I felt betrayed, and I wanted to strike out at him.
Breaking me from my thoughts, Larry Higgins passed in the hall, passing by on his way out with his motorcycle helmet under his arm. He flashed me a smile, wishing me a good night, and I did the same for him.
I always liked Larry. Not the brightest, but friendly enough.
My thoughts returned. Coppersmith was the perfect companion. It was clear that he resented Cole for some reason, and I scheduled a private meeting with him under the guise of a one-on-one board review. As soon as I started pushing him the right way, it all started coming out. He hated Cole. He blamed him for so much.
He’d make an interesting partner. Sure, he was old for my tastes, but the man was easily manipulated. Show a little affection, press him in the right direction… He probably thought he was the one running the show.
I snuck him access to Cole’s secret files. Proof that he was sick with some sort of disease, although I hadn’t looked into them too deeply. I didn’t realize how severe it was – that it was fatal. That news rocked me completely. I thought he was going to bounce back, but he was dying?
By then it didn’t matter. Our little alliance was set. Coppersmith had this plan to overthrow Cole. It was a little much for my tastes, but then he promised to make me a board member. At my age? I’d be one of the youngest in the city. It was enough to separate me from my grief that the object of my love was a dead man.
The lure of power was intoxicating, and I agreed. With Cole’s disease slowly ravaging him, I’d play the part of the dedicated, atoning executive assistant, and he’d never suspect me. Sure, he’d never trust me again, not really, but the distracted billionaire would have never guessed that I had turned to cut him deeper than before.
And then when Kiona showed up, it seemed so perfect. Coppersmith had brought in his little spy and she was busily weaving her web. I had some trouble keeping up with what Kiona was tasked with accomplishing, but Coppersmith assured me she was critical for my own rise to power. When Cole revealed her deception and destroyed Larry’s attempts at ascension, it looked like things were really going to turn in our favor.
And then he fucking proposed.
It had destroyed me. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I knew they were having some lunches together – I thought that was just about infiltration on Coppersmith’s behalf. I didn’t realize that they were going to marry each other. All I could think about was Cole fucking her in that office of his, and it made me furious.
I didn’t care that he was dying. If I couldn’t have him, nobody could. I’d go to any length and give Coppersmith any weapon I could provide if it meant breaking up their happy little union in Cole’s final hours.
While I stood in the rooftop garden, leaning against the concrete lip, I swirled my glass and took a deep, relaxing breath. I could hear the dampened voices from inside, and I knew that all of this build-up was finally here. As the sound of the glass door hit my eardrums, I put on my war face and prepared to face the man who had spurred all of this into motion.
It’s show time.
He was a stocky, elderly black man, with a youthful vigor in his eyes. This vigor, in a glance, is what convinced me to take the enthusiastic approach.
“Greetings, Mr. Megami!” I smiled, eagerly but warmly throwing my arms around our guest. “It’s such a pleasure to finally meet you. Cole has told me so much.”
“Please, call me Alphonse,” he replied, a little caught off-guard by my enthusiasm. “The pleasure is mine.” He turned to my tired Cole, who had followed him outside and closed the door behind them. “I hope your husband has painted me in a somewhat flattering light…”
“Oh, not really,” I laughed with a wicked smile. “Cole tells me that you’re a total monster.”
Alphonse blinked a few times, glancing between Cole and me. My billionaire looked mildly horrified, but our guest merely smiled graciously. “You’ve married a little firecracker, Mister Andrews,” he chuckled. “Such a spirit in this one.”