The Beauty and the CEO(9)

By: Carolyn Hector

You were great today. A decision will be made in a few weeks.

Zoe reread Marcus’s text message two more times. How was she supposed to go to bed tonight knowing she hadn’t secured the position of Creative Design Director? Her life was being held up by a man she knew nothing about. Where had he gone to school? Had he been a business major or something in the field of cosmetic chemistry? What had Lexi said? He’d played sports before deciding to join the family business? A feeling of dread sunk to the pit of her stomach at the thought of her life being upheld by an athlete. At least she knew that by the weekend she’d be back home in Southwood and away from the drama for a while.

* * *

Will didn’t look up from the rest of the portfolios after his brothers left to pick up dinner. In soccer he’d put in his time on the field and in the locker room. He spent more time on the field finessing his skills than in the club, like some of his teammates. Will knew the odds were against him. He had no training and no experience other than on the soccer field. Since coming to RC, Will couldn’t remember getting home before the sun set. Trudy’s, the West Indian market and restaurant down the block, saw more of him than his own kitchen.

The grandfather clock in the corner of the office chimed eight. A smile tugged at his mouth. When they were kids, he and his brothers used to play hide-and-seek on this floor of the building. Will’s favorite place was in here, where Grandpa Joe shared the office space with his wife. With a chuckle, Will realized why they’d shared an office. If Grandma was going to stay late at work, so was Grandpa. It must have been nice to have someone who stayed with you if you couldn’t get home on time.

Now that he wasn’t traveling full time or training, Will wondered if any of that would happen to him. Would he have someone to share office space with, or who would sit back with a knowing smile as his children played in here? Grandma Naomi was going on ninety. So far, her six children had blessed her with over a dozen grandchildren.

The stack of portfolios in front of him moved and the top folder shifted. A knock at his door sounded and brought Will out of his daze.

Through the glass door he spotted his identical twin cousins, Joyce and Naomi. Each was beautiful enough to be the face of RC. They were easily six feet tall, with high cheekbones and perfectly arched brows that they loved to raise at Will during their meetings whenever he asked a question about their marketing department. Will considered them allies in this war to dismantle RC. He waved them in.

Joyce, the older by seven minutes, sat down first in one of the chairs in front of his desk. Naomi, however, crossed the room to admire the photographs Will refused to throw away.

“What’s going on, ladies?”

“We have a great suggestion for you,” said Joyce.

Will sat back in his seat and silently prayed for Marcus and Donovan to return with dinner. Whatever the girls wanted from him, they’d decided to team up.

The reason they worked so well together was they were complete opposites. Joyce was more business oriented. Naomi was more of the partying type, ironic since she was their grandmother’s namesake. Joyce had more of the ninety-year-old woman’s personality, business first.

“Uh-oh, do I need reinforcements?” Will teased and pretended to pick up the black office phone on the corner of his desk. “Marcus and Donovan should be back any minute now.”

“What we are suggesting,” said Naomi from her corner of the room, “your brothers will wholeheartedly agree to, since it will be good for business.”

The deep breath he took brought in her coconut scent, a perfume he recognized from Ravens Cosmetics. “Alright.”

“With you coming on as the new CEO—”

“Coming on?” Will repeated, flabbergasted. “Why does everyone say that as if I had a choice? I believe the two of you were the first ones to second the nomination, knowing good and well I’m out of my league.”

Naomi rolled her eyes. “I would have nominated you first, but Charles beat me to it.”

“Anyway,” Naomi huffed. “If you are serious about turning things around, we think it would be a great idea for you to fly up to Southwood, Georgia, as our representative.”

“Where?” Will began flipping through the paperwork on his desk. His frat brother, Dominic Crowne, recently moved his luxury car business to a town with that name.

“Exactly,” said Joyce. She leaned forward, resting her elbows on the desk. “I need you to be someplace out of your element. I want you to be a judge at this beauty pageant a business associate of RC’s is having.”