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When two bitter rivals….
One person stands between Brielle and her inheritance—Nicholas Trenton. If she fails to serve as CEO of her grandfather’s company, Santorini Jewels, for one full year, then everything goes to Nick—the company, her trust fund, and her home…the only home she’s ever known. Nick doesn’t care about the money, but he wants the company his father helped build. Now is his turn to run Santorini. Brielle isn’t qualified, nor does she deserve the position of CEO. One way or another, he will ensure she doesn’t run Santorini into the ground.
Are forced to run a multi-billion dollar company together…
Despite a clash of wills, they learn to work together for the benefit of the company. But when they can no longer ignore the attraction building between them, will they give in to it or will it ultimately be the downfall of Santorini?
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Copyright 2014 © Ruth Roberts
Brielle tried to moisten her dry mouth to speak. The board of directors looked at her expectantly, waiting on her answer. The last two weeks had been the worst of her life—and this meeting was adding to her nightmare.
Brielle regarded the seven men and five women. Successful and distinguished, each had played a part in making Santorini what it was today, and Brielle knew her grandfather had trusted them implicitly. She looked at them one by one, attempting to gauge their feelings on grandfather’s decision. Some smiled, but most looked skeptical. Could she blame them?
Then her gaze collided with the cold, steel gray stare of Nicholas Trenton. Brielle attempted to control the slight recoil of her head when their eyes met. There was no skepticism. Instead, pure rage projected from him. He obviously agreed with her—she was not the right person for the job.
“Miss Santorini? Did you hear what I said?” asked Ken Rogers, Chairman of the Board. Forced from her reverie, Brielle gave a hesitant head shake. “No. I don’t believe I understood correctly.
Grandfather appointed me as CEO of Santorini before he died?”
“Yes. Even though you are the majority shareholder, owning fifty-one percent of Santorini stock, it was still Mr. Santorini’s wish that you run the company as he did, after he was gone.”
“That’s absurd!” she said. “Didn’t you all have to agree to this before my grandfather put it in his will?”
“Mr. Santorini did propose it to the board, and after a careful review of your qualifications, we agreed.”
“What qualifications? I haven’t the slightest idea what it takes to run a company of this magnitude. Any one of you would be better suited to run Santorini.”
Ken stood up and handed her a file. “We appreciate your vote of confidence. However, Mr. Santorini made the decision. He felt certain you could handle the position and so do we.”
Brielle reviewed the will. Grandfather had actually done this monumental thing. He had appointed her, frivolous Brielle Santorini, CEO of the largest and most distinguished jeweler in the country. Since she graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA at the age of twenty-one, he had been pestering her to utilize her knowledge at Santorini. Yet each time he asked, she had declined his offer. Why? To be more like the mother she hadn’t seen since the age of three? To finally gain her approval by visiting the very places Gabriella frequented? How pathetic did that sound now, to have traveled the world in an unconscious search for the mother who didn’t want her? What a waste. Yet not once did Grandfather chide her for the way she had chosen to live the last few years. She did sit on the board of three charities, but that never felt like work. It was enjoyable. With a laptop and Wi-Fi, she could fulfill her duties from just about anywhere.
Brielle looked at them defiantly. “What if I refuse to do it?”
“Eh-hem.” Jason Simmons, her grandfather’s attorney, cleared his throat to get her attention. “In his will he also stipulates if you do not serve as CEO of Santorini for a minimum of one full year, then your trust fund is to be broken, and the funds will go to Nicholas Trenton, along with all of your grandfather’s personal assets. The stock will also go to Mr. Trenton. Added to the shares he inherited from his father, he would then own sixty-six percent of the company, making him the majority shareholder and owner. ”
“Are you saying I’d have nothing left?”
“That is precisely what I am saying, Miss Santorini.” For a brief moment, the harsh expression on his face looked as if it had been chiseled in stone. It reminded Brielle of Mount Rushmore. After what seemed the longest moment in human history, he grinned.
He looked as if he were enjoying this far too much. Brielle’s hand itched to slap the smug expression off his face. He’d always been an arrogant and pompous jerk. She would fire him at the first opportunity. Now she understood why Nick was so angry. If it weren’t for her, he’d have control of Grandfather’s company and his money. It would all belong to him. She wasn’t about to let Nicholas Trenton take everything from her. She just needed to find some way out of this without giving up her inheritance. At the moment though, she couldn’t think of one. She either had to run Santorini for a year or lose everything. Her choice was really no choice at all.
Brielle felt like a caged animal, and her grandfather was the captor. She had thought he loved her dearly, but now she wasn’t so sure… No! She gave herself a mental shake. She would not doubt her grandfather’s affection—he was the only person who’d ever loved her. She suddenly realized he believed in her, too. He wouldn’t have made this decision if he hadn’t thought she could do it. He had loved Santorini and would never do anything to jeopardize his beloved company. If he had this much confidence in her, then she would do it. For him and maybe even for herself. She looked around the room confidently. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like I have a company to run. Where do I start?” They all applauded her decision, whether they agreed or not, and came around one by one to shake her hand—except Nick Trenton, who stood up and left the boardroom.