I’ve been facing the window in my office while looking at the exquisite and colossal buildings surrounding me. Business people right now are busy earning money, buying and selling, and closely watching the stock market while I’m here rubbing my aching temples.
The meeting a while ago got on my nerves, I admit it. Right now, I’m having the worst headache of all my headaches. I just wasted my hours meeting with the boards, and all they did was scrutinizing my personal business. I can’t help but groan in annoyance. When the meeting should only last for an hour, it took three long fucking hours of my time.
“What’s this, son?” he asks while tapping that filthy tabloid on the table. “Your face is in this piece of trash again!” Dad's stern voice echoes in the boardroom.
“Dad, it’s not what it looks like,” I say, composing myself though deep inside I’m already furious.
Dad doesn’t just stop there. “People won’t buy it when you said it’s not what it looks like, will they?”
Clenching my jaw, I lean my back in the chair and rub my chin. I know he has a point.
“Seb, you should settle down. Try having a girlfriend. A serious girlfriend.” Uncle Peter suggests. He’s one of the board members.
“I’ve no time for that shit! I have enough headaches in the office to deal with. I don’t want another one.” I stay tranquil though I’m already pissed.
“Your dad didn’t have a headache after marrying your mom,” Another board member says.
“Try to stay away from this kind of woman, Seb. You are our company. We don’t want bad reputations. It starts to smell, Seb. Just be careful,” He says, emphasizing the word our.
I narrow my eyes to another board. “Are you threatening my position? Have you forgotten I have the largest share? And I am still the CEO.” I stand up, leaning my hands on the cold glass table.
“I am not threatening you. No one is. Just be careful. We don’t want this company would be dragged down by some tabloids. We have a reputation to uphold.” He lowers his voice this time, shrinking back into his seat.
I button my suit and slip my hands into my pockets “Are we done talking about me? Can we discuss what’s company’s best interest now?”
The meeting was total bullshit. It explains only one thing, and it is to humiliate me in front of my father. Dad trusts me with the company his father built from sweat and blood. I expected that I have big shoes to fill when I took over this company.
Well, I’m a hardworking and ambitious businessman, and I work to perfection. When it comes to business deals, I deal ruthlessly. I don’t care even if I step into a hell hole. I may be an egotistical and arrogant asshole, according to those who hated my guts, but I work my ass off, so no one has the right to judge me for being me.
I’ve been known to have a playboy and bad boy image that caught attention to one of the top-rated women’s magazines recently. I agreed to be on the cover of their next month’s issue as the world’s sexiest billionaire. Well, as I said, I’m arrogant, and who doesn’t want to be on a Magazine Cover? It’s not my first rodeo anyway, but mostly business-related.
“Mr. Sebastian Hughes III, I’m Anna Walsh of Women’s World Magazine. We would be delighted if you could grant us an interview. Since you’re voted as the Sexiest Billionaire, we’d be honored to put you on our cover for next month’s issue.”
“Call my PA Elle to arrange an interview.”
So my ego fluctuated when I heard the news, but unfortunately, it made my life miserable. I mean who would have thought your haircut would be big of a deal? And even the coffee you drink, and everywhere I go, people took pictures of me.
My life drastically changed/ I even added my security. I received various emails from haters, or women saying they’re pregnant with my babies, but mostly curses, calling me names, and some were death threats. This weekend was the worst. I thought she was just like any of those women who wanted my picture. We even laughed at her behavior.
The next morning, my faces were all over tabloids, internet gossip sites, stating that I let the underage woman get drunk. I found out she was a starlet, and maybe she needed a big break in Hollywood.
She probably gets a break now. I don’t like to be on the front page for misbehavior, especially when it’s nothing but lies. It pissed me off.
After 16 hours of work every day on weekdays, I always want a good weekend. It means a few drinks with friends and an hour of fuck-in fuck-out. There were always willing pussies for a mind-blowing orgasm. Just an hour—nothing more, nothing less. No names, no numbers, no cuddling, no foreplay, no second round fuck. When I’m done, I’m done.
I don’t do relationships—it only complicates life. I don’t dine and wine—I don’t date, ever. I don’t fuck in my place, and never invited women in, and one of my rules is to never fuck drunk. I love sex don’t get me wrong, but it’s just pure sex—no intimacies and no strings attached.
I ask my PA for some Tylenol. The most reliable PA on earth. I love Elle. She never gossips about my life. I never ask her to take or bring my dry clean or get me coffee. I make coffee on my own or bring coffee by myself.
She gets inside with a bottle of Tylenol and grabs a bottle of water from the mini-fridge. She hands it to me, and I swallow two tablets and follow with a huge gulp of water.
“Ridi-fucking-culous! The meeting today was a waste of time. I want to be invisible sometimes or just let the floor swallow me whole,” I say, massaging my aching temples.
“Sure a waste of time, but I already free your schedules for the entire afternoon, so you’re free to go where ever you want to go since you already returned all-important calls, and you can read your new emails from your car if that’s what worries you. I’ll be here until five, so call me whenever you need me.” See? That’s what I’m talking about.
“Why don’t you go home early and leave this office and enjoy watching reruns of your favorite shows?”
She looks at me with exasperated sighs. “I just told you to go, and now you’re telling me to go home instead? Go home early once in a while, Seb. You already have enough money that can feed this whole country for years. The company won’t lose anything if you go home early once in a while,” Elle explains.
Before I can respond to her, my phone vibrates in my suit pocket. It’s probably from my mother who’s already aware of what happened in the meeting, I’m sure Dad filled the gap for her. I fish it out, and surprisingly, it’s not Mom. It’s Mike King, Dad’s old friend. The owner of hotel chains and restaurants.
He’s one of the few people I respected most. One of the richest men, and he’s currently funding research for cancer treatment that has lesser side effects. Unfortunately, his wife has suffered from cancer once. Now Catie is cancer-free.
I answer, pressing the phone to my ear. ”Mike, what a surprise?”
I hear a long sigh from the other line. “Son, I know it’s unusual for me to call you if it’s not business-related.” Then he pauses.
Unrelated business again? Could this day be any worst?
“I’m with my wife at the hospital, she’s asking for you, and I would appreciate it if you can come over. I will be in debt—” I don’t let him finish what he’s about to say.
“I’m on my way.” I know which hospital she is treated in. I once visited her during her chemo when my parents were out of the country. I rush out of my office door and find my PA on her desk. “If anything important, let me know. I’m leaving.”
“Good to know you follow my advice once.” She winks.
I sprint to my private elevator, and I know Elle has already informed my driver and bodyguard. As expected, a six-foot and five inches ex-navy stands in front of the elevator.
Lincoln White, which contradicts his color. He opens my door, and I get in my car after I tell him where to go.
After twenty-five minutes without traffic, I’m at the hospital when a man in a black suit approaches me. I recognize him as one of Mike’s men. I follow him with Linc. The smell of antiseptic—the usual smell of hospital reaches my nose, the white walls, staff on scrub suits, rushing ambulance stroller, and an overhead pager.
I was once admitted to the hospital when I was in high school for allergies when my classmate pranked me.
Some staff recognizes me, which makes me sick. They probably remember me on the tabloid page or on the gossip sites. This is ruining me. Good thing, my lawyers are good at their jobs, and I’m paying them hefty of money to deal with my mess.
I slightly knock on the door as I arrive at her room. Mike opens the door and looks stressed. We do a father and son hug.
“Thank you for coming, Seb. It means a lot to me, especially to my wife.” He runs his hand over his hair that he probably run them a couple of times.
He looks so miserable with dark circles under his eyes, a five o’clock shadow on his face, and he looks a decade older than the last time I saw him.
“This is what friends do when times like this, Mike. Helping each other,” I say sympathetically.
I face his wife, and she’s lying in a slightly elevated bed with a nasal tube on her nose. Her hair is neatly tucked in a blue scarf. So the latest chemo doesn’t cause baldness anymore.
The Catie I knew is far different from the woman lying in front of me. I almost can’t recognize her. The jolly, intelligent, and beautiful woman I knew is far long gone.
Nobody says a word, and the only sound I can hear is the beeps from the monitor and her ragged breathing. I examine her from head to toe. Her eyes are half-closed, but I know she’s awake, and she’s aware of my presence. She looks so frail that I’m afraid I might break her bone when I touch her, and her lips are even drier. There is an IV hooked on her left hand.
I sit in an empty chair, hold her hand, and it’s warm. I squeeze it slightly, and she squeezes it back.
“I’ll give you both some time,” Mike says. He comes close to his wife and kisses her on the lips and her forehead. He holds her left hand a couple of seconds before he releases, and walks away, leaving us alone.
“Hey, playboy. You always look handsome.” She moves her face to my side, and I remain silent because I don’t know what to say to her.
I lick my now dry lips and swallow hard. I clear my throat. “You’re not bad yourself either, even lying here in bed.” I don’t know if it’s right to say, but she chuckles, and it feels good to cheer her up.
“You’re always charming. I’m glad you survived otherwise, you wouldn’t be here right now talking to me.” She reminds me that if not because of her, I’m not sitting here beside her. I raise the head of her bed until she feels comfortable, and now she’s facing me well.
“I won’t last long anymore, Seb. It spread so fast than we anticipated. We thought I still had at least months left, but five days ago, I fainted on our way back home from our honeymoon.”
I gasp and stare at her with my wide eyes. I don’t notice I’m holding my breath longer that I forget how to breathe. I see now why Mike looks so wrecked, like he’s carrying the whole world on his shoulders.
How do you even accept when the people we love are leaving us so soon? And what the worse part is, we know when it’s going to happen, but we’re not ready to let them go. I think that is what Mike is feeling at this moment.
I remember them having a daughter in college. Why isn’t she even here for her parents? For her mom.