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Mr. Charlton

Felicia Parks has worked hard to get where she is. That’s why she can’t say no when her boss pressures her into a partnership with Ren Charlton—a partnership that requires her to relocate to the Charlton Manor. Ren is handsome and arrogant, but there may be more to him than Felicia initially assumes. As things heat up between the unlikely pair and Charlton offers her the opportunity of a lifetime, Felicia is confronted with a difficult question: is work-life balance really possible?

Age Rating: 18+

Note: This story is the author’s original version and does not have sound.

 

Mr. Charlton by Felicity Elizabeth 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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Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

1

Summary

Felicia Parks has worked hard to get where she is. That’s why she can’t say no when her boss pressures her into a partnership with Ren Charlton—a partnership that requires her to relocate to the Charlton Manor. Ren is handsome and arrogant, but there may be more to him than Felicia initially assumes. As things heat up between the unlikely pair and Charlton offers her the opportunity of a lifetime, Felicia is confronted with a difficult question: is work-life balance really possible?

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Felicity Elizabeth

Note: This story is the author's original version and does not have sound.

“Right, listen up everybody!” my boss calls out to the whole office as she stands hands on hips in front of her glass screened private office.

The office immediately goes quiet and everybody reverts their attention to her.

“I’m sure most of you have heard some rumours about a potential client that is planning to launch a new hotel here in Dalford. An important client.

“You may have also heard that he plans to visit our company as he is seeking partnership for his new business.”

“So what? How does that make him important? It’s only a hotel,” I mutter under my breath whilst rolling my eyes.

“The fact that he’s one of the wealthiest and most handsome men in this country perhaps, Felicia?

“That is if the rumours are true and she really does mean Mr. Charlton,” my colleague, Caroline whispers back to me.

My eyes enlighten for a split few seconds, but I quickly shrug off my expression and return my attention to my boss.

“Well, that rumour is not a rumour. It is the truth.

“The Charlton Group will be coming in this afternoon to look over your portfolios in search of a potential candidate to help launch a partnership together.”

“Eeeek, yaaaay!” Caroline squeals quietly next to me.

“Though they’ll only be selecting a few of you to work as part of a team.

“I can not yet confirm, but there is a possibility the man himself, Mr. Charlton, may be coming along as he happens to be in town anyway.

“With all that said, I hope I do not need to remind you that utter professionalism is essential today.

“There will be no chit chat or gossiping, focus strictly on your work and do not let our company down.

“We are not the only company the Charlton Group has or will be visiting, we can not afford to lose this client. Should anyone jeopardize that, you will be fired immediately.”

Some colleagues gasp and gossip among themselves at the threat Regina made.

“Now, carry on as you were and get back to work,” Miss. Regina, demands in her usual snobbish tone. “Oh, and Miss.

“Parks, bring those designs I requested to my office immediately,” she calls out to me before returning to her office.

The office silence lifts upon her exit but the chatter is at a minimum, quiet enough not to disturb Regina.

“Do you have your designs prepared, Felicia? You stayed pretty late last night huh? You were still here after I left an hour after our shift ended,” Caroline asks.

“Yeah, I’ve got them. Though I doubt they’ll get her approval; she’s always got something to moan about,” I say as I pick up my prepared designs.

“Well, good luck,” she teases with a grin.

I roll my eyes at her and then walk towards Miss. Regina’s office, designs propped underneath one arm. I knock lightly with the back of my hand on her glass door as I approach her office.

“Enter,” she calls out from behind the glass.

I enter, closing the door behind me and approach her desk.

“Here are the designs you requested, Miss. Regina. I hope they are what you had in mind.” I pass my designs into her hands, concerned about the opinions I’ll receive from her.

“The Emerald Jewellers new designs, correct?” she asks, staring up at me through the glasses half down the bridge of her nose.

“Yes, that is right. I’ve redesigned everything requested by the client. The logo, storefront sign, in-store catalogue book, posters, business cards and their website.”

“I see. You’re out of the office Thursday for the event planning of the Marston’s restaurant relaunch, do you have everything prepared?” she inquires as she observes my designs.

“Yes. I have an appointment with Mr. Wicks, the new owner, at 9:00 a.m. to go through the final preparations.

“They will then be put into place during the weekend, ready for the relaunch on Monday evening.”

“Good. Then I’ll expect these Emerald Jewellers designs to be printed and ready to drop off at the store on Wednesday.”

“Wait- you mean these designs? My designs? You don’t want to change anything?” I emphasize, slightly baffled that she’s impressed enough to release them as a final design.

“Yes, did I not make that clear? Oh, and I want the new designs implemented on the website by Wednesday too.”

“As in this Wednesday? Two days away?”

“Is that going to be a problem, Miss. Parks?” she asks, gazing through her glasses at me sternly.

“N-no, not at all. Consider it done.” “You may leave now, and shut the door on your way out.”

“Of course, thank you,” I reply as I gather my designs off her desk and place them back underneath my arm.

I exit the door, closing it behind me and then return to my desk. I place my designs carefully onto my desk, take my seat and let out a big sigh of both relief and stress.

Caroline notices that I’m back and rolls up in her chair next to me.

“How’d it go? That bad huh?” she laughs, peering at my designs.

“I’m not sure- she didn’t ask me to change anything, but instead insisted that I print everything ready to be dropped off to the client by Wednesday.

“Also, she wants the new designs to be implemented onto the website.”

“Wait, what? She didn’t comment or give any remarks on what to change or do differently?” Cara asks inquisitively.

“No-”

“Holy crap, Felicia, what did you do to her? Are you Regina’s new pet?” She taunts.

“Yeah, very funny. I have no idea. I’m as shocked as you are, but now also kind of stressing out about getting this all done within two days.”

“You’ll manage it, you always do. Plus, the hard work is complete now. All you have to do is let the machines do most of the work printing their catalogues and stuff.”

“That’s the easy part. The business cards, catalogues, store window and in-store posters. They only need to be printed, and the catalogues stapled.

“The website I can update at home during the night but it’s all down to the sign fitters to fit the new store sign on the day.

“It’s pretty short notice, not to mention I’ve still yet to send the sign printers company the design and have them prepare it. Dammit, I need to call Matthew right now!”

“Chill the hell out, Felicia. You know Matthew will set your design as a priority to print as soon as possible.

“Not only because you’ve known him for a few years, but because he definitely has the hots for you,” she teases.

“Oh, shut up. He does not, he’s just a nice guy who is nice to everyone.”

“Oh, and he does favours and makes everyone else a top priority too, right?” she replies sarcastically with a smirk on her face.

“I’m telling you, you’ve got it wrong,” I insist defensively, “now go away, I’ve got phone calls to make,” I say, gesturing her away with my hands.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” she chuckles whilst wheeling her chair back to her desk.

I pick up the wireless telephone and punch in the number for SignPrinters. It rings about six times when a female voice finally answers.

“Hello, SignPrinters. Amanda speaking, how may I help you?”

“Hello there, it’s Felicia Parks from Rivera Designs, would it be possible to speak to Matthew Barlow, please?”

“One moment, I’ll go check if he’s free to talk. Please hold.”

She places me on hold with the sound of Beethoven playing in my ear for about thirty seconds. The music started to relax me momentarily.

“Hello? Felicia?” Matthew’s voice interrupts as the Beethoven music stops dead.

I snap out of my daydream and answer him.

“Matthew, hey! I’m so sorry to disturb you but I have an urgent favour to ask if possible please?”

“Sure. No problem, what is it?” he asks.

“I need an outdoor store sign printed asap, today if possible and the latest by tomorrow morning.

“It’s a huge ask I know, but it’s kind of an emergency deadline I’ve got to meet and just had sprung on me. I understand if it’s too short notice, I could try somewhere else if so.”

“Consider it done. It will be ready for the sign fitters to pick up tomorrow morning or whenever they are ready. Email me the documents and designs over as soon as you can.”

“Oh my god, you are a lifesaver, thank you so much! I’ll have the documents sent over in the next half hour. Thank you again, Matthew, I owe you one.”

“You’re welcome, anytime. But as you now owe me one- how about a coffee sometime as a form of repayment?” he asks, lowering his voice as if he doesn’t want anyone on his end to hear the request.

I blush slightly on my end, thankful he can’t see me right now, and a little taken back by his request.

“Umm, sure, we could arrange that. It’s the very least that I owe you.”

“Great. Sounds perfect. I’ll email you my mobile number. Let me know when you’re free.”

“Ok, great. Thank you again, bye Matthew.”

“No problem. Take care, bye Felicia.”

I hang up the phone and place it back on it’s charging dock. I feel a little flustered but quickly get over it and get on with my errands.

It’s nearing the end of my lunch break, around 1:15 p.m. Luckily, I managed to get a booking with the sign fitters as they happened to have a cancellation.

I emailed the designs to Matthew, printed off the business cards and catalogues. All I had to do now was print off the posters and staple the printed catalogues together.

The catalogues will definitely take a few hours and most likely leave me with blistered callus hands by the end of it. Nevertheless, everything was working out smoothly and I’m still on schedule.

Packing away my food back into my handbag, I sweep the remnant crumbs of my sandwich into the bin beneath my desk. After doing so, I begin to take a sip of my bottled water.

“Holy shit, look!” Caroline squeals, nudging me in the arm and sending the water from the bottle flying everywhere.

“Jesus Cara, what the fuck?” I snap in a temper whilst water drips from my chin and onto my skirt.

“Oh crap,” she laughs. “I’m sorry, but look, he’s here!” she gushes, pointing towards Miss. Regina’s office like an excited little school girl.

As I wipe the water droplets away from my chin, I glance over at Regina’s office. I unintentionally catch a glimpse of who I can only assume is Mr. Charlton as we make eye contact briefly.

I turn away and pretend that never happened as I spam random keys on my computer’s keyboard.

That was awkward, he probably thinks I’ve been staring at him now, dammit. Though I can’t argue with how Caroline described him this morning.

He really is one of the most handsome guys I’ve ever laid my eyes on, even if it was only for a split second.

He has a strong, prominent and masculine jawline, with a nicely trimmed short stubble, very much like the typical ‘hot’ main male character of a movie.

His hair is a dark tawny brown colour, a little shorter on the sides and longer on the top where it is swept into a comb-over.

I could tell that under his suit, his body is defined, like a man who likes to keep in good shape, but not overly keen.

I wonder though, how come I’ve never heard of or seen anything about this guy?

I mean, I’ve heard some things about the Charlton Group, their hotel chains and other stuff, but I didn’t know this guy was the man behind it all.

He looks too young to be a millionaire- or a billionaire- or whatever he is.

I guess my lack of information comes from being a workaholic, keeping myself to myself, and rarely using any form of social media.

“Isn’t he just insanely gorgeous? Oh, the things I’d love for him to do to me,” Caroline says interrupting my own thoughts.

“Ew, what the hell, Cara?” I reply, repulsed as I wipe the water residue off my skirt.

“Oh come on, like you’re not thinking the same thing?”

“I’m definitely not. I hadn’t even seen him before up until now.”

“But now you are thinking about it, right? Now that you’ve seen him?”

“God, Cara, no! What is wrong with you?” I roll my eyes.I stand up from my chair, make a click on my mouse to confirm prints and begin to head towards the printers at the back of the office.

As I pass Cara, she gently grabs my arm and stops me.

“Oh look, they are coming around to check our portfolios.

“That Vincent and the other guy ain’t half bad on the eye either, are they?” she gushes, biting the corner of her bottom lip as I continue to walk past her towards the printers.

I don’t even answer her, she knows exactly what I’m thinking. That she’s a horny little devil.

Cara has never really had a proper relationship, and she tends to see several guys at the same time without them knowing. She loves partying and getting drunk too.

But other than her crazy, carefree and wild lifestyle, she’s a funny and kind-hearted girl and very much like a younger sister to me.

I usually end up helping her complete her work deadlines as she slacks so much, and give her advice on the social mayhem she creates when she asks for it.

Not that she takes the advice on board, which always makes me wonder why she bothers asking me in the first place.

Though, all in all, she’s a good person, and she makes working here a little more fun I suppose.

After approaching the printers, I proceed with printing my work and wait for the machine to do its thing.

 

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2

I’m almost done printing off the posters. They are looking great and the last two are about to come through. Once they’re done, that will be another tick off my to-do list.

As I await the last two prints, it was just my typical luck that something should go wrong. The bloody printer starts beeping at me and stops the printing process.

A message appears on the digital screen, informing me that the black ink is empty.

“Seriously? Why me? You only had two left to print, goddammit! Why is it always me that ends up replacing these damn cartilages?” I groan in annoyance.

Opening the cupboard next to the printer, I take out a new cartilage and begin to replace the old one.

I try to remove the old one from the printer which is a bit jammed and tough to pull out.

I tug it out harder than intended and some old ink splatters across the printer, onto my dusky pink blouse and lands in three spots among the fabric.

The ink quickly begins to spread out further into the polyester material, causing the spots to appear even larger.

“Shit!” I yell out louder than I thought, causing the office ambience to diminish.

I look up from my blouse and notice everyone staring at me. My cheeks immediately fluster with heat. I immediately regret my outburst now that everyone’s glaring eyes are cast on me.

But, to make the whole situation worse, Mr. Charlton’s eyes are also on me. He also happens to be at my desk with my portfolio in hand.

“Is there a problem here, Miss. Parks?” Regina asks, emerging from her office and giving me a look from hell.

“No, not all Miss. Regina. Sorry everyone for the disturbance, everything is fine here,” I respond swiftly and face back towards the printer.

As I do so, the office ambience begins to return to normal and I hear Regina re-enter her office. Why is he looking at my portfolio?

He can’t possibly have of checked everyone’s portfolios at the front already, could he?

Crap, now I need to go out and buy a new blouse. I need to leave the office to do that, but I can’t go back to my desk to retrieve my purse whilst he’s there.

Especially not after he probably thinks I was staring at him earlier.

Never mind. I’ll replace this cartilage, print my last two posters, and then hopefully he should have of moved on to my other colleagues portfolio’s by then.

He seems to be going through everyone’s portfolios quick enough anyway.

I replace the old cartilage with the new one, close the ink draw and continue printing my last two pieces.

The printer makes some clunking noises as it starts back up and then begins to print my first poster.

“Geesh finally, stupid thing,” I mutter to myself.

“These are your designs and work from this year alone, Miss. Parks?” an unfamiliar and deep male voice questions from behind me.

I turn around and see Mr. Charlton looking at me, awaiting my answer whilst holding my open portfolio.

Wow, those eyes-

His eyes almost replicate the thriving evergreen forest below Dalford mountain.

The green pine like hues represent the precious aged foliage and the infused grey ash tones reflect the Dalford mountain in the background. An alluring illusion and unusual eye colour indeed.

They highlight the features of his face perfectly, standing out in contrast with his dark tawny hair. I’m immediately drawn into them as if hypnotised and induced into a trance.

“Miss. Parks?” he asks, interrupting my gaze, prompting me for an answer.

“Y-Yes. Yes. They are from this year so far,” I reply, snapping out of my trance.

“I see. Gather your designs from every year you’ve worked here and bring them to me promptly.”

“Oh, of course, but first I need to leave to buy a new-”

“Don’t worry about your clothing. I don’t have time. You’ll receive a new outfit when we get back,” he replies as if knowing what I was going to say.

“I’m sorry, get back from where now?” I ask in confusion.

“Just do as I ask and get your portfolios now. Hurry up, I don’t have all day. I’ll meet you in Miss. Rivera’s office in a few minutes,” he concludes, walking off towards Regina’s office.

Wow. He’s got the good looks, but he definitely does not have the personality. What an arrogant prick. And what the heck was that other stuff he spoke about, anyway? Weirdo.

I walk towards the store cupboard and search for my portfolios from the last five years. Of course my box of portfolios had to be on the damn top shelf.

I reach up and get a grip on the edge of my box labelled ‘Miss. Parks’, my stilettos being no use at all.

Just as I’ve grabbed the edge and pulled it close enough to tip it downwards, I’m startled from behind.

“Psst!”

“Ouch! Shit!” I squeal in pain, rubbing my head where the box had fallen and hit me after losing my grip.

“Oh, my bad,” Caroline giggles. “Are you okay?”

She peers her head from behind the door frame and then walks towards me.

She helps me pick up my portfolios off the floor and place them back into the box.

“Jesus Cara, what the hell is wrong with you? That’s the second time today now,” I say with annoyance present in my tone whilst rubbing my head.

“Sorry Lish, didn’t mean to startle you. But did Mr. Charlton actually just talk to you? He’s got your portfolio. He didn’t even look at mine yet!” she beams with envy.

“Yeah, if you can call it that. I barely understood any part of the conversation other than to collect my portfolio history.”

“Really? Why? What else did he say?”

“That I wasn’t to leave to buy a new blouse and that I would receive a new outfit when we got back. I have no idea what he was talking about.

“What I do know though, is that he is a right arrogant weirdo.”

“Hmm yeah, that does seem a bit strange to say. Maybe he’s going to buy you a new blouse or something.”

“I doubt that. He has no reason to, why would he?”

“Don’t ask me, I’m just trying to make sense of what he said. Oh my god, you’re so lucky you got to stand next to him and talk to him though. I’m so jealous!

“Are you taking these to him now?” she asks, lifting up the box and passing it into my arms as we stand to our feet.

“Lucky? I wouldn’t say that. And yeah, he told me to take them to Regina’s office.”

“Oh my god- ok go. And make sure you tell me all the details when you come back out.”

“I doubt they’ll be anything interesting to tell, they probably just have a question about a design or something, I don’t know.

“See you soon Cara.” I exit the cupboard and walk towards Regina’s office, box in arms.

As I get to the door, I balance the heavy box in one hand to knock with my other.

“Enter, Miss. Parks.” Regina calls from behind the glass door.

Yeah, don’t bother helping me then, you idiots.

I push the door open with my back and kick it closed with my foot after entering. I enter into a room filled with cigarette smoke. Mr. Charlton is sitting on the edge of Regina’s desk.

One leg on the ground and the other leg hovering over the corner as he puffs on a cigarette. One guy he’s with is smoking too, but it’s not the Vincent guy Cara pointed out earlier.

I don’t know his name. Thinking about it though, Regina hates smokers and smoke, so why on earth hasn’t she said anything to him? And where did that ashtray on the table come from?

Did she actually go out to buy one just for his visit? I doubt he’d carry around an ashtray…

How does she know this much information about him that she was able to prepare for his visit in this much detail? An ashtray? A new Orchid flower on her desk?

Incense sticks in pots of perfume scattered all around? These are definitely new additions she’s added for today.

In the whole five years I’ve worked here, she’s never had flowers or incense things in her office. She’s too much of a minimalist.

I was too preoccupied this morning with my designs to notice these details, but they were definitely not here last week.

“Ah, Miss. Parks, there you are,” my train of thought is immediately interrupted by Regina’s voice.

“Congratulations. You are the chosen candidate to work closely with the Charlton Group on their new project, the launch of the new Charlton Hotel here in Dalford town.”

“W-wha-” I try to interfere, stunned at her words.

“I’ll have someone pack up your things from your desk, and they’ll be sent to your new residence at the Charlton Manor.”

“Woah wai-” I attempt more desperately this time, but she carries on regardless.

“We have notified the landlord of your previous tenancy. A removal team will arrive there tomorrow to pack up your things and have them sent to you at your new residence.

“The Charlton Group has paid the four weeks notice required by your landlord in full, so you need not worry about that.

“The non-essential items from your apartment will be sent to storage, as I hear everything you’ll need will already be at the Charlton residence.

“I look forward to receiving updates about your time at the Charlton manor, and if you need anything do not hesitate to ask me.

“Though, I’m sure whatever it is that you may need, Mr. Charlton himself will be able to assist you.”

“That is correct. Now, let’s go. I’ve got somewhere I need to be. Bradley, please help Miss.

“Parks with her box to the car, the driver is waiting outside,” Mr. Charlton adds, addressing the guy I didn’t know the name of earlier.

“Sure thing Ren. I’m on it,” Bradley replies.

“WAIT!” I yell out impatiently.

They all stop and glare at me. Regina tries to pass me the look she’s famous for when she’s about to raise hell, without it looking too obvious in front of the others.

“Sorry. I mean, wait a moment, please. Don’t I get a say in this? I work here at these premises, and I can continue working from this location for the Charlton Group,” I reassure.

“No, you do not get a say, Miss. Parks. It is in your contract that if under circumstances you are required to work at a different premise or location within fifty miles, you agree to do so.

“You’ve signed your contract and you must adhere to it. It is Mr. Charlton’s wishes that you relocate, and as he is the client, that is exactly what you’ll do,” she explains sharply.

“Well, what about the work I need to complete for the Emerald Jewellers by Wednesday, and my appointment at 9:00 a.m. Thursday with Mr. Wicks at the Marston restaurant?” I desperately try to bargain.

“I’ve already assigned your work progress, future work and appointments for the next month to Andrew.

“You don’t need to worry about anything other than fully committing your time and effort towards the Charlton Group for as long as this partnership will remain. Do you understand Miss. Parks?

“Or are you looking to breach your contract with Rivera Designs?” Regina smugly replies.

She’s not wrong though. That is in my contract and I did sign it. I can’t break the contract because she’ll make sure I never work at any graphic design or event planning company ever again.

Not only would I be jobless, and now homeless, I would have lost my career I worked so hard for and that would devastate me. With no other choice, I have to agree. Damn, I hate this bitch.

“No, I do not wish to break my contract with Rivera Designs. I apologize. It’s just so sudden and abrupt and I didn’t expect all these changes.

“I’ll do my best to assist and work with the Charlton Group. Sorry again,” I relent, sounding as apologetic as I can, even though I’m anything but.

In fact, I’m furious.

“Can I ask though, will the other candidates also be joining us? Who will I be working with? Will there be anyone else from Rivera Designs?” I ask curiously.

“No one. You are the only candidate. Now let’s get going before you make me late.” Mr. Charlton commands whilst walking towards Regina’s office door and exiting.

Vincent follows Mr. Charlton after not saying a word the whole time I’ve been in the room.

Bradley takes the box out of my hands and gestures me with his head to follow the men down the stairs towards the exit. I do so whilst peering at my desk before heading down the stairs.

Caroline is waving at me frantically and trying to word something through her lips among the now noisy office. Something like ‘what’s happening’ or ’where are you going?’.

I can’t tell which but I try to mime ‘I’ll tell you later’, which she must understand as she nods and gives me two thumbs up and an enthusiastic smile.

I roll my eyes once again and then head downstairs.

 

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