The Secret (Billionaire Secrets Series, #1)By: Lexy Timms
Billionaire Secrets Series, Volume 1
Simon Diesel had never had to personally fire anyone.
Five years as the CEO of Technologies, and he’d managed to keep his hands clean. It wasn’t as if anybody on staff had never been fired. They had been. Not many, since he ran a tight ship, but when it did happen someone else did the dirty work.
Unfortunately, not this time.
He tapped his foot impatiently, waiting for the elevator to get to the right floor. When the elevator finally came to a stop and the doors slid open, he hurried out. Glancing around the open concept office where all the engineers had gathered to start the week, he trained his gaze on one employee in particular.
“Linda!” he barked.
His media relations officer, Linda Schaffer, jerked her head around to focus on him. Her eyes widened, her graying hair disheveled. Linda always looked a bit frazzled, but this morning she had an especially exhausted air about her.
Not that Simon could blame her. Firing someone out of the blue like this wasn’t exactly conducive to the type of cool, calm culture he’d been trying to foster at Dover, Inc. all these years.
“Simon?” Linda’s voice shook. “I mean, Mr. Diesel?”
Good. If Linda was nervous this morning, that meant the rest of the staff was liable to fall in line. And he needed them to fall in line. Needed them focused. Because if any of them so much as thought of double-crossing him, Dover’s future, and the future of thousands of people, would be in jeopardy.
“In my office,” he commanded. “Now.”
The engineers all trained their eyes to him. Every one of them looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Fine with him. He’d tolerated far too much. That ended today.
He spun around on his heel and marched into his office.
His personal assistant, Xander, was already inside, serving coffee to Simon’s lawyer at the table on the far side of his expansive office.
Xander looked like a wreck. Pale as a ghost. And his hands were trembling as he handed the coffee cup over to the lawyer.
“Good morning, Xander,” Simon said icily.
Xander didn’t meet his gaze. Merely nodded and said, “Sir.”
Simon narrowed his eyes. He was caught somewhere between anger and a strange sense of loss over such a betrayal. Bitterness rose within him. Pushing it all aside, he headed over to the table and took a seat. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to trust anyone ever again.
Linda appeared, with one of Dover’s senior executives in tow. “Is everyone here?” she asked.
“Yes.” Simon gestured for her and the executive to sit down.
Better to get this over with quickly. The press had already called him for a statement. A statement he refused to give until he got this matter settled. Reporters had been calling non-stop all weekend and all this morning. It had gotten so bad the frenzy had forced Simon to do something else he’d never done. Turn his phone off.
Linda took a seat beside him. Meanwhile, Xander sat down across from him and started typing away on his laptop.
“Has everybody heard the news this morning?” Simon found it impossible to keep the dangerous edge out of his voice.
Nobody said a word. Everybody trained their eyes on something other than him. Linda cleared her throat loudly, her discomfort evident.
Simon arched an eyebrow. “Linda? You expect me to believe you haven’t heard today’s news? Aren’t you my media relations officer?”
Linda turned bright red. “Of course, I heard. You called me with the news on Saturday.”
“That’s right,” he muttered. “I did. Do you know why I called you with the news before the story broke, Linda?”
“No,” Linda replied, her voice a squeak.
“Because I know you wouldn’t take so much as a paper clip from Dover. Because I still trust you.” He paused for emphasis. “For now.”
“I’ve been at Dover since day one, and I would never do anything to hurt this company,” Linda said desperately.
“Since Linda has so vigorously defended herself,” Simon went on, “would the rest of you like to take a stab at today’s news? Any thoughts on the insider trading that’s been going on at Dover?”