Eight months ago—on the week Paxton had disappeared—Kill took the reins of Royal Pipelines, his father’s petroleum company, and officially became CEO.
How did I not think of him before?
Cillian “Kill” Fitzpatrick was my best shot at getting the money.
He had no loyalties to anyone but himself, was good at keeping secrets, and seeing people squirm was his favorite pastime.
He’d helped me before, and he’d do it again.
One hundred thousand bucks was pocket change to him. He would hand me the money if only to watch me turn into a hundred different shades of red as I slid pitiful monthly checks that meant nothing to him down his mailbox. I’d even agree to take back the curse where I’d told him he’d fall in love with me.
For the first time in a long time, I felt my mouth watering.
Not because of the pizza, but because of the solution I could practically feel grazing the tip of my fingers.
I had a plan.
An escape route.
The older Fitzpatrick brother was going to save me, again.
Unlike my husband, all I needed to do was play my cards right.
“Sorry, sweetie, I don’t think seeing Mr. Fitzpatrick is in your cards today.” The malnourished PA made a show of tossing her platinum ponytail, a venomous grin on her scarlet lips. She wore a bubblegum-pink vinyl dress that made her look like BDSM Barbie, enough perfume to drown an otter, and the expression of someone who would die before letting another woman stake a claim on her boss.
I showed up unannounced at the Royal Pipelines’ offices as soon as I finished work, asking to meet with Mr. Fitzpatrick. Sailor had mentioned that Hunter, who also worked for the family’s company, was accompanying her to her first OB-GYN appointment, and dipped early. I didn’t want Hunter to see me and pass the information to my friends.
When I showed up, Cillian’s personal assistant pouted the entire time she spoke with him on the phone.
“Hiiiiiii, Mr. Fitzpatrick. This is Casey Brandt.”
“Your assistant for the past two years, sir.”
“Yeah! With the pink.” She giggled. “Totes sorry to bother you, but I have Miss Persephone Penrose here without an appointment.”
“She said she needs to talk to you urgently, but, like, refused to give me any further information?”
I wasn’t sure why the question mark was necessary. Then again, I wasn’t certain why his PA looked like she belonged in a pink Corvette, driving around with her plastic boyfriend, Ken, and puppy, Taffy.
“Yes, I know it is my job to get the information out of her. Unfortunately, she’s been most uncooperative, sir.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll let her know.”
She looked up at me like I was gum stuck on the bottom of her eleven-inch heels.
“Mr. Fitzpatrick cannot seem to fit you in his schedule.”
“Tell him I’m not leaving until he sees me.” My voice shook around the words, but I couldn’t get out of here without seeing him. Without trying.
She hesitated, biting down on her glossed lip.
I jerked my chin toward the phone. “Go on, give him my answer.”
She did, then proceeded to slam the switchboard phone.
“He said he’s in a meeting that will likely last hours.”
“That’s okay. I have time.”
That was two hours ago.
The grand lobby of the Royal Pipelines’ management floor gleamed in gold accents. TV monitors following the company’s stocks all over the world markets glowed in green and red.
Casey was growing restless, drumming the tips of her pointy fingernails on her chrome desk.
“I need to go to the ladies’ room,” she huffed, tugging a makeup kit from her bag under the table.
I looked up from the oil and gas journal I pretended to read.
“Oh?” I asked sweetly. “Are you not fully potty-trained? You know, I’m a pre-K teacher. Accidents don’t faze me in the least. Need help in the big girl toilet?”
She shot me a murderous glare.
“Don’t go anywhere, unless it’s back to the trailer park you came from.” She stood, running her eyes over my cheap clothes. “Or hell.”
Her red-soled high heels stabbed the floor on her way to the restroom, leaving dents.
As soon as Casey was out of view, I jumped to my feet, sprinting ahead. Cillian’s office was the largest and plushest on the floor. It was easy to spot the one fitted for the king of the castle.
I could only see his visitor’s back through the glass door as I raced in his direction. The man who hid him from my vision was broad-shouldered with tawny blond hair, a sharp suit, and an impeccable posture. They seemed to be deep in conversation, but I didn’t care. I threw the door open without knocking, barging in before I lost my nerve.
Unfortunately, my grand entrance wasn’t enough to tear Cillian’s gaze from the man in front of him. They were hunched over a mass of papers scattered all over his silver desk.
“…stocks going up, but I still noticed a trend in negative press. Saying the media doesn’t like you would be an understatement. It’d be like saying the ocean is damp. That the sun is lukewarm. That Megan Fox is merely shagable…”
“I get the gist of it,” Cillian clipped. “How do we rectify the situation?”
“I suppose a personality transplant would be out of the question?” the man drawled.
“The only thing that’s about to be transplanted is my foot in your ass if you don’t give me a solution.”
Tough crowd. I’m about to face a very tough crowd.
“Bloody hell, Cillian,” the posh man huffed, “you started your CEO journey by sacking nine percent of the company’s management and drilling holes in the Arctic. You haven’t exactly won any fans.”
“I trimmed the fat.”
“People rather like fat. The fast food industry rolls 256 billion dollars in revenue each year. Did you know that? The people you fired talked to journalists, adding fuel to the fire and making you truly one of the country’s worst villains. Royal Pipelines is already considered the most hated company in the US. The refinery explosion in Maine, the Green Living climate rally where an eighteen-year-old broke both legs—”
“I wasn’t the one who broke her legs,” Cillian interjected, holding his palm up. “Unfortunately.”