What? I can’t keep track of them all.”

 “Don’t you think that’s a bit shallow?”

 Riley shrugged and lounged back in the leather bench seat, making it creak against his leather belt. He might have admitted that his behavior was a bit on the shallow side, although he’d been a lot different in the old days. Back then, he was nothing more than a businessman working on running his grandfather’s company, which dealt with cyber security. It was such a growing industry that his grandfather’s tiny, one-room building had turned into a massive, modern skyscraper within ten years. He’d built an empire for his son to inherit…until said son and his wife died in a horrible jet crash. Riley had only been eleven, and his grandfather had taken him in and raised him to be a business-minded young man who knew the ins and outs of the company by the time he was sixteen.

 “This is the future,” his grandfather had told him repeatedly. “This is your future. People always want to be kept safe and this…this is how we do that. It's how we make those dreams of a perfect cyber world come true.”

 “Really? We actually manage to do all of that?” he’d asked, still dealing with his teenage angst and having lost his parents. “What if we fail?”

 His grandfather had laid his heavy hands on Riley’s small shoulders and given them a gentle squeeze. “We do not fail in this family. We only succeed and build onto that success. You will one day be in charge here, and if you fail, I will come back and haunt you until the day you die.”

 Riley smiled now as the helicopter banked and headed in the opposite direction of Cyber Vault, Inc.—his grandfather’s company, and now his. He had taken the reins when he was eighteen, and his grandfather retired, moved out of state to the country and, as far as Riley knew, was living the very relaxing dream of owning a ranch, of all things. For the first few years, Riley had lived simply, keeping the apartment he had, not splurging on fancy cars, and hardly ever dating. He’d been business focused. There were women—always women wanting to make a good impression on a billionaire—but he’d kept them at arms’ length. After all, he didn’t just run the company from a penthouse. He actually ran it from his office, working right alongside his employees. He was business driven, doing exactly as his grandfather had wanted.

 Riley smiled a bit as he repeated in his mind what his grandfather used to say: Expand the business and help keep people safe.

 Then, almost four years ago on his twenty-second birthday, something happened.

 Riley’s smile faded as he thought back to that night. The flashing lights, the sirens. The sound of squealing tires and the surreal sensation of watching everything he loved disappearing before him…

 “Riley, we’re here. Do you want your notes?”

 “Hmm? Oh yes, thank you, Ben.”

 Riley straightened his tie and tried to force the dark thoughts from his mind. He’d get through this meeting, get back to work, then go home, and maybe tonight, he’d nurse a bottle of whiskey by himself. This close to the anniversary, he could use it.

 The helicopter touched down on the roof of Benton and Sons law firm, through which Riley’s grandfather and his company did business. They’d called that morning with urgent news—probably more technicalities to go over for a new merger. Riley hadn’t even made it to the office yet. He scratched at his stubble, but his fingers met smooth skin and he frowned. He really hated these meetings. They meant he had to remove the silver stud from his left ear and make sure the tattoos on his arms were covered. He might be a CEO, but these lawyers refused to do business with him when he looked like a ruffian.

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