Alexander said he had business matters to attend to in the city and needed to leave for a few hours. His eyes were narrow and solemn as he told me he would be back to join me for dinner in the evening.
He had not apologized for leaving me alone here for days. But I knew better than to expect an Alpha to say he’s sorry. Admitting fault could be perceived as a sign of weakness. But Alexander was trying to impress upon me with his actions that he was repentant.
I felt sure he was sincere. He believed himself when he said he was going to stay by my side.
But I had a hard time believing it myself. Only time would tell whether his actions would match his promises.
Contemplating what to do with my day, I sat down at the table in the corner of the room with my laptop and a few of the magazines I’d been reading. I’d been finding it hard to focus on the solitary, self-driven work of reading, doing research, and preparing to apply for new jobs. I pledged to myself that I would work for at least an hour before whiling away the rest of the afternoon chatting with Nina or taking another nap.
I opened my laptop and went to my email. It was a matter of habit, the first thing I did on weekday mornings… back when I had a job. I wasn’t expecting to see anything in my inbox worth a second glance.
But there at the top was an email from Crescent Ventures.
It was from a recruiter who stated he had recently been made aware of my departure from my family business. And he was inviting me to come interview for a position.
I looked over at the cover of one of the magazines on the table beside me, my jaw dropping. I had just read that Crescent Ventures was named the top investment company in the nation this year.
I would never have even thought to apply for a job at such a bigtime firm. It was notoriously difficult to get a foot in the door there. I shook my head in disbelief.
I had done some great work at my father’s company, but because I never actually received the promotions I was always promised, the credit for my successes always went to my father. And Father never trusted me enough to let me take over the core business operations, even though I’d practically re-written the entire operating procedure, and trained all our analysts myself.
I sighed, thinking about how limited I had been with him. For years I’d been battling my ignorant father, whose business acumen was laughable, on every major decision. His choices kept our company firmly in the middle of the industry, teetering between a business of mediocre success and a soon-to-be bankrupting disaster.
Straightening my spine, I gave myself a quick internal pep-talk.
I could do this. I was up for it. I might not have the resume I’d expect Crescent Ventures to be looking for, but apparently that didn’t matter to them anyway.
Before I could overthink it any further, I scrambled for my phone and dialed the number the recruiter provided in his email.
This was my chance at a rare opportunity, not just to get back to work, but to finally make a real move forward in my career. It did not make a lick of sense that this company wanted me. But I was not going to waste time second-guessing what might be the opportunity of a lifetime.
I checked in with a fast-talking receptionist at the big, circular front desk on the first floor of Crescent Ventures headquarters, an impressive glass-walled skyscraper in the center of the city, my head spinning as I took in the atmosphere in the lobby.
It was a shock to my system. Crowded, loud, and chaotic, with men and women in well-pressed suits rushing in and out purposefully, carrying briefcases and speaking on cell phones. Sweaty interns in ill-fitting business attire rushing through metal detectors and waiting impatiently in the elevator bay, carrying more trays of take-out coffee cups than should be physically possible.
“Your meeting will be on the eighty-ninth floor,” the receptionist said, making my eyes go wide.
I could not even imagine how high up that was.
“Just go through the line right over here,” she continued, pointing. “Go through security and head up in any of the main elevators. You’re riding that to the eightieth floor. Get out there and they’ll be waiting for you at the desk. The second elevator will be locked, but they’ll let you right in. Okay?”
I nodded confidently, though my mind was reeling.
Why was my meeting being held in one of the chief executive offices? Those were the only floors that would be locked to the public.
I took a few deep breaths in and followed the receptionist’s instructions. The elevator was packed full when we started in the lobby, and suddenly dense with aromas of coffee, Italian takeout, and body odor. Every couple floors, the cabin halted its aggressive upward propulsion to open the doors and let a few people out. The crowd grew thinner and thinner as we rose into the sky, my ears popping around the fortieth floor, and again when I finally reached my stop, alone now in the big elevator cabin.
A polite security guard wearing a well-stocked gun belt escorted me to the second elevator. I entered and discovered that 89 was the highest floor in the whole building. Pressing the sparkly gold and black button, I noticed that my hand was shaking.
The elevator zipped upward in a flash and the doors rolled open again mere seconds later.
I put on my best smile, straightened my spine, dropped my shoulders, steadied my hands, and walked inside with confidence.
The interview with the recruiter went by in an eyeblink.
He asked me questions at a rapid-fire pace. I answered fast, showing no doubt or hesitation, relying on my instinct and trusting that that my acumen could carry me through this test successfully.
Finally, after five intense minutes that felt like an eternity, the man sat back and looked once more at the one-page resume I had given him at the start of our meeting.
“Alright,” he said, his tone neutral. “Everything looks good. All that’s left is the salary negotiation, but I’ll let your new boss take over for that.”
I kept my mouth closed, but it took all my willpower to do it. I couldn’t believe it. I was getting an offer.
The recruiter left the room, and I took the opportunity to do some deep breathing. Bracing myself for what was coming next.
I could not have prepared myself, though, for who came striding in.
“Conrad Knight,” he said, extending his hand in introduction. I rose to my feet and shook his hand firmly. “And you’re Fiona.”
“Yes sir. It’s an honor to meet you. I had no idea I was interviewing for a position working directly with you.”
Conrad Knight was a superstar in the finance world. And the CEO and co-founder of Crescent Ventures.
“Ah.” He moved to the other side of the table and motioned for me to take a seat, then did so himself. “That’s how I like to do it. And I also like to hand-select the people I even consider bringing in for an interview, when I’ve got a new position I need to fill.”
I nodded, waiting to see if he would elaborate.
There was one other thing I knew about Conrad Knight. He was Alexander’s uncle. The brother of my fiancé’s departed mother.
So I guess I knew, now, exactly why I had been hand-selected.