Merger By Matrimony

By: Cathy Williams

‘Suitable for what?’ she resumed, as soon as they were in the back of the car.

Derek coughed apologetically. ‘Suitable for the board meeting you’ll be attending tomorrow afternoon.’

‘Board meeting? Me? Attending?’ She spoke four languages, had taught any number of subjects over the years, and knew more about medicine and how to deliver it than most doctors, yet the thought of a board meeting was enough to send her into a panic attack. She was only twenty-six! She shouldn’t be here!

‘Well, perhaps board meeting is a bit of an overstatement…the directors just want to meet you, actually…’

‘Can’t you go? Or perhaps tell them that I’m ill? Jet lag…?’ She could feel her heart lurching about inside her and had to take deep breaths. Inoculation, delivering babies, tending to the ill seemed a faraway excursion to Paradise.

Derek swept past her objections with practised ease. ‘Their futures are at stake. Naturally they want to meet the person now in charge of the show…’ He cleared his throat and she looked at him, aware that some other piece of not quite so innocuous information was about to come.

‘There’s also one other person I feel I ought to mention…’

‘What other person…?’

‘I’m sure you’ll be able to handle him…’ His voice failed to live up to any corresponding conviction.

‘Handle him? Is he violent?’

At which Derek allowed himself to chuckle. ‘Not violent, my dear girl. Not in the sense you think. His name’s Callum Ross…his name crops up in the Company Report I left for you…’

‘Sorry, I fell asleep on the plane.’

‘He’s…how to describe him?…he’s a household name over here in the world of high finance and business. Quite a legend, in fact. He’s managed to accumulate quite a number of companies in a remarkably short space of time…’ He sighed and nervously patted his receding hair. ‘The man’s quite formidable, Destiny. Some have even described him as ruthless.’ His expression conveyed the impression that he included himself in this number. ‘When he wants something, he’s reputed to go after it, no holds barred.’

‘I’ve met types like that,’ Destiny said slowly.

‘Have you? Really?’

‘Yes. They live in the jungle and they’re called cougars. They don’t hesitate to go for the kill.’

Derek didn’t smile as she might have expected. Instead he nodded and said musingly, ‘It’s a more fitting description than you might think… At any rate, Callum Ross has wanted your uncle’s company for some time now, if gossip in the City is to be believed, and he was very nearly there. Papers had been drawn up, waiting for the signature of your uncle—who had the poor timing to die before he could validate anything. He’s engaged to—well…you could say your stepcousin…’

‘I have a cousin?’ She felt a sudden flare of excitement at the thought of that.

‘No. Not quite. Your uncle was married four times. Stephanie White was the daughter of his most recent ex-wife by her previous marriage. Stephanie’s surname became Felt at the time when her mother married your uncle. At any rate, she has some shares in the company, along with the directors, but the majority of the shares are now under your control. What I’m saying, Destiny, is that Callum Ross badly wants what is essentially your company now. He’s seen his opportunity slip away from him through a blow of chance and he’s going to be a very disappointed man. Disappointed enough to be a thorn in your side.’

‘I don’t understand any of this.’ She hadn’t been following the progress of the car, but she was now aware that they were pulling up outside a gated crescent. A guard approached them, nodded at something Derek held out for him to see, and the impressive black wrought-iron gates smoothly glided open, like a pair of arms stretching out to reveal a tantalising secret. ‘All these people! I just…’

‘Want to go home…?’

She nodded mutely at him, dully taking in what she knew, without really having to be told, was an expensive clutch of houses. They curled in a semi-circular formation around a small, impeccably manicured patch of green. All white, all three storeys tall, all sporting black doors and tidy front gardens sectioned off with more black wrought-iron gates. A few cars were parked here and there and they were all of the same ilk as the one she was currently in. Sleek, long and shiny. She felt a little ill at the sight of all the structured precision.

‘You can’t. At least not quite yet. Not until the business with the company is sorted out once and for all.’

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