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Chapter 1


My father’s headquarters, located in downtown Manhattan, was the crown jewel of New York City.

Not only did he run his billion-dollar company from the top half of the Magnum Building, but he also owned the small businesses underneath. It gave his company, Affinity Finance, a steady stream of income regardless of the economy.

I was in a meeting with clients, discussing the final details of a contract. Everything looked good, but my father, Chase Harrington, taught me never to rush through a deal. Make sure you read between the fine lines before signing any document.

“I just have one question,” I said to the two representatives the client sent over. “Here at the bottom, you changed the percentage from what we agreed upon.” I pointed my long, red-nailed index finger to the fine print at the bottom of the page. Both of them leaned forward and squinted their eyes, then acted dumbfounded. “Don’t bullshit me, gentlemen. You're not the first ones to try and screw Affinity Finance out of an investment deal."

Their eyes widened as I stood up and leaned over the long conference table. The one in the blue Armani suit waved his hands in front of his face, a failed attempt at trying to calm me down.

“Oh no, Michelle, that’s not what we’re trying to do here.” The top half of my body lowered closer to the table, and I was fully aware that my cleavage was suddenly on display.

“First of all, it’s Ms. Harrington, not Michelle. I was in on the initial conference call with you guys, and not once did you call my father by his first name. So if you can call him Mr. Harrington, then you better show the same damn respect to me.” The other man, who was wearing a grey Gucci suit, cleared his throat and adjusted his tie.

“Ms. Harrington, I sincerely apologize. We don’t mean any disrespect, and if you allow us some more time, let us bring this contract back to our boss, and we’ll get it corrected.” I glared at them through my long, black eyelashes while tapping my acrylic nails on the table.

“I certainly hope that in the twenty-first century, you show other women more respect than you have shown me today. My father put me in charge of this project because he knew that I could get it done and let me be completely transparent, gentlemen: this is a terrific deal for you. The last thing you want to do is upset my father or me.”

“Of course,” the first representative said. “Ms. Harrington, we truly were unaware that our boss had made that change without informing us. May we have the afternoon to discuss it with him and then reschedule this meeting?” I sat back down and pulled up the calendar on my iPhone.

“We’ll reconvene the same time, same day next week.” I slammed my binder shut, making it clear the meeting was over. Both men nodded, stood up, and then left the conference room.

Not once did I smile, though.

As a woman in the financial business, I learned the hard way never to show my softer side. If you wanted to play with the boys, then you had to act like one. I also had quite a reputation for never caving in on a deal, which is something that I learned from my ruthless father.

He had brought several grown-ass men to tears while discussing business deals.

I leaned back in my chair and stared out the windows, wondering what my mother would have thought about me at that moment. She had died when I was thirteen years old, and growing up with my father was challenging, to say the least. He was never good at being soft and understanding. Whereas my mother, on the other hand, had been my support system in all aspects of my life.

Up until the day she died, she was a barrier to my father’s harsh words. It didn’t take much to set him off. It could be something as simple as getting an A instead of an A+ on schoolwork, or not learning how to ride a bike fast enough. He only cared about his image, including what the world thought about his family.

My father texted me within minutes of the two representatives leaving the office. Knowing him, I’m sure he watched them exit the building before calling me into his office. He had always been a bit of a control freak, ever since I had started interning at his office back in high school. Even though he never came right out and said it, I knew that he had some employees follow me around and report back to him.

I checked my hair and makeup before heading to the top floor. My mother was the one who instilled in me the importance of always putting your best face forward. As I reapplied my red lipstick, I pushed a few strands of blonde hair out of my face and touched up my blush. My father didn’t know much about makeup, but he always checked to make sure that it was on my face. Which was pretty ironic, seeing as how his toupee didn’t even fit on his head.

He consistently said, “Men like to look at pretty women, and that’ll help you close the deal, Michelle.”

Yet whenever I pointed out the irony of men being able to close the same deals while looking like Mr. Potato Head, he’d simply shrug his shoulders. “That’s how the world works.”

“Hi Daddy,” I said while standing across from his desk.

He looked every bit the part of a wealthy businessman, with his small hands rested firmly on his big stomach. “How did the deal go?”

I bought myself some time by pulling out the notes, knowing that my father wouldn’t respond well to what had happened.

“I’m hoping for a good job,” I said while staring at the paperwork in front of me. “Unfortunately, the buyer changed some verbiage at the bottom, which would have given him a bigger percentage back. The representatives acted aloof, of course, claiming they didn’t know about the change.”

My father’s face turned a deep shade of red, and I prepared myself for what was coming.

“And why didn’t you know about that before the meeting?” I saw his fists clench as beads of sweat formed on his forehead.

“I didn’t receive the contract until a few minutes beforehand,” I said, which was the truth.

My father stood up and looked out the window, then let out a huge sigh as he dug his hands into his pockets. “You should have had that contract days before this. It could have saved our company valuable time and money.” He turned around and glared at me. “When’s the next meeting?”