Empire of Hate (Empire #3) by Rina Kent
The thought is chased away from my head when he rounds his desk, then leans against it, his legs crossed at the ankles as he faces me.
He seems to be waiting for something, but I’m not sure what, so I ask, “Do you need anything?”
“Your brain, Ms. Adler, or did you leave that at home this morning?”
I grind the back of my teeth, then I breathe in copious intakes of air. “If you tell me what you need, I’ll get right to it.”
“What else would I need from you other than taking notes of what I want to be done?”
“Oh, sure.” I retrieve the tablet HR gave me from my bag and have barely opened the notes app when he starts speaking in rapid-fire.
“I need my coffee from Dolcezza at eight a.m. sharp. Black with exactly one gram of sugar. Then, you’ll go through my schedule and recheck with clients about their availability. You’ll remind me of my domestic court dates and book the phone calls with international clients. If there’s a flight, you’ll book it beforehand and send me constant reminders about it. My lunch should be picked up from Katerina’s at twelve thirty. My dry cleaning should be put in my flat at three p.m. Then you’ll manage the schedule of when I’m playing golf with the mayor and other influential figures. Always keep your phone with you in case I text you for something urgent—that includes nighttime.”
I’m breathing heavily from the onslaught of information. My fingers ache from typing all his instructions and I hope to hell I didn’t miss anything.
The last bit he says throws me off and I look up. I wish I hadn’t because he’s staring at me like a hawk who’s zeroing in on his prey. It’s almost like he enjoyed seeing me sweat and scramble to write it all down.
Clearing my throat, I ask, “Nighttime?”
“We work on international clients’ schedules, who, if you brought your brain with you, you’ll realize are in different time zones than us. If that will pose a problem, you know where the door is.”
Damn this jerk. He’s been trying to get me fired since the moment I walked into his office. But he doesn’t know how desperate I am or how much I need this.
He can show me his worst and I still won’t back down.
“I was only asking for clarification. I’m fine with it.”
I just need to make sure I keep my phone on vibration mode so as not to disturb Jay.
“Not that it matters.” He lifts his haughty, straight nose in the air as if I’m beneath looking at. “Needless to say, I don’t tolerate mistakes. Miss a chore and you’re out. Mess up and you’re also out. Are we clear?”
“It’s yes, sir.”
I bite the inside of my cheek so hard, I’m surprised no blood explodes in my mouth.
“Are you daft or bad at following instructions, Ms. Adler?”
“No, sir. Now, say it.” There’s a challenge in his tone, coupled with a strange gleam in his eyes. It’s nothing bright or shiny like the Daniel I know.
This one is sadistic, glinting with only one intention.
But screw him.
If he thinks my pride will stop me from stooping low, then he doesn’t know how much of a thick skin I’ve grown over the years.
“No, sir,” I say with a coolness I don’t feel.
“That’s how you’ll address me from now on. Are we clear?”
“You have a voice, use it.”
“Yes, sir.” The last word gets stuck in my throat, no matter how much I try to swallow past it.
The jerk must find pleasure in making me feel as small as a dead fly stuck to the sole of his shoe.
But it doesn’t matter. I went through worse for Jay, and I can do this, too, if I put my mind to it.
Daniel can be the worst boss to ever exist, but I won’t break.
Not after I’ve come this far.
“Now get out and do your job.” He doesn’t even spare me a glance as he turns around and walks to the window of his office that overlooks New York City.
For a second, only a second, I stand there and watch the hard ridges of his back. I watch how his jacket creases at the contours of his wide shoulders as he places a hand in his pocket.
I’m not even looking at his face, but the mere image of him turned away from me fills me with a sense of trepidation.
It’s the invisible line again. The knowledge that he’d never see me.
“Are your legs nonfunctioning, too? Or is it your ears?” he says without facing me.
“No,” I say, then quickly blurt, “sir.”
“Then why the fuck aren’t you leaving? You should’ve been out of here thirty seconds ago.”
I give an awkward nod that he doesn’t see, then I walk to the door. Every step is like dragging a mountain with each leg.
My fingers are sweaty on the tablet and a slight tremor takes refuge in my limbs.
It’s as if it takes superhuman power to step out of his office without somehow melting in the process.
When I reach my desk in the space that’s in front of his door, I throw my weight on the chair and hold my head between my hands.
I lost a few years of my lifespan in there, and the worst part is that it’s only the beginning.
The worst part is that what’s coming will probably be worse than what’s gone.
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