Chapter Five

Chapter Five

A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart
"

Juliet encounters one of the many facets of Mr. Hunter's complex personality.

"

And where, may I ask, did you hear that, Robert?” said Mr. Hunter softly.


Robert was a brave man. He continued, “I have my sources, James. You know that.”


A twisted smile spread across Mr. Hunter's face. “So do I.”


So you know?”


I also have well placed sources.”


My head bobbed from one man to the next. All eyes where on the two men. “It was a bold move,” said Robert, almost admiringly.


Perhaps,” said Mr. Hunter. “But it was a half-baked, idiotic attempt.”


I yearned to know who Abramson was, and what exactly he was responsible for. I memorized the name (I did not have the guts to write it down in front of him, lest he caught me). Josh would know who he was, maybe he could tell me, but did I want to talk to him after this morning?


Yes, but they did what they had to do,” continued Robert.

“Before they were caught out, that is.” The accusatory glance he sent Mr. Hunters way indicated Robert believed him incompetent, which was bold and foolish of him in equal measure.


The colour drained from Mr. Hunter's face.

A pale ghost sat beside me, trembling quietly with a fury so complete I was tempted to rise from the table and exit the building. I picked up the pen aimlessly and clenched it in my hand out of sheer terror. The volcanic rage that simmered beneath the surface of this man was about to erupt.


Mr. Hunter?” At the sound of my voice he blinked and jerked his head in my direction.


What?” he snapped, but he appeared to calm himself in a matter of seconds.


Um.” I stalled. “Nothing.” Distraction is always an excellent technique to use on the very angry.


He was composed when he addressed the members for the final time. “Whoever was involved will be dealt with.” He leaned forward menacingly. “Does anyone have any questions?”


I watched as grown men and women shrank away from the wrath of someone much younger than them. “Then that is all for now.”


The meeting was over and I had learned nothing, apart from a name. A name that aroused unattractive emotions in Mr. Hunter. I would have to find out more about Abramson. As everyone filed out, I stayed seated. I did not want to risk another temper tantrum from him.

When we were alone he did not acknowledge me. Neither of us spoke. I knew without having to look where his gaze was settled. I could feel his eyes on me.

Now, I might be an unremarkable human being, but I was most certainly not a stupid one.

I was aware when a man trained his gaze on you, there was a reason for it. A reason that usually bought a woman trouble and heartache in abundance. It did not excite me. I had been warned as to what sort of a man James Hunter was, and I was alert to the attention he bestowed upon me. I would remain ignorant to it. What choice did I have? I did not intend to become another one of his broken, disregarded women, toys that he discarded when he was bored of them. I would hope that ignorance would suffice to suspend any further steps he may take toward me.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and got up to leave.


Where do you think you are going?” he said softly.


I have work to do.” It was a lie.


What sort of work?” he inquired cleverly.


I have messages that need answering.” I was better at lying than I had assumed.


He rubbed his temple. “Fine,” he said. “Go.”


At my desk I busied myself. I was sure I was replying to some messages completely inaccurately, but the fact that I held Mr. Hunters attention was a disturbing revelation.


Hello?” I picked up the phone after the seventh ring, when I heard it.


Hey!” It was Stacy.


Stacy?” I cried, holding the phone to me as if it were a life-raft.


I know, I'm sorry.” She sounded sad. “I've gone and abandoned you, but I really had no choice.”


What happened?”


It's my mom,” she said. “She's not well.”


It was my turn to apologize. “I had no idea. I'm sorry.”


She gets ill sometimes. I had to go see her,” she explained.


Is she okay?”


She's okay,” Stacy replied gloomily.


My heart went out to her. “If she's anything like you, she'll be up and about in no time,” I said, hoping to console her. I could not stand to hear anyone so upset.


Stacy chuckled. “I hope so. I'm amazed Mr. Hunter gave me the time off, considering he'd be left with you to run the place on your own. He never gives anybody any time off.”


“I wouldn't say I'm running the place,” I said without humour.


How is work? Are you doing okay?”


It's okay,” I said. “There was a board meeting.”


Really?” Stacy was surprised. “That came out of left field. At least you got some time off from the boss. Board meetings are occasions when he turns his wrath on other people.”


He made me sit in while the meeting was taking place,” I revealed cautiously.


I could not see her, but I knew Stacy's jaw had hit the ground.


What?” She practically screeched. “He let you inside his sacred office?”


I didn't understand what the fuss was. “Yes. Doesn't he let you?”


No!” she cried. “Never!” Her astonishment was obvious. “No-one but the board members are allowed during these meetings. Something to do with lowering the risk of exposure of his company secrets.


“Then why was I invited?”


There was very long silence. At one point I thought we had lost our connection and checked the phone to see if it was true. She was still on the other line. “Stacy?” I said tentatively. “Are you still there?”


I'm here.” Her voice was strangely choked. “Juliet, we need to talk. You need to be careful,” she said, now very quietly. “This is not good.”


What do you mean?” I said, but I knew where this was headed.


Hadn't it occurred to me what was happening only moments before? I just wanted to hear it from someone else's mouth, to convince myself I was not dreaming it up.


You're not that naïve, Juliet,” she said. “We've both seen how he looks at you, then he gives me days off when he wouldn't before, and now this."


I didn't do much,” I protested. “I sat there and, well, I just sat there.”


“Where were you seated?” she asked judiciously.


Next to him.”


She sighed. “This is not good.”


Should I be concerned?”


Concerned?” she snorted. “You should be moving to another country!”


Oh, don't be silly, Stacy.” I managed to laugh. “Look,” I lowered my voice. “If I ignore it then he'll leave me alone.”


There was an incredulity to her next words, “Have you learned nothing about this man, Juliet? Do you think he got where he is today by backing off and leaving people alone when they showed restraint against him? I'd go as far as to say that is what drives him.”


Maybe we're over-thinking it?” I suggested. “Maybe he just wanted to make sure I didn't destroy his office?”


You don't know how this man works, Juliet,” she said patiently. “I do. I've been here for years, and I've seen things. I've seen the women come and go-usually in tears. Juliet, listen to me. You may not have seen it from the off start, but I did. I know that look. It's not a good sign-not for you anyway. That's why I tried to warn you about him.”


You mean, when you told me about Victoria?” I glanced at his office doors, which remained firmly closed.


Yes, but also about him in general. He is not a pleasant man to be around,” she said.


I think I would have worked that out by myself eventually,” I remarked flatly.


Juliet.” Stacy was passionate. “James Hunter is a benevolent borderline psychopath. And I am not exaggerating when I say this.”


That's a bit harsh, and also very confusing,” I admitted.


Stacy released a long breath. “He's into his charity, I'll give him that. Lord knows he's got enough money to give away, but trust me, that is the only redeeming quality the man possesses, Juliet. I cannot make myself any more clearer to you than I am now.”


I mulled over her warning. It was certainly loud and very clear, but why did she make it sound like he would get his way? Did she think me so weak? I could not help but feel a little insulted. Yes, I was easily intimidated, but not easily impressed. “I can assure you, Stacy,” I said firmly. “I am not interested in that man in any way, shape or form.”


He intrigued me, yes, but that was all. He was too frightening a man to even consider as a lover or a confidante. He was the sort you crossed the road to avoid, not the other way around.


I know you're not,” she said, confusing me further. “But he always manages to get his claws into his victims.”


Don't worry about me. I'll be fine,” I insisted. “I can handle this.”


From her tone I knew she did not believe me. “I wish I wasn't going to be away so long,” she said.


When are you due back?”


A week,” she said. “He practically forced me to take that long off. I'm beginning to see why.”


A week!” I cried. “How am I going to get along on my own for a week?”


Just keep doing what you're doing now,” she said. “You'll be fine, plus, I don't think he's going to push you too hard.”


Really?” I told her about the coffee incident.


He did what?” She was bewildered. “That doesn't make any sense.”


What?”


You know what? Forget it. It should be time for lunch now. Go, relax a little, but remember what we talked about, okay?”


Okay,” I said reluctantly. “I'll see you soon, I hope.”


Definitely.” She hung up, leaving me more baffled then ever before.


I turned off the computer and located my handbag. It was indeed time for lunch, but walking out without informing my employer was out of the question. I knocked on his door, counted to five and walked in.


He was busy talking on the phone as I approached. “They should be grateful we showed any interest in their fledgling company in the first place. Their turnover last year was laughable.” He paused to listen, smiling coldly. “They'll take what they are offered and be pleased with it.” Goosebumps prickled my skin at his tone. I came to stand before his desk and waited.


He eyed me speculatively. “Yes?”


I was heading out for lunch, sir,” I said.


We'll discuss this further later, Robert,” he said into the phone and hung up. He leaned forward. “What?”


Lunch?” I muttered, embarrassed all of a sudden. I did not want to be in the same room as him. Not after the conversation I'd had with Stacy.


A strange indiscernible look passed over his face. “No.”


I blinked in surprise. “Sorry?”


I said.” He picked up the phone lazily. “No.”


My arms were limp at my sides. I did not know how to respond to this. “I'm not allowed to leave?”


No,” he replied simply. “Get back to work.”


I did not move. I couldn't. What was this? “Mr. Hunter?”


He was studying a piece of paper. After a minute he glanced at me. “What?” He was brusque, as he were frittering away his precious time by talking to me.


Why am I not permitted to go to lunch?” This new bold streak I was unburdening on the world was welcomed by me. It was new, that was definite, but I enjoyed the feelings it evoked in me.


He frowned, obviously displeased. A smattering of fine lines appeared on his forehead when he did so, making him look old and tired. “I do not believe I owe you an explanation,” he said with stern authority.


I watched, a mere spectator, as my mouth began emitting words of its own accord. “I believe I am entitled to take lunch, sir.”


What occurred next alarmed me to such an extent there was a second where I believed I was about to become unconscious.

He stood up. The ferocity in which he did so was stunning. He pushed back his chair with force and was before me, quivering, simply shaking with anger. The emotion had contorted his features so that he resembled a twisted, lurid creature and not a man.

My boldness vanished and my fear rendered me immobile.


What. Did. I. Just. Say?” he hissed, taking a sinister step toward me. I quelled the scream that fought to escape my throat, but did not step away. Not out of bravery, no, but because I simply could not move my feet. I was paralyzed.


I asked you a question!” he bellowed.


You...said....no.” I vomited out the words in anguish.


And what part of that did you not comprehend?” His voice was as high as the ceiling above us. “What part did you not understand?”


Finally life injected itself into my legs and I began to back away from the red-faced monster, who at any moment would strike me, surely.


The sign of movement stemmed the volley of abuse he threw at me. “Where are you going?” He snarled. “Did I say you could leave?”


I stopped and stared at my feet. At least one thing had been made clear from this event; James Hunter was most definitely not interested in me in any way. I was not too experienced with romance, but I did not believe you screamed bloody murder at someone you were partial to.


I heard him inhale deeply. “Miss. Beaumont.” And he was back. The cool, calm man I had encountered this morning had returned form whatever dark corner that had summoned him. “Look at me.” I did so, unwillingly.


I thought I saw contrition in his face, but could have been mistaken. He ran an agitated hand through his hair. “I....” He shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. “That was...” He cleared his throat. “Unexpected.”


I did not speak. Shock staggered any reaction I could produce. The level of upset caused by my disobedience was incredible. If he flew off the handle due to such little things, what was he capable of when something really upset him? I did not want to imagine.


Go.” He turned his back on me. “Go to lunch.”


Like the un-dead I lurched and stumbled my way out of his office. It was like a dream. I was floating, not really seeing or feeling, just drifting away from what had just happened. I did not cry, I wanted to, but didn't. All emotions were contained, for now.

When I reached the lobby a sob escaped me. I felt better now I was some distance away from him. I could allow myself to be upset as he wasn't here to witness it. For I knew that no matter what happened, I would never allow him to see me cry. I would not give him that pleasure.

I hurried outside, desperate to get away from the confines of the office.

It was a cool day, the sun was hiding as usual behind an armory of grey clouds. People rushed past me, not looking where they were going, chatting amiably into cell phones. A car honked it's horn loudly, drawing my attention. I watched as the angry driver shouted something rude at a woman he had almost run over as she was too busy tapping away on her Blackberry.

I sighed shakily. The outside world was definitely less scary than the one that existed behind me.


Pulling out my phone from my handbag, I called Rachael. I had to ring twice as she did not answer the first time. “Hello?” she said groggily, no doubt she'd been asleep.


I promptly burst into tears.


What's he done now?” she demanded, immediately alert. “I swear, Juliet. If he's said something to you...”


In between tears I recounted what had occurred. “He got so angry so quickly,” I sobbed.


“Right! I'm coming down there!” growled Rachael. “I'm so going to kick his a*s! Who the hell does he think he is? What the heck is his problem? Ooh, Juliet....when I get my hands on that guy....I'll choke the life out of him.”


Knowing my sister, it was not an empty threat she was spewing. She would launch herself at him if she saw him. And the fact I had someone who would do such a thing cheered me a little. “Relax, Xena,” I said, between sniffs. “He's bigger than you.”


Who cares?” she cried. “I can still take him. All he needs is one swift kick in the...”


I cut her off quickly. “I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. I was warned what he was like.” I wondered whether to tell her about the conversation with Stacy, then thought better of it, after all, hadn't Mr. Hunter proved that we had been wrong just now?


I headed to a local eatery that Stacy had taken me to yesterday while we chatted. It was only a block away from PhysTech. “I'm okay now,” I assured her, smiling at a man who held the door open for me. “I'll just have to make sure I don't upset Mr. Hunter again.”


What?” exclaimed Rachael, the definition of sarcasm. “By making sure you don't dare to ask for a lunch break?”


Can we talk about this later?” I pleaded. “I need to grab lunch and head back. I don't want to be late.”


Yeah, with any luck he'll have a heart attack and die,” muttered Rachael hopefully.


It took a minute of wrangling, but I managed to calm her somewhat and hang up the phone. After ordering a sandwich (I wasn't hungry, but felt I should eat something after everything I had gone through to to get here) I contemplated how he would behave when I got back.


Is this seat taken?”


Startled out of my thoughts, I looked up to find the man who'd kindly opened the door for me standing by the vacant chair at my table. My heart fluttered as our eyes met.

His appearance and posture told me he was well-bred, possibly from a wealthy family. I gouged he was about my height, with honey-coloured hair (that was positively askew on his head) and eyes so blue, I instantly thought of the sea as I peered into them. He had a strong jaw-line with a smattering of stubble residing on it, and a sturdy, slightly large nose which did not hinder his good looks.


He smiled at me in a casual, friendly manner and I felt my cheeks heat up. I glanced away from him as I did not want him to think I was staring, but he was rather lovely to look at. “May I have this seat?” he asked me politely.


I nodded, flustered. “Okay.”


Hi.” His smile broadened as he leaned over, holding out a slender hand. “My name's Roman. Roman Keir.”


I nearly knocked over a salt shaker as I reached over to take his hand into mine. “Juliet Beaumont,” I stammered breathlessly, feeling foolish by my clumsiness and the overwhelming feelings of nervousness I was experiencing.


He chuckled. “Nice. From Shakespeare?”


I shook my head. “No.”


Are you from around here?”


My face grew hotter and my body tensed at my nerve clenching attempts at conversation. “No.”


He raised his eyebrows slightly, probably surprised by my monosyllabic answers. “You don't talk much do you?” he said lightly, staring steadily into my eyes. I hated when people did that. It was so unsettling having someone gaze right into you.


I was very hot all of a sudden hot and my heart hammered in my chest. “Um.” I stalled, bewildered by my reaction to him. “Not really?”


He uttered a laugh so sweet, that I instantly found myself smiling along with him. “So, Juliet. Tell me about yourself.”


I was instantly reminded of my first meeting with Mr. Hunter. The memory sobered me immediately. I decided to keep my story short and sweet. I did have to get back to work in a while. “I moved here with my sister,” I said, as my sandwich arrived.


 Roman nodded and ordered a coffee. “Go on,” he said. It was as if he had accompanied me to lunch, and we were old friends, so at ease was he with me.


And, well, I've started work recently.” It was not a fascinating story, but Roman acted as if I spoke the most important words he'd ever heard, which was very flattering. He watched me intently, soaking in my every gesture.


Where do you work?”


PhysTech Industries,” I replied, with a small shiver.


A change occurred with Paul's demeanor. It was very subtle, but I noticed it anyway. His eyes grew narrowed at the edges, and his easy-going smile disappeared. I was very strongly reminded of Mr. Hunter when he was about to become very angry.


Oh?” he said softly. “How long have you worked there?”


Not long,” I said. “It's been a couple of days.”


What do you do anyway?”


I told him without going in to much detail. He did not need to know everything. A stunned expression appeared on his face which was quickly replaced with impassive weariness.


Do you enjoy working there?” He asked.


I could be honest with him, I knew, as it was very likely we would not see each other again, and I had someone to recount my woes to. “Mr. Hunter does not have a very likable personality,” I said, feeling only a small stab of guilt at my confession.


Roman laughed loudly, but I detected no humour in it. “That's the nicest thing I've ever heard anyone say about him.”


My ears pricked up. “You know him?”


His eyes gleamed. “Unfortunately, yes, I do.” His coffee arrived and he sipped it thoughtfully. “Why on earth would a girl like you choose to work there?” The question was aimed more at himself then me.


A girl like me?”


Yes,” he nodded seriously. “You just appear to be too sweet and....innocent to be working for that guy.”


I really didn't have much choice.”


Okay, but wouldn't you be more comfortable somewhere, I don't know? More humane?”


He was not joking.


I don't have the luxury of choosing my employment. I just took what I was given,” I told him.


Would you like to accompany me on a date this Saturday?” The question arrived from nowhere. I dropped my sandwich and stared at him.


Excuse me?” Rachael would have a field day when she heard this.


I said.” He moved closer to me. “Can I take you out?”


Words failed me. I simply could not believe this was happening. Handsome men like him did not select women like me to take out. Not that I thought myself unattractive. Beauty was something that I marvelled at from a distance, but detected, with what you could call a shrewd gaze, that it was rarely authentic, which did wonders to make me feel better about myself, but also made me quite suspicious of the need to hide one's true self from the world.


Juliet?” He waved a hand in front of my face. “I need an answer,” he chuckled. “And I'm certain you need to get back to work soon.”


Without further thought, I replied; “Yes.”


He was delighted. “There's this thing I have to attend,” he said.

“I'd like to take you as my date. It's a black-tie event at the Waldorf Astoria. Have you heard of it?”


I nodded. Of course I had, and had even walked past it a few times with Rachael. We often dreamed about what it looked like on the inside, seeing as the chances of us actually visiting were slim.


Great.” His eyes crinkled with pleasure. “I'll see you there. Is that okay? I'd pick you up, but...” He did not finish the sentence and began staring broodingly at the wall behind me.


It's fine,” I assured him, startled by his abrupt change of mood.


“I'll find my way there.”


I'll meet you in the lobby, say around eight? And I will drop you home.” He appeared embarrassed, as if he were not being gentleman enough.


We exchanged numbers and he left, giving me a pleased smile on his way out. I was secretly thrilled but tried not to show it as Rachael told me over-eagerness frightened men away. I practically skipped back to the office, smiling at strangers.

What a turn this day had taken! I had a date with a handsome man! I nearly called Rachael to tell her, but thought better of it. She'd want to know every little detail, and I did not have the time to indulge her. My mood was definitely lifted when I settled back behind my desk. It did not last long however.


As soon as I had taken my seat, the phone rang. It was Mr. Hunter again. “In my office. Now,” he barked.


Clearly something (or someone) had set him off again. Was this how it would be every day? I hoped not, as I found his temper tantrums exhausting.


Sir?” I stood across his desk with my arms folded behind my back.


Miss. Beaumont. How was lunch?” he inquired with a small, sardonic smile on his lips.


It was fine,” I replied cautiously. From the style in which he sat I supposed the earlier incident would not be mentioned here.


I'm glad you enjoyed yourself.” He gazed at me in a cold, steady way you would do an evil-doer.


I could not meet his eye. Very easily he was making me feel I had done wrong. It was such an overwhelming sensation, I opened my mouth and almost uttered an apology, despite not knowing what it was for.


I tugged the sleeve of my shirt self-consciously. He was enjoying my discomfort, I could tell.


PhysTech Industries holds a charity gala each year,” he said, after a long time. I was beetroot red. “This year it is being held at the Waldorf Astoria.”


A tiny bell went off in my head. An alarm, you could call it.


I expect you to be present."


Oh!” This was the gala he had banned his ex from.


You will attend with me this Saturday evening. A car will arrive to pick you up at seven. Be ready.”


My addled brain finally put two and two together. This was where Roman had wanted to take me, and now I could not attend with him because I would have to show up with Mr. Hunter-not a thrilling prospect. In one fell swoop he had managed to ruin everything.

What was I going to do now? I could not possibly accompany Roman and Mr. Hunter at the same time. My heart sank to the pit of my stomach, disappointment crushing my cheered spirits of only minutes before.


Miss. Beaumont?” He was regarding me carefully.


I collected myself. “What will be my task that evening?” I asked, in a small voice.


He frowned. “You are my assistant, are you not?” I looked at him blankly, my mind still elsewhere. “You will do as I ask.”


Oh.”


You do not seem pleased.” It was an accurate statement on his part.


It's nothing.” I mumbled, staring at my shoes. I hadn't even had the opportunity to think about what I would have worn on my first date in months.


Did you have plans for Saturday?” he inquired airily, shifting in his chair.


No, I just wasn't expecting to be invited to one of your....events.”


He froze. “It will not be a social occasion, not for you anyway,” he said, his tone sharp. “There will be work to do.”


Yes, sir.” I wondered what I was going to tell Roman.


You may leave now.”


With my heart resigned to my bad fortune I went back to work. Time flew by and fortunately, Mr. Hunter did not call for me again. There were only a few days left for the gala and he'd e-mailed a list of things I had to do before the day came. I spent nearly three hours on the phone making last minute confirmations with various people. All thoughts of Roman were wiped from my mind.

I was completely frazzled when it came time to leave for the day, my head ached. All I wanted was to go home and sleep for a week. It had been the longest of days. I popped my head into his office to let him know I was leaving. He was busy on the phone and waved me away. I made haste to get away.









© 2013 Joan*Eckhart


Author's Note

Joan*Eckhart
Happy Valentines day everybody! And again, constructive reviews would be appreciated. I really would like to know what you honestly think of this story and whether I should continue with it.

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Featured Review

Where should be were. Unless, of course, they do things like this differently in the UK. :S

“I have messages
that need answering.” I don’t know if this was the cause of the program or if this was intentional but I thought that I should point it out.

benevolent borderline psychopath—What’s that?

to to you typed to twice here.


Paul's Who’s Paul? Didn’t you mean Roman?

Woah! Juliet’s got her hands full. I feel bad for her. If I was her I would’ve told Mr. Hunter that she already had a date. Anyway, the things that should be fixed are written above. Hope this helps! :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joan*Eckhart

8 Years Ago

Thanks for pointing out my mistakes. I'm not sure myself who Paul is, lol, that's definitely an erro.. read more
Miranda

8 Years Ago

OKay, thank you. :)



Reviews

Where should be were. Unless, of course, they do things like this differently in the UK. :S

“I have messages
that need answering.” I don’t know if this was the cause of the program or if this was intentional but I thought that I should point it out.

benevolent borderline psychopath—What’s that?

to to you typed to twice here.


Paul's Who’s Paul? Didn’t you mean Roman?

Woah! Juliet’s got her hands full. I feel bad for her. If I was her I would’ve told Mr. Hunter that she already had a date. Anyway, the things that should be fixed are written above. Hope this helps! :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joan*Eckhart

8 Years Ago

Thanks for pointing out my mistakes. I'm not sure myself who Paul is, lol, that's definitely an erro.. read more
Miranda

8 Years Ago

OKay, thank you. :)

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Added on February 12, 2013
Last Updated on February 14, 2013
Tags: Love, Romance, Betrayal, Secrets, Obsession, Power, Danger


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Joan*Eckhart
Joan*Eckhart

United Kingdom



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A Chapter by Joan*Eckhart