#54 “It’s Always Been A Game of Fire with You.”
Alexander had thrown himself into work to escape the constant thoughts of Sophia that haunted him. His typically composed and collected demeanor had given way to unusual irritability, causing his usually unflappable secretary, Laura, to tread carefully around him.
As he immersed himself in his work, Alexander found solace in the fact that his company continued to thrive. Business had always been a source of pleasure for him, but now, it served as a distraction from the void that Sophia’s absence had left in his life.
Laura, aware of her boss’s mood, knocked gently on his office door before entering. She hesitated to deliver the latest news.
“Mr. Stone, Enlighten Press’ stock has plummeted,” she reported, choosing her words carefully to avoid adding to his frustrations.
“Excellent,” Alexander responded with a hint of ruthless satisfaction. “I want you to keep a close watch on Michael’s company as well. Take every project he’s interested in, no matter the terms, ” he instructed, his voice sharp and commanding.
Laura acknowledged the orders with a nod and retreated to her desk, leaving Alexander alone with his thoughts. Alexander had fixated on Michael, recognizing the persistent attention he was paying to Sophia. As long as Michael continued to hover around her, Alexander had no intention of letting him off the hook.
His determination to protect Sophia, even though she had made it clear she wanted nothing to do with him, had transformed Alexander into someone unrecognizable. He had become snarky, vindictive, and impulsive, driven by an uncontrollable force he couldn’t resist.
The secretary’s voice interrupted Alexander’s thoughts once again. “Mr. Stone, Megan Sterling, the CEO of Enlighten Press, is calling.”
Alexander glanced at the phone, and after a brief moment of hesitation, he answered the call. “Megan.”
“Alex,” Megan purred, her voice smooth and seductive. “It’s been three long years, hasn’t it? How have you been?”
Alexander’s jaw clenched at the use of his nickname and the unmistakable charm in Megan’s tone. They hadn’t seen each other since his marriage, and he had no desire to revisit that past. ” I’ve been well. Megan.”
Megan, never one to shy away from her intentions, cut right to the chase. “I heard about today’s stock drop, Alex. And I suspect that you are behind it. Was that your doing?” Alexander didn’t mince words. “Yes, it was.”
There was a momentary pause on Megan’s end, and then she sighed. “If this is about our involvement in Emily’s scheme, I apologize. But I hope we don’t have to become enemies over it. It doesn’t directly affect you though, does it?”
Alexander knew Megan well enough to recognize the undercurrents of manipulation in her words. She was trying to play a game, and he wasn’t about to let her take the lead. “Apology accepted, Megan. But let’s be clear, I won’t hesitate to protect my interests.”
Megan’s laughter filled the line. “Oh, Alex, you always were a force to be reckoned with. I thought you and Emily were allies. I never thought you would have a problem.”
“We were, but that disgusting fake news in your yellow paper has nothing to do with me,” Alexander retorted firmly. Megan chose to sidestep his insult, instead focusing on the past tense he used when mentioning their association with Emily.
“I see that apparently you and Emily are no longer ‘friends’ like before. Then what kind of interests you are protecting?” she inquired, her tone laced with mockery.
“You’re making money off of bullshit, Megan,” Alexander interrupted. Megan pondered his accusation for a moment before breaking into a wry smile. “This teatro wouldn’t be because of that lawyer Johnson, would it? You don’t look like a law-abiding person, Alex.”
Alexander was growing more and more angry by the shift in the conversation. Megan had always approached their disagreements with scorn and mockery, but this was different. It was as if she was probing for something more.
“It’s not because of the lawyer,” he replied icily. “You make your money dishonestly by spreading fake news, concocting schemes, and it’s all come under my radar.”
Megan couldn’t resist a sarcastic jab. ‘ Oh, sorry, I didn’t know you’d become a police officer, Stone,” she chuckled. Alexander’s voice grew more threatening. “You’re playing with fire, Megan.”
“You always did, Alex,” Megan teased, a hint of their shared history in her words. “It’s always been a game of fire with you.”
“Be careful!” he cautioned. “You don’t want to provoke me further.” But Megan’s laughter echoed through the phone. “Alex, I’m just making a living the best way I know how. I apologize if it’s causing you trouble.”
Megan couldn’t shake the nagging suspicion that Sophia, the lawyer, was somehow involved in her ex- boyfriend’s recent behavior. Alexander had never caused her any trouble before.
Suddenly, he broke the alliance with Emily, with whom he had worked for years, and began attacking her for the fake scandal.
As she continued to mull over the situation, Megan decided to G****e Sophia’s name and peruse her photos online. She couldn’t deny that Sophia appeared to be an attractive woman.
The more Megan thought about it, the more she became convinced that Alexander wasn’t telling her the whole truth about Sophia. There was something amiss, and Megan didn’t like it one bit. It was as if there were layers to this situation that she had yet to uncover.
“You are not capable of causing me problems, rather you annoy me. I hope it doesn’t happen again,” Alexander’s voice growled through the receiver.
“Calm down Alex, you’re overexerting yourself.”
“Worry about yourself, not me.”
“I still don’t understand how I stepped on your tail,” Megan tried once more to provoke him into talking. “Your company is not involved.”
“I’m not going to explain myself to you Megan, take my words seriously and stop torturing your head with things you don’t understand.”
“Interesting, very interesting, Mr. Stone. Apparently, a person dear to you has fallen under the fire of a scandal, if I have gotten under your skin like that. Just wondering who it is?”
Alexander was infuriated by how guiltless Megan felt about what had happened. He was about to hang up on her. He had already warned Megan, that it was up to her to decide if he will continue to destroy her company.
He was about to press the red button when Megan’s voice stopped him. “Alex, I have a proposition for you.”