Not What It Seems Ch. 11byAscii©
Martin pulled the chair forcefully, so that it landed on the floor. "Valentine, I said cut the fucking bull crap. Don't try to play games with me. You think you can fuck with me? You're an amateur trying to run with the big boys. By the end of the week, you'll be out of the business!"
Jared snorted, "Coming from a man, whose company shares dropped 19% this morning. By late morning everyone will know what a piece of shit your grandson is. Is that the bull crap you wanted me to tell you?"
"I knew it was you who sold the story," Martin narrowed his eyes, "Motherfucker! You know what, withdraw the story and release a statement apologising and I'll pretend nothing happened. I won't sue-"
"You're right. I'm glad we're thinking along the same lines," Jared said as he lay back in his chair, "In fact, it'll be a personal statement. As you may or may not know, I hardly release personal statements but because you came all the way here, out of respect I'll clear the air with the media-"
"-Good, I knew you weren't completely stupid to fuck with me-"
"-I'll make sure the media knows every single shit your grandson has done, which is out of respect for you, seeing as I've helped you save your company from being ruined by your beloved grandson." Jared said as he took in Martin's shocked expression. He got up and looked at the old man mockingly, "Maybe you're too old for this, Martin. A little bit of advice, retire before you mess up the empire you've created."
Martin banged his fist on Jared's desk, "I'll sue you, if you fuck with me! I swear I'll ruin you! Drop this or I'll personally make sure no one would want to work with you again. You know if I make one phone call I can guarantee you, you'd be worth fuck all by the end of the day."
"You know threats don't work on me." Jared retorted dangerously. "Who the fuck do you think you are"? He said through gritted teeth, "Maybe ten years ago you were still respected and this threatening bullshit may work, now? You look pathetic. Let me tell you this, I know all the connections you have and I know what you're capable of. Your threats mean nothing to me.
As for your company, the shares dropped 19% today. I've always wanted to know how powerful the media can be. Guess your worthless shares proved an eye-opener even for me. I'll gladly see how your board will take this news. As for suing me, I'll see if your lawyers can build a case- money laundry, breaking competition laws and fraud? That's your grandson's crime. Fix the mess at home, before you come here and bark like a dog."
Jared took a pile of documents out from his draws and threw it on his desk, "You think you can come in here and threaten me? Look at the shit your grandson's been doing for the past five years to my business, not to mention hiring photographers to take pictures of my girlfriend, insinuating an affair with him." Jared laughed out loud, "The pathetic attempt your grandson has gone to will surly turn your family into a joke for all your high society friends to laugh about. And you want to sue. Fuck me that must be the funniest shit I've heard in years."
Martin picked up the documents from his desk, studying it, he swallowed hard. He didn't care if his grandson was fucking Valentine up, to him that was a good thing, but never get caught! He couldn't believe his grandson would spend million of dollars to play a game. To John it wasn't about business, it was personal affairs. He wanted that stupid whore? Martin knew his mistake. Provoking Valentine was not a smart move, his increasing influence, not to mention his net worth and connection with the Chinese and Russians, no one would dare fuck with Valentine anymore.
Trying to look as remorseful as he could, Martin muttered, "I didn't know."
"It was your fucking job to know. And out of what little respect I have for you, get your fucking ass out of my office, 'cause if I call in security," Jared gestured to the window where reporters were already standing outside, "I'm sure the reporters will love the shot of you being dragged out by my security staff."
He took a deep breath, "I'm sure there's something we can work out." Martin stated desperately, his tone strangely different from five minutes ago, "I can pay damages to you if you keep this quiet-"
"Seriously, do you think throwing a few million dollars will solve this? Come on, you've been in business for over forty years, do you think I can stop the press if I wanted to?"
Jared thought about it, "Actually maybe I could," He shrugged, "But I don't want to. Maybe if you weren't acting the way you were five minutes ago I would have considered, but now? Get the fuck out."
Martin pondered his limited choices, he couldn't risk his position. "Listen, if you want that son of a bitch, take him, but don't drag my company down. I never intended to disrespect you. Whatever you want, if it's within my reach I'll compromise with you-"
Jared smiled but it was cold and dangerous. He'd been waiting for Martin to say those exact words. "I want a majority stake in The Haltor Corporation..."
John watched the shocking exchange between his nemesis and his PA, "What are you doing here," he shouted in rage, "we had an agreement and you sold me out!" Jenny, get the security to get this shit out of my office!"
When she did not respond, he turned and saw her bag was gone from her desk, fucking bitch. He turned back around to see Jared's smirk. Taking two strides to close the distance between them, John was about to throw a punch, when Jared caught his pathetic attempt and grabbed onto his arm and shoved him back. He fell onto the hard floor.
"Don't embarrass yourself."
John narrowed his eyes, "You fucking cunt. I gave you all the contracts you asked for, risking my position in the company and you sold me out!"
"Risking your position?" Jared rolled his eyes, "the shareholders and the board wanted you out a long time ago. They wanted your cousins to take your place. If it wasn't for your grandfather insisting you be in charge, you would've been nothing."
"FUCK YOU! Get the fuck out! Get the fuck out!"
"I think I should be saying those words to you."
"No one told you?" His lips curved into a lazy smile, "While you were probably sleeping this morning, your grandfather came to beg me in exchange for saving his own name."
Jared bent down so he was level with John, "He sold part of this company to me. I now own the majority stake in the business." He whispered, letting his words slowly sink in.
John gasped, "That's not fucking possible!"
"Well, if you don't understand the logistics of how M&A works, feel free to search it up. Last time I checked, the value of the shares dropped by 19%, do you really think he had a choice? If it weren't that it would have been a hostile takeover by either my company or any other company that wants to buy it out. Most of the board has already agreed and so will the shareholders. Your grandfather, he was happy to fuck you over to save his name, in fact I'm sure he'd release a statement soon to cut all ties with you" Jared shrugged his shoulders, "guess that runs in the family."
John got up, clenching his fist, blinded by anger he tried to take another swing at Jared, but was yet again held down in a lock by Jared. Pushing him onto the desk, face flat, he held him there. "Don't make me call up security and add assault to your sentence. Jared released his grip on him, "I'll give you five minutes to pack your shit."
He strolled towards the door and turned to see John slumped on the ground, "I told you not to fuck with me. I told you not to mess with Alin. Even seeing your ass in jail will never make up for losing her."
It had been an extremely long six and a half weeks. It was much harder than she thought it was going to be. Was leaving an option? Am I here to escape or for my career? Those questions remained unanswered for her. However, it was especially hard when Jared refused to give up on her. So when a letter arrived at her new home address in Beijing, Alin couldn't help but feel disappointed by the lack of support and trust from her own friends.
Alin tore open the envelope. She recognised the handwriting and had debated for a long time whether to open it or not. The truth was she knew that if she opened it it'll just upset her further. But curiosity and longing temporarily won. She sighed as she gave into temptation.
She reached inside and the first thing she noticed was two words: Forgive Me?
Those were the words on the front of a hand drawn card. Below the two words was a cartoon drawing of a boy in a suit, with slightly messy hair, pursed lips and a somewhat helpless expression. Both his arms were stretched out and he held a bunch of roses in his hand.
Alin remembered back when they were dating, she visited his place and found a sketchpad of cartoon drawings in his room from his high school years. Jared told her he liked to draw when he was bored. It was a hobby of his that only close family and friend should know, because it did no good for his reputation. She had marvelled at how talented he actually was.
Why does he do these things to me unexpectedly all the time? When I'm ready to give up, he just knows my weakness and messes with me, Alin thought.
"I'm sorry." It read inside the card.
The gesture and effort he had put into it tugged at her heart.
It may be nothing special in someone else's eye, but in her eyes, this meant more than him buying endless expensive presents for her.
How can I hate him, when he does these things for me?
Even through the loud construction noises Alin could hear Steven call for her. She looked up from the prototypes and excused herself from her team.
"Steven, what's wrong? She shouted through the noise.
He held onto her arm and took her outside. "Good news or bad news?"
She rolled her eyes but a small smile appeared on her lips. The best thing to happen to her so far was having Steven as her boss. He was professional, extremely intelligent, but strangely down to earth and fun."
"Okay, I'm going to mix it up a little bit. Everyone chooses bad news first. I'm going to throw caution to the wind and go for the former."
"I don't need you to go to any of the locations next week-"
"Um, Steven how is that good news? That was the main selected location for the chains to be in! Not to mention the fact that we used the past two weeks to secure it!"
He held his hand up apologetically, "Well it's better than the latter. I didn't want to give you a choice of bad news and shit news."
"But what happened?"
"Just bureaucratic bullshit, planning permission and other problems. They approved it for us a while back but now they're throwing in dumbass excuses. Nothing we can do. And now we have some investors pulling out, which means not enough funds." He shrugged his shoulders, but Alin could see the worry marring his handsome face.
"I'm sorry, Steven. Shareholders must have given you a hard time?"
"Yeah those fat bastards, all they care are their returns, returns, their fucking returns. If we don't secure the contract and get these chains off the ground even more investors are going to pull out, which means other projects, especially those in the Middle East may not take off."
She patted his shoulder affectionately, "I'm so sorry." But then she smiled up at him trying to cheer him up, "I'm sure everything will work out. You always make it work out in the end."
He arched one brow, "That's why I hired you- to take care of my bruised ego. Anyway, did you read the news today?" he said trying to sound as casual as possible.
Alin knew what news he was referring to. In fact it was pretty hard to miss, since every newspaper and channels were reporting it. She was disgusted that John could do this to her. Ryan and Jared had tried to tell her a few weeks ago that John was behind all this, at the time, she was so furious with Jared, that no matter what they've told her it would have not mattered.
The card she received from Jared still made her feelings towards him ever more confused; she didn't know what she was supposed to feel. But after the news of John's betrayal it pained her to realise that all these years, John had planned this out so maliciously. Jared wasn't to blame... forgive him, forgive him; he deserves a chance, a second, third, fourth ... but that was it, wasn't it? How many chances did she have to give him before he would finally give her a shred of dignity?
No more, Alin no more. She repeated to herself.
"If you want to take the afternoon-"
"No." She shook her head. "I'm okay. I've been here for less than two month, and already taking time off?"
"There's a million photographers, journalist, paparazzi camping outside. I just want to give you a heads up. I've upped the amount of security and one will escort you home. But still, now is the time to go home, not three hours later. I assure you it'll be a lot worse."
"Steven, let me work so that you can justify my generous salary?"
He chuckled, "Fine, don't go running to some union complaining about health and safety at work if a paparazzi knocks you over. I can't take any more shit from the shareholders."
"Well, I won't if I get my end of year bonus." She said and winked at him.
He rolled his eyes playfully, "Wait until you meet the shareholders next month-"
"Why would I need to meet them so-?"
She stopped when she saw a cunning grin on his face. "I've warned you." And with the final 'warning' he turned away and left her.
Alin went back to work, wondering how in the hell she would make her way back home. Though everyday she was on site early and probably the last one to go home, sometime working a fourteen hour shift alongside her team, it felt great to finally be able to achieve something. Truthfully, for the past week she had been drowning herself in work, maybe working a little too hard than necessary. The pain of the past few months' event were still too raw for her to move on from, so naturally work helped her heal somewhat.
Ryan was due to fly out next month with Hallie. Though she loved it here, it was nice to have a little companionship, instead of communicating with her best friends through Skype or phone calls.
What about, Jared? You want to see him too.
Alin groaned. Where the hell did that come from? No I don't want to see him! Why would I? I wouldn't have thought about him if Steven hadn't brought it up.
"Hallie, can you hear me?"
Alin waved at the webcam, as she saw the small frown on Hallie's face
"Yeah I can now. You know I love using this, but sometimes we spend forty-five minutes asking the 'can you hear me' question."
Alin giggled, "I know, but we'll have to live with this until you come here NEXT MONTH! I'm so excited you have no idea-"
"Umm... about that, Alin, I'm sorry-"
"Jack's parent's anniversary coincides with the dates. I can fly out next next month. I'm really sorry!"
"No, it's okay I mean I still get to see you, so it's okay. It's not as if I won't see you forever."
Hallie sighed, "Aww, I miss you Alin. I really can't wait to come out. And by the way, Mrs Brown sends her love-"
Alin gasped, "Oh shoot." She smacked her forehead lightly, "I totally forgot!"
Hallie grinned, "Don't worry. I knew you were busy, so I didn't want to tell you. I went to see the kids already. I told Mrs Brown that you left because this contract was pretty sudden."
"God, I feel so awful. I see the kids every year."
"Don't worry they understand!" Hallie reassured her friend.
"Thanks, Hals, I love you."
"I know, I know! Oh just a warning, when I do come I better see some meat on your bones, so you better be eating properly, okay? No more fourteen hour shifts, okay?"
Alin gave a mock salute, "Yes mam!"
"Congratulations, Jared. After the successful merger with Media One and then the merge with one of the most affluent Chinese companies, we'd always thought BankSafe and HTU were bitter rivals...are there reasons why they've agreed to sell the majority shares to you? Is the alleged rumours about John Haltor true?"
There was nothing Jared hated more than press conferences, but since he had acquired one of the most affluent companies, it seemed fitting as CEO to at least attend this tedious bullshit.
"You know I can't tell you that due to legal reasons. But I can tell you that our company is ecstatic to be able to expand our operations, especially through the merger with HTU. We will strive to bring the best to our customers, through competitive pricing and improved services."
"But John Haltor and one of BankSafe's executive were arrested, is there any connection? As for Martin Haltor, multiple sources suggested that he was forced to sell shares to you, since the scandal with his grandson and The Haltor Corporation's loss in value?" Another journalist asked.
He shook his head, "As I've said I can't answer any questions on anything related to the investigations..."
Changing the tone, another journalist quickly interjected, "Jared, since the successful merger a week ago, you're net worth has jumped. It's reported in Forbes that you're now worth a staggering $1.2billion."
Smiling, Jared replied, "That sounds like an awful lot, but yeah I'm not sure. This, I may have to go ask the guys who do the accounts for me. I'll get back to you?"
That earned laughs from the crowd, following from the previous question, another asked, "Is it true about John Haltor and Alin? Was it John behind all of this? Is it all just a misunderstanding and-"
Jared stood up, "I'm sorry. I'm afraid it'll have to end today." He left abruptly, leaving Tom and Rita to answer the rest of the questions. He was not about to indulge the public in his private life.
Jared sat at his desk staring out into the bustling streets of Manhattan. He found himself in his office late at night again. He didn't like going back home, because that was where he could still feel her presence everywhere: the sweet scent of her in his bed, her relaxed form on the couch, laughing at some sitcom on TV.
He wasn't sure if she had received the card. Maybe she hated it; maybe she thought he was immature but Jared wanted to show her he had changed. In the past he didn't like people to know the 'real' him often hiding behind his tough guy façade. But now he really wanted to show her he no longer cared about how people looked at him. He only cared how she thought of him.
Today, after the press conference, he had another three interviews to do. To be honest he made sure Sara scheduled them so that he could get everything done in one day, once and for all. There were many journalists trying to delve into his private life, meandering through the subject around his current relationship with Alin. Not only would he not want to discuss his private life with the media, there was essentially nothing to talk about. She had left him. What was there to say?
He knew he was at fault though. Yes, Haltor had planned it, but now Jared understood that he was the one who took the bait, he was the one that treated her badly and he knew that his lack of trust in her was the root of the problem. But to find her so loving in his arms that night and then leave him was painful. He had continued to call her after practically begging Hallie on his knees to give him Alin's number and also sending her letters... but she replied to none.