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Tycoon(8)
Author: Katy Evans

“I know what else I’m missing. Confidence. I seem to have lost it somewhere,” she says, frowning thoughtfully at our silent TV screen.

“I have confidence in you,” I counter.

“Good. ’Cause I have confidence in you too. Boss.” She grins, the tissues forgotten.

After binging on chocolate and ice cream, I fall asleep with my laptop on my bed, my designs scattered around, and an image of Christos telling me he wants it.

Christos

8 years ago…

DEPARTMENT STORE OWNERS KILLED IN VEGAS FIRE

“Fuck.” I scrape my hand down my jaw. An image of Bryn’s parents comes to mind as I scan the paper. I want to punch something.

“Christos? Are you ready?” a familiar female voice asks from behind me.

I shut the paper closed. “Give me a minute.”

I check on the burial time, glance at my watch and realize there’s no time for me to bury my own blood, catch a flight, and be there on time for hers. But I can’t put a lid on my instinct to protect her. Be there for her.

I pull out my wallet, punch in a number of a local florist, and ask for a bouquet of gardenias. Her favorite.

“The message, sir?” the attendant asks.

“Wish I were there. Love, Aaric.”

“Erick?”

“Double A, R, I, C. Aaric.”

“Got it.”

“Love, Aaric,” I repeat.

Yeah. That’s not how I planned to tell her I loved her, but I go with it anyway. Today I bury someone else I never got the chance to love.

Seems stupid the way we hold back on these things now.

Bryn lost her parents—the same day I lost my little girl.

I recite my credit card number, hang up, slip the card back into my wallet, and grab my leather jacket. Much like the one Bryn gave me once.

Bryn

Instead of taking me to reception, the number on Aaric’s card takes me straight to a direct line that I’d never had access to before. I rush on to say, “Hello. I was calling to schedule an appointment with Mr. Christos.”

“Who’s calling? And would this be the youngest or eldest?”

“Eldest. Aaric. And it’s Bryn Kelly.”

“Ah, yes, Miss Kelly. He asked me to shuffle his schedule around if you called. If you can be here at 6, I’ll get you in before he leaves the office.”

Whoa.

He did?

My heart skips a little.

“I appreciate it. Truly. Thank you!”

Noticing it’s 4:51 p.m. already, I lay out my outfit with care, do my hair, apply makeup—not a lot, but enough to make me look polished—and add my faux diamond studs from Macy’s.

“Are you still up for doing some dog runs?” I ask Sara after a brief knock on her bedroom door.

She’s watching TV, still in pajamas. On a Monday.

Rolling to her stomach with a groan, she lifts her head to shoot me an are-you-kidding look. “Anything to get me out of the apartment!”

“Okay—” I cross the room and hand her an address. “Mrs. Wellington is first. Her dog’s name is Natchez. He’s my favorite. A friendly little Husky. Take him to Washington Square Park, he likes it there. I’ll call to let her know you’re coming.”

“Yes, boss.” She leaps off the bed.

“I’m not your boss. Yet.” I wink.

“Trifle details.” She sticks her tongue out and jogs over to her small bathroom.

After a quick call to Mrs. Wellington, I head for Brooklyn.

I wring my hands the entire train ride.

Today is the day I’m going to make my pitch, and I want him to go for it.

After I step off the train and walk three blocks to my destination, I check my briefcase to make sure I have everything I need.

The warehouse is just short of huge and simple on the outside. So simple, all red brick, that I find it difficult to locate the door.

I reach out to pull open the inconspicuous door when it opens on its own and a group of three young, sharp men dressed in business suits step out. One gives me a once over, mumbles something under his breath that makes the other men cackle and slap his back.

Well. I suppose I chose the right outfit.

I step in and stare in mounting amazement. Wow!! Aaric has really done well for himself. The warehouse looks unremarkable on the outside, but the moment you step inside, the edgy, state-of-the-art interior catches you off guard.

Flat TVs line the red brick walls, industrial beams grace the ceilings, and polished cement covers the floor. Yet it is the cleanliness, the equipment, the size, the museum-like quality of every finish inside that makes me realize…never doubt again.

I follow the signs and head to the first-floor bathroom to freshen up.

“I’m telling you, not even his mother could love him. He’s fucking intolerable and I’m over this,” one employee is telling another by the sink.

“You are not over this, you just started this job.”

“He calls at 5 a.m.! He has no respect for my personal time or anyone else’s.”

“He pays you for every hour of your day, especially overtime hours. Plus that’s in our contracts—oh.”

They quiet when they spot me. I’m hurrying to make my appointment on time so I keep dabbing a cool, moist tissue down the back of my neck and between my breasts.

They leave. I quickly head to the stall to pee when I hear footsteps and the sound of the bathroom door slamming and frantic kissing follows.

I’m just about to head out to wash my hands when I realize a couple is making out near the bathroom sink.

Oh brother. I peer through the gap in the bathroom stall and can make out a pair of women’s heels digging into a partly bared male ass as he starts pounding her. He’s got a great ass. So great she seems to be enjoying digging into it with her slim, inked ankles and those heels.

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