The Billionaire's Day Off

By: Olivia Hill

Chapter 1

The weather in London was very much like the weather at home. In Seattle. It rained a lot. Or maybe it was just that time of year. Dalia was not very sure. All she knew was that this was the first time she had accompanied her boss on a work trip that she didn’t curse. She hugged her iPad as she stood in the hotel lobby looking at all the familiar faces in clean cut suits and couture dresses, smiling as they strutted along in their overpriced Manolo Blahnik and Louboutin heels. The men looked exceptional in the Italian leather shoes and on their wrists, perfect Audemars Piquet watches if not a shiny Rolex.

She was still standing there, feeling a little out of place when she finally spotted her boss. She rushed over and smiled as she approached him.

“Mr. Moody. Name tags and the itinerary for the day,” she said in a whisper.

“Dalia Hayes, how many times have I asked you to call me Kyle?” he asked. “Because Mr. Moody is my father…and my grandfather.”

Dalia smiled.

“I can call you Kyle at the office but out here, I need to give you the respect you deserve.”

Kyle looked at his nametag and sighed.

“I’m still trying to figure out why we need name tags at this event. I mean, it’s a conference for Fortune 50 CEOs and CFOs. It’s not like I can’t point out Richard Branson or Mark Zuckerberg.”

“Richard Branson is actually not in attendance,” Dalia pointed out, smiling.

“Well, he sent his second in command. A face I know all too well.”

“Well, name tags are part of the whole thing, Kyle,” she said, being sure to whisper his name so that no one around them heard her.

Her boss smiled and looked at her.

“I guess I better do as you ask, right?” he asked as he pinned his nametag onto his jacket.

“One, it’s part of the rules, and two, you have not kept me around for three years because I made poor judgment calls,” Dalia said and he smiled. His eyes ran down her body and then back up to look into his eyes. “What? What is it?” she asked as she looked at him. The way he was looking at her made her feel a little self-conscious. And this was not the first time he was doing it either. She had caught him giving her the same look a number of times. For a moment there, she felt as if she was making a million fashion mistakes. But who could blame her? She was a flea market and department store kind of girl and this place was full of people who shopped from runways in Milan and Paris.

“Am I not dressed right? I mean, I did go to that store you sent me to and everything…” she started and he shook his head. His eyes once again roamed over her body covered in a grey pencil mid-skirt that highlighted her biggest asset: her broad hips and a red silk round necked sleeveless top tucked into her skirt. She had matched her outfit with a pair of nude colored stiletto heels and her brunette hair was hanging loosely on her shoulders. It was not really her kind of outfit. She had only just begun dressing in skirts and heels. She used to be more of a pantsuit person, hiding her full figure underneath layers and layers of fabric, and it was only normal for her to feel unsure of herself.

And Kyle…he was seeing right through her. He could tell what she was feeling and the struggle she was having just being there.

“You look absolutely amazing, Dalia Rayne,” Kyle said in a lower voice than he expected.

A smile played on Dalia’s lips and a dimple appeared on her left cheek.

“Let’s just get in and take our seats already.” She began leading him to the hotel’s main conference room. “I don’t want to be stuck with the crappy seats at the back.”

Kyle shook his head and raised an eyebrow over the other.

“This is a business summit. Not an opera or a football game,” he said.

“Well, to be completely honest, you can get box seats at the opera and…well, you get the drift.”

“And?” Kyle asked, still not getting what she was trying to say.

“And? What do you mean ‘and’? You are literally in the wild out here with everyone claiming to be the alpha male…so there is of course the whole survival for the fittest out here.”

Without even realizing it, she was walking faster and Kyle was trying to keep up, which was usually a situation that happened the other way round.

“Whoa there…slow down,” Kyle said as they approached the conference room. “Somehow it feels like you are more excited about something else here.”

Dalia smiled and shrugged.

“The presentation by Finch and Lindgren which is supposed to be the first thing on the program.”

“The robotics geeks?” Kyle asked and Dalia nodded a little too excitedly.

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