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Damn, I’m not supposed to fall in love…
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I was being interviewed for a puff piece article when Bart came barreling into my office. His eyes looked wild, and sweat slicked his brow. Something was seriously wrong.
Bart had been with my company longer than I had, and he’d always been rock-solid in a crisis. For him to be this worked up, the world must be ending.
He looked like he was about to speak until he saw the reporter sitting in front of my desk. Bart stopped short, and his jaw clenched so tightly I thought his teeth might shatter.
Allison, the reporter for the Houston Star, was here to ask me some questions about this year’s Most Eligible Bachelor article. She mostly worked on non-news stories like this, but like any half-decent journalist, she could smell when there was blood in the water.
Her eyes danced back and forth between Bart’s face and mine. She couldn’t hide the intense interest in her gaze. It was time to end this interview before she started asking real questions.
I flashed her my billion-dollar smile and stood up from my desk. “I hate to cut our interview short, Allison. But I need to have a word with Mr. Burrows.”
Allison’s shoulders drooped and her brow furrowed, but she snapped her notebook shut and gathered her things without protest. She’d been around the block enough times to know when to leave.
“I understand,” she said. “Can’t keep the president of the company waiting. Thank you for your time, Mr. Perkins. We’ll reschedule.”
She shook my hand firmly and swept from the room, shutting the door behind her without being asked to do so.
I turned my attention fully on Bart. He was my right-hand man and my strongest supporter, but I’d never seen him wearing an expression quite like this one. Not when we’d found out the shit that my father had caused. Not when his ex-wife had filed for divorce. Not even when she’d taken his kids and moved to the other side of the country.
“What is it?” I asked, my razor-sharp gaze focused firmly on him.
His beefy body collapsed into one of the chairs across from the hulking expanse of my desk.
“There was an accident on one of the oil rigs. People are hurt. We’re waiting for the preliminary report on what caused it, but there seems to have been some kind of explosion.”
The hairs on the back of my neck rose, and my veins turned to ice. “How long until we get the report?”
“A couple of hours at most.” Beads of sweat dotted his forehead and his coloring was off, but I couldn’t blame him for that.
Incidents at oil rigs are comparable to plane crashes: they occur rarely, but when they do, they have the potential to kill people, cost the company millions of dollars, and spark calls for increased safety measures.
“Do we know how bad the injuries are yet?” It felt like there was a vice grip around my heart. If there were any deaths, I would feel personally responsible.
I started pacing around the office, trying to relieve the ball of stress settling in my stomach. It had already been a long week, but they were all long weeks. They always had been, ever since I took over the company from my father. But nothing like this had ever happened on my watch before.
A catastrophe of this scale had the potential to damage this company irreparably. It might seem callous for me to be thinking about the company at a time like this, but as much as my heart went out to the people impacted by this accident, I had thousands of other employees who still needed a job after all this. Those people and their families were counting on me, too.
Bart dabbed at his sweaty brow with a handkerchief. “We don’t have any official injury reports yet, but they’ll be coming in soon. All I know right now is that it’s bad.”
Armed with the preliminary report and no answers to the questions it contained, I headed for the boardroom down the hall from my office. My board of directors were gathered there to wait for an update.
I started speaking as soon as I strode through the wide double doors, even if I didn’t know what to think about what I had read only minutes before. “Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here on such short notice. Please be seated.”
They sank into their seats as I lowered into mine. “Let me start by saying that it is true that there was an explosion on one of our rigs earlier today. I have reviewed the report myself, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It doesn’t look good.”
I wished for a second that I had a pin that I could drop, to confirm my belief that you’d be able to hear it. But there was no pin, and no time for an experiment anyway.