After seeing Julia to her door, Nick whistled all the way up the elevator, almost bouncing like a little boy, as he made his way to his pent house. He expected Pete to ambush him by the door in his usual manner, after he had gone missing for a couple of hours but his assistant turn friend wasn’t there.
As he stepped into his pent house, he came face to face with his mother, Mrs. Sophia Adden with a stern look on her face and hands on her hips, like a mother bear waiting to fight off a tiger.
“Mother!!” he exclaimed “You gave me quite a scare. What are you doing here? How did you get in?”
“I had help from Pete” she replied angrily.
He looked behind his mother and saw Pete curled up on a sofa like a whipped dog. He didn’t need to be convinced that there was trouble.
“What are you doing here, mother?”
“I am here to put an end to you parade of foolishness” she replied, even angrier than before, as she raised her tablet a little too close to his eyes.
Nick adjusted his head to avoid been blinded by the light before taking if off her grip. As he starred at the tablet, he saw a picture of himself and Julia, which appeared to have been taken earlier today, while he took a walk with Julia at the beach. The photo didn’t clearly show it was Nick because the hat and glasses he wore covered his face, but anyone who knew his physique would recognize him in a heartbeat. The bloggers had gone an extra mile to place the photo side by side with a photo from a shoot he had done when he first started handling the reins of the Adden Corporation.
“Can you read out the headline?” Mrs Adden said.
“New Adden Boss Caught in a Secret Affair with random Hotel Guests?” Nick read out with scorn. “This is ridiculously unbelievable. Who came up with this?” he said as he tossed the tablet on a nearby sofa.
“Ridiculous is an understatement.” Mrs Adden spat. “You are at the beginning of a scandal and you are bothered about who came up with it? Who’s that little gold digger? What were you thinking when you have been gallivanting around this resort with low lives? Just even look at the way you were dressed…like a peasant chasing after other peasants. Do you plan on handing this company over to your Uncle on a platter of gold? What is wrong with you?” She added angrily.
“Don’t you think you are over blowing this issue? I can easily say I am not the person in that photo.” Nick said, as he sat on a sofa. His pleasant evening was gradually turning into an unpleasant one.
“This is something our P.R people can easily handle, right?” He said to Pete.
“Yes sir.” Pete replied in a shaky voice. “We just need to….”
“Just keep quiet” Mrs Adden interrupted, raising her hand to Pete.
“Oh you think it’s that easy?” Mrs Adden turned to Nick “Your uncle is making plans to call a secret board meeting after the weekend. What do you think is the agenda of the meeting? How about the tramp you were gawking at foolishly in that photo? Any lowlife can spit rubbish, once a few hundreds of thousands are tossed at her feet…”
“Come off it, Mother!” Nick cut her short. “You talk to me as if I am a child? Julia is a responsible lady. She is not a tramp.”
Mrs Adden let out a little laugh.
“Julia is it? And you have known her for what? Two days? Three days?” There was sarcasm in her tone. “What do you know about this ‘responsible Julia’, asides her name? Do you know she’s a journalist? Is that the sort of person you want around you?”
“And what’s wrong about being a Journalist? Did you come here to monitor my life or to help? We should be talking about the meeting Uncle Graham is planning and how to fix this…this dirt without fueling a scandal.”
Mrs Adden took a seat and sipped on the wine she was having before Nick came in.
“If you read the blog post further, they made it look like you are sneaking around the resort, chasing after half naked women at the beach.” Pete stepped in. “You need to make a public appearance and straighten up the rumors for a start. Let the media know you are here and not sneaking around your own resort.” Pete added.
“And how does that solve the issue? Don’t you think it would be better to make a press statement to debunk this disgusting headline?” Nick asked.
“And are they entirely wrong?” Mrs Adden asked, but her question got no response.
“In my experience sir, such topics are better left unanswered” Pete said. “A response will give bloggers more strings to pull, which will further fuel the rumor. A public appearance is the deal move for now. We can start from there.”
“Really smart, Pete.” Mrs Adden nodded at Pete. “As for your Uncle, we won’t let him have a clue that we know of his plans. I have a plan of my own.”
‘Care to share?” Nick asked.
“Whatever his strategy is, it will be geared towards unseating you as the CEO and he will need the board to vote for it. His plan will always pull through, if he can individually convince a larger percentage of the board that you are incompetent. There’s a 25% secret shares in the Adden stock. The owners have been silent for years. Although I haven’t been able to find out who owns 10% of it but I know who owns 15% of it.” She sipped on her wine again.
“The entire board has been hoping the owners will show up and take their seats at the board now that father is no more, but no one showed up. Who owns the 15%?” Nick leaned forward with interest.
“It belongs to me.” She said with a smile. “Your father and I kept it a secret for times of emergency like a dispute that wasn’t in his favor or a hostile takeover.”
“That’s really brilliant. But what if Uncle Graham locates the owners of the remaining 15%” Nick asked again.