“It has been only five days, Alexander, and already Fiona has recouped the company millions of dollars. Millions! That no one else even noticed was going missing… for ten years.”
Alexander’s eyebrows shot up. “Please explain that scenario.”
Conrad caught him up on the account that Fiona had dug into, explaining how she found a billing error that slipped past even the bank’s notice. And how she even managed to recover the money immediately from the bank, who admitted fault and even agreed to offer a settlement to the affected vendor, as well.
Alexander was a stoic man, a soldier, and not one to show emotions – not even surprise. But though his face remained unchanged, Alexander suddenly rose to stand, shoving his hands into his pockets and walking across the room. He stopped at the window, looking out into the distance.
A long, tense minute passed as he contemplated in silence.
“Who is responsible?” he asked at last.
“Directly? I’ll send you a list of the associates on the account. Clerks too. Anyone who should have seen and reported the error. There are a lot of them, though, Alexander. I don’t know if we could handle firing them all at once…”
Alexander ran a hand through this golden hair before turning back around to face his uncle. “I’ll figure out how to deal with them later. Let’s get back to Fiona.”
The left side of Conrad’s mouth crept up into a half-smile. “She’s good,” he said, shaking his head like he didn’t believe it himself.
“I told you that she was.” Alexander rejoined Conrad, sitting across from his uncle at his desk.
“And, once again, nephew, you were right. Now listen, I want her to look at a few more projects before we start her on the expansion. She’s good – really good – but she’s still got a lot to learn about our operation.”
“Makes sense. Have you spoken to her about the expansion yet, though? Does she know exactly what she was hired to do?”
Conrad’s mouth moved around in a series of frowns and odd shapes. Finally, he said, simply, “Not yet.”
“Soon,” Conrad continued, snatching up a mint-flavored toothpick from a tiny cylindrical container on his desk. “I need a little time to iron out the proposal. And get it to you for approval before we show her.”
“Send it to me tomorrow. The sooner Fiona knows what we need her to do, the sooner she can start figuring out how to do it.”
Conrad gnawed on the toothpick, gritting his teeth. “The girl probably doesn’t need to start worrying about her competitor yet,” he added. “Not until she’s ready to act against her.”
Alexander looked his uncle in the eye. “She’s ready.”
The toothpick snapped noisily in Conrad’s mouth, and he quickly disposed of it. “I’m sure you’re right,” he told his nephew. “As always.”
Fiona was fast asleep by the time I made it back to the palace. I smiled, relieved to see her resting, and amused at the scene that awaited me behind our bedroom door.
She had been staying up late all week, working, even though I kept telling her that her body needed more time to rest. She would promise she only needed a minute more – then another minute more – and so on until she outlasted me and I fell asleep at her side, with the rattle of her fingers on the keyboard click-clacking lightly like white noise, lulling me to sleep.
But tonight, she had passed out with all the lights on. Her laptop was on the floor beside the bed, lying open on its side. And she was curled up in a ball, lying in bed atop all the covers, with a single pillow flat under her heavy head. Her silver hair was tied back loosely in a messy bun that trailed loose curls in all directions.
Fiona was always a picture of perfection. It was hard to believe she was her father’s daughter, in fact. She embodied the noble role of Luna as well as any I had ever known. It was rare, and felt sweet to see her like this, though. Looking childlike and vulnerable.
I tiptoed around the room, turning out all the lights except for one at my own bedside, trying not to make a sound. I closed her laptop carefully and set it on her nightstand. Then I stood for a moment, looking down upon Fiona with a small, irresistible smile on my lips.
She was still in the dress she had worn to work. I frowned, knowing I could not let her sleep in it, but not sure if I would wake her up if I tried to take it off.
I decided to first maneuver the covers down from underneath her, first. Then I slipped my hand carefully down the top of her back, feeling for a zipper.
Fiona let out a sigh and stirred her body, making me freeze for fear of rousing her. But then her breathing became regular again, and I dared to pull the zipper down slowly, all the way to the small of her back. From there the only option was to roll her over and slide the dress down the length of her whole body. But she was out cold, sleeping more soundly than I’d ever seen her do, and I got away with it.
This left her in a short black slip made of silk that she had been wearing under the dress. That would have to do for a nightgown. It was loose, except for right at the largest part of her pregnant belly, where it was stretched taut.
Fiona was visibly pregnant now, no matter what she wore. Her thin, athletic frame was unchanged, but her belly was rounder all the time, and her breasts were growing fuller, too.
I pulled the covers up around her, tucking the silk sheets and warm blankets around her shoulders and hips.
Before climbing into bed myself, I took a quick shower. Then I slid under the covers quietly, still careful not to tear Fiona out of her slumber, and inched my body close to hers. I draped one arm around her waist, letting it come to rest gently on her stomach.
Fiona’s body relaxed back into mine comfortably, and I pulled the blankets tight around us both. I pressed my mouth and nose to her neck, breathing in her scent. She smelled like lavender and vanilla. And like a fresh, cool wind whipping across a meadow.
This woman was the daughter of my enemy. Yes.
But she was also so much more.
She was brilliant. I knew Uncle Conrad would not regret hiring her, but even I could not have expected the impressive feat Fiona had achieved in only her first week of work in our firm. She was devoted, ambitious, and persistent. Unstoppable, even.
And lying beside her with our limbs entwined, our skin in contact, and her smell flooding my senses, I knew, too, that our bodies belonged together.
– To be continued –