Pretending with the Greek Billionaire(3)

By: Kira Archer

Luca took a deep breath, anger burning through him with such intensity he couldn’t speak. Sitting there being reprimanded like a misbehaving child rankled worse than he’d thought possible, but beneath the anger, a thread of shame smoldered. He didn’t like what his father was saying, but he wasn’t wrong. And there was nothing worse than being called out on your shit when you knew you deserved it.

“I know I haven’t always made choices you agree with…” His father snorted but Luca ignored it. “But I’m your son. I’ve been preparing for this my whole life. I know I haven’t been around much lately, but I do keep up with things. I read all the reports, follow everything that’s going on. I know this business inside and out.”

His father sighed and walked back around his desk to slump into his chair. “Like I said, you’ve got one month to prove to me that it wouldn’t be a mistake to hand you my life’s work. I won’t stand by any longer and watch you drink yourself to death. I’ll fire you if I have to, if it means not financing your destructive lifestyle. You can live on your trust fund and whatever you’ve got left from your mother, for as long as that might last. You’re almost thirty years old. You either pull your life together, or the job will go to someone else, and so will the company when I’m gone. Now get out.”

Luca didn’t argue. He didn’t even open his mouth for fear of what he’d say. He simply stood and marched from the office, his father’s words ringing in his ears.

Joseph drove him home in silence, Luca’s mind too much in turmoil for conversation. When they arrived, Joseph opened his door. “You have a dinner tonight with Miss Lexington at eight o’clock and drinks and…entertainment following at Club Phoenix, then—”

Luca stalked into the house, waving him off. “Cancel everything. I’m staying in tonight.”

“Sir?” Joseph said, his brow furrowed.

Luca almost laughed at his confusion. It was probably the first time he’d ever been told cancel plans. Luca, however, was in no mood for the frivolous company of his friends at the moment. And the beautiful Tiffany would have no trouble finding someone else to escort her to dinner. In fact, he wouldn’t be surprised if she’d been meeting someone else later that night anyway.

“You heard me, Joe. Cancel everything.”

“Yes, sir.”

Luca tossed his sunglasses onto a table as he headed toward the back. With his so-called friends gone and the house peaceful and quiet, he could actually relax and think for a change, not something he generally liked to do, but he needed to come up with some way to get his father off his back that didn’t entail changing his entire life. Maybe a few minutes soaking up the sun and staring at the amazing ocean view he paid through the nose for would spark a few ideas.

His shirt and shoes followed his glasses and his pants were halfway unbuttoned when a shriek of laughter stopped him.

“Joe! I thought you got rid of everyone this morning.”

“I did, sir,” Joseph said, his forehead crinkling as the party-like sounds floated in from the backyard.

“Then what the hell…”

The nearer he got to the door, the more the shrieks and laughter filtered to him. Luca stepped off his back deck and down to the lower deck where the infinity pool looked out over the turquoise ocean and pristine white sand of his private beach. He stood, completely dumbfounded by the scene before him.

Half a dozen children splashed about in his pool while a woman in a white T-shirt and knee-length khaki shorts, wearing insanely ugly Velcro-strapped sandals, tried to haul them one at a time out of the water. She seemed to be succeeding more at soaking herself with water than she was getting the little heathens out of his pool.

“What is going on here?” he shouted.

The woman’s head whipped toward him, the movement loosening the bun that held her dark red hair atop her head. She tucked the escaping tendrils behind her ear.

“Out of the pool, girls, now,” she said, her voice brooking no argument.

The girls immediately obeyed, filing one by one from the water to stand behind their caretaker. Six pairs of young, terrified eyes looked up at him, a few pairs of lips quivering in the process. One little girl with a thick braid of black hair peeked out from behind the woman to stare at him. His eyes narrowed and she darted quickly back under cover.

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