Authors: Kenzie Leon
The Heir Agreement
2013 Kenzie Leon
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
A bead of perspiration formed at my hairline as I waited for the infinitely red light to show mercy and turn green. Sighing, I gingerly pulled down the sun visor, careful not to put too much pressure on it. It seemed liable to fall off any day now. Looking in the mirror, I gently dabbed at the sweat with a tissue from my purse.
The August heat was at full blaze, and I was double damned since the air conditioning in the ancient car I’d bought used a year ago probably hadn’t functioned right since before I was born. My manager at the restaurant had thankfully let me leave an hour before my shift ended, but there was no point in being early to the most important interview of my life if I was going to be a sweaty mess when I got there.
God, what about my life
Mercifully, the light finally turned green and I shifted my foot from the brake to the gas pedal, thankful for the breeze coming in through the rolled-down windows. I’d barely made it through the intersection when an insistent beeping started blaring repeatedly from the dashboard, but I brushed it off. This happened every so often, but nothing had ever come out of it. The car hadn’t exploded and it wasn’t like I had the money to take it to a mechanic, so I had just accepted it as one of the quirks of a junk car.
But when the car sputtered loudly, emitting a noise somewhere between a grind and a choke, I didn’t have the option to ignore it, since the engine just turned itself off.
Panic hit me, sliding through my body and leaving prickly dread in its wake. I darted my eyes from left to right as my dead car coasted along, looking for an escape.
This turn of events was not only inconvenient, but dangerous, as traffic was heavy and cars continued to zip by mine, making it difficult for me to change lanes. The driver behind me laid on his horn as my car slowed to several miles below the speed limit, making me even more nervous. My hands were clammy as they gripped the steering wheel.
A narrow opening finally presented itself and I seized it, praying I’d make it through the gap before the black SUV that was quickly closing in slammed into my car and blasted it to bits.
I made it through to the shoulder of the road and braked quickly. My body shook and I let out a shuddering breath. This car was a death trap, but I wasn’t dead yet and I
to make it to my interview or I was pretty much as good as dead. I turned the key in the ignition, trying to see if I could get it to come back on.
“Great.” I slammed my fist against the dashboard and the needle on the speedometer fell off. My mouth dropped open and a choked, humorless noise came out, more a bark than a laugh. Gritting my teeth, I dropped my forehead to the steering wheel and wondered what else could possibly go wrong.
There wasn’t time to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I needed to go to the interview whether my car was going to get me there or not. And since it was clear that ‘or not’ was what my car had decided on, it was time for me to get moving.
I turned to open my door and screamed, my heartbeat quickly elevating to the same racing heights it reached when I was stuck in the middle of speeding traffic in a dead car.
“Sorry,” the guy on the other side of my door said, holding his hands up. He looked to be around my age, with blonde hair that fell into his eyes. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just saw you slumped over the wheel and wanted to make sure….”
“Oh no. It’s fine. I’m fine.” I buried my face in my hands briefly before looking up at him again. “My car broke down, but I’m not hurt or anything. I just have somewhere I really need to be and it looks like my car doesn’t care about getting me there.”
“Looks like it.” He smiled, his hazel eyes glittering as the sunlight caught them.
Cursing my stupid tendency to startle easily, I opened the door and stepped out of the car. “Sorry about the scream. It wasn’t personal, I just didn’t expect anyone to be there. The car died in the middle of traffic and I’m kinda shaken up.”
“I’ll bet. Have you already called a tow truck?”
“No.” I didn’t bother mentioning that I wasn’t going to call one at all, but he seemed to sense that without me having to say it.
“Do you want a ride?” He straightened and then extended his hand. “I’m Max
Thorpe, former Boy Scout, current archaeology student, and future Indiana Jones. Or, more likely, future professor.”
I smiled at his introduction, shaking his hand. “I’m Brooke.”
“Ah, Brooke. I pour my heart out to you and you only give me your first name. That’s fine, I like a mysterious woman. Keep your secrets if you wish, but now that we’ve gotten to know each other, we’ve eliminated the need to worry about accepting a ride from a stranger.”
I laughed, the first real laugh I’d had in a long time. He was being purposely silly to lighten my mood and it had worked, despite- or maybe because of- how cheesy it was. I was grateful to him for that, and even though he was, in fact, a stranger, I knew I didn’t have anything to worry about. I would be safe with him.
“Well, Max. How could a girl say no to that? Lead me to your chariot.”
We got in his car and I told him where to take me. I had to sign a confidentiality agreement before even being told the location of the interview, and after reading through all the legalese, I understood that if I ever disclosed even the smallest bit of information about the interview, I’d be sued for everything I had (nothing) and everything I’d ever have (probably only a bit more than nothing).
To be on the safe side, I gave Max a general location rather than the exact address. He didn’t ask any prying questions, instead leading a discussion about our favorite eighties movies. By the time the car pulled up in front of my destination, all of my built-up anxiety had melted away thanks to Max’s awesome celebrity impersonations. Plus, it didn’t hurt at all that his air conditioning was in perfect working order and blissfully icy.
“Thanks for the ride. You’re a lifesaver, really.”
“No problem.” He pressed the button that unlocked the door. “See you around, Brooke.”
“See you.” I hopped out of the car and pulled the interview letter out of my purse to double check the address. Of course, I’d already committed it to memory, but I looked at it again anyway to confirm.
When I arrived at the building, I took a deep breath before pulling open the glass door and walking in. My heels clicked against the marble floor as I made my way across the lobby to the reception desk.
“Hello, how may I help you?” The manicured redhead behind the desk smiled at me. The raised silver lettering on the wall behind her spelled out Grant Ventures.
“Um, hi.” My nerves had returned, tearing through my insides like deranged butterflies. “I’m here to see Mr. Ferguson.”
“Okay, he’ll meet you in the eighth floor conference room.”
As I rode the elevator up, I wondered about the strange location of the interview. The office building was luxurious, all sleek glass and elegant marble and top-notch design. But I was here to interview for a nanny position, not a corporate job, so it was strange that my potential employer had decided to conduct the interview here instead of at home.
Then again, everything about this interview process had been strange. After I first saw the job posting online for a nanny with a salary of $100,000
, I sent a copy of my resume as soon as I picked my jaw up off the floor. Of course, that was the exact amount of money I needed in four months, not a year, in order to make everything right. But there was no other job I could get that would pay that much.
I figured I wouldn’t hear back, since a twenty-year old college dropout would probably drown among the fierce competition of people vying for that unbelievable salary, but I got an email requesting further information a day later. It was more information than I’d ever had to provide for an application, but I was comfortable with it because the job had been posted on my former university’s career site, so I knew it had been fully vetted by the school as being legitimate.
I filled out the ten-page application, even answering the question about whether I was married, divorced, in a relationship, or casually dating. I was pretty sure employers were forbidden to ask those sorts of questions, but I checked the ‘single’ box anyway, figuring they just wanted to know if I’d be completely devoted to the job. Besides, I had a hundred thousand reasons to give them whatever information they wanted. I also uploaded five character references, two photographs of myself, and a video recording of my personal statement as had been requested.
A week later, I received a phone call from a man named Mr. Ferguson, who told me he was calling on behalf of his client, whose identity was being kept confidential for privacy purposes. I guessed whoever it was didn’t want desperate applicants showing up on the doorsteps of their mansion to beg for the job.
I’d been selected for an in-person interview, but first I had to undergo a full medical workup. Luckily, the doctor’s bill was covered by Mr. Ferguson, or whoever it was he was representing.
And now here I was, walking into the conference room of Grant Ventures. When I entered, I saw that there were three people in the room already. Two women were seated beside each other at the large table and a man stood at the front of the room.
“You’ve arrived.” The man had snow-white hair and a faintly British accent, which I recognized as the voice from the phone calls. Mr. Ferguson was older, maybe in his sixties or seventies, but not at all frail. “Now we can begin. I’m Mr. Ferguson.”
“I’m Brooke. It’s nice to meet you.”
After shaking his hand, I turned to face the women who were at the table, realizing that they must be the women I was interviewing for. They made a beautiful couple, one with pale blonde locks swept away from her face in a high ponytail and the other with a sleek black bob that accentuated her model-good looks.
The two were not much older than me, but looked so much more put together than I ever would. They were impeccably dressed, with outfits that looked like they cost more than my good-for-nothing car had. Suddenly, the white button-up I borrowed from my waitress uniform and the black heels I’d found at the secondhand store didn’t seem up to par.
Still, it wasn’t like a killer fashion sense was the most important requirement for the job, right? They were probably mostly concerned with how well I’d take care of their child, not the fact that I shopped in the sale section of thrift stores. I forced myself to smile.
“You may have a seat with the other applicants.” Mr. Ferguson gestured toward the two seated women. “Your prospective employer will be in shortly to continue the interview process.”
My heart fell.
The other applicants?
Instead of interviewing for them as I’d thought, I was up against them? I walked over to take a seat next to them as Mr. Ferguson left the room.
My sinking feeling of disappointment grew as we waited for the interview to begin. The women introduced themselves, but quickly lost interest in me after asking a few pointed questions. Apparently, I was competing against two women who’d gone to private schools all their lives and traveled the world, and they seemed confident that as someone who hadn’t even finished her degree at a state school, I was no competition at all.
I was a big ball of tangled nerves, kicking myself for ever believing that things could turn out right for me, that I actually had a chance at getting this job so I could chip away at the burden that had been weighing on me like a two-ton cartoon anvil for the past two months and fix everything that had gone so unbelievably wrong.
But that would have been too easy
, I thought bitterly. I, Brooke Pearson, wasn’t allowed to get any breaks in life. At least not any that weren’t followed by a kick to the gut that set me back even farther than I was before.
The door opened and Mr. Ferguson entered the room, but he wasn’t alone. The best-looking man I’d ever seen in my life walked through the door next. For a moment, my nerves disappeared, along with thoughts of anything other than him.
He was wearing an expensive-looking charcoal suit that was perfectly tailored to his tall frame. As he approached us, his gaze swept over us and I saw that his eyes were electric blue. Confidence and power emanated from him as he made his way across the room. His dark hair was longer than stuffy corporate rules dictated it should be, but there was no question that this man made the rules, not followed them. He was a man in charge, no doubt.
was my potential new employer? The man I could be calling boss? He wasn’t at all what I’d had in mind. He was no older than thirty and hot enough to reduce any girl to an open-mouthed idiot, which I was pretty sure I looked like right then.
Next to me, the other girls straightened up in their chairs and smiled big, but I couldn’t manage to.
If I were hired, there was no way I’d be able to spend even a minute around him without my mind running wild with thoughts of all the dirty things I’d like him to do to me, which would be totally disrespectful to his wife, who would also be my employer.
I checked his left hand.
Maybe he was a single dad. Still, having a crush on a boss would be a disaster. With everything I had riding on getting this job, it was truly a matter of life and death. If I were lucky enough to be hired, I wouldn’t need any distractions that could lead to me messing up and getting fired.