Secrets & Beyond, page 1
Secrets & Beyond
K. M. Bishop
Copyright © 2019 by K. M. Bishop
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This book is a piece of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
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Published: K. M. Bishop 2019
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Secrets & Beyond is a full-length standalone novel. At the end, I’ve included an excerpt from my HOT Selling Boxed Set, Indiana Panthers.
Secrets & Beyond concludes at around 90% on your device.
XO, K. M. Bishop
Sid is either the kindest man I’ve ever met.
Or he’s the most heartless playboy to ever exist.
He’s a billionaire philanthropist.
The man who likes to win, at all costs.
Giving to the less fortunate is his passion.
But that’s not the only thing that attracts me to Sid.
He’s irresistibly hot and there’s a mystery about him.
I can’t tell whether I admire him or hate him.
Besides, he’s keeping a dangerous secret.
Handing him my V-card might be a mistake.
But Sid will do anything to gain my trust.
After all, he likes to win.
And I’m his new challenge.
I took a look at myself in the mirror and double checked to make sure that everything was perfect. I was ready. I knew I was ready. I’d been thinking about this opportunity for a long time, and it had finally come. I deserved this. I’d worked hard for it and now the results of all that hard work were about to pay off.
But I had to be careful. I didn’t have the job…yet.
I smiled at myself in the mirror and tried a few different poses just to make sure that I came off with the right level of sophistication and business-like professionalism. I wanted to look nice, but not come across as overly sexy. But did I want a little sexy. Or was that not professional?
I’d gone over every single suit in my closet and it seemed that all of them were aimed at making me look sexy professional. Ugh. Were all women’s clothes designed that way? Or did I just have a knack for picking out the wrong thing?
I was overthinking this. I looked nice and presentable. I’d always been described as attractive, and though I hated to toot my own horn or pay much attention to it, I knew I was considered attractive by most standards. I turned heads wherever I went, no matter how much I tried to ignore them. It was my mother’s fault. I’d gotten my genes from her. The long dark hair, the pouty lips, the big, blue eyes, curvy hips, long slender, but toned legs, and the all-natural double D breasts.
In some ways being attractive was advantageous, but I hated for any of that to be taken in to account when I worked so hard to prove my merit. I graduated top of my class in high school because I studied my ass off. I graduated Summa Cum Laude at an Ivy League school because I worked even harder, and I was being interviewed to work for Tague Global- one of the biggest charitable organizations in the country- because I had proven myself time and time again. I deserved this chance.
Then why was I so nervous? I’d been pacing the floor all morning. Hell, I hadn’t been able to sleep the night before, and yes, my face was looking a little puffy as a result.
I stepped out of the bathroom of my apartment and went into the kitchen where my morning coffee was waiting for me. Caffeine was probably not what I needed, but I had to have something familiar and soothing.
My meeting was in an hour and a half. I was going to be so early, but I couldn’t just sit there in my apartment and wait any longer. I needed to get going. At least if I was there, then I could say that I was just waiting for them to be ready.
I finished my coffee, grabbed my satchel, and walked out of my apartment. Why was this so hard? The closer I got to the meeting; the harder things became for me. I was starting to sweat. I felt like some sort of an anxiety attack coming on. I’d never suffered from anxiety. If anything, I’d never had anything that had ever come close to overwhelming me before. But right now, I felt like the world was closing in on me.
It was just a testament to how much I wanted this. I couldn’t believe that within the hour I would be sitting in the same room with Sid Brown, the CEO of Tague Global, as well as several other hugely successful businessmen. The man was a mogul. I’d read everything I could about him, long before I’d been contacted for the interview.
He’d followed his father into the world of business while still in college, and he’d succeeded wildly beyond anyone’s expectations. He was a self-made billionaire by the age of thirty. It was astonishing. I only hoped a fraction of his knowledge and skill would rub off on me while I was working with him. And I wanted to help people in the world. That was the real payoff for me. Working for an organization like Tague, would enable me to do just that on a grand scale.
“So, where are you headed today?”
I looked up from my thoughts at the taxi driver who was suddenly very chatty. I took taxis often in the city, and most of the cab drivers seemed to want to chit chat. I was usually fine with it. I’ve always loved meeting people and talking with them, learning about their lives. But today with a million thoughts running through my head, I just wanted to be left alone.
“Um, just a meeting,” I said.
“Oh, business meeting? I bet it is, dressed that way. You know, there must be something in the air today. My last five passengers were all going up and downtown for business. What kind of business are you in?”
I smiled politely, though I felt like screaming. “Oh, I was in the tech field, but now I’m looking into another line of work. I really have some preparation left to do, so…”
I opened my bag and pulled out a folder. I started thumbing through it to go over my resume, and to gaze again at my notes I’d made for the interview. I wasn’t quite sure ho
“That’s fantastic,” The driver continued. He adjusted his hat and turned around to look at me, briefly ignoring the road and giving my heart a startle. “I’ll bet you are going to knock ‘em dead. You don’t have to worry about a thing.”
He turned back around and continued to navigate traffic at a much higher rate of speed than I would have been comfortable with.
“You know,” he continued. “I used to be in the world of business.”
I sighed. He was not going to shut up, was he? “Really?”
“Yep. My brother and I used to own an appliance store.”
“What kind of appliances?”
“You know, the usual,” he replied without going into detail. “Anyway, things didn’t go well. I’m not sure if you have any idea how much the overhead is on a business like that, but it was not cheap. It was hard to make enough just to cover expenses, plus to put money back into the business, and then pay ourselves at the end. We lasted almost a year before we finally had to pack it up and move on. He is a telemarketer now. And I drive this cab. I ain’t bitter though. At least we tried. If we’d never had the guts to even try, then I’d be bitter. So, what I’m trying to say is that no matter how nervous you might be about something, you owe it to yourself to give it everything you got and to try to make the best go of it. If it doesn’t workout, then that’s ok. At least you tried. Plus, you can take that experience and try to do better in your next adventure. That’s what it’s all about.”
I was suddenly feeling better about myself. The cab driver (whose name tag said his name was Markus) had actually tapped into a few good points. I’d never given up at the thought of adversity or let anything really deter me from what I wanted. Why the hell was I scared and nervous now? It was absurd.
“Those are profound words,” I said.
“Yeah, I learn a lot driving this cab. A lot of people don’t realize it, but if you think about it, bartenders and cab drivers—are the smartest people around, because they talk all day long about nothing and everything to everybody. You can’t not learn a lot by doing that, am I right?”
“You’re absolutely right,” I said.
“Well, here we are,” Markus said. “I do hope everything goes well for you. Just remember that you are the best, and they need you so much more than you need them.”
“Thanks,” I said smiling. “I wish I could take your enthusiasm and bottle it. I’d make a fortune.”
“Well, give it a shot; you can probably do that, too,” Markus said.
I paid him and stepped out of the cab.
Markus was a character, and he did make me feel better about things. But now the big, looming building of Tague Global was standing right before me. I instantly felt small and insignificant. I was about to tangle with a giant.
“Well, here goes nothing,” I said before marching towards the entrance.
A few minutes later I was sitting outside the offices of Sid Brown in an empty waiting room. I’d expected to see other people waiting, other candidates that they were considering, or maybe even more office staff milling about doing their daily tasks, but I only saw two women who were answering phones constantly.
When I told them who I was, the dark haired one simply told me to have a seat. I’d been waiting for about ten minutes, without either one of them so much as looking up to ask me if I needed anything or give me any updates. I was tempted to help myself to a cup of coffee or water, but I was too nervous.
As I sat there, I thought briefly about my journey and how I had ended up here. And I thought about my parents. I’ve always been very close to my family. I was the only child, and they thought they’d never be able to have biological children. My mother had two miscarriages before me. She and my father had both accepted as fact that they would be childless unless they went another route.
And then I came along. They always looked at me as kind of a miracle, but I would never tell anyone that they allowed this pride to spoil me. Since I was young, I was taught the value of things, and I was given every opportunity to succeed. My parents were not wealthy by any means, but I had a very comfortable life. My father is a pharmacist and my mother, a schoolteacher. Both of them have been in their chosen careers for almost thirty years at this point.
I wished they were there with me, especially my mother. She was the one who was always the best at talking me through things, on the rare occasion that I found some seeds of doubt creeping into me. She would tell me that I was being silly, and if anything, this Sid whatever-his-name-was would have been lucky to have me in his presence. No matter how hard I tried, I had never been able to see myself as being impressive on a scale like that. I didn’t have the conceited gene.
“Mr. Brown will see you now,” the brunette called to me as she sat the phone back down.
“Thank you,” I said.
I was greeted by another woman who came from the back of the office somewhere. I had no idea how, but she appeared to have come out of thin air. It was creepy.
This woman was tall (even taller than me; I’m five-nine) and she had a graceful slenderness to her. The way she walked reminded me of a Victoria’s Secret model on the runway. It was a bit intimidating. Judging by the three employees I’d met so far; I could tell this company seemed to have a thing for hiring beautiful women.
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. After all, I hadn’t been there nearly long enough to really make any kind of assumptions. But so far, I was intimidated and overwhelmed. These were two very unfamiliar feelings to me, and I didn’t like them one bit.
The woman led me to a huge office with thick, oak doors. She opened the door and I followed her into an office that was half the size of a gymnasium. It was huge. It almost looked like half office, half man cave. There were plush leather couches, a mini bar, a miniature golf set up, a foosball table, and a huge, big screen television. At the other end was a large, mahogany desk with several chairs in front of it and two large computer monitors.
She led me to one of the chairs on this side of the desk and motioned for me to have a seat.
“Mr. Brown is in a meeting and will be with you very shortly.”
Then she left.
I was now alone in this humongous office that belonged to Sid Brown, one of the richest men in the country. And I was about to come face to face with him. What was it about wealthy people? They seemed to put everyone around them on edge, as if by the definition of being rich, they are already better than you. I’d never felt like this before.
I had to loosen up or this interview was not going to go well. After waiting for a few minutes, I decided to do some exploring. I stepped over to the desk and ran my fingers along the smooth, thick wood. It felt cool, and somehow magical beneath my touch. I could literally feel sparks between the wood and my skin as I pulled my hand back.
Then I walked over to the foosball table and took a few turns and knocked the little marble that was painted to look like a soccer ball into the goal. I hadn’t played with this sort of stuff since I graduated college a year and a half ago.
Next, I turned my attention to the mini bar on the side. I wasn’t sure how mini it was, but it was portable, and it appeared to be fully stocked. There was everything you would ever want, to have a nice little party. I wondered how many parties Sid had in this office?
“Make yourself a drink,” a masculine, booming voice said echoing inside the office.
I jumped away from the mini bar startled. I was looking at a gorgeous man entering the room. He was about six-foot three, wide shouldered, with an athletic build, wavy, well-groomed hair, and the kind of smile that could make a woman freeze where she was. Instantly my heart started to pound in my chest, until I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
He was there. Sid Brown was walking towards me with a suave, sexy, easygoing smile and the long-legged stride to match. His walk purveyed confidence and alpha male strength. I was melting. That was the only way to describe it. My feet felt like they were melting and welded to the floor. I wasn’t sure I could move.
“Oh, um, I’m sorry,” I said. Embarrassment washed over me. I felt so stupid that I’d been caught touching his things.
“No, you’re fine. I hope you weren’t waiting too long.”
“Not at all,” I said.
“Good. I’m Sid Brown,” he said extending his hand.
He was now standing right in front of me. I could smell his sweet cologne, feel the energy that radiated off his body, and that outstanding smile. I swallowed hard and tried to act natural, but I suddenly became a gawky, awkward teenager standing in front of her crush. I hoped he couldn’t tell, but I was anything but confident in that moment. The entire room seemed to start spinning around us, while we both stood still. What was happening to me?
I took his hand. I was suddenly aware that my palm was slightly sweaty and clammy. Oh, this was already becoming the worst day of my life. How much was I about to embarrass myself?
“I’m, Brie Lawson,” I said.