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Authors: Mali Longwell

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary Fiction

The Executive Consultant

BOOK: The Executive Consultant
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c. 2014 by Mali


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This is it!

"Lea Brady".

I can't
believe I'm graduating for the second time. The first time was a cinch! But
this time I really put my blood and guts into it. Lea my girl, you've earned

I nodded as the Dean handed me my degree and then I waved to my
family. I saw my Mum beaming proudly and my Dad giving me a thumbs up. Each
graduate had been allowed only two seats, but I had managed to get a couple
extra for Mark, my fiancé, and Erin, my best friend from high school. I simply
could not imagine the day without them both being here. They were the four most
important people in my world and they were here with me. I was over the moon
with excitement. I was finally getting this degree and I planned to really let
my hair down and celebrate tonight.

Mark waved frantically to me as I turned to look at them again.
With his brown spikey hair and large brown eyes, he was quite a catch. I had
never had a serious boyfriend, so the idea of marrying him was still a bit
surreal to me. And the fact that he was a total hunk was icing on the wedding

As I walked away from the Dean and adjusted my tassel, I
couldn't help it. The scream had been waiting to be let out from the very day I
had done received my final grade. I waved the piece of paper around as the
shriek erupted from my lips.


The smile on my face was a broad one.

Here’s to a
brand new me

As the Dean carried on talking, there was only one thing that
all of us as students were waiting to hear.

“Graduating Class of 2013!”

We lifted our hats in the air and jumped for joy. All the hard
work had paid off and we were glad. I hugged Anne, my friend who had become my
study partner during my master’s program. She had been introduced to me by
Erin. Their mothers had gone to the same college and had kept in touch
throughout the years.

Meeting Anne had been a blessing. I knew that I would have had
major problems grasping some critical aspects of International Finance; those
equations were a bitch. Luckily, that was Anne’s forte. She knew those
equations like the back of her hand. We had met during my first week as Erin
had given me her details. I had met her in the library with my books wide open
as I had sat staring into thin air. She had sat next to me and we had started
to talk. We had discovered that we had all of our classes together with the
exception of three or four courses. She had been studying International Banking
and Finance whereas my area had been International Business.

Sadly Anne’s mom had died a few years before she had started the
program. She had known no one in New York. I hadn't either so we had hung out
for the better part of the year. Anne had wanted to fulfill her mom’s dream of
her getting a master’s degree and working for a merchant banker.

She was bright and at times I envied her, especially with her
long legs and blond hair. Men would kill to get next to her, but she would
always say that men were a distraction that she did not need at this age and
stage of her life. She had a plan for her life and nothing was going to get in
the way.

My parents came over to me by the time I was done hugging and
kissing Anne.

“I can't believe it. My little girl who cried herself to sleep
without her teddy till she was eight years old, has not only one degree, but
two.” Mum said as she hugged me.
She’s a
lot shorter than me at five two and stockier, but she still looks good for her
Her social life keeps her busy,
that’s for sure.

Dad hugged me and kissed me on the forehead like he has always
done ever since I was little girl. He’s a man of few words but his smile told
me that he was very proud of me.

Mark and Erin were hovering behind each other like they had some
deadly secret they were trying to keep. As I made my way towards them they
quickly changed the subject. I knew Erin too well. She gave me a hug and so did
Mark with a big kiss on the lips. I frowned slightly. It felt like a kiss of
remorse or guilt rather of pride. I stared into his eyes for a moment,
searching his features. His eyes were shuttered and evasive. Before I could
look deeper he smiled and grabbed my hand and led me to the car. We had planned
a big celebration dinner followed by party with some of the other students
afterwards. Time was of the essence. I relaxed a bit while everyone else
started to pile in allowing the excitement of the moment to take over the
forefront yet again. It was all about me, Lea Brady, right now. I was
officially a graduate of my chosen Masters in International Business. I still
could not wrap my head around it. One thing I knew for sure was that things
were about to change, big time.


Everyone was in a jolly good mood as we made our way to the
restaurant. We laughed and talked and sang off key. A quick glance at the
dashboard told me it was nearly seven p.m. already. It seemed as if it was just
a few minutes ago that it had been morning and I was putting on my gown. Now it
was already night. Right now the ceremony felt like a blur and I could only
remember bits and pieces of it. The good thing was that it had been videotaped
so I could always relive the memories afterwards.

I sat beside Mark as he drove, deep in thought. I was still a
bit curious to know what it was he and Erin had been whispering about. It gave
me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I nearly jumped out of my skin
when I heard a voice right next to my ear.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Erin whispered in my ear.

I turned to look at her. We were the best of friends and had
been through some really tough times together. I valued her as a sister and a
confidante. We both had the same auburn hair, dark eyes, and taste in clothes
to the point where persons often thought we were blood sisters. We had even
gone to NYU together which is where I had met Mark. He had been an adorable
clueless genius and we had hit it off from day one. I had only been a junior
while he was a senior but it never seemed to make much of a difference. Until
lately that was. These days there was a distance and aloofness about him that I
just couldn't put my finger on. I continued to stare at my best friend as she
rose her eyebrows quizzically.

“Oh, I was just wondering what you and Mark were discussing.” I
stared at her but she just sat back in her seat and ignored my question. I
frowned slightly. So it was going to be like that then. I tried to think
rationally and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they were planning a
surprise party for me like they had done for my twenty-first birthday. I shook
myself mentally. I needed to get rid of these suspicions. Still, I couldn't
help it. In spite of our bond there was a breach between Erin and I, and had
remained ever since she had gone to the prom with Sebastian, the guy she had
known I had a crush on. She had excused herself by saying he liked her and she
liked him too.

At the time I had been broken-hearted, but when mom agreed with
Erin I had felt silly, like a child so I dropped it. Seeing her with Mark
earlier made me wonder if her infatuation with my men had stopped. She had only
become interested in Mark when she knew I liked him. Before that when he used
to speak to me, she always said I could choose a better standard of men. I
pushed the thought aside as we pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant.
My parents had already arrived just ahead of us so we piled out of the car.

“What’s on your mind?” Mum asked as we made our my way through
the entrance.

“The future,” I said as I sat down. I paid close attention to
see if Erin and Mark spoke again. They never did. Instead they ignored each
other as he took his place by my side.

He kissed me on the cheek and then started to talk in the worst
Italian accent I’ve ever heard. Yep, he’s a joker, that’s why I love him so
much. He makes me laugh and my cloudy days always end with a smile on my face
when he's around.

Everyone took their place around the table we had booked. My
uncle and a few of my cousins were already waiting. My father's side was absent
and I was not surprised. All they cared about was money and since there was
none being distributed tonight their absence was understood. When my father had
retired from his medical practice they had disappeared as he had given up a
lucrative career to open a small business selling medical instruments. It had
struggled for a bit until it got a break with a huge contract. Almost overnight
the company had grown. Mum had quit her job as a nurse and helped him with the
marketing and everything else. The company moved from being in our back yard in
Jersey to hospitals all over America. That was when his side of the family had
turned into green eyed monsters. We now had money and they wanted a piece. They
started visiting us with their requests for donations, like charity cases. They
saw mum in her expensive clothes and felt like dad was turning his back on
them. He had helped a few but then the others were upset about this. He
realized he could not please everyone, so he went back to his main priority:

“A toast!” Mark stood up to catch everyone’ s attention.
Everyone stopped to look at Mark. Especially dad who was asking Mark to stand
down as he wanted to make a toast. This came as a shocker as everyone knew that
my dad was the quiet one of the family. He only spoke when he needed to, and
this was not often. He stood to his feet and raised his glass.

“I just want to say, how proud I am of my little girl today.”

“Dad sit down. You’re going to make me cry.”

“She’s come a long way from her Math degree, and today, she
graduated with her Master’s degree. Amazing, Lea. Simply amazing.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I gazed at him. His balding head
was hot as sweat poured down it. He wore a shirt which hung over his belt and
his oversized belly bulged above it. He adjusted his clothes and took a tissue
to wipe the sweat from his balding head and continued.

“We’ve got a gift for you. Your mother and I’ve decided that
seeing as we’re not getting any younger-“

“What! I thought you were in your thirties and Lea was adopted!”
Mark shouted out. I dissolved into giggled as I took his hand in mine.

"Well we feel like we’re in our forties but let's be real.
Lea, your mother and I have decided to hand to hand over the business to you
and Mark. We’re going to move to Aruba!”

Mum jumped up with excitement as did Mark who rushed over and
hugged them both. I held back my enthusiasm. I did not want that
responsibility. That was not why I had gotten the degree: to take over their
business. To add to that, Mark knew nothing about running a business. Yes he
was a doctor, but apart from that he knew very little else. The little company
that we had started in our backyard was now worth nearly thirty million. We now
had offices not only in New York, but Asia, Europe and Africa. And now he
wanted me to take over. Mark hugged me tightly like a little boy who heard that
Christmas had come early.

“This will be only after you’re married, of course.” Dad brought
his speech to an end.

I looked down at my engagement ring ruefully, thinking that this
might actually propel Mark to quit stalling and set an actual date. Normally,
it’s the bride that stalls the wedding, not the other way round. Mark rushed
over to Dad like the wind and gave him a big hug. It was almost as if the news
meant that now we could actually get married. He winked at me and I started to
wonder if he was winking because he actually wanted to get married or because
of the millions within his reach.

My ears went numb as the congratulations continued and everyone
ate and were merry. I just could not feel it. I felt numb. I drank and drank
until my heart was content and I found myself being lifted off my chair and
whisked away get to the bathroom and get changed. We had another party to get
to but the last thing I wanted to do right now was mingle. I just wanted to go
home and sulk.

BOOK: The Executive Consultant
9.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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