Courage (Billionaire Secrets Series, #3)(10)

By: Lexy Timms

A lump formed in her throat as she organized stacks of documents he was going to need to read through and sign. She hadn’t been working at Dover for long, but already they had established a routine. Whenever Simon needed something, she was right there to help. To pick up the slack if he was under pressure.

Plus, he never treated her like she was some lowly subordinate. If he needed a second opinion on something he’d come to her, peppering her with questions until he was satisfied. Which was why his cruel words yesterday had been excruciating.

He had told her she was pathetic. Reminded her that she hadn’t made something of her life. Every time he had been kind to her or approached her for her ideas had been what? A lie? No. Simon wasn’t a liar. It had been pity that made him treat her like her opinion mattered. He felt sorry for her and didn’t want her to feel left out or less than, even though she was basically the hired help.

Fighting back tears, she grabbed one of the large boxes and made her way to the media relations department a few floors below Simon’s office.

Linda appeared and ushered her into her new corner office. “It’s much smaller than you’re used to, but you’ll have plenty of privacy here.”

Heather glanced around, frowning at her new cramped quarters. Linda wasn’t kidding. The place was barely bigger than a broom closet, with a desk shoved at the back and not much else.

There were perks to working with the CEO that she had gotten used to. She’d gotten so used to them, she had forgotten how other administrative assistants had to work.

She bit back a sigh and threw back her shoulders. If she had any hope of clearing her name without Simon’s interference, she needed to make the best of this. “I think it’s pretty cozy actually.”

Linda arched an eyebrow. “Now I see why Simon is taking this so hard.”

Heather dumped the box on her new desk and smoothed down the front of her blouse, needing something to occupy her hands so she didn’t lose it in front of Linda. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Don’t bother trying to pretend with me,” Linda said firmly. “If we’re going to work together we have to trust each other. And trust is based on truth.”

“I’ve been accused of terrible things,” Heather said. “I don’t see how you can trust me.”

“I trust you because Simon trusts you,” Linda explained.

“He doesn’t trust me.”

“He does,” Linda insisted. “That’s why he was so quick to believe the worst about you. Trusting you probably scared the hell out of him.”

Heather scoffed in disbelief. “Nothing scares Simon.”

“Conceding power does,” Linda said. “The same way it scares every other man. And you have power over him because he wants you in his life. For a while I thought Simon might consider me a friend, even a surrogate mother of sorts, considering his strained relationship with his parents.” Her shoulders sagged as she went on. “But that wasn’t meant to be. He pushes the rest of us away, but somehow you managed to get in. You got too close and he didn’t know how to deal with that. So he resorted to the only trick he had left. Pushing you away like he does with everyone else.”

“If he was so ready to push me away, it’s obvious that I meant nothing to him,” Heather said, unable to hide the bitterness in her tone.

“You mean more to him than you realize,” Linda said. “That’s why he’s having such a hard time letting you come to another department.”

“How do you know he’s having such a hard time?” Heather asked in surprise.

“He called me earlier this morning. Before the board made its decision.” Linda shrugged. “Simon might push people away, but even he has to get things off his chest from time to time. He didn’t realize you were transferring at the time, but he wasn’t taking the thought of you being fired well. Working with you has changed him. I suspect part of that is because you’re much more than just colleagues.” Linda looked at her meaningfully, making heat rise in Heather’s cheeks.

“Well, that’s never going to happen now,” Heather said, her voice shaky. “He might be sorry, but he can’t take back what he’s said or done.”