Hudson (Page 82)

Hudson (Fixed #4)(82)
Author: Laurelin Paige

I work my jaw as I try to come up with a solution to our problem, but my brain isn’t working. Running a hand across my face, I let out an exasperated sigh. “Fuck. I don’t know. Do you have a suggestion?”

“I’m not sure.” She shakes her head as she thinks. “Actually…what if we use Walden Inc. to purchase GlamPlay? Pierce Industries still holds controlling interest there, right?”

When my father took over Walden Inc. for my mother’s family, he left a small portion of the company outside the Pierce Corporation. As a safety net, he’d said. Over the years, Pierce Industries had ended up being the lifeline for Walden Inc., purchasing shares and investing when the small financial company needed it. Now it holds its own, though Pierce Industries does own the majority of the stock. Norma’s idea is a good one. As long as Walden has enough liquid funds to pay the price—and I’m certain they do—it would be a way to move under the radar.

Walden Inc., though, is the one company that my father still actively runs. Any such purchase will have to go through him.

I’d prefer not to involve Jack. But if I have to… “It’s our only shot, isn’t it?”

“The only one I can think of. Will you have trouble convincing your father?”

Considering how Jack feels about Celia, I’m sure that won’t be a problem. “No. He’ll do it.” I push the intercom to my secretary. My meeting with Norma was early, but it’s gone long enough that Patricia should be in by now.

“Yes, Mr. Pierce?”

“I need my father on the line in about fifteen minutes, please.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Okay then,” I say to Norma. “Anything else?”

Norma scratches a note on her legal pad then looks up. “Not that I can think of. If all this goes well, we will need to be in L.A. next week for the final signatures. And no, I can’t do this for you. You’ll have to be present.”

“Great. Thank you.”

She stuffs her pad in her briefcase and sits forward as if she’s about to stand. But she pauses. “Hudson, are you all right?”

I don’t have to guess why she’s asking. I’ve been grumpy and distracted for the past few days. The sources of my stress can be broken down into two things—or people, to be precise: Celia and Stacy.

The former has begun stalking Alayna. I’m sure it’s simply a scare tactic—that Celia won’t do anything to physically harm my girlfriend—but I won’t take any chances. This deal with GlamPlay should end any interaction with Celia at all. Now if we can just survive until the deals are signed.

Stacy, on the other hand, is still an unknown quantity. The video she’s sent me…

“Hudson,” Norma prods. I’ve left her waiting too long for my answer.

“I’m fine. I just have a lot on my mind.” Understatement of the year.

I stand, hoping that will prompt her to as well. I have other business to take care of, starting with a heart-to-heart with my father. “Thank you for meeting with me early. I appreciate all your work on this project.”

She stands and nods at me. “Of course.”

“I don’t need to remind you that this all must remain confidential?” Keeping this purchase secret is vital. I haven’t even told Alayna about these plans. I wouldn’t want to get her hopes up, in case something falls through.

“Completely.” Norma says. “Oh, by the way, I wanted to thank you for hiring Gwen.”

Alayna had officially hired Norma’s little sister at The Sky Launch only the night before. “I can’t take any credit. Thank Alayna.” I suddenly remember something Alayna had said about her new manager. “Norma, may I ask why Gwenyth was so eager to leave the Eighty-Eighth Floor? I thought she was happy there.”

Norma sighs. “She was. Long story. Let’s just say there was a man.”

“Oh.” I give a tight smile letting her know she needn’t say more.

“But on that subject, Gwen would really like to not be found. Do you have any suggestions how we might make that happen?”

It was almost comforting to know I wasn’t the only one with secrets. “We’ll need to pay her under an alternate social security number. That’s illegal.” I pause to make sure she’s with me. “But I could arrange it.”

“I’d very much appreciate whatever you can do.”

“No problem.” There are few people who I’d ever make this sort of offer to. But Norma has been with me through thick and thin, and has navigated more than one not-so-legal deal in our time together. I trust her. I make a mental note to get Jordan on the task.

It’s only a few minutes after Norma’s left that Patricia has Jack on the line.

“Hudson. What a surprise. Is it my birthday?” His charm has never worked on me. Not since Celia, anyway.

I should just ignore his play, but for whatever reason, I don’t. “Your birthday is in December. It’s July seventh. So no.”

He tsks through the line. “Always so serious. How on earth can you possibly be my son?”

“Come on. We know you’re my father. The physical resemblance is irrefutable. The real question is: who else on earth is your son?” I have no idea why it feels so f**king good to be an ass to the man, but it does.

He chuckles. “So far only three are taking claim. And at least one of them would probably prefer not to.” There have been rumors that Chandler isn’t Jack’s, but he’s referring to me.

I think about that for a moment. Would I really prefer not to be Jonathon Pierce’s son? It’s a hard question to answer and not one that serves any purpose in dwelling on. I am his son, for good or for bad. With all that I’ve done to further his legacy and Pierce Industries, I’d like to say I’ve made the most of it. But now as I start to see the world differently through Alayna, maybe there’s more I could gain from Jack. Something not measured in stocks and bonds.

Anyway, it’s not for today. What I need from him now is much more tangible. “While I’d love to consider the pros and cons of being a Pierce further, I called for another reason.” I hesitate. It’s harder for me to ask than I would like. It’s the only choice I have, so I plow on. “I need a favor.”

“Ooh, that’s intriguing.” There’s a creak in the background. I can picture him in my head, sitting back in his chair, his feet crossed on his desk in front of him. “Do tell me more.”