The ice in the cognac glass clinks as the bartender sets it in front of me on the small white cocktail napkin. I give him a small nod and return my attention to the tablet in my hand. I’m not going to drink the whiskey I ordered. I’m not going to talk to anyone in here, although I’m sure a few business men will approach me. I’m simply waiting for my associate, Trent Morgan.
He’s much more… sociable than I am. I prefer solitude. I do my best work in my office. And if it were any other day, that’s where we’d be. On the top floor of the high-rise that encompasses the success of my company, Parker-Moore Enterprise. From the outside, the sixty-four story building looks as though it’s one sheet of mirrored glass with symmetrical beveled lines that separate the floors.
I inherited the business, but the building is all mine. The idea and the structure. I get the credit for that. The massive influx of clients and profits, they’re all me, too.
And I didn’t get there by holding meetings at a bar in the Madison Hotel.
Dozens of men and women are lingering around me. Some at the high top tables near the large floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the edge and onto the crystal clear harbor below. It’s breathtaking, and at one point in my life I may have enjoyed this room, but right now I’m irritated.
I look back to my tablet, to the one thing I have a vested interest in, my work, and ignore the hum of small talk and the faint sounds of laughter from the other side of the room. There are two companies I’m interested in. They’re the reason I’m sitting here. On paper, they’re nearly identical. I want to see the people. They'll tell me which of the two is worth investing in. People run a business, and if I can’t have faith in the men and women heading the company, then I have no interest in investing.
I glance up as a small, delicate hand gently brushes my forearm. Her thin fingers and glossy red nail polish make her hand look extra dainty resting easily on my dark grey custom-tailored Armani suit. I clear my throat and turn my head slightly to look at the woman who takes a graceful seat on the barstool next to me.
It takes great effort not to stare at the cleavage she’s obviously put on display. Her form-fitting black dress has a plunging neckline, with a sharp “V” that travels too far down to be professional.
She practically purrs, “I was hoping you’d buy me a drink.”
I huff a small laugh and smirk at her. That’s a cheeky come-on I wasn’t expecting and I can appreciate her charm; the drinks are free for the conference. And I can tell from the soft blush across her cheeks and the sweet grin on her lips that she already knows that.
She’s beautiful and refined. Her confidence is alluring, but it does nothing for me.
“I’m waiting on a colleague.” I’m short in my response for a reason. I don’t want to open doors for discussion.
If we’d met in this scenario three years ago, things would be different. I’d have taken her upstairs to my bed in the penthouse suite and given her what she’s looking for. I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. I would’ve satisfied the both of us and moved on to the next sweet little thing looking to sink her claws into a wealthy man.
Things change. People change.
I have no room in my life for complications anymore. I don’t mix business with pleasure. I lead a private life for good reason. And if my parents' failed marriage and brutal divorce taught me anything, it’s that I should never trust anyone. And I can’t afford to let anyone in. Not now. Not ever.
The little minx gives me a tight smile and gathers her clutch in a white-knuckled fist before sliding off the barstool. I don’t mind her disgruntled departure. I’m used to it, and I prefer it that way. I could apologize for being blunt and to the point, but I’m not sorry. And I don’t make apologies.