Scandalizing the CEO

By: Katherine Garbera

Prologue




Steven Devonshire ignored the first two summonses from his biological father, but when his mother had called and had asked him to please attend a meeting at the Everest Group in downtown London, he relented.

Stepping into the boardroom and finding his two half brothers there was unexpected as well. His half brothers and he were referred to collectively as the “Devonshire heirs” in some circles and the “Devonshire bastards” in others. They had all been born in the same year to three different mothers.

Malcolm Devonshire freely admitted to being their father and had done his duty as far as contributing financially to their upbringing. Steven had no idea what relationship Henry and Geoff had with Malcolm, but Steven had never met the man before.

Henry, the middle brother and the son of Tiffany Malone, seventies pop star, had grown up to be a famous rugby player. After an injury a couple of years ago, he’d given up playing and taken up doing more endorsement deals and starring in a couple of reality television shows, from what Steven had heard in the gossip rags.

“Malcolm has prepared a message for you,” Edmond said. Edmond was Malcolm’s solicitor. Steven had met Edmond many times and actually found the older man to be good company.

The Everest Group had always been Malcolm Devonshire’s life. It didn’t surprise Steven that the one time he’d thought he’d meet his father, the location was this office. Malcolm had just turned seventy and probably wanted to make sure that his life’s work didn’t end with his own death.

Geoff was the eldest of the three of them and the son of Princess Louisa of Strathearn, a minor royal. He and Steven had almost met before—they were both supposed to attend Eton College but Geoff never matriculated.

“Mr. Devonshire is dying,” Edmond said. “He wants the legacy he worked so hard to create to live on in each of you.”

“He didn’t create that empire for us,” Steven said. Malcolm did things for himself—not for anyone else. Malcolm had never done anything that didn’t benefit the Everest Group. Steven suspected that Malcolm must want something from them now. But what?

“If you would all please sit down and allow me to explain…” Edmond said.

Steven sat down, as did the two other men. By nature he was someone who was used to having things go his way. He knew how to turn every new opportunity to his advantage and saw no reason why he wouldn’t be able to do that with whatever Malcolm had in mind.

As Edmond spoke, it became apparent that Malcolm wanted them to take over his businesses. Whichever one of them was most successful—financially—would be given the chairmanship of the entire conglomerate.

Steven tried to digest everything. He didn’t care about the sappy emotionality of an offer from his dying father, but he was interested in the business angle. He owned a very successful, high-end china company.

And if he won the competition with his half brothers that would be the icing on the cake. He relished the thought of winning and knew he would. He wasn’t like Henry—too used to the spotlight—or like Geoff—too used to the pampered, privileged life of a royal. Steven realized he was exactly the right person to win this.

Edmond nodded to the three of them and left the room. As soon as the door closed behind Edmond, Steven stood up.

“I think we should do it,” Steven said. He doubted that the deal would stand if they all weren’t in on it. Whatever Malcolm’s ulterior motive, Steven knew they all had to be involved.

Fortunately, each of the men agreed as well. As they all stood around the boardroom table, Steven listened to his half brothers chat. The men were strangers to him, but he was used to going it alone. He’d never been a team player, to which Steven attributed his own success. He knew what needed to be done and did it. Himself.

Henry stepped out to find Edmond so they could inform him of their decision. After the other men left, Steven lingered. He wanted to know what Malcolm’s motivation was in all this.

“Why now?” he asked. Edmond’s mentorship to Steven gave him an opening, and he had never hesitated to use whatever resources he had to get by in business and in life.

“As I explained, Mr. Devonshire’s failing health is motivating him…” Edmond began, but Steven cut him off.

“To worry about the company he gave his life to,” Steven concluded. He knew enough about the absentee father to understand what he was thinking. It was exactly what Steven had expected. The Everest Group was Malcolm Devonshire’s life and now that his life was ending, the last thing he wanted was to see the company fail. Other men might try to pass on something to their offspring, but Malcolm wanted the company he’d created and nurtured to thrive long after he was gone.

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