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The Price Possession

It was 6:15 p.m., and the lobby of Price Industries’ office tower was emptying even as I crossed the polished marble floor toward the line of elevator doors.

The interview wasn’t what made me nervous, though a lot was riding on it going well.

No. It was the elevator ride.

My claustrophobia was unpredictable and ranged from mild to severe.

 

The Price Possession by Stanlight is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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1

KATE

It was 6:15 p.m., and the lobby of Price Industries’ office tower was emptying even as I crossed the polished marble floor toward the line of elevator doors.

The interview wasn’t what made me nervous, though a lot was riding on it going well.

No. It was the elevator ride.

My claustrophobia was unpredictable and ranged from mild to severe.

Hitting the “up” button to call the nearest elevator, a cold sweat broke out on my back and forehead. My heart began to race as I dabbed my makeup, afraid it would smear.

Don’t sweat. Don’t panic.

Shit.

With a friendly ding, the elevator doors opened, revealing a completely ordinary interior.

The enclosed space was what I couldn’t handle.

It felt like walking into my own tomb.

“Kate, get your shit together,” I said and forced myself to step inside.

The doors tried to shut, and I cried out, jumping back into the lobby.

I could breathe easy again once I was out of there, but what I needed was on the top floor.

That’s where Taylor Price’s office was. He was Price Industries’ CEO. A billionaire. A titan of industry. A recluse.

This was the second effort I’d made to get the interview; his secretary had just notified me that he’d accepted our request for another.

The first time, he’d canceled on me at the last second.

Arthur, my editor at The Daily House, was not happy that that opportunity had slipped away.

It wasn’t my fault, but results were the only thing Arthur wanted.

Well, if I didn’t get in this elevator, the result would be missing the interview and losing my job. And then basically my life would fall apart.

My Nana was the only family I had in all of Philadelphia—in all of Pennsylvania, for that matter. It was just the two of us ever since my parents had died when I was twelve.

And now, Nana’s life was overrun with doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, and treatments. She suffered from severe arthritis and osteoporosis, and the bills were always piling higher.

I needed this interview, and to get it, I needed to get in the elevator.

And to do that, I needed help.

Kate
I’m freaking out
Rick
Did he cancel on you again?? What a prig!
Kate
I’m still in the lobby, I’m having one of my meltdowns
Rick
What is it?
Rick
The elevator?
Kate
Yes
Rick
Did you do your breathing?
Kate
Yes, it didn’t help
Rick
Are you in the elevator now?
Kate
I can’t get in
Rick
Do you have your earbuds? Put them in, put some music on and close your eyes
Rick
It’ll be over before you know it
Rick
Want me to stay on with you while you ride up?
Kate
I don’t have my earbuds
Rick
Why not?
Kate
Does it matter? I just don’t
Rick
Is there anyone around who can ride up with you?
Kate
That’s so embarrassing – I’m not a little kid in an airport!
Rick
You don’t need to be embarrassed.
Rick
You NEED to get to that interview.
Rick
Stairs?
Kate
He’s on the top floor
Rick
Oh, yeah, you’d be a mess by the time you got there
Kate
Thanks
Rick
Describe how you feel
Kate
Thank you for listening, I don’t know what I’d do without you
Kate
Racing , sweating, a little dizzy
Kate
Maybe I should try to reschedule?
Rick
?!??! Are you serious?
Rick
Bad idea – do what you have to but get that interview TODAY!
Rick
You’re a great reporter and a great writer and you know it
Kate
Rick
You are, but you don’t need a mark against you with Arthur!
Kate
You aren’t calming me down!
Rick
Then stop throwing out bad ideas!
Kate
OK!
Rick
He’s not going to fire you, he’d never do that, so focus on what you need to focus on
Rick
The elevator. Do as I say as I say it. Are the doors open?
Kate
Yes
Rick
Are the buttons on the right or left?
Kate
Left
Rick
kk. You’re going to feel silly, but it’s alright. Hold your phone RIGHT UP by your face, I don’t want you looking at anything else
Kate
Ok…I’m doing it. All I see is my screen.
Rick
Step in, turn left, and hit the top floor button – do it now! Don’t think!
Rick
Go! Go! Go!
Rick
…? Kate? What’s happening? Are you in?
Kate
YES, RIDING UP, OH GOD OH GOD
Rick
Everything’s fine…everything’s fine…think of an open field…think of walking towards your own front door
Kate
Everything’s safe, everything’s good.
Rick
What floor are you on?

I wiped a drop of sweat off my brow and peeled my eyes open. The elevator dinged and the doors were open.

“Ah!” As fast as I could, I jumped out.

The huge windows beside me looked down on an epic top floor view.

Immediately, my heart began to return to normal. That didn’t help with the sweat or what must have been a makeup disaster on my face, but I’d made it.

Kate
Omg, you are a saint.
Kate
I’m here. I’m fine.
Rick
No you’re not.
Kate
???
Rick
You’re excellent. You’re a sniper. You’re a ninja. You’re a world record holding bodybuilder.
Rick
What can’t you do? Go reel that big fish in, get your interview, and get back home and write it up!

A huge smile broke out across my face. Rick was the best. I owed him big time for this.

I pulled out my compact mirror and saw my garish reflection; I gasped.

Damn.

I found a ladies’ room and washed off the Rorschach test that had been my makeup.

I checked myself out in the mirror.

The girl with the amber eyes, dimples, and a shock of red hair that seemed to always catch people’s attention.

I gathered myself as I walked out to the reception area.

I found a blonde, petite, doll-faced girl in her early twenties sitting behind a desk and cleared my throat.

“I’m Kate Dawson from The Daily House. I have an appointment with Mr. Price.”

“Oh, of course,” the receptionist said, frowning slightly. Evidently I was not what she had expected. “Please come this way.”

She led me through a large minimalist hallway that reeked of power. At the end was a large mahogany door.

“Please have a seat, Ms. Dawson. I’ll inform Mr. Price that you are here.”

After Taylor Price had rescheduled our first interview, Arthur had not been pleased. He had even threatened to fire me if another newspaper got the exclusive before we did.

Nobody had ever had the chance to interview Taylor Price face-to-face; it was as if the man didn’t exist.

It was either that or he simply didn’t want to make his life public property.

So this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. One that I could not afford to mess up.

Stop it, I ordered myself. Eyes clear. Head in the game. You got this.

I watched as the secretary knocked on the mahogany door and entered the room. My palms suddenly felt sweaty.

I caught a glimpse of Mr. Price’s shoes before the door had closed. They were pitch black and almost looked like they were…sparkling.

“Of course, sir,” I heard right before someone emerged from his office.

I stood up, a smile spreading across my face.

“Mr. Price, I’m—oh.”

But it wasn’t Taylor Price. Another woman emerged from his office. I swallowed down the rest of my words.

Feeling inexplicably self-conscious, I tugged lightly at my black, high-waisted skirt. The woman was beautiful. Too beautiful to be working here.

“Ms. Dawson, I presume?”

“Yes,” I nodded. “But I was expecting Mr. Price?”

“Yes, I’m Kristen, Mr. Price’s PA. I’m sorry, Ms. Dawson, but Mr. Price will have to reschedule.”

“What?!” I blustered, disbelieving. “But I made it up here—I mean, why?”

“Unfortunately, he has another meeting scheduled.”

My hands coiled into fists. My nostrils flared.

“I’m very sorry, Ms. Dawson—Kate—but I’m afraid there’s nothing more I can do—except for suggesting a different day.”

“You don’t understand,” I fumed. “This is my career he’s playing around with. If I go back with the same story, my boss will fire me.”

“Please, Kate,” Kristen shook her head. “Mr. Price does not take kindly to office scenes.”

“I am begging. Two questions—one! Anything, please.”

“Please take the rescheduled appointment. I don’t want to have to call security.”

I threw on a sarcastic smile and hooked my bag over my arm.

“I’ll leave, but please pass Mr. Price this message for me. Do you have a pen? Please tell him, from me: fuck yourself you…fucking dick!

I turned and stormed out, throwing open the door to the staircase, forgetting I’d taken the elevator, forgetting I’d have to hike down thirty-seven floors, forgetting everything.

All I could see was red.

I’d just told the most powerful man in the world to fuck himself.

Arthur was going to fire me.

I’m done for.

TAYLOR

“She said WHAT?!”

I sat behind my big antique desk, brows knitted together into a thin line, while a flurry of activity and conference calls and emails and texts cut through the air of my crowded office.

Kristen stood before my desk with the trace of an amused smile on her lips.

“A. Fucking. Dick. Her words, Taylor. Not mine.”

No one, apart from maybe my father, had spoken to me like that. At least not to my face. My tolerance was limited, and my name far too reputable to allow anyone to tarnish it.

It wasn’t my fault that business had gotten in the way.

It’s not every day the opportunity to take over Jameson Enterprises occurs. I had just managed to snatch it from under Grayson’s nose.

A ruthless act?

Maybe.

There would have been hell to pay, but everybody who ever dared to come up against me knew better; no matter the circumstances, Taylor Price always won.

A lesson I intended to teach Ms. Dawson.

Kristen said, “Leave that poor girl alone.”

“You know how I feel about journalists,” I said. “And if she’s brazen enough to call me…”

“A dick.”

“Yes. That. Where does it end?”

I was an incredibly busy man, and my time was valued somewhere around $90,000 an hour. Who did she think she was?

I should have just left it there.

But that wasn’t my way.

I’d pay the price to teach her a lesson.

***

Rick
where are you
Kate
With my Nana.
Kate
She says hi by the way.
Rick
you need to get to the office
Rick
right now
Kate
…What is it?
Rick
it’s serious.

A wave of dread surged through me.

I have devoted my life to my job—at the expense of everything else.

My only friend and family was Nana, and she depended on my job even more than I did.

Now, thanks to a big rich boy with a bigger ego, everything I’d worked so hard for was at risk.

I’m going to get fired.

 

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2

Tom
Great work with Jameson, partner. You had em by the balls and you never let go.
Taylor
Thanks
Taylor
Happy to do it – more than happy
Taylor
Sometimes it’s just fun to take something of someone else’s, you know?
Tom
Remind me never to turn my back on you lol
Taylor
The office isn’t the same without you, Tom
Taylor
When will I get to reattach my right hand, man?
Tom
I’ll be back soon
Taylor
As in tonight? For the press conference?
Tom
Taylor
Fantastic – I hate those things
Taylor
You’re a life saver!
Tom
I’m sorry I’ve been out of it lately
Taylor
No apology necessary, amigo. You’ve had your hands full with the European subsidiaries.
Taylor
No way I could have gotten this done without your help over there.
Tom
False modesty doesn’t suit you, pal.
Taylor
It’s not, I mean every word.
Tom
I’m sorry we haven’t been in touch more in the last handful of months –
Taylor
think you’ll have time for a day or two of R & R? Get out of the office for a few and go nuts?
Tom
Hey, it’s not me you have to convince…
Taylor
Well, if I could get the board to let you work remotely…
Tom
I don’t mean the Board…
Taylor
Then I’m lost- spill the beans
Tom
Well, I was thinking about saving telling you this until we arrived…
Taylor
Oh..!
Taylor
You’re part of a “we” now, that’s exciting
Taylor
Dead man walking
Tom
Watch out or you’ll be next!
Taylor
Fat chance of that
Tom
The second you’re not looking for it, that’s when it’ll hit you
Taylor
BRB, I just have to
Taylor
Tom
Wait and see…
Taylor
SO will you be bringing your pls 1 tonight?
Tom
correct
Tom
My…Fiance!
Taylor
Holy shit, Tom. Why do you always have to be SO serious?
Taylor
Fiance??
Taylor
Alright, well I’m happy 4 u
Taylor
I didn’t think you were the settling down type
Tom
You’re not the only one
Tom
But trust me, I’m the settling UP type ⌨
Taylor
You’re still a nerd, does Mrs Tom know about that?
Taylor
so you ARE bringing her tonight?
Tom
That’s right
Taylor
Damn. Mr. and Mrs. Tom Rockwood
Taylor
What’s her name?
Tom
Everly Grey
Taylor
Haha, seriously, who is she
Tom
??? Everly…
Tom
Grey…
Tom
…Taylor, hello? You still there?
TAYLOR

I had just closed one of the most important deals of my life, managed to flip off my enemy Grayson in the process, and arranged for an incredible celebration, all in one day.

It was huge. And yet…

Everly Grey.

The only woman I’d ever admitted to having feelings for.

And who had subsequently destroyed my faith in relationships.

And now here she was…engaged to my business partner Tom.

What is wrong with her? What is she doing?

Tom was one of my best friends. And Everly had to know that.

She must have kept our relationship secret from Tom.

Which meant I would have to keep it secret from Tom.

What the fuck is she doing?!

It took all of my willpower not to trash my entire penthouse.

No, my bedroom would suffice.

KATE

I put on a brave face, walking into The Daily House office.

Any second now, my entire world was going to collapse in on itself.

I glanced around the room, desperately trying to find Rick. I needed to know how bad it was before I met with Arthur, the editor-in-chief.

The office seemed more chaotic than usual today. Phones were ringing off the hooks, people were running about like chickens with their heads cut off.

On my way up, I overheard some coworkers whispering about a hostile takeover that had just occurred over at Jameson Enterprises.

Maybe it was related.

A small sigh escaped my lips as I sat behind my desk. My hands ran out over the smooth surface.

This could be the last time that I ever sat here.

I switched on my computer and smiled when my eyes caught sight of my badge lying next to my keyboard.

Kate Dawson, Daily House Reporter.

I was going to miss this place.

“Ah, there you are.”

That British accent could only belong to one person: Rick.

“Best get moving, Kate,” Rick said, standing in front of my desk. “Arthur is in his office waiting for you.”

“How bad is it?” I asked, chewing my bottom lip.

Rick frowned. “What are you talking about?”

Now it was my turn to frown.

“Wait. What are you talking about?”

“Do you live under a rock? Price Industries has just taken over Jameson Enterprises. It’s all over the bloody news. There’s a gathering tonight, and Mr. Price has invited a few reporters to cover the whole event. Come on, we need to go see Arthur.”

Did this mean…they didn’t know? There was no time to digest because, the next thing I knew, Rick had dragged me into Arthur’s office.

“You’re a hard woman to get a hold of, Dawson,” Arthur said disapprovingly.

If you only knew why, I thought, taking a seat in front of his desk.

“Sorry, Arthur. It’s been a busy morning.”

“I can only imagine. How did the interview go?” Arthur asked, leaning back against his chair.

I swallowed nervously. Here comes the part where I tell him what happened, followed by the part where he has security escort me out.

“It was, uh—” I began.

“She nailed it—” Rick quickly interjected, causing me to turn and frown at him.

What was he talking about?

He doesn’t even know what had happened, I thought.

But he placed a hand over mine and gave it a little squeeze. As if to say: I got you.

“We were just going over it; she got some great pieces.”

“Good. But that can wait until the next print. Rick, did you fill her in?”

“No. I thought it would sound better coming from you.”

“Okay,” I said, more confused by the second. “Can somebody tell me what’s going on here?”

“Price Industries is holding a press conference as well as a small function tonight. Only a few reporters have been invited to follow the whole event, and, interestingly, Mr. Price has personally asked that you be among the few.”

“What?” I burst out.

“Yes, my dear. You must have made quite the impression at the interview. If you keep it up, we might soon be talking about a promotion, Dawson.”

The rest of the conversation was a blur. I didn’t hear a word of it. All I could keep thinking was:

Personally asked?

Promotion?

What the hell is going on?!

***

I sat behind my desk, staring at an empty screen. Rick had quietly informed me that he knew I had blown it.

He didn’t know the details—and didn’t want to know them, for that matter. He could just read it on my face. And he knew this was my chance to redeem myself.

And the colleague-of-the-year award goes to…

Yet another reason Nana was pushing me to marry Rick. If only he wasn’t already married!

A few minutes ago, I thought for sure that I was going to be fired, and now this? From all the stories I had read over the years about Taylor Price, this didn’t fit his personality.

If he was as ruthless as they said he was, why was he giving me a second chance?

I either had a guardian angel looking out for me…or this was a trap.

Tonight, one way or another, I was going to find out.

TAYLOR

I vented my frustration about Tom’s upcoming wedding by smashing my bedroom to smithereens. A team of janitors worked to clean up my mess as I scrolled through emails on my tablet.

Fuck this, I thought and tossed the tablet away. I bowed my head in my hands.

Everly.

After all the years, she still had a way of getting to me.

The bitch. It wasn’t enough that she’d ended our time together the way she did.

Now she was back—and engaged to my business partner?

Is she trying to fuck with me?

If she was, it was working.

No matter. Despite this, I would make the most of this evening.

Pretend that I didn’t know her.

Anyway, I had plenty of things to distract myself with.

I had Kristen.

I had the press conference.

And, of course, I had this pesky reporter who’d dared to call me a “fucking dick.”

I looked forward to what lay in store for her.

Kristen was right. There are more ways than one to teach someone a lesson.

Of course, Kristen wanted me to be kind. To actually give this girl the interview of a lifetime.

Allow for some verbal shellacking of her unprofessional ways, but otherwise, do right by Ms. Dawson.

No.

After this sickening news from my business partner.

After being reminded of Everly.

After having what was supposed to be one of the best days of my life ruined by yet another woman.

I had only one kind of lesson in mind for Ms. Dawson.

Oh, did I look forward to it now.

KATE

I wasn’t used to wearing dresses to press conferences. As I slipped on the classiest piece I owned—an intricate lace midi dress—I heard Nana calling from the other room.

“Hurry up and let me see you already!”

I came out and did a twirl for Nana, who was lying in bed but clapped her hands together with glee.

“Look at you,” she said. “So beautiful.”

I sat down beside Nana on the bed, looking at her closely. Even when she was sick, the woman continued to be a spark of joy.

Mrs. Kirby, the home nurse, had agreed to stay a few hours more, but due to some emergency, she’d had to cancel.

Normally, I would have put aside my plans. But tonight my job literally depended on me being there.

As if reading my mind, she patted my hand with hers. “Off you go,” she insisted. “There’s nothing to worry about.”

I took my grandmother’s hand and gave it a light squeeze for reassurance.

“Are you sure, Nana?” I asked hesitantly.

“Yes, Kate. Now go, and while you’re at it, please try and find yourself a handsome prince who’ll sweep you off your feet.”

“Well…” I said, getting up from the bed and kissing Nana’s forehead. “…I guess I’d better leave then. Here comes expensive champagne and fish eggs.”

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

“It’s called ‘caviar,’ dear. Live a little.”

And with that, Nana winked and shooed me out.

I had to admit—maybe I wanted to stay with Nana just so I wouldn’t have to actually confront Taylor Price.

After what I had called him, I dreaded the idea of actually meeting the man. There was a distinct possibility that I was about to be chewed up and spat out

But that would only prove him right. That Taylor Price was very much a “fucking dick.”

And, hey, if he said something—that could be ammunition for my article.

So, hell. What do I have to lose?

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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