Authors: Sadie Grubor
"I heard that!" Scarlett's charming voice in the background revealed that she was in my brother's office. I chuckled.
Scarlett started with B.I.G. as an intern during her last year of college. The impression she had in the department with her imaginative and out-of-the-box marketing skills was clear from the beginning. The impression she left on my brother was also clear from the beginning.
Hugh was still enamored by her intelligence and beauty. There was no denying Scarlett's physical appeal to men and, to be honest, even certain women. Scarlett stood at about five-foot-six, but her height meant nothing when you were matched up against the ferocity of her presentations and campaigns. Scarlett was a natural force, only enhanced by her golden blonde hair, porcelain skin, hypnotizing crystal blue eyes, which were most often framed in black rimmed glasses, and her hourglass figure. Her relationship with Hugh only manifested after I pulled her into my office and demanded she go out with my brother at least once before I killed him. From that moment forward, they've been together.
"Anyhow," she feigned annoyance, "we will be getting married near my family's hometown in Pennsylvania."
"Sounds like a good idea." Realizing that would put me close to Pittsburgh, a smile crossed my face.
"So, you won't object to traveling and standing as my best man?" Hugh rejoined the conversation.
"I couldn't be more thrilled to do just that." My brother meant a lot to me and he just gave me reason to be in Pennsylvania.
"Are you sure it—"
"Scarlett," Hugh hissed.
Knowing exactly what she was referring to, I sighed.
"It's fine." I stiffened in my seat. "We can discuss more about this later." The buzz of my intercom interrupted the direction the call had taken. "I need to get this." I hung up without a goodbye and hit the button. "Yes?"
"Sorry, sir, but it’s Miss Lachlan."
"Send her through," I quipped, impatiently.
The phone beeped. "Well?!"
"She agreed to the double payment and will be—"
"Excellent! Good work, Vivianne!" A happiness I hadn't felt in years filled me.
Vivianne went over the logistics and details, but I didn't care. All that mattered was that I had found them. She would be within my grasp in just a few, agonizing days.
The day of the corporate party arrived and I couldn't get through the workday quick enough. I planned to cut out of the office early, dress, and find Miss Harlow before the party began, but a last minute disaster with one of our larger clients made it impossible. My only hope was to get to her before too many people arrived.
Arriving at the venue, I groaned at how many others arrived early. There were board members and employees I had no other option but to greet and speak with. After all, this party was in celebration of the company and its employees.
Finally getting through the throng of people, I arrived at the kitchen. Upon entering, I was greeted by a tall, dark skinned man, eyeing me skeptically.
"Hello, I'm Damon Knyght, CEO of B.I.G." Holding out my hand, I eyed him up. Who was this man to her? Employee? Lover?
His eyes widened. He quickly wiped his hand before holding it out. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Knyght."
"I just wanted to come back and see…thank Miss Harlow for traveling out here for us this evening. I know it was an inconvenience for—"
The man's brow furrowed.
"Is there a problem?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Knyght." Turning, I came face to face with a tall, thin brunette with large blue eyes. "Liv…Miss Harlow had to get back to Pittsburgh." She twisted her fingers in her apron nervously.
Looking back at the tall, dark man, I realized they were both awaiting my reaction.
"I see," I said, biting back my anger — my fury. She wasn't there. "Well, please thank her for me." Forcing a smile and a nod, I left the kitchen.
Reaching inside my dark suit jacket, I pulled out my phone and dialed.
"Yes, Mr. Knyght?" Vivianne's voice always reminded me of what a loyal dog would sound like if a dog could speak.
"Why is Miss Harlow gone already?" I growled.
Vivianne always tried to please and take care of everything, but she would never make amends with me. Not unless she finally resigned from her position and went far, far away.
"I, uh, wasn't aware she was required to stay once the job was finished. Her assistants stayed to help out during the—"
"Goddamn it, Vivianne! Where is she?"
"Uh…um…" Vivianne stuttered.
I shouldn't be taking this out on her, but she's ruined everything. She'd always been a thorn in my side. If it weren't for my mother, I would've dropped Vivianne from the payroll years ago.
"Let me find out if she's left yet, Mr. Knyght. I will call—"
"Where are you?!" I returned to the large crowd of employees and business associates and scanned the room for her dark hair.
"I'm about to walk out the front entrance to make the call privately, sir."
"I'll meet you there. Don't move!" I ended the call and snaked my way through the crowd.
A few stops to talk and a couple of handshakes later, I was out the front door. Vivianne stood, leaning her forehead against the stone wall of the building. I cleared my throat. She jumped.
"Sir, she's already on a plane back to Pittsburgh." Tears formed in her eyes as she took in the tension of my body. She knew how angry I was.
"I'm leaving." Turning to the valet, I growled, "Get my car."
His eyes widened and he moved quickly to locate my vehicle.
"Sir, you have to make your speech. You can't just—"
"Have Hugh do it. I have some business to attend."
Before she could say anything more, my car appeared. Tipping the valet for his fast work, I slid behind the wheel of the sleek, midnight blue car, spinning the tires as I pulled away.
Pulling out my private cell phone, I dialed.
"Mitch, its Damon. I need you to locate someone for me. In fact, I need you to find out as much as you can about this person and I need everything as soon as you get it."
"Anything and everything?" He wanted reassurance.
"Does this have anything to do with our prior contract?"
"So, you found her." He wasn't asking, Mitch was stating a fact. "I'll get what I can, but you have to give me some time, Damon. Pennsylvania is a bit out of my jurisdiction and there is only so much a computer can give me. I may have to contact a few people—"
"Just keep my name out of it and do what you have to do. We both know money isn't an issue." I ended the call and tossed the phone on the passenger seat. With a heavy sigh, I sped home to bury myself in whiskey and memories I'd rather escape.
The day after the New York job, Mercedes recruited Felicity to convince me to celebrate the opportunity. Felicity Valiente, an event planner who had grown to be a close friend after so many jobs brought us together over the years, towered over Mercedes at almost six feet tall in her heels. Today, she wore her long, thick, dark hair in a braid over her shoulder. The turquoise wrap dress complimented her golden brown skin and dark brown eyes. With her Filipino and Hawaiian heritage, she was the kind of woman men wanted and other women wanted to be.
"A trip to Las Vegas for a Girls Gone Wild weekend will be help you wind down from the big job." Mercedes pushed the topic when I didn't initially respond to the idea.
"I’m a mother. There will be no Girls Gone Wild." Laughing, I stacked the third tier, out of the five, on a wedding cake.
"Come on, Olivia. Live a little!" Felicity chided.
"Your dad can watch Alex for the weekend. We can all go and let loose. Besides, I didn’t get to go to New York like you did!" Ced brought out the puppy dog eyes and pouty lip.
"You two go ahead. I have a lot of cakes to get done." Waving, I tried to shoo them away.
"There are only three cakes this weekend and Sarah and Greg can handle them, plus Emily is like your mini-me. She can handle it." They both stood on the opposite side of the table, staring intently. "Come on!" Mercedes pleaded.
"It’s to celebrate your success, Liv!" Felicity added.
"We all know how celebrating ended for me before." An image of Isaac flashed into my head.
"I’m sorry, Liv. You know how sorry I am that that happened, but this isn’t like that. You need to get out, be a woman, and get laid!" Mercedes stated.
The room erupted in laughter.
"Hush it, all of you," I said between my own laughter. "I can't believe you just announced it to the kitchen." Heat flushed my face.
"A vibrator can only do so much." She shrugged off my embarrassment and ignored my beet red face. The chorus of laughter around us grew louder.
"If I agree, will you shut up about my sex life, batteries or no batteries?"
Felicity and Ced gave me a synchronized smile.
"Yes!" Ced hugged Felicity, and then both burst into song.
"We are going to Vegas. We are going to Vegas!" they sang, using the damn Blue's Clues theme tune.
"Get away from my table before you knock over this cake, you loons!" Laughing, I shook my head at them.
"You love, L-O-V-E, us!" Ced sang.
Two extremely long days later, Mitch called while I was in the middle of a meeting. Unable to take the call, but unable to concentrate on the topic any longer, I rushed the meeting. I wasn’t going to lose her now.
"Hello," he said. His voice was always guarded when he answered.
"You got the information I requested?"
He chuckled. "I'm sending the information to you now, by messenger."
"Give me the summary." I closed my office door a little too roughly, excitement flowing through my body.
"Well, Miss Harlow will be taking a trip to Vegas this weekend. The flight arrangements were just made this week under the name of Mercedes Bennett, but it's Harlow." A beeping noise sounded through the phone. "Listen, I have to go, but the details should be there within the hour."