If you haven’t read the prologue, check it out now.
Born With The Blood
Two years later
Hailey was almost running into the boardroom at the casino in early September. It was the Island Bond Trust board meeting and as the attorney representing the island trust, she had to be there.
All she could be thankful for was it was at the casino closer to the Romeo port and not being held at The Retreat on the other end of the island. The meeting places rotated between The Retreat, the casino her cousin Eli owned, and Bond Realty that Scott Bond owned, but Scott’s sons Drew and Bode mainly ran the day-to-day operations.
“Sorry. I’m not late,” she said quickly. She had two minutes to spare and she knew it.
She looked around the room at all the men. Her grandfather, Steven, and her father representing Edward’s side. Scott and Mitchell Bond for James’s side. Bill Bond, the retired chief of police, hated to be here but knew he had to represent his side of the family, William’s. Plus his line worked a lot of the service jobs on the island. Police and fire. Dr. Michael Mills for Catherine’s, Sophia Rauch for Patricia’s side. One woman. She was hoping to change that with her generation.
There were more on the board, but not everyone could make it. And they were men too. Her aunts didn’t want to be here and the only ones on the board that could were Bonds, not ones that married into the family. Born with the blood only.
“You’re not late,” her father said. “We are waiting for one more. You know the big topic of discussion is the investment firm we are going to move to for the island trust.”
“Okay,” she said, putting her head down to check her email on her phone. She didn’t do much at these meetings other than listen and give legal advice. She knew her place and her time wasn’t now.
When the door opened, her jaw dropped to the phone in her hand. What the hell?
“Everyone, this is Rex Knight. He is president and CEO of the new firm we will be using going forward,” her grandfather said.
This had to be some kind of a joke.
The guy that bid on her almost a year ago at the annual charity event to raise money for the fund they were meeting on wasn’t sitting in the room with her.
His eyes met hers and he smirked. Yep, it was happening and Rex knew damn well she’d be here and he probably figured, based on her open mouth when he walked in, that she was caught by surprise.
The introductions went around the room, she nodded her head. “We know each other as many of you are aware,” she said, grinning. She’d turn this around like she always did.
There were a few chuckles in the room. “That’s right. Rex had the highest bid at the auction that night for you,” Sophia said.
She’d figured if anyone was on her side it’d be the only other woman in the room, but since Sophia’s daughter Emily had gotten bid on and was now engaged to Crew Ackley, she might have stars in her eyes.
Not her. They had their one date. It was pleasant enough, but she found Rex to be somewhat dry and dull. Prim and proper. She was anything but.
Besides, she did her duty, went on the date…obligation met. She wasn’t expecting more out of it when it finally happened four months after the auction.
“He put some money in the trust. Now let’s see if he can earn us some more.”
Her father shook his head like he always did when she spoke her mind; others laughed.
She sat there for the remainder of the meeting listening and taking notes calmly when all the while there was agitation in her bones. Her father was going to pay the price for this one. He could have told her.
When the meeting ended, everyone stood and Rex came over to her. “It’s good to see you again,” he said, shaking her hand.
The heat of his palm in hers had her remembering she’d felt the same thing six months ago when she’d met him in the restaurant.
He sure was a looker and it had to be attraction more than anything. The guy was built. Tall with a tailored suit on that showed he had a lot of muscle. His light brown hair was short, his brown eyes piercing. He was cocky, he knew that, but his personality had been lacking when they were one on one.
“Same,” she said. “Congratulations on your new acquisition. The firm, not the island trust.”
“Thanks. It happened shortly after our date.”
He was from Boston, she knew that much. But he’d been living in Manhattan at the time of the auction. She’d found it odd that he was at the auction, but he’d said his mother had purchased the ticket and couldn’t attend.
The last thing she expected was she’d ever cross paths with him again, let alone have to be working with him at some point.
Everyone was leaving the conference room, the two of them standing there like fools, both of them probably trying to figure out what to say.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to catch up with my father before he leaves the building.”
“No problem,” he said, grinning at her. She was positive he knew she might be giving her father hell but wasn’t going to let it bother her.
They walked out together, him going toward the exit to get out of the secure area, her turning down another hallway, hoping to find her father by the offices. They were limited where they could go back here without passes, but she found her father standing with Mitchell by the door to the offices that led to Eli’s wing. Mitchell owned a small part of the casino and could go anywhere.
“Hailey,” Mitchell said, grinning. “We knew you’d be looking for your father.” He swiped his badge. “Why don’t I find an office you two can use to talk.”
“Thank you,” she said.
Her father sighed and the minute the two of them were behind a closed door he said, “Get it off your chest.”
“Why didn’t you tell me he would be here?”
“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal,” her father said.
“Are you kidding me?”
“You’re getting worked up for no reason. Did something happen on that date that you didn’t tell me?” he asked. “You said it went well.”
“It did. I fulfilled my obligation. He was rather dull, but it’s not like he was going to be my future husband. He bought a date and he got it.”
“Exactly,” her father said, knocking the wind out of her sails.
“You could have forewarned me he’d be here.”
“Again, I’m not sure what the big deal is.”
“How did this even come about?” she asked, pivoting to another tactic.
“You’ll have to explain that,” he said.
Her father was playing her. He said she got it from her mother, but she got plenty from him. “How is this for clarity? Six months ago Rex was working and living in Manhattan. Now he’s in Boston. Did he reach out to you for the business?”
“No,” her father said. “You know we did a thorough background check on him before the date.”
“Griffin told me,” she said. Griffin was Eli’s head of security who did a lot of other work for the Bond family. She’d made sure she got the report before her father did. She wanted to know what everyone else did about the guy before she spent a few hours with a stranger on a so-called date.
On paper he was impressive. In person, he was at first glance. Until he opened his mouth. He barely smiled or laughed. A smirk now and again, but that was it.
And she wasn’t put off by smirks because she’d been known to do it enough too. She was cocky and confident and had no problem with a man being that way.
Her problem was he was boring and she spent more time talking about the food because everything she tried to talk about ran into a dead end. She’d bet he was just too used to staring at numbers and investment reports all day long.
“Then you know how impressive his resume was. You also know we weren’t happy with the services we were getting with our current firm. You left the last meeting early or you would have known we were talking about contacting Rex.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Who brought his name up first?”
Her father held her stare. “Me. I knew the most since he took my daughter out. I didn’t see any reason to not bring it up as an option. Even your disapproval that I’m getting now wouldn’t have stopped me. It’s business. Unless he did something inappropriate that you didn’t mention.”
She wanted to say she wished, but that would only prolong this conversation and get her father’s back up. “No. He’ll probably be a good choice.”
“Then your only issue is that you didn’t know ahead of time?” he asked.
“Yes. I should be informed.”
“So noted,” he said, firmly.
They locked horns a lot, but when they left it was normally over with.
She hitched her purse on her shoulder. “Are we done?”
“That was going to be my question to you,” he said.
“Yes,” she said, walking out the door.
She needed to get off this island but had a meeting set in her office in two hours. She was torn between going there now and foraging around for food or grabbing some fast food on the way.
There wasn’t much on the island like in Boston though and Hailey decided if she didn’t take the time to eat lunch now, she’d be starving later tonight with her packed schedule and the rush to catch the ferry for the night.
Rather than leave the casino she detoured to the restaurant. She could get something fast and deal with work while she waited.
What she didn’t expect was to see Rex sitting at a table by himself, his face buried in his phone too.
She could leave or move to a table out of the way.
Or she could be herself and make her way closer to him.
That was exactly what she did.