Read The Secret Heiress Online

Authors: Susie Warren

The Secret Heiress

 

 

The Secret Heiress
Copyright 2015 by Susie Warren

Published by Susie Warren

 

Cover design by The Killion Group

Formatting by
http://www.formatting4U.com

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems – except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews – without permission in writing from the author at [email protected] This book is a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author’s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

For more information on the author and
her
works, please see
www.SusieWarren.com
.

Chapter 1

 

Anna Bolles meticulously worked on her end of day trades and steadied her nerves for the looming confrontation. Her lungs tightened as she silently rehearsed the words she would use to resign. She needed a new beginning, outside of her father’s shadow and away from all the negativity associated with the Bolles name. She needed to let go of the expectations forced on her and decide what she wanted for her future.

Working in the investment firm of Blackly Simonson was highly coveted and competitive, surviving the stressful environment was seen as a badge of honor, and those who thrived in it were well compensated. Unfortunately, it left her emotionless and apathetic. She needed more of a creative outlet; working in a wealth -driven and superficial environment was thwarting her efforts to build a life she cared about.

It was approaching five o’clock on Friday. If she was going to catch her manager before he left for the day, it had to be now. She had sold her expensive flat and was moving this weekend to a cheap, downtrodden neighborhood. And she had told her new employer that she would start Monday. Blackly Simonson would survive without her. She had completed all her back work and left copious notes on all of her clients’ investments.

Anna walked through the commercial accounts area, politely avoiding several of her colleagues who tried to engage her in conversation about plans for the evening.

She needed to do this, even if it was going to be hard. Smoothing down her gray skirt, she took in a restorative breath before handing her manager’s assistant a white envelope that would officially sever her ties with Blackly Simonson.

Anna spoke briefly with the assistant and waited for her manager to finish his phone call before popping her head into his office. The walls were made of glass and her co-workers would be curious about her meeting with the Division Leader, Seth Aronson.

He disconnected his call and stood. “Anna, you are looking beautiful as always.”

She moved her hair off of her shoulder. “I need to speak with you, if you have a moment.”

“Wow. That sounds ominous.” Seth gestured to a leather chair in front of his modern teak desk and sat down.

Feeling queasy, she slipped into the chair and forced herself to recite her practiced words. “I’ve decided to leave Blackly Simonson. Your assistant has my official letter of resignation.”

Seth gave her an incredulous stare. Holding his hands up, he said, “I don’t understand. You are brilliant at your job. The entire team has come to rely on you.”

Anna tugged a stray piece of hair behind her ear and tried to remain unemotional. She was desperate to escape her life and wouldn’t allow Seth to use guilt or misplaced loyalty to entice her to stay. “I need something different. I have been offered a position in a start-up. It’s an events management company that has several prestigious clients. It’s something totally different from working in the financial markets.”

“You are choosing to leave to work for an events company?” The tone of his voice was agitated and sharp. He shook his head before continuing. “You have an advanced degree in mathematics from Oxford and can do the daily analysis and negotiation of trades in your sleep. And the fact that you are a Bolles has given you celebrity status.”

She didn’t expect him to welcome her decision. “Exactly, Seth. There is no challenge.”

In some ways, she had been holding her breath since finding out her father had another family and she had two grown siblings. She hadn’t wanted to disappoint anyone in her life but it had finally occurred to her that she was disappointing herself. She needed to find something that would engage her interest and give her a sense of fulfillment.

He leaned back in his chair. “Don’t you feel any loyalty to the Bolles name? It has opened doors for you and sets you apart in this game.”

“We are coming at this from different perspectives. And no, I don’t feel any particular loyalty to my father’s legacy.”

Seth repeatedly tapped his hand on his desk. “As soon as the problems are solved then you will be bored, Anna. You have the ability to understand complex financial data and know how to play the market. You have a need to win at all costs.”

He was wrong about her. She rose to her feet and was careful not to show weakness. He had been a supportive boss, stepping in and insisting the ego-driven young males treated her with respect. Many of the divisions didn’t have the same leadership. “I’m sorry, Seth. I appreciate everything that you’ve done for me.”

Seth bolted out of his seat. “You are making a huge mistake. Being a Bolles, the financial world is in your blood. By leaving, you are closing the door on a well-paid and respected career path. It doesn’t make sense.”

She hated people using her father’s legacy to try and control her. She may be a Bolles now, but when it mattered, she was nothing more than a shameful secret. “If it is a mistake, it’s mine to make.”

“Is this happening because the firm hired Sebastian Fox? I tried to prevent it.”

Anna shook her head. She wasn’t leaving because she was afraid of Sebastian. She had put the entire blackmailing incident out of her mind but it did highlight the fact she needed to create a more meaningful life for herself. She had been going through the motions of a successful life but felt almost nothing.

He lifted his phone and spoke in a resigned tone to security. Replacing the handset, he said, “Good luck, Anna. The door will always be open if you decide to return.”

The firm insisted that security escort anyone who gave notice out of the building. The act of leaving was viewed as disloyal and the company wanted to protect their client base. Knowing all of this didn’t make the coming scene any easier.

Anna opened the glass door and a security officer met her in the hallway. Walking back to her cubicle, she picked up a small box from under her desk containing her personal belongings.

A hushed tone had come over the cavernous space and the man who sat next to her said, “You gave notice?”

She nodded and couldn’t wait to escape the surprised and perplexed looks. She needed a few minutes to process her conversation with Seth before she would be able to answer questions.

Someone else called out, “Meet us at Martin’s tonight.” She got on well with her colleagues, steadfastly ignoring all of the suggestive invites and obvious flirting while helping to solve issues and sharing her knowledge of the market. She wanted the opportunity to wish them well and explain why she was deciding to leave.

The security officer asked for her badge and ID and then took a look in her box of personal items. She walked with him to the elevator.

Riding down to the lobby in a tense silence accompanied by the security guard, a thousand thoughts flowed through her mind. She hoped she wasn’t making a terrible mistake. She understood the financial world and it probably was in her genetics.

She wanted a different life. She was tired of entertaining clients who drank too much and lived to party. She had worked extraordinarily hard for the company over the past two years, but with each passing day she became more unfulfilled. Being one of the only women, even with the Bolles name to protect her, made her a target.

She nodded to the security officer and walked out the front revolving door and headed down the busy London sidewalk. It was closing time in the markets and the brokers and deal-makers were getting off work.

Awkwardly carrying the cardboard box in the busy rush hour crowd announced to absolute strangers that she had either been fired or had given notice. Anna made her way over to a trash receptacle and, looking into the box, removed an antique letter opener, a pair of sunglasses, a silk scarf, and a few favorite pens and tucked them into her handbag. She tossed the remaining items into the trash and then took apart the box and placed it in a recycle bin. Anna wanted to escape the spotlight but realized she should be celebrating—she had narrowly escaped a life destined to be overly competitive, at times morally bankrupt, and seen by most as a mindless rat race.

Within a few short blocks, she walked into her apartment building. Taking the elevator to the twelfth floor, she opened the door to her luxurious flat. The furnishings were mostly white on white with an occasional splash of pink. She was going to miss this place if she were being honest. She had decorated it herself and it was her first real venture into adulthood.

There were open boxes everywhere. The movers were coming Sunday to put most of her furniture in storage. She had found a cheap studio apartment in an old area of London. She would need to conserve every pound if she was going to be self-sufficient and be able to live on the small salary from the start-up.

She walked into the bedroom and stripped off her work clothes. She opted for a pair of low cut jeans and a button-down white cotton shirt. She pulled on black boots and put her blond hair up into a French twist.

She had promised to meet a few of her co-workers for a celebratory drink. She needed closure. Most of them would think her decision to leave was foolish. Afterwards, she would drop by her mother’s house to share the news before someone else told her. It would be an unwelcome and difficult conversation.

She called Frances Casey, her new partner and business associate, and relayed the good news. She was now free to throw herself into Gala & More. The two of them spoke for several minutes about upcoming events and then planned to meet on Monday.

Walking into the pub a short while later, Anna saw that her former colleagues were already having a pint and good naturedly ranking on each other. She couldn’t relate to the male bonding taunts and insults. It was an unspoken expectation that they would treat her differently.

One of her male colleagues said, “Anna, I can’t believe you told Seth you are out.”

Someone handed her a pint of Guinness and she took a swallow.

“It was hard.” She regretted her choice of words, given the audience of young, boisterous men.

Truthfully, she wouldn’t miss most of it. Not the backbiting behavior, not the old boy’s network, and certainly not the constant sexual harassment. The men who worked in the financial district wanted well-paid commissions, the ability to take huge adrenaline-pumping risks, and access to scores of sexual partners.

Everyone began asking her questions at once. Holding up her hand, she said, “It’s a huge shift. I don’t have a ton of experience with event planning, but I needed to explore a different career path.”

Watching the curious looks that everyone gave her, she could tell they were surprised and uncertain about her career choice. But all seven of the male colleagues that gathered for a drink with her, wished her well.

She hoped that leaving the financial world wasn’t a huge mistake, but she couldn’t wait to embrace her new life. She may be making a huge mistake but it was hers to make.

 

Alistair Martin walked into the pub and his eyes were drawn to a beautiful blond girl drinking a Guinness. Dressed in tight-fitting jeans and slim leather boots, her charming laugh and graceful body set off a rapid-fire urge to approach her. It was absurd; he had never set eyes on her before. How could he possibly be so drawn to her?

He turned his attention back to the pub. He was doing a surprise walk-through of his flagship microbrewery. It was his most lucrative pub. Observing the wait staff, he could tell they were trying to warn each other. His expectations were high but fair-minded and he had a reputation for an over-the-top work ethic and a razor-sharp mind.

But his gaze returned to the group of investment bankers out for an after-work drink. The woman was in her mid-twenties and seemed to be at the center of the conversation and laughter. They were obviously celebrating something.

Why was he enthralled by this particular beauty in sexy jeans? Alistair stayed motionless as she turned and placed her empty bottle on the table and waved to the group. She walked straight towards him and he had the odd feeling that he knew her.

She had a beautiful body that was feminine and her movements had a vaguely familiar quality. Her face had only a trace of makeup, but she had a polished, graceful look about her. Their eyes met and she hesitated for a split second.

She nodded in acknowledgment. “Mr. Martin, it’s lovely to see you again.”

Why couldn’t he place her? He couldn’t imagine bedding her and not remembering the encounter. His body reacted swiftly to her nearness.

“I can’t think of how we know each other.” He looked into the crowd, trying to cool his reaction. Could she be an employee in one of his establishments?

“It’s not a big deal. We met ages ago at a gathering.” She was inching away from him and he could see the manager of the brewery in the distance trying to tactfully get his attention.

He reached out and grasped her arm. “Care to refresh my memory?” A physical longing surged between them and he pushed it aside. He didn’t want to let her go until he made sense of their past connection. She was the type of woman who would disturb his dreams. He was drawn to her secretive answer. Clearly, she didn’t want to drag up the past.

 

Anna panicked. The last thing she needed today was to revisit her immature seduction of the great Alistair Martin. It was seven years ago and when he’d realized she was Olivia’s sister, he had rejected her.

Unfortunately, her teenage obsession with him had never ended. These days, she was careful to keep away from him, which wasn’t particularly difficult since he was work obsessed and hated children’s celebrations.

Other books

Whispers on the Wind by Judy Griffith Gill
The Broken Spell by Erika McGann
This is the Life by Joseph O'Neill
Hitler's Daughter by Jackie French
A Wife by Christmas by Callie Hutton
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche