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Authors: Zoe Danielle

Business: Phoenix #1

BOOK: Business: Phoenix #1
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BUSINESS (Phoenix #1)

Book 1 in the Phoenix Series

 

 

By Zoe Danielle

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 by Zoe Danielle

All rights reserved. This book is
intended for audiences age 18 and over. Content from this book may not be used
or distributed without the express written permission of the author, with the
exception of written reviews.
Except for the original material written by the author, all songs, song titles,
and lyrics mentioned in the novel are the property of the respective
songwriters and copyright holders.

 

 

This book is a work of fiction.

Names, characters, places and incidents are either products
of the author’s imagination or are used factiously. Any resemblance to living
or dead is entirely coincidental.

The following story contains mature themes, strong language,
and sexual themes.

Chapter One

Friday 14th Jan 2011

 

“Campbell’s Car Garage, Casey speaking,
how may I help you?” I said answering the phone for the umpteenth time this
morning.

“Hi Casey, baby,” My boyfriend Darren
said.

“Happy 21
st
Birthday!  I’ve
been thinking about you,” I replied with a grin.

“Why don’t you tell your boss that you
aren’t feeling well?  You can come make this birthday a happy one for me?”

“Oh Darren, I can’t.  I’m the only
receptionist here today, because Julie has the day off and one of the guys
already called in sick.  I’ll probably have to work late,” I said remorsefully.

“Come on, baby....My parents will be back
from their trip tomorrow.  This is our last day to have the house to
ourselves.  You already said you couldn’t come after work, so tell them you
feel something coming on and get over here.”

“I really can’t.  I wish I could, but I
just can’t skip out.  I have responsibilities here,” I said with a heavy sigh.

“Whatever, baby.  I’ll just be having a lazy
day.  Relaxing, sleeping and wishing for some birthday ...fun.”

I gave a little laugh, “Yeah, I bet. 
I’ll be over tomorrow night before the party starts; I know it will be great! 
How many people did you say your mum invited?”

“I don’t know, over a hundred.  You know
how she gets carried away.  Well, go take care of your responsibilities,” He
said before hanging up.

Feeling guilty, I looked at the filing
and paperwork on my desk.  If I skipped lunch and break, maybe I could leave
early tonight and surprise him...

~~~~~

I was so thankful to leave my shift
early.  It had been a long, stressful day and all I really wanted was to go
home to my parents’ house for a bath and an early night.  I thought about
Darren spending his 21
st
birthday alone and knew I couldn’t do that. 
He would never do that to me.  He was always thoughtful. 

I made a quick plan that started with the
nearest supermarket.  I looked through the bakery section until I found the
perfect luxury chocolate cake.  I grabbed a bottle of champagne, a sexy card,
and a lottery ticket.  I was starting to look forward to a cozy night in
together; maybe I could still get that hot bath before celebrating in our own
special way.

It has always been a tradition in our
family to buy a lottery ticket and stick it in a card on birthdays.   I'm not
sure why, it is just something we have always done.  Even though the odds of
winning were practically nonexistent, the odds of Darren getting lucky on his
birthday were practically guaranteed.

I added some gloss and fluffed my hair
before getting out the car.  I grabbed the goodies and made my way to the side
door which was locked.  It was dark inside.  I tried to call his phone twice
but there was no answer. After repeatedly knocking and nearly dropping the
cake, he answered the door.  Darren was wearing only boxer shorts, hanging low
on his hips.  He was so cute with his hair all messed up.

"Surprise!" I give him a wide
smile, holding up the champagne in one hand and holding his cake in the other,
“Happy 21
st
Birthday!”

"Oh…Hi, Babe." He seemed uncomfortable
as he looked away from me.

"W-What’s wrong...? You don't seem
too happy to see me.  Are you still upset that I couldn’t spend the whole
day?" I ask with disappointment.  I thought this would make up for it.

“No....it’s not that…exactly…”

I felt my heart drop and my stomach churn
as I see someone enter the room behind him.  I squint and am speechless.  My
eyes fill with tears as I realize it is Sarah, one of my oldest friends.  She
was wearing nothing but one of Darren's oversized t-shirts and a head full of
disheveled blonde hair.  She immediately looked away.

It didn't take me long to put two and two
together.  I look from Darren to Sarah and back again.

"You asshole…" I barely
whisper, as the champagne slips from my hand and shatters by our feet. 

“You asshole!” I scream this time as I
throw the cake at him before turning on my heel and heading straight back to my
car where I locked the doors and cried in my hands for what seems like forever.

When I eventually got home, I had a deep
bubble bath and threw my favorite pajamas on.  Then I just sat in my bed and
cried. I had been with Darren for over 3 years; he was my teenage sweetheart. 
I could never imagine my life without him.  How could he do this?  Why would he
do this?  Was it my fault?

My thoughts were interrupted by my best
friend, Hannah.  She smiled sympathetically and held up chocolates and a bottle
of wine.

"What did that bastard do?"
Hannah asks, plonking herself down on the other side of my double bed and
wrapping her arms around me.

“How’d you know?” I sniffled.

Hannah shrugged, “Andrew called me, but I
wish you had.”

My older brother, Andrew, knew me well. 
I hated to burden anyone with my problems; I tried to deal with them on my
own.  So when I had problems, he would call Hannah.  Hannah always knew what to
say when I was feeling down in the dumps.

"I called round to surprise Darren and
he came to the door...he looked as if he had just got out of bed after a
sexathon...seconds later Sarah appeared behind him, and she looked the
same!" I explained between sobs.

"Oh Case, it’s okay they are both
ugly anyway," Hannah tries to make light of the situation; she is normally
the only person who can cheer me up whenever I am feeling down, ‘my rock’ if
you like but this time it doesn't work. "Hey, I brought chocolate and
wine, why don't we watch the Notebook and sit and talk about how sexy Ryan
Gosling is?"

"Yes, please." Is all I can
manage.

A few hours pass, my mum and dad ordered
us a takeaway pizza and came to speak to us, my dad explained that he never
liked Darren anyway – mum sat nodding beside him agreeing that she always
thought he wasn’t the one for me and of course Hannah agreed with them stating
that I could do better.

Hannah has always been like the sister I
never had, my mum and dad adored her from the first time they met her when we
were 12 years old. She regularly stayed over at our house and whenever we went
on holidays she was always invited – mum and dad would even pay for her to come
along with us. It wasn't just mum and dad who adored Hannah either, although he
denied it whenever I brought it up, but it has always been obvious that Andrew
has had a soft spot for her.

Before long I was feeling better, I still
felt empty but I knew that the world hadn't ended, that there was a light at
the end of the dark tunnel and that there was plenty more fish in the sea.

We were all sitting in the living room
chatting when dad announced that the lottery was starting, my mum rushed to get
her ticket out of her purse and sat watching the screen intently. Remembering I
bought a ticket for Darren, I dashed to the bin where I had thrown the card and
tore it open.

A mixture of emotions ran through me as I
looked at the ticket and then the TV screen...shock, excitement, anxiety, panic
as I realized all the numbers on the ticket matched what was on the screen. My
hands were shaking uncontrollably as my dad took the ticket from me to check
for himself.

"You've won Case, you've won!"
He beams. "Congratulations!"

After phoning the winners helpline, it
was confirmed, I was the winner of 40 million pounds.

At twenty years old, I was a millionaire.

Chapter Two

4 years later.

 

At the age of twenty-four I found myself on the Sunday Time’s
rich list. After the win I made sure I spent the money wisely. I bought mum and
dad a 6 bedroom house on several acres of land near the coast and gave them
enough money so they were comfortable for the rest of their lives. My dad, a
builder who loved what he did, helped me buy numerous properties to upgrade to
rent and sell on. This turned out to be a very profitable business and months
later Phoenix Properties was established. 

My older brother Andrew worked as a mechanic at the time
and loved cars, so I bought him a garage - over the years they have multiplied
and there are now 6 garages.

I invested my money in all different projects, I bought
spa's, hotels and gradually over the years my investments have turned out to be
the best decisions ever. Within two years, Phoenix Properties had grown into
Phoenix Corporations.

I made sure my best friend Hannah was comfortable, and she
is now my right-hand woman when it comes to running my businesses.

It's true what they say - money isn't everything. But it
does certainly make you happier. I have been able to do things I only thought I
would be able to dream of, don’t get me wrong - I don't take it for granted. I
donate a lot of money to local charities, animal shelters, to sick children,
cancer patients, and homeless people.

The one thing I love most, knowing that the money that has
turned my life around - can help turn other people’s lives round. People who
have not been as lucky as me in life.

Hannah is constantly showing me all the good feedback we
receive, the most recent was from a 6 year old boy named Joshua. He had a rare
form of cancer and he had to travel to America for specialists to carry out a lifesaving
operation, his parents didn't earn enough money to pay for the plane tickets,
never mind the treatment and for a place to stay over there. So they wrote to
me eight weeks ago.

As soon as I read the letter, I got my assistant Michelle
to contact them to tell them I would pay for everything and once Joshua was
recovered, I would pay for the family to have a two week holiday in Disneyland.

When I got into work this morning Hannah was waiting for
me in my office with a letter from Joshua’s mum. Thanking me for my help,
explaining Joshua is still weak but is now fully clear from all cancer,
enclosed there is a photograph and a kids drawing. The photograph is of a bald
headed little boy with big brown eyes who I presume is Joshua with a big smile
holding the kids drawing which said 'thank you’ and lots of flowers.

I sit back in my desk chair and wipe away the tears before
looking up to Han.

"I am so happy we were able to help." I smile at
her; Hannah is also wiping tears from her eyes.

I stick the letter, photograph and drawing on my
noticeboard to the right of my desk with many other thank you letters that have
been sent to us over the past years.

"Sunday Times rang today Case, they have invited you
and a plus one to their annual Rich List party next Saturday. They say you are
coming in at around number 22 this year, 4 places higher than last year."
Hannah puts an email confirmation in front of me and I quickly glance down at
the paper.

"Brilliant, I love a good party. Do you know if Sash
is going this year?" Sasha is one of my closest rich friends, we have
always got on well, we both come from different industries though, but it is
always handy having a friend in the fashion industry.

"Yeah I spoke to Sash before coming here. She said
she is going to call in to see you some point this week, I checked the list
online and she is number 45, she is catching up to you quickly!" Hannah
laughs before tucking a strand of her long blonde hair behind her ear.

"It should be a good party then! Could you contact
Mia for me please? Tell her I need a gown, will send a driver to pick it up
later this week." Although Sasha is a very good friend and is in the
fashion industry I have known and used Mia for a long time now, since Sasha and
I go to the same events we both use different stylists, it can get a bit
competitive, but in a fun way.

"No worries, what about Marco?"

"Yeah, can you ask him to come over Saturday?"
Marco is my hair and makeup artist, I normally do my own makeup and hair but
when there is a big event on and I know there will be paparazzi about I like to
look my absolute best.

“Do you just want your hair styled or colored, cut? Just
so I know how long to book him for?” Hannah asks when standing up as we’re
finishing off.

“Just styled please, I quite like the blonde in my hair –
I think I am going to keep it like this for a while.” I smile, two weeks prior
Marco convinced me to dye my hair ‘ombre’ I was unsure at first, I had never
dyed my long natural dark brown hair previously. But the blonde tips really
have seemed to brighten up my face.

Hannah nods at me in agreement and turns to leave and I
follow her to the elevator, we have a quick chat and she fills me in on my
schedule for the day – reminding me I have a business meeting with the Jackson
brothers who have come all the way from USA to see us.

Hannah gets out on the fourth floor - the floor where my
managers and finance department are, Hannah always checks up on them to make
sure everything is running smoothly.

I head down to the second floor and head to the cafeteria
for a coffee to catch up with my friend Julie, I haven’t really had the
opportunity to come and visit her this week as I have been busy with meetings.
Julie runs the cafe and she is like a second mother to me, I worked with her
before my win– I was her junior in my first job as a receptionist.

When I made the decision to move to Newcastle to open my
business I asked if she would come along. Julie has always worked hard to
provide for her and her young son whose father left when he was just two years
old. As Julie has always had a stressful job working long hours, I decided when
she came to my company that I would give her an easy life, so when I asked if
she would run the staff cafeteria, she said yes instantly – that was before I
told her I would be paying her double than what she got at her previous job.

When she notices me enter she instantly grabs me a bottle
of water from the fridge and starts making a fruit salad, my usual. I try to
eat healthy but allow myself a treat every once in a while. I work out whenever
I have some free time – running being my favorite way to exercise. Since being
in the public eye I am more health-conscious than ever before.

"Hi Casey. How are you sweetie?" She smiles
passing me the bottle of water and continues to cut the fruit.

"I'm good thanks, on a bit of a high at the moment -
I received an update on Joshua, the poor little boy I was telling you about a
few weeks ago... He had the operation and he has had the all clear, he sent me
a little drawing to say thank you" I smile at her, holding back the tears
that are threatening again, I really have to pull myself together today.

"Oh, I am so glad! Poor little soul." She gives
me a sincere smile and pushes the bowl of strawberry, melon, kiwi and apple in
front of me.

“So…How’s it going with that secret man of yours?  Are you
ready to tell me about him yet?” I whisper conspiratorially.

Julie blushes and glances away with a smile.  She hasn’t
had a man in her life that she can trust.  She and I have that in common.  We
both fell for lying cheaters.  I hope this man treats her right.  She’s been
happy.

“Not yet, Casey, but soon.  He’s so kind and....I’m not
sure, but I think this really might be a good thing.  When I’m sure, I want you
to meet him.” She says, smiling.

I hear a commotion in the hallway as a dozen of my
employees spill through the door like a stampede; I glance at the clock behind Julie’s
counter – 10:30, morning coffee break.

They soon pipe down when they realize that I am in here.
Julie holds back a chuckle at how they all change instantly when they realize.

I pick up the bowl of fruit and give Julie a quick wave
with my free hand and head back up to the fourth floor, my heels clicking on
the tiles as I do so. It wouldn’t be fair on my employees if I stayed around -
I don't want my workers to be on edge when they are on their morning break so I
give them some space.

I head to my accountant, Stephen’s office, as always, he
has numerous papers on his desk and is busy on a call, so I sit on the chair
opposite him, place my fruit salad on the table and watch him work. He glances
over to me, nods and gives me a smile before returning his concentration back
to his monitor.

Hannah informs me of the office gossip weekly over a glass
or two of wine. The majority of it being the ladies swooning over Stephen. Sitting
here and watching him I appreciate why so many of the girls admire him. The man
is extremely good looking. Dark unruly hair which curls over the back of his
collar, emerald eyes and chiseled cheek bones which I would expect to find on a
male model. He is attractive, but not my type. Stephen is tall and lean, where
as I prefer men broad with muscles – the rugby player type.

Stephen finishes off his call and turns to face me.

“Miss Phoenix, how lovely to see you – I have prepared
some figures for us to discuss before the meeting with Jackson Industries this
afternoon.” He smiles and passes me a large stapled document with over thirty
pages.

“Casey, please.” I return his smile before browsing
through the documents, they show our profits over the past 2 years, profits of
the individual projects from my dad’s buildings to Andrews garages, I notice
that two of the spa's in particular haven’t made a profit in over a year and
have been losing money on a monthly basis – I will have to arrange a trip for
Michelle to go down and investigate this soon, I have no doubt she is the best
person to whip the place into shape.  

After giving me some time to peruse the information in
front of me Stephen passes me another large document – this one showing the
profits of Jackson Industries, the company is almost double the size of ours
and the profits are sky high. From as little as I know, Jackson Industries are
an investing company based in USA. They have investments in all different
companies from Football teams, race tracks, golf courses, holiday resorts and
hell – they also have an investment in the music and movie industries.

“After days of examining both company’s records and
figures, I have found Jackson Industries have no major down falls and I have
come to the conclusion that it would be a good move for Phoenix Corps. But the
decision is entirely yours to make. Phoenix Corps has a very good future mapped
out even if the merge didn’t go ahead. I have looked at the five year and ten
year time scales and it looks promising.” He reports confident in every word he
says, taking a mouthful of coffee.

I take a few moments to weigh up the information I have
been given, I know overall the merge would be a good decision – but I have
never met the people who are proposing the merge. How could I possibly make a
decision, and put the company I have put so much time and effort in to building
on the line. How can I put the lives of all my employees who I care so much
about in the hands of people I have never met?

What if these Jackson people want to take over half of the
company and shut down half of my businesses? That means half of my employees
lose jobs, the majority of them have families and homes to pay for.

“I can’t make a decision until I have met them Stephen,
Hannah has been dealing with them over the phone and emails, she said they seem
friendly and have plenty of good ideas, as much as I trust her judgment, I just
feel like I need to see for myself.” I explain, hoping Stephen doesn’t think
I’m being silly about this whole situation.

“I understand where you’re coming from, Casey. It is a big
deal and in order to make the right decision you’re going to have to spend a
lot of time thinking about it. From what I’ve been told I understand, Matthew Jackson
and a few members of his team will be over here for two weeks as they are
attending the Sunday Times Rich List party. So that should give you a good
chance to discuss the terms and conditions.” He glances down at his phone which
has now started to ring, he looks at the caller ID before his eyes return back
to me, “If you need any help you know where I am and I will support your
decision one hundred percent.”

“Thanks
Stephen, you’re a star.” I gather up the documents and the now empty bowl which
contained my fruit and walk out of his office and make my way up to my office
on the fifth and top floor.

 

~~~~~

 

After
spending what seemed like hours reviewing the information, my head has started
to feel like it is going to burst; I have taken so much information in, in so
little time. Needing a break, I tap my keyboard and the screensaver
disappears.  Ignoring the numerous emails in my inbox, I open Chrome and begin
to search.  Many images to my “Matthew Jackson” inquiry appear.

I
am pleasantly surprised at what I see, an attractive man on the majority of the
images. He’s dressed in expensive suits, dark hair, tan skin, broad shoulders,
and an impressive tight jawline which is shadowed by dark stubble. I find a
close up image of him and study his face more; he has deep chocolate brown eyes
and all of a sudden I wonder if the dress I have chosen to wear today is nice
enough.

I
continue browsing the images, some of them he is alone – some of them he is
with another man who looks a little older but has the same good looks but a few
lines here and there. I learn this is his brother, James. Matthew is also
pictured with quite a few different women but I have noticed one in particular
is a regular occurrence at events – a blonde beauty who, in some ways reminds
me of Hannah, tall, long blonde hair with flawless skin. I bet that’s his
girlfriend.

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