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The Most Eligible Bachelor Bella Winters 2022/7/22 14:15:20

“I had my phone off,” I replied, standing up and beginning to pace across the porch.

“No, shit!” Alice countered. “I could tell. I called your mother, and she said you hadn’t arrived yet.”

“You called my mother?”

“I needed to reach you,” Alice explained.

“The point of me leaving was that I couldn’t be reached,” I said. “That’s why I turned off the phone.” I stopped. “Wait, what’s so urgent that you had to call my mother? And why is everybody wishing me a speedy recovery?”

“We’ve got a big problem, Chance,” Alice said. “I have no idea where you are right now, but you need to haul ass back here.”

“It’s Dennis!” Alice hissed.

“He’s got everyone thinking that you’re on drugs, and the reason you left was because you had checked yourself into some kind of rehab.”

The messages suddenly made a lot of sense. Why Dennis had done it, though, I had no idea. I remembered stressing on the fact that I didn’t want anyone to bother me while I was away or even know I was sick, but this was a little bit of a stretch. He could have just told everyone I was away on business.

“It’s all over the news, too,” Alice said. “Someone leaked this nonsense to the press, and they’re really running with it. You’ve been a television sensation since last night.”

I frowned. What the hell?

“I don’t get it,” I said. “Why would Dennis do that?”

“Why? Really?” Alice scoffed. “Seriously, for a man who runs a multi-billion dollar company, you can be thick as a brick sometimes.”

“For a woman who is still on my payroll and hopefully wants to remain that way, you really need to learn boundaries,” I shot back, angry at the tone, and even angrier at how confused I was by all this.

“Okay, well here’s the shit you’re in,” she said. “Your so-called best friend has called an urgent board meeting to discuss the implications of your ‘drug problem’ on Ridder Technology. On the agenda? A vote as to whether or not you’re suitable to run this company anymore.”

“What?” I shouted, feeling every muscle in body tense. A sudden burst of rage exploded inside me. “That’s my company!”

“Yeah, but the board decides who runs it, remember?” Alice said. “Get back to Austin, Chance. Dennis is screwing you. He’s trying to take over as CEO.”

“I’m on my way,” I said. My chest started to ache, but I ignored it.

I hung up and fought the urge to throw the phone against the wall. Christ, did I need a cigarette and a drink. I couldn’t believe Dennis would do this to me. After everything we’d been through together, after all that I had done for him, and he was taking the first chance that I was away to try and steal the company from right under my feet.

Of course he could, if he had the support of the fucking board, who was not that happy with me at the moment. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for it to happen. If that fucker thought he could mess with what I built, he had another thing coming. I was already thinking up different ways to rip him apart once I laid my hands on him. Not only that, but he was slandering my name, too.

I clenched the phone in my hand and went back inside, making my way to the kitchen while trying to think of what to tell Ashlyn. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw my face on the small television sitting on the kitchen table.

Ashlyn turned to look at me, the tears in her eyes barely masking the anger that flamed behind them.

The sound of her shouting made me cringe, and although I had been trying to calm her down for the past ten minutes, there was no breaking through the wall of rage that shrouded her. I would have had better luck talking to a log.

“That’s not entirely true,” I argued, trying to keep my voice down in hopes she’d do the same. It wasn’t working so far.

“How is it not true?” she yelled. “You told me you were on fucking sabbatical. You never told me you were a drug addict! Did you run away from rehab or something? Oh Christ, is the law after you?”