Authors: Emily Cooper
Romance: The CEO
Copyright © 2015
Published by Run Free Publishing
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior permission in writing of the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Other titles by bestselling author Emily Cooper:
Romance: Seduced by the Billionaire’s Lust
Romance: The Billionaire’s Assistant
Romance: Bought for the Billionaire’s Pleasure
Romance: Alpha Stepbrother
Romance: The Billionaire Proposal
Romance: The Assistant
So today is the day
As I step through the revolving doors of the dreary grey building, I have a clear purpose in mind.
Today is the day.
For the last four years I’ve worked as a journalist for
Leading Edge Press,
a popular printed and online news publication that is currently in its tenth year of operation.
As I walk through the building, I see a thriving workplace filled with diverse furnishings and enthusiastic employees. The inside of this building is a stark contrast to the outside.
From its perky red retro chairs, to its stark white tables, to its alien-like designed computer pods, and lime green sofas - where all news writers are encouraged to sit and find their “inner inspiration” - the whole floor screams a modern twist on the 60s era. It’s like Andy Warhol walked in and went crazy – bright colors and stenciled canvases catching your eye from almost every viewpoint.
It’s a mecca for artsy types, and that’s a large part of the reason why I love my job so much.
As a fine art graduate from NYU my two passions meld here, words meeting images in epic utilitarianism.
Leading Edge Press
has published hundreds of my stories, from my humbler beginnings as the resident ‘
girl, followed by a stint of reporting on Manhattan’s most trendy hotspots, and now my most recent promotion as a more serious journalist.
My career highlights have been on the back of tough investigative journalism into how billionaire bachelor Jackson Windsor has been destroying lives through his African diamond mines. I was up to my third hard-hitting article on the handsome man when he completely disappeared off the map.
After the success of my brutal articles, I have had my pick of hard-hitting stories - whether it’s highlighting political scandals, detailing the latest breakthroughs in medicine and science, or investigating controversial foreign affairs.
That is until Hank McAllister tips the scales yet again. He often rips my feature articles into shreds and demands they be rewritten with less
But today is the day.
Hank is a product of the “baby boomer” generation. He doesn’t believe in climate change, gay marriage, feminism or environmental groups.
“Radical hippy, left winged jargon
” he calls all of it. “
Turning the world into even more of a backward place than it already was to begin with!”
And even though he’s been a news editor for twenty odd years, he still doesn’t understand the evolution of journalism over that time, a movement that no longer shies away from uncovering the darker facts, no matter how shocking they might be.
If he wants a story on Jackson Windsor’s illegal diamond mining in Zimbabwe with forced labor and torture camps, then he should be prepared for the gritty facts, not an innocuously polished article with a few comments from the heads of mining companies swearing that nothing criminal ever happens under their jurisdiction.
After all, where’s the truth and journalism in that?
I don’t know why Hank chose to be the publishing supervisor here.
He’s nothing like the rest of us writers, and he hates the kind of stories we churn out to our readers. But he’s a brilliant editor; I need to credit him with that much.
Even if you write the crappiest and most unprintable story, once he’s finished with it and blasted you about all the things you need to change, it comes out as good as gold. When he’s not being an arrogant son of a bitch, he’s almost respectable.
I stroll into Hank’s office with my head held high, steady breaths and rehearsed speech, but as soon as I see his shiny bald head look up at me all my confidence just melts away.
Today has to be the day…
I have decided today is when I finally tell my prick boss of an editor to stick his chauvinism where the sun doesn’t shine.
“Ah, Claire!” he bellows as I walk in. “Sit! I have a new assignment for you. Scrap that last story you did. This is better!”
“What? But I was up all night finishing it,” I protest, sinking down into the chair opposite him. I’d stayed up until three a.m. editing the final draft of my feature article on the torture camps in the Middle East.
Surely he’s not suggesting I get rid of it completely?
“Tough. I want a different angle now,” he huffs. “Besides, there’s something big in it for you. And by big, I mean dollar signs, baby!”
Oh man, here we go.
Hank has that gleam in his eye, the one he gets when he’s on the verge of catching a big fish. I hate it when he calls me ‘
too, like I’m a fine piece of meat that he’s been admiring.
I’m twenty-six years old!
“Hank, I told you to stop calling me that,” I say sternly, narrowing my eyes on him. “It’s not appropri—”
“Oh cool your jets!” he interrupts, refusing to look me in the eye. “Why do you have to be so uptight all the time? Good thing you’re one of my best writers, Claire.” He stops to take a breath, shuffling some papers in front of him. “Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I need you to interview Jackson Windsor.”
He states it matter-of-factly, like it’s not even up for discussion.
“Wait, hold up. You want me to interview him?” I ask, screwing my face up at him like he’s just made some crude joke.
“Well, unless you know of anyone else worth interviewing…of course I want you to interview him!”
“But he’s a famous recluse. He has disappeared off the face of the earth,” I laugh. “No one gets to interview him. In fact, no one’s heard anything about him for like twelve months.”
Hank grins at me keenly. “Exactly. Hence why this is our cash cow, baby!”
“Alright, alright. I’ll curb my tongue on the baby thing. But I’m serious about this, Claire. You have top spot on this one!”
I shake my head at him, still utterly confused.
And to think the only agenda I had in mind for today was calling Hank out on being a sexist pig.
How the hell has he even managed to score this interview?
Jackson Windsor is as untraceable as a ghost, and he doesn’t even live in the States.
He lives in some remote part of Canada, hibernating in a lavish log-cabin styled mansion on a stretch of its wild and rugged coastline.
Anyone with a keen interest in celebrities and world news knows the story...
Jackson Windsor became an orphan at fifteen when his famous and rich geologist parents died in a plane crash whilst celebrating their 20
wedding anniversary in the Bahamas. From their estate he inherited a decent fortune, and under the care of his late grandmother, Maggie Windsor, he went on to finish high school. Inspired by his parents work, Windsor decided to point his career in a similar direction and completed an earth and environmental engineering degree at Columbia University. After five years of working as the head of operations for a large mining company, he decided to go one step further, investing two billion dollars into South African and Zimbabwe mines. However, on his thirtieth birthday, after having only owned the mines for a year, he suddenly announced that he was closing them down for good, but refused to give any reason as to why. Since that day twelve months ago he has avoided all press and people like the plague.
It’s one of those cold cased intriguing stories that every journalist wants the scoop on but has never been able to catch.
And that’s what I’m apprehensive about.
Even if I do the interview with Jackson Windsor I doubt he’s going to come through with the goods—notably the garish details behind why he closed his mines.
There are whispers that he did it to try and quell the marketing of blood diamonds in the region, but having done extensive research on it, and Windsor himself, I know there’s more to it than just that.
I think something even more sinister took place.
“So when is this all-exclusive interview supposed to be happening?” I ask sarcastically, widening my eyes at Hank for dramatic effect.
“What? That only gives me one day to prepare!”
“So? Think on your feet. All good journalists know how,” he says smugly, brandishing a wink.
Pfft, as if he knows anything about what being a good journalist entails. He might be at the top of his field when it comes to editing news stories, but in terms of actually sitting down and talking to a high profile figure, Hank doesn’t know squat. He hasn’t done an interview since Reagan was in office.
“Okay…well what hotel in New York is Windsor staying at?”
“None. He won’t be in New York.”
“Right…” I sigh tetchily. “So it’s a phone interview?”
But Hank is grinning like a jackass again. “No. You’ll be doing it in person.”
I roll my eyes and slump back in the chair. I hate it when he plays games with me like this. Why can’t he just spit it out?
“Okay, Hank, I’ll play along,” I say, clearly frustrated. “How am I supposed to interview this guy if it’s not in New York and not by telephone?”
Hank picks up the expensive fountain pen the staff gave him for his birthday last year and points it towards the ceiling. “You ever heard of those big metal things that fly in the sky?” he says smartly, obviously waiting for the penny to drop.
“Wait, you don’t mean—”
“First class too. You’re lucky the billionaire’s paying. We would’ve just put you in coach!”
But lucky is not exactly how I feel right now.
The expression on my face resembles more of the reaction you have when you’re trapped in a fighting ring and have just been given a stunning blow by your opponent.
Often it’s been the case with a celebrity like Jackson Windsor that they bail out of the interview at the last minute. Or worse, they give you one that’s D.O.A. and utterly boring.
“I’m not asking you to fly to Canada, Claire. I’m telling you to! It’s not negotiable. Your flight leaves tomorrow morning. Here!” Hank takes out a large sealed yellow envelope from the top drawer of his desk and throws it onto my lap. “Everything you need is in there. Boarding tickets, travel itinerary, address of his mansion out in whoop whoop. Make sure to keep all your receipts so I can reimburse you for needed expenses. And I mean NEEDED, Claire.”
I falter, still trapped in the fighting ring. “And if I refuse?”
“Well, I hear the
team could do with an extra contributor.”
“You wouldn’t dare demote me!” I hiss. But we both know who the snake is and who the mouse in this situation is.
“Try me, blondie. Besides, this is the scoop of the year if not the decade! You know as well as I do that you’re not going to turn that down.”
Unfortunately, the beefy and red-faced little man is right.
If I manage to find out why Jackson Windsor closed his mines and there’s a scandal at the heart of it, then this could propel me right to the top of my career. I could make editor at another publication or magazine, a dream ripe for the taking.
“Fine,” I cave, taking the envelope. “I hate how you know me so well sometimes, Hank.”
“You’re a journalist, Claire, eager to hunt down a good story and put a bullet right between its eyes. You’re an open book. We all are. Now, if there isn’t anything else you want to complain about, then get going will you! I have to finish red-penning the hell out of these drafts!”
I scowl at him contemptuously and go to leave, turning at the last minute to backtrack a few steps.
“Wait, I just have one more question.”
“Of course you do,” he sighs heavily, looking up from the piece of paper already marred with several red scribbles.
“How did you land this interview? This could potentially be big. REALLY BIG. And we’re not exactly 60 Minutes or Barbara Walters.”
“Look, all you need to know is that he reached out to me personally, and he’s ready to talk,” Hank says firmly, shaking his head at me like I’m a disobedient child. He’s told me before that I remind him of his 13-year-old daughter, all lip and attitude yet as savvy and inquisitive about the world as he is.
It’s curious that he won’t tell me any more details about his correspondence with the billionaire.
I guess I’ll just have to get it from the horse’s mouth himself on Friday.
If Jackson Windsor is willing to give me a story on the closure of his mines, then surely he can provide me with the link between him and my moronic editor.
“Okay. Can I ask one more thing?”
“Can I stop you?” Hank sniggers, placing a cigar in his mouth.
“No,” I say staunchly, cracking a wry smile before continuing on. “So why are you sending me to do the interview? Pete is the main foreign affairs correspondent. He’s interviewed a ton of mining company big wigs over the years.”