Miss White & the Seventh heir
Series: Once Upon A Fairytale, book 2
Available at (Print/Digital):
Publisher: Harlequin Romance / Mills & Boon True Love
First Published: June 1, 2018
Formats: Mass Market Paperback, Hardcover, e-Book, Large Print
Pages: 256 (large print)
Can the truth lead to happily-ever-after?
In this Once Upon a Fairytale story, hardworking magazine editor Sage White’s just getting used to being in charge, so she’s alarmed to find sparks flying with her new assistant—the distractingly handsome Trey! Working together, they grow closer, but can their blossoming relationship survive when Sage learns that Trey is really Quentin Rousseau, seventh heir to the publishing empire—and her boss?
Elsa White stood before the window of her stylish Manhattan office adorned with black furnishings and gold trim. It wasn’t just any office building. It was a skyscraper owned by White Publishing. And Elsa’s office was on the top floor. She enjoyed looking down upon the rest of the world.
From her office window, the people below looked like peons—small and inconsequential. She smiled, knowing she was so much better than them. She had money, lots of money, and a powerful reach. She was forever finding ways to make her presence in publishing even greater—legal or illegal, it made no difference to her.
Elsa moved in front of an oversized gold leaf mirror that hung on the wall next to her desk. She pivoted on her black stilettos this way and that way, never taking her gaze off her image. A smile bloomed on her face. Perfect. Her manicured red fingernail slid down over her ivory cheek. There wasn’t a wrinkle to be had anywhere on her flawless complexion. Nor should there be with the massive amount she paid her plastic surgeon.
She tucked a few loose strands of platinum-blond hair behind one ear, leaving the other side of her smooth bobbed hair to hang loose. Perfect.
“Come in.” She’d told her personal assistant to send in Mr. Hunter, the private detective, as soon as he arrived.
Elsa continued to stare into the mirror. She never tired of her reflection. How could anyone tire of such beauty? Deciding to reapply her “Wicked Red” lipstick, she retrieved the tube of lipstick from the glass table beneath the mirror.
As she removed the cap from the tube, her gaze sought out the man’s reflection in the mirror. “Well, don’t just stand there. Tell me what you’ve learned about my stepdaughter.”
The tall man with short, dark hair stood his ground, seemingly unfazed by her snappishness. “She’s working in Los Angeles.”
“So she’s still living across the country. Good. Very good.” The farther away Sage White remained from Elsa’s empire, the better.
“She’s working for QTR Magazine—”
“What?” Elsa swung around and glared at the man. He never once glanced away or in any way acted as though he was fazed by her anger. This normally would have sparked Elsa’s interest, but right now she was preoccupied. “I thought I got her blackballed from all publishing houses.”
“You did, but then QTR was drawn into some sort of lawsuit and that’s how she got her foot in the door. From what I was able to uncover, the senior Rousseau was forced to step down from the failing company. Before he did so, he put your stepdaughter under an ironclad contract that even the board could not break so long as Miss White showed a steady improvement in the company’s profitability.”
No longer concerned about her lips, Elsa returned the lipstick to the table. “Why is this the first I’m hearing of it? I pay you good money to keep a close eye on her.”
The man’s expression hardened. “The deal with QTR just happened. They kept everything hush-hush until the contract was signed. Even the board overseeing QTR didn’t know what had been done until it was too late.”
Elsa folded her arms, holding her left elbow up with her right hand. Her long shiny nail tapped on her pointy chin as she considered this new development. She couldn’t allow Sage to become successful. With enough funds, Sage could dig into the past. If she were to unearth the truth, she could send the empire that Elsa had lied, deceived and flat-out stolen tumbling into ruin. And that just couldn’t happen.
Elsa had outsmarted that girl since the day her father died. She would continue to do so. The company afforded her the lifestyle she deserved and allowed her to maintain her beauty.
Elsa’s narrowed gaze zeroed in on Hunter. She had plans for him. “Tell me more about QTR.”
“It appears they are in a downward spiral. They are losing shelf space in stores and their online presence is shrinking.”
“Oh, good. Very good.” Her worries diminished, but she knew not to take Sage for granted. She had too much of her father in her. “Keep a close eye on my stepdaughter. She is not to be underestimated. And she cannot be successful at QTR. I will stop her at all costs. Now go.” Elsa pointed to the door.
The man hesitated as though disliking being ordered around. Elsa was not used to people standing up to her. She liked being able to bend people to her will. She’d never been able to bend Sage and that was why the girl had to go.
When the man turned to the door, Elsa zeroed in on his finer assets—very fine indeed. Perhaps she’d dismissed him too soon. But by then the door was swinging shut. She would have to scratch her itch another time.
Elsa turned back to her reflection. No one was about to unseat her as queen of this publishing empire. She had nothing to worry about—certainly not the likes of that insipid, happy-go-lucky girl. A headline-worthy failure would ruin Sage’s future in publishing once and for all.
Elsa broke out in a cackle.
It was all going to work out perfectly. She would see to it.
Five months later...
She only had one more month.
One more month to prove that her plan would work—to keep her job.
Sage White worried her bottom lip. Even though she’d stemmed off the hemorrhaging expenses of QTR Magazine and in fact was now turning a small profit, she still had a long way to go to appease the board. She had to prove that her plan to reorganize the magazine would work not only now but also for the long term.
The magazine had been on the verge of shutting down when Quentin Rousseau II reached out to her. To say she was surprised by his call was an understatement. She had interned for him in college. He had been wickedly smart and savvy. He took a liking to her. For two summers, she absorbed every bit of knowledge he’d been willing to impart to her. In those days, the magazine still had some integrity. It was in more recent years that fact-checking took a backseat to the sensational headlines.
Quentin Rousseau II had been good to her—he’d even brushed off Elsa’s well-planted lies about her. That had not sat well with Elsa, who swore vengeance. The woman’s threats hadn’t fazed the senior Rousseau. For that, Sage felt indebted to him.
Still, she had been hesitant about accepting the position. Who wanted to step up to the helm of a sinking magazine? However, the elder Rousseau had given her an incentive—a big financial incentive—to make this work. But it also came with a deadline—six months to show improvement and a firm plan for the next year.
Now, sitting behind the managing editor’s desk, she wondered if she’d made a mistake. For the last four—almost five—months, she’d spent every waking moment trying to secure the future of the longstanding magazine. With not much more than sheer determination and a skeleton staff, she’d done the impossible—turned the magazine’s content one hundred and eighty degrees, from sensationalized headlines to meaningful interviews on important topics. The substantial changes were enough to create a bump in the bottom line. In fact, it impressed the board enough to approve a modest increase in funding. This was making it possible for Sage to at last hire a much-needed PA.
She stared down at the next résumé on her desk. She’d put off hiring a PA as long as possible, not wanting to take funds away from more necessary areas. But with tasks piling up faster than she could tackle them, it was time to hire a very capable, multitasking assistant.
The name on the rather lengthy résumé was Trey Renault. He would be the seventh man in a row that she had interviewed that day. She smiled and shook her head. This definitely wasn’t a coincidence.
When she’d casually let it slip that her thirtieth birthday was in a few weeks, Louise, the head of human resources, declared that Sage should find a nice guy to settle down with. Sage tried to politely explain that settling down wasn’t on her to-do list. She had a lot of other things that needed her focus. A family would have to wait.
She scrutinized each line of Trey Renault’s résumé. His education and references were impeccable. On paper, this man was impressive. But he lacked experience in publishing. Would he be a quick learner?
Her phone buzzed. She answered and learned that the man in question had arrived. She glanced at the time on her desktop monitor and found that he wasn’t just five minutes early, he was a full ten minutes early. Oh, a man after her own heart. She told the receptionist to show him back to her office.
Sage stood and smoothed her navy skirt down over her thighs. She then ran a hand over her hair, making sure the long dark strands weren’t out of place. She didn’t know why she was making such a fuss. It wasn’t like she was the one being interviewed.
She came around her desk and opened the door. She had to crane her neck in order to smile up at him. From behind a pair of dark-rimmed glasses his dark gaze met hers, but she was unable to read anything in his eyes. A man of mystery. She was intrigued.
She held out her hand. “Hello. My name’s Sage White.”
The man’s large hand enveloped hers. His grip though firm was not too tight. “Bonjour. I am Trey, um...Renault.”
A Frenchman. She had to admit, she found his accent sexy. He wasn’t so bad himself, in that tall, dark and handsome sort of way. His brown hair was trimmed short on the sides with the top a little longer and a bit wavy. His face was quite attractive, even if it was partially obscured by a full beard and mustache. She couldn’t help but wonder what he’d look like after a shave.
“Welcome, Trey.” She stepped back to make room for him to enter her office. “Please come in.”
His face didn’t betray any hint of emotion. Sage closed the door and then turned back to this man who intrigued her more than all the other applicants added together. His gaze moved swiftly around her office as though taking in his surroundings. She wanted to ask what he thought of what she’d done with the space, but she squelched the urge. They had other more urgent matters to discuss.
Once he made his way across the room, he took a seat in one of the two black leather chairs facing her desk. Sage returned to her own chair. She didn’t know what it was about this man that had her so intrigued, but there was something different about him aside from the accent—yet there was something familiar, too.
Sage smothered a sigh. She was letting her imagination get the best of her. Trey Renault was an applicant just like the other six bachelors who’d paraded through her office.
The first man she’d interviewed wouldn’t so much as shake her hand. He went on to tell her about all of the germs in the world. With his knowledge of illnesses, she started to wonder if he should have gone to medical school and become a doctor.
The second man yawned through the whole interview. She couldn’t tell if it was her that had bored him or if he hadn’t slept the night before. The third man had definitely woken up on the wrong side of the bed. The scowl on his face seemed to be permanent. He’d complained about everything including his previous employers. The fourth man couldn’t stop sneezing. She was beginning to wonder if he was allergic to her.
Bachelor number five was a pleasant change with a nice smile and good attitude, but as the interview went on, she found he’d smile and agree with everything she said. Number six had great looks but it didn’t appear he had much going on upstairs.
With the prestigious Cannes Film Festival quickly approaching, which was pivotal to the magazine’s future, she had no more time to interview applicants. The truth was they weren’t exactly breaking down her door. She had to pick the best of these applicants.
And so far bachelor number seven appeared to be the front runner. Then she caught herself glancing down at his left hand. Yep, another bachelor. Louise had certainly done her homework.
Sage jerked her gaze back up to his handsome face. His chin was squared and his nose straight. But it was his eyes that drew her in with their dark and mesmerizing depths. It’d be so easy to get lost in them. Just like she was doing now.
She jerked her gaze away from him and back to the résumé on her desk. She stared blindly at the paper. With his good looks, he’d definitely make Monday mornings more bearable.
Gathering her thoughts, she welcomed him again. She then started her well-practiced spiel about the highlights of the magazine and an overview of the position requirements. She couldn’t be swayed by his good looks. She had a board meeting at the end of the month that would determine her future. And from what she’d heard, her former boss’s estranged son had assumed the position of CEO and he’d made it his mission to put the magazine out of business.
Most people didn’t even know this son existed. She’d done an internet search and hadn’t been able to come up with even a photo of the mysterious son. In this day and age of social media how was that possible?