The Billionaire's Payment

By: Alexis Moore

Chapter One

Jared Codrington paced angrily across the lush burgundy carpet of his office in the penthouse suite of luxury hotel, The Codrington. The breathtaking, panoramic views of London, which made the hotel a must-stay for wealthier visitors to London, failed to appease the slowly-building rage inside him. He would have trusted David Phillips with his life. The man’s betrayal hurt as much as a proverbial ‘knife in the back’

Profits had dropped drastically at the hotel and concerned that standards were slipping, Jared had just spent a sleepless week looking at its business practices in minute detail. Of the hundred and four hotels he now owned worldwide, this was the most dear to him. James Codrington, his paternal grandfather had sold his own home and borrowed from every relative and friend willing to lend him money, just so he could purchase the hotel when it was a rundown but superbly-located guesthouse. His grandfather hadn’t seen a vast profit before he was forced to retire due to ill health, but he’d had the satisfaction of seeing it build a reputation of excellence and subsequently be listed in tourists’ guides as one of London’s top luxury hotels. Jared’s father lacked both the passion and the drive to be a hotelier and had had no problem with his father recruiting Jared immediately after he had completed his degree in business instead of him.

When a chain of twenty UK hotels teetered on receivership, James Codrington had spent several days and nights formulating a recovery plan and gathering the necessary funds to buy out the owners. But, on the eve of the day of the planned negotiations, he had suffered a near fatal stroke and twenty-four-year-old Jared had had to pitch the bold proposal while worried sick about his grandfather. The solution had allowed the previous owners to walk away debt free. He had then shared his grandfather’s vision with the staff and given them a choice of embracing a new way of working, or leaving with small compensatory payments. Jared hadn’t been alarmed when 16% opted for the payout, he suspected that most of those wouldn’t have been prepared to go the extra mile when required. With the remaining staff he had embarked on a journey of hard work and just rewards that had seen the hotel’s fortunes reversed in less than six months. Over the next seven years he acquired another eighty-three hotels, some little more than cosy local inns, while others were 5-star establishments regularly patronized by A-List celebrities. He was proud of every last one and acted speedily when profits indicated that things were amiss, and on any complaints received no matter how trivial.

This was his lifeblood, damn it! Every member of staff was like family and David, who had been around since his grandfather’s time, was more so than most.

“Come in,” he ordered at the brisk knock on his door.

“Jared? I thought our meeting was scheduled for tomorrow at…” the older man’s voice trailed off as he realized that something was wrong.

“Don’t I pay you enough, David?” Jared asked without preamble, his voice deathly cold.

“Of course you do, Jared.”

“Then tell me, David, why did you feel the need to steal my money?”

“Jared, I apologize. I needed the funds urgently. I promise I was going to pay you back.”

“I don’t see how you would have paid the money back when you have spent the last two and a half months fiddling the accounts and showing less than full occupancy.” Jared took a deep breath and tried to rein in his anger. “Why didn’t you just come to me for a loan?”

The older man bowed his head and didn’t answer. If he had boldly written a cheque for himself and cashed it, Jared would have been annoyed that he had done so without his permission, but it would have seemed like a loan or an advance of salary. Instead the man had had set up a bogus company and had had one in every ten credit and debit card payments put through to it with a special card reader he had somehow managed to procure. The planning and the sophistication of the crime staggered Jared. It spoke of someone with a criminal mastermind, one whom he wasn’t sure he could trust to be around his operations.

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