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His impending death presented a unique opportunity. He wouldn’t dare tell anyone until it was too late. Cole had too much pride for that… But he cared about this company and its employees too much to let us all piss in the wind after he expired. There was a contingency plan in place. In the event of his untimely death, three of the senior company officers could use their corporate ID and password to unlock the one door nobody had ever went through outside of Cole Andrews himself. While everyone would be scrambling in the wake of the news, I would solidify my place at the helm by walking straight through that door. Kylie was instrumental in getting Kiona into the company, giving the final approval in her third interview. It was beautiful to watch Kiona operate on the inside… To see how easily she adapted in the middle of conversation, improvising her way through everything, constantly learning and evolving even as she helped herself to the intellectual property of a billionaire. I admired her spunk… She had the first password within a few short days. Any time now, she was due to return with Larry’s credentials and the pieces would be in place… Or at least, that was the plan before she decided to go rogue. For now, I was safe. I just needed to sit quietly until all hell broke loose. Andrews couldn’t afford to lose me now. I knew too much – and I made it very subtly clear that I would bring this company to its knees if I were cast aside. Perhaps he meant to dispose of me another way, but I still had aces up my sleeve. Half the board wanted me gone, but the other – the senior members – they do not. They want me in charge. They understand my claim, and they honor it as well they should. With the lowly founder’s personal assistant pulling the strings and filtering misinformation, they want stability. My track record speaks for itself. Sure, I’ve made a miscalculation here and there – who doesn’t? Even their messianic leader has made a few, but his biggest was a very, very long time ago… He told Kylie about his little fortune-teller computer, and she relayed that message directly to me. Kylie has shadowed the fool for five years, and she knows everything. Serving the billionaire buffoon as a mere assistant? I think not. No, she deserves a proper place on the board, given real power, real presence. Coppersmith rewards his friends. Of course, the billionaire bastard marrying my crooked little pawn was a surprise. Even I, with all my pieces in play, couldn’t have foreseen that. It seems Kiona was better at her job than even I could have suspected. She’d used her skills to find herself in Cole’s pants… And with his fading health…she now had a grip on his bank account and a claim on his company. A pawn turned into a queen? That intrigued me. It also worried me briefly, but I consolidated power, ensuring that her claim to the throne would not go uncontested. I was a senior ranking member of the company; my claim was ironclad. My supporters were willing to fight the virginal queen, particularly once her deceit was publicized among them all. In fact, the fool went so far as to do all of my work for me! It was as if he was forfeiting the game, tipping his king. Maybe when all of this was over I’d have a little fun with her myself. Clearly she was already willing to throw herself into a man’s bed for money. Some blackmail and a threat to have her tossed into federal custody for corporate espionage aught to do the trick. I could enjoy that tight little body of hers, so ripe for molding and manipulation. I could keep her around until I tired of her presence. She would never know that I was the one who hired her to steal those passwords, and I would receive my refund for services not rendered in the form of flesh. She should have just done her job and taken the damn money. She would pay for her insolence. The little temptress bitch would never occupy the throne. Her little gold digging adventure would come to a painful end. Cole Andrews may have built this company, but he didn’t deserve it. He didn’t earn it. He had no secret brilliance, only his little magic box. My value on the other hand was clear from the start, and his fate was sealed the day that he hired me. Was it pity? Atonement, maybe? Was it an olive branch, a dry-lipped apology? Perhaps. It was never enough. He was always a sentimental man, although the liar did his best to hide it, to bury it deep inside. He thought himself cool as iced steel, but he was wrong. To an old man with years of haggard loss, you can hide no secrets.
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