Black Ties and White Lies: Chapter 7

Beck

It’s been two days since I met with Margo, and two days of staring at my phone waiting for her call.

She’s supposed to start this coming Monday, and it’s already Friday morning. I’d figured she’d at least want to know more details on what the next few days will look like.

I’ve come to the conclusion she must’ve misplaced my card. I purposefully make it difficult for anyone to find a way to contact me—not wanting my phone to be overloaded with calls or messages. The poor girl must be struggling to get ahold of me.

A long sigh escapes my lips as I finish up another virtual meeting. The last couple days have been filled with call after call in an effort to integrate the company Margo worked at into my own. I didn’t expect quite so much extra work when I bought it, but that’s mainly because we found ways it can actually be useful. There are specific proprietary algorithms 8-bit owns that Sintech should be able to use to improve some of our social platform data encryption. It’ll take some overhaul of 8-bit to make it best serve us, starting with getting rid of that god-awful logo, but the acquisition hasn’t been a complete waste.

Stretching in my chair, I take in the view from the penthouse suite of the hotel I’m staying at until Sunday morning. My moment of peace is quickly broken when the vibration of my phone rattles against the desk. Eagerly, I grab for it, expecting to see an unknown number on the screen—Margo’s. Instead, I see my assistant’s name glaring at me. Frowning, I answer it. “Yes?” I clip, not bothering with a greeting.

“Good morning,” Polly says, her tone cheery like usual. The woman is old enough to be my mother, in fact she’s older than my own mom, yet it doesn’t seem as if the world has hardened her over the years. I on the other hand, can feel my sanity slip away with each useless meeting. I don’t know how Polly has put up with me for years, but deep down, I’m grateful for it. She’s a wonderful assistant, always doing her job no matter what I ask. I’m just pissy this morning because Margo hasn’t contacted me yet.

“Hi,” I answer, trying to soften the gruffness in my tone slightly.

For the next fifteen minutes, Polly and I iron details we’d been needing to work through. The entire time, my mind travels elsewhere. I can’t stop thinking about Margo, even when discussing important topics at hand. Eventually, we get to a good stopping point. Polly is efficient. Even from New York, she’s able to keep a reign on things so that even when I’m out of the office, I can count on things running smoothly.

Before she hangs up, I get an idea. Standing up, I take the phone off speaker and hold it to my ear. My shoes click against the marble floor of the penthouse suite as I rush to my room. “Polly?”

“Yes, Mr. Sinclair?”

I grab the jacket off its hanger, the suit freshly steamed thanks to the hotel staff. I press the phone between my cheek and my shoulder as I slip my arms into the sleeves. “Clear my schedule for the rest of the day. Something’s come up.”

“What?” she asks, not hiding her shock.

Walking to my nightstand, I set my phone on it, putting the phone on speaker again. “Something’s come up today, Polly,” I explain, grabbing my silver cufflinks and working them through their slots. “Please reschedule any calls I had on the books. Or assign them to Brian; he can inform me of anything that needs my input or approval. If any of the meetings can be turned into an email, do that. It may be hard to reach me for most of the day.”

Polly has worked with me long enough to know not to ask any further questions. She sighs, bold enough to let me know she’s displeased with my abrupt change before saying, “I’ll get it done, Mr. Sinclair.”

“Thank you,” I say before hanging up.

Once I’m ready, I race to the elevator.

There’s somewhere I need to be. Someone I need to see.


Stepping into the lobby of 8-bit Security, I find the lone security guard paying closer attention to the game on his phone than who is walking in the building. My loud footsteps break him from whatever app he’s playing. At the sight of me, he almost jumps out of his chair, then presses a hand to his chest while his shoulders move up and down with a deep breath.

“We weren’t expecting you today, Mr. Sinclair,” he exclaims, rushed. Now standing close to him, I find crumbs of whatever breakfast he had still stuck in his large mustache. A paper towel with a grease stain sits next to his wireless mouse, more crumbs scattered around it from whatever pastry he just ate. He fumbles with his keyboard, muttering under his breath for an excruciatingly long minute.

My patience wearing thin, I lean over the desk. “Look”—my eyes scan over his uniform until I find a name tag—“Barry, you and I both know that I have the highest security clearance there is here. I don’t think we need to bother with printing me a guest pass, do we?”

Barry coughs, looking up at me, his eyes full of panic. “Uh, sir, is this a test?” he squeaks. “I’m not supposed to let anyone in without a pass.” He looks back at his computer, typing a few more things. He reaches up and smacks the side of his computer tower. His eyes get large when he realizes I just watched him smack his computer.

Swallowing, I look at him. “Barry,” I say tightly. “I own this fucking company. I’m going to go on up and not bother with getting cleared. You got it?”

He looks unsure as he nods. I don’t give the guy much room to argue.

People give me odd looks as I step through the glass doors of the office. Darlene, or at least I believe it was Darlene, jumps from her seat when she sees me approaching the sea of cubicles. “Mr. Sinclair, we weren’t expecting you today.”

I barely spare her a second glance. “I wasn’t aware I needed to announce each time I was going to stop by.”

She follows closely behind me as I weave in and out of the cubicles, my eyes scanning over everyone working at their desks.

“You don’t, sir, I just would’ve made sure—”

Turning abruptly, I stop in front of her. Her mouth hangs open as she looks up at me. Even when trying to smile up at me, her mouth still turns down in a frown. “I don’t need you to follow me, Darlene. I’ll take it from here.” I dismiss her with a simple flick of my wrist.

At first, she doesn’t get the hint. It takes me making a shooing motion in the air for her to turn around, her shoulders tight as she makes her way back to her desk.

No longer having to deal with Darlene, I scan the large office space, my eyes searching for one person and one person only.

There she is.

Margo’s back is to me. Her long hair falls all the way down her back, the tendrils tamed stick straight. She’s engaged in conversation with somebody, her hip propped against a desk. The woman listening to her is engrossed with whatever she is saying. I stop, watching Margo for a few moments before either one of them notice that the office has gone quiet, all of them with their apprehensive eyes on me.

I get it. When the boss shows up, everyone loses their damn minds. It’s like they forget to work. Or maybe they’re just never great at working at all. Hopefully, for the sake of business, it’s the former. Lucky for them, I don’t plan on staying long. As long as Margo cooperates.

Which could go one or two ways with her.

Margo talks animatedly with her hands. Upon closer inspection, she grasps something. The bobblehead in her hand swings around in the air. At one point, her coworker has to step slightly to the left to avoid being smacked in the head with the item.

My lip twitches in amusement. It doesn’t take long for my feet to eat the distance between us. I come to a stop at Margo’s back. Her coworker notices me right away. She freezes, her hand stuck in the short blonde strands of her hair.

“Margo,” the coworker hisses, hastily finishing her task of clipping her hair back.

“I’m not done talking!” Margo chides, angrily setting the bobblehead on the cubicle shelf.

Is that Nash Pierce?

The blonde smiles playfully, raising her eyebrows. “Mar, I’d advise you to stop this conversation until we get home. Someone is standing behind you, and he looks pretty pissed.” The blonde—maybe also a roommate—doesn’t hide the amusement in her voice.

Margo spins on her heels immediately, her puffy lips parting when her eyes land on me. When she looks me up and down, I can’t help but wonder if she likes what she sees.

Beck?” she gasps. Her green eyes are wide as they travel over my features. It’s like she’s trying to figure out if I’m actually here or just a figment of her imagination.

This is Beck?” The girl attempts to whisper, but it comes out more as a yell. “You didn’t tell me our new boss looked like that!”

Margo aims a dirty look in the girl’s direction. “Shut up, Emma. He’s not that special to look at.”

Someone busts out laughing from a few cubicles away. They quickly try to hide the laughter with a cough, but it’s too late. Margo gives them a dirty look, muttering something incoherent under her breath.

“Stop lying to yourself,” the coworker—Emma—mumbles. “That’s the best looking man I’ve ever seen.” She bites into an apple I just now notice she’s holding. She chews on it loudly, not shy about looking me up and down.

“I think I hate you,” Margo snaps, shoving what must be her friend from the cubicle space. Her friend fights her by digging her heels into the ground. Margo is smaller than Emma, but still manages to move her a few feet.

I reach out to tap the bobblehead she’d been swinging around minutes before. As the head bobbles up and down, I look at her with a bored expression. “Working hard?” I ask sarcastically.

She scoffs, looking over her shoulder to her computer screen. “Emma and I were going over a new design before you walked in.”

“Is that so?”

“Yep,” she answers confidently.

Emma smacks her palm to her forehead, groaning dramatically.

My eyes flick to the computer monitor, to the flashing login screen, the evidence clear as day that Margo hasn’t even logged in for the morning, let alone looked over a design.

“You’re not even logged in, Mar.” Emma grabs Margo by the shoulders, turning her until she’s face to face with the proof of her lie.

“Oh…” I can only see her profile, but her wince is obvious.

Margo tucks her hand into the back pocket of her jeans as she spins to face me again. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m just going to go get to work,” Emma mumbles. Her fingers wiggle with a goodbye as she rushes to her own desk.

“You’ve been ignoring me,” I state, pinning her with a scowl. This is the second time the woman has had the nerve to disregard me. It’s something that won’t happen again.

“To ignore someone, they first have to call.”

“I gave you my business card. Something I rarely hand out, might I add. You not calling is as good as ignoring me.” I let my eyes roam over her work space. For someone who’s worked here for some time, her space is pretty boring. It’s not like I can talk. The only things on the walls of my office are my framed diplomas. But that’s the way I like things—clean and simple.

Margo doesn’t strike me as the clean and simple type. She seems wild and chaotic, someone who likes things unhinged and messy. I’d imagined her desk being unkept, her artwork hung with mismatched thumbtacks. The only signs anyone works at the desk are the coffee mugs that are haphazardly placed.

She shrugs. “I figured if you wanted to talk, you’d call.”

I fight the urge to roll my eyes at her. She gets under my skin more than I care to admit. It shouldn’t bother me she didn’t call me, yet I’ve lost sleep wondering why my phone hasn’t rung with her voice on the other line.

Taking a deep breath, I point to the purse she has sitting underneath her desk. “Grab your things. We’re leaving.”

Her arms cross her chest as she tries to make herself look tough. It doesn’t work. If anything, she looks annoyingly adorable with the pose, her eyebrows pinched together in what’s supposed to look like a mean expression. “I have to work.”

One of my eyebrows raise. “You work for me now, remember, Miss Moretti?”

“I’m well aware,” she spits back.

I smile, taking a step closer to her. We’re still a healthy distance apart. Noticing all of the eyes that are focused on us, I lower my voice as I speak next to her ear. “As my new assistant, you have places to be.”

“It’s not Monday yet,” she aggravatingly points out.

My eyes turn into slits as I drink in the smug look on her face. “I changed my mind. You’re needed today. Right now.”

“I’m working.”

“Yes. For me. Now, I’m not a patient man, Margo. You have five minutes to grab your stuff and meet me in the lobby. Don’t make me wait.”

She wipes her face clean of the smug smile. Instead, her face screws together in anger. “What happens if I make you wait?”

The smile she gets is lethal. “I don’t think you want to find out.”

I leave before I do something in front of all these people I shouldn’t. On my way out the doors, the annoying secretary stands up, almost tripping over her hideous shoes as she chases after me. “When can we be expecting you again, Mr. Sinclair?”

If it were up to me—never.

“Darlene,” I begin, gritting my teeth. A minute has already ticked by. Margo better hurry, or she’s going to get more than she bargained for if she makes us late.

“It’s Darla, sir,” she corrects. Her voice is nasally. I wonder how anyone can stand listening to her speak for any length of time.

I don’t give a fuck what her name is. I just want her to leave me alone.

“Darla. You’re going to have to hire a new graphic designer. Margo’s been promoted.”

She’s left no time to argue or ask questions. My palms slam into the glass door as I make my way back to the lobby. Barry smiles nervously at me as I stop to stand off in a corner.

I glance at my watch.

She has three more minutes before she’s late.

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