Courage (Billionaire Secrets Series, #3)(5)

By: Lexy Timms

But nobody said a word. Lips were pressed into thin flat lines, but no one argued.

He then let Heather sit down to plead her case to the board. She laid out all the evidence she had about the electricians, and though she reached for a glass of water a few times he thought she handled the stressful situation like a pro.

Everett Eastman gave her a hard stare. That look alone could reduce even the strongest person to a bundle of nerves. “So, what exactly are you asking for, Ms. Hall?”

She stared across the table at Everett, never averting her gaze. “I’m asking for basic fairness. Keep giving me the chance to prove my innocence. This meeting today is a good step in that direction.”

Everett arched an eyebrow, no doubt surprised that she hadn’t fallen apart under his withering gaze. Usually Heather was nothing but deferential to Everett, her shyness sometimes getting the best of her. But seeing her face him like this stunned Simon. There was something so formidable about her in this moment.

Yesterday she had seemed so rattled after he came to her house to apologize. She’d flat out rejected his apology, and he had seen how her eyes shone with unshed years. Yet now she looked so strong in front of all these board members that Simon could only stare at her in amazement.

“How exactly do you plan to plead your case?” Everett asked. “If we’re speaking in merely legal terms, I would understand why you’d mount such a rigorous defense. But this isn’t a court of law. Dover is your employer. We have serious grounds to not only fire you but also give the police any evidence they ask for.”

She swallowed hard. “I understand that you have obligations when it comes to the police, but Dover doesn’t have any solid proof that I did what you’re accusing me of doing. Not only that, you didn’t give me a warning or a fair hearing. I had to request this meeting on short notice. Nobody at Dover allowed me the chance to defend myself.”

A low hum of chatter filled the room and Everett held his hands up for silence.

“Does this mean you’re asking us to let you stay on at Dover?” Everett asked.

That made Heather look at Simon.

He fought the urge to say something and stand up for her. If he made it obvious that he was trying to help her, she would do something impulsive and make a decision she couldn’t undo.

“Yes,” she finally said. “I’m asking to be allowed to stay on at Dover while I work to prove my innocence.”

Someone muttered, “Innocent until proven guilty.”

“You are asking a great deal,” Everett said. “In a situation like this, the most generous outcome we’d likely come to is to suspend you. Without pay. We’re not even obligated to give you your final paycheck, considering the accusations against you.”

She took a sharp breath, but quickly composed herself. “I understand what you’re saying. I know I’m asking a lot, but I truly feel that I should have been given more of a chance. And if I’m given a chance now, I won’t let you down.”

Everett leaned back in his chair. “The board will convene over this. If you would be so kind as to step out of the room, Ms. Hall, the board can discuss this further. Then, after we’ve come to an agreement, we’ll inform you of our decision.”

Heather got to her feet and forced a smile. “I’ll wait outside while you discuss everything. Thank you so much for the opportunity.” Before Everett could respond she hurried out of the conference room, no doubt trying to escape before he changed his mind and outright fired her.

Everett turned to him. “Simon? What do you think?”

If he was going to help Heather, he knew he would have to choose his next words carefully. She might think she didn’t need his help, but she did. Simon was her only ally at Dover, and he intended to do whatever it took to protect her. He’d dropped the ball when he accused her. It was now time to do everything in his power to rectify that.

“She has a fair point,” Simon said. “The board didn’t file a formal complaint—which is my fault. I went in and accused her without any evidence, and no one has reported any bad behavior on her part.”