I’m in the middle of running a Tuesday report for Miranda in Accounts Receivable when my office phone flashes with an unfamiliar extension.
It takes me three rings to process the name on the Caller ID.
It takes me an additional stomach-dropping ring to answer. “Sophie Bristol speaking.”
In the three years I’ve worked at Westcott Corporation, Trey Westcott has never called me.
“Ms. Bristol, I need you to report to my office.” The commanding tenor in my boss’ voice sends actual chills down my spine—not an easy feat. “Immediately.”
The number of times I’ve physically seen the unknowable powerhouse of a man, I could count on one hand, and all of those times have been in passing—with today being an exception.
From what I’ve heard, a person only gets called into his office when they’re about to be fired. The man likes to dole out pink slips in person. He claims it’s a respect thing, though I can’t help but wonder if he simply gets off on it. Power changes people.
Then again, Westcott’s been powerful his entire life. Born to one of the wealthiest families in the world and orphaned as a teenager, he’s spent the past twenty years turning his $500 billion inheritance into a net worth that tops a trillion dollars.
A hundred times, I’ve tried to wrap my head around that kind of money, but I can’t come close to fathoming it. They say if you were to count to a trillion, it would take two-hundred-thousand years. I don’t think an ordinary person could stay sane with that kind of influence and authority.
Some of the most prominent people in existence are terrified of him—of his capabilities. And the shroud of mystery (and rumors) that surround him only add to his intimidating allure.
I log out of my computer and quickly calculate the odds of it being the last time I do so. He’s got no reason to let me go, that I can think of, but I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve watched some poor, thankless company minion packing their belongings into a cardboard box while they attempt not to break down in tears in front of their staring colleagues. Once they load the elevator, they’re never seen or heard from again.
I don’t tend to fear anyone.
Trey Westcott is an exception.
For the past hour, I’ve replayed the break room incident in my mind on a loop, wondering what he heard and how much, if any, he attributed to me.
He stopped me in the hallway and said, “Thanks for … that.”
Was there sarcasm in his tone?
What if he thought I was the one spreading those ridiculous rumors?
Also, why is he calling me personally? He has half a dozen assistants to do this sort of thing …
“Ms. Bristol?” His brusque voice in my ear tells me I don’t have time to wonder.
“Yes.” I keep my composure and swallow my concerns for now. “I’ll be right there.”
Westcott is my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ boss on a zig-zagged chart that makes me dizzy if I stare at it for too long. I didn’t think the man knew I existed.
I’ve sat in on some meetings, amongst a hundred others, and we’ve passed in the hallway a time or two, never making eye contact. Other than that, nothing about our dealings have been remarkable or memorable, at least not for him.
I slip my work badge around my neck and lock up my office, mentally calculating how long it’ll take to get from the eighth floor of the southwest corner of our extensive corporate campus to the northeast section where I’ll hitch a ride on a private elevator to a penthouse office suite where Mr. Westcott spends no less than seventy hours a week.
Five minutes later, I check in at the desk outside his office where his number one assistant works behind a shiny black desk so gargantuan it nearly swallows her whole.
“Mr. Westcott wanted to see me,” I say. “Sophie Bristol, from Payroll.”
Spa-like music plays from hidden speakers but the air is particularly icy. I heard this is how he works. The hospital-grade air purifier combined with the frigid sixty-six degree thermostat keeps Westcott clear-headed and helps him do his best thinking.
The nameplate on the assistant’s desk identifies her as Mona, and while I’ve seen hundreds of emails go out on his behalf—all with her name on them—I’d yet to put a face with it. She’s stunning. Wide set hazel eyes. Inky dark hair that shines like lacquered glass. Pouty, matte-red lips. Lingerie model body. Baby face. Barely twenty-three if I had to guess.
She taps a button on her phone, lifts her fingers to the microphone of her headset, and mutters something low before pointing to the double doors behind her with the hand-carved Westcott monogram: a giant W flanked with a P on the left and an A on the right.
Pierce Ainsworth Westcott III.
The third in a line of successful, old-moneyed men, the world has only ever known him as Trey.
“You can head in,” she says, gaze careful yet curious. “Mr. Westcott is ready for you.”
I press my fingertips against the gold-plated door handle and give it a push.
It swings open and in a flash of a second, I know how Alice felt when she went down the rabbit hole.