Authors: Sasha Moore,Anita Cox
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To the boundlessness of life (the infinite) and love.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Copyright 2015 by Maven Publishing - All rights reserved.
All rights Reserved. No part of this publication or the information in it may be quoted from or reproduced in any form by means such as printing, scanning, photocopying or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
Table of Contents
Amaretta Preston clutched her faux leather shiny red purse tight as she absorbed the impact of her employer’s words. She hated conflict in any form, but felt that she just had to speak up this time.
“But, Mr. Hamilton…are you saying that after all the concerts I’ve done, and all the records I’ve made, I’m not going to make enough money to send my baby girl to college? That don’t seem right, that don’t seem right at all, when you’re making four times what I am off my singing,” she uttered bravely, struggling to maintain eye contact with record producer mogul, Robert Blake Hamilton.
He drilled her with a glare. “Look Amaretta, I made you what you are today, let’s not forget that. If you hadn’t met me, you’d still be pouring coffee and serving eggs and toast in that shitty diner.” Amaretta winced at his language. It just wasn’t proper at all for him to be cursing in front of a woman, even if she worked for him. Amaretta had strong morals and was dedicated to the proposition of always doing that which was right, and true, and just.
“I’m thankful for what you’ve done for me, Mr. Hamilton, it’s just that…” she began, timidly, but he cut her off.
“I don’t need to hear about your troubles Amaretta, just do your job and I’ll give you a bonus at Christmas,” he offered begrudgingly. He had given her a Christmas bonus last year, a holiday ham that was mostly bone. Amaretta had accepted it gratefully and even made soup with the giant bone.
“But, Mr. Hamilton…” she protested weakly before he cut her off yet again.
“Good day, Amaretta,” he dismissed her breezily, showing her to the door. The aging singer was in her late fifties and later that week she had a stroke which left her unable to ever sing again. Hamilton didn’t so much as send a floral arrangement, but was more than happy to collect the huge percentage of her royalties that she had unwittingly signed over to him.
Cerise Preston, Amaretta’s only daughter, watched her beautiful, naïve mother wither away and die, holding her while she drew her last breath after the near-fatal heart attack that was the beginning of the end.
Cerise adjusted the wide brim of her black funeral hat, flicking the jaunty feather with her fingertips. Looking in the mirror her reflection promised her one thing; after today, after the funeral of her beloved mother, who was so pitifully taken advantage of by the bastard billionaire, Robert Blake Hamilton, she would get her revenge. The day would come when she would right the wrongs visited upon her mother’s innocent soul by the filthy greed of the Hamilton dynasty. Robert’s son, Blake, ran Black Vinyl Records now, and Cerise fully intended to make him and his family suffer for the way they had treated her mother. She was going to destroy the Hamilton stronghold in the R&B world if it was the last thing she did, and claim their company for her very own. Her mother may have been too gentle-natured to stand up to BVR executives, but when they encountered Cerise Preston, the bastards wouldn’t know what hit them.
“I’m gonna kick his motherfucking ass!” Cerise Preston thought, pursing her lips in anticipation. “Blake Hamilton’s dad stole my mother’s money and I’m going to avenge her if it’s the last thing I do,” she vowed, tightening her grip on the steering wheel. “It was her voice, her talent, and her hard work that made Black Vinyl Records what it is today and she didn’t see a damn dime from it,” she fumed. Pulling her unassuming little car into the parking garage at BVR, Ceri’s stomach did a flip-flop and her palms were suddenly moist. Taking a deep breath and squaring her shoulders, she used her rear view mirror to look herself directly in the eye. “You’re going to do this. You absolutely must do what’s right. Your mama may be gone but you have to reclaim her legacy.” She squared her shoulders and headed inside.
A bored receptionist sighed from behind an enormous desk in the sleek modern offices of BVR when Cerise requested to see Blake Hamilton.
“I’m sorry. Mr. Hamilton doesn’t see walk-ins. You’ll have to make an appointment,” the petite snooty blonde decreed.
Ceri leaned over the gleaming surface of the desk, eyebrows raised in a challenge, “You need to just pick up that phone and tell Mr. Blake Hamilton that Amaretta Preston’s daughter is here to see him and is not leaving until she does.” Withering her with a look, the receptionist picked up the phone and, with as much attitude as she could muster, pressed the button for Blake’s extension. Ceri watched to make sure that her message was being conveyed appropriately and smiled with smug satisfaction when she heard the receptionist say, “Yes sir, I’ll bring her right back.”
“Follow me,” the receptionist directed with more than a bit of resentment, sashaying down the hall in front of her. Cerise’s heart began to pound as she neared the giant mahogany door featuring Blake Hamilton’s hammered bronze nameplate. She took in the floor to ceiling windows with spectacular city views afforded by the expensive suite of Blake Hamilton’s inner sanctum. The man himself sat facing those windows so that all that was visible of him was the top of his head above the high back of his executive leather chair. Hearing them approach, Blake swiveled around to face his desk, standing to greet his guest.
“Sounds to me like you and your mother have a lot in common, Ms. Preston,” he grinned, offering his hand.
Cerise took his hand briefly and dropped hers back to her side. “Really?” she arched an eyebrow at him, “What might that be?”
“You don’t take no for an answer,” he chuckled. “An admirable quality.” Indicating the chair across from his desk, he invited her to sit and eased back into his chair, the expensive leather creaking.
“What can I do for you today, Ms. Preston?” he asked, steepling his fingers under his chin.
“I came here to right a wrong,” she stated flatly, leaning forward without realizing it.
“Sounds noble. How can I help?” he asked genially.
“Your father made millions of dollars that formed the basis of what this company is today off of my mother’s hard work and talent and she received only a fraction of the compensation that she deserved. I’ve done my homework, Mr. Hamilton, and I have file boxes full of evidence proving that your father screwed my mother out of what was rightfully hers. As I see it, this can go down one of two ways. Either you can make it right, or I’ll see you in court.”
Hamilton stared at her thoughtfully, “I wish I could say that what you were saying wasn’t true but we both know that my father was never one to avoid seizing an opportunity when it presented itself. When you say ‘making it right’, how do you see that playing out?”
Cerise was stunned at his response, expecting something entirely different, but she was prepared and spelled out the terms to him precisely.
“I didn’t come here to ask for money, if that’s what you’re thinking,” she asserted. “What I propose is this: My degree is in marketing for the entertainment industry, and that world is something that I’ve been exposed to all my life. Because of my experience, I could be a tremendous asset to your company. You hire me to scout out new talent for you, and I get not only finder’s fees, but a share in royalties as a result,” she directed. “No one gets any handouts here, Mr. Hamilton. I scratch your back, you scratch mine, just like it should’ve been with my mama and your daddy.”
Blake raised his eyebrows appreciatively. Clearly Cerise Preston was a tough cookie, and smart - he liked that. “So, if I make nothing, you make nothing but if you’re as good as you say you are, we both benefit. Is that the deal?”
“Essentially, yes,” Cerise agreed, nodding slightly.
Blake grinned, intrigued with the gorgeous, dark-skinned woman who sat regally in front of him, and slapping his hands down on the desktop exclaimed, “Well then, looks like I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’ve got a deal. Let’s get started on this by working out the details of a contract on Monday morning.”
Cerise’s eyes narrowed with suspicion,” Are you trying to play me, Mr. Hamilton? Your daddy fought long and hard to take every bit of my mother’s money. I’m having a hard time believing that you’re agreeing to this so easily.”
Hamilton leaned across the desk earnestly, “Look, Ms. Preston, I grew up with the man, I know who he was and how he ran his business, and there are a lot of things that I’m not proud of, but just because that’s the way things were doesn’t mean that’s the way things have to be moving forward. If I have the chance to ‘right a wrong’ as you put it, why wouldn’t I? Particularly if it’s going to make me money.” Blake shrugged slightly and opened his hands in a gesture of sincerity.
Ceri was still skeptical. “Mmhmm…” she responded. “Well, then, I’ll look forward to a mutually beneficial working relationship, Mr. Hamilton, and to save us both some time, I’ve already had my attorney draw up our contract. This is your copy, when I come in on Monday morning to get started I’m sure that you’ll have it signed and waiting for me,” she challenged.
“If you’re as good of an agent as you are a negotiator, we’ll have nothing to worry about, Ms. Preston,” he chuckled, reaching across the desk to shake her hand. She took his hand firmly this time, staring him in the eye while she did so.
“Good day, Mr. Hamilton,” she said coolly, turning to leave.
“Good day, Ms. Preston,” Blake watched her go, enjoying the view tremendously.
Ceri thought she would pass out when she got to her car and started processing all that had happened. Hamilton didn’t seem to be the monster that her mind had created him to be but she was still a bit suspicious that things had gone all too smoothly. Nevertheless, she had her foot in the door and that’s all she needed to get started on her plan of ultimately taking over Black Vinyl Records.
Cerise was still shaking by the time she reached her tiny but elegant condo just a few miles from the BVR building. Pouring a glass of Cabernet, she turned the tap to run a nice warm bath, needing to relax and plan her next steps. She hadn’t been lying when she told Blake Hamilton about his father’s dealings with her mother. The soulful sound of Amaretta Preston’s collection of R&B albums took Herschel Hamilton from a fast talking wannabe to the top R&B producer in the world. Ironically, Amaretta spent her entire life when she wasn’t on the road living frugally in a small two-bedroom house on the outskirts of the city, barely getting by, while Herschel traveled by limosine and Learjet to exotic locations all over the globe. Getting repaid for Amaretta’s lost wages was not the point. Cerise Preston would not be satisfied until she took everything away from the Hamilton’s and made it her own. It was time for them to pay the price for her mother’s pain. Her first step was getting on board and making the contacts that she would need in order to take over. Networking was a concept she knew well and intended to use her mother’s name and the BVR label to open doors that would eventually lead to the downfall of the Hamilton dynasty.