Monday, December 10, 2007

Trading Hearts Pt. 14

Trading Hearts is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons in coincidental. Photo courtesy of

Michael squeezed his eyes shut, silently cursing his rotten luck. If ever there was a moment he wished the floor would open up and swallow him, it was now.

His day had started pleasantly enough, treating Tasha to breakfast in bed ahead of what he knew would be a hectic day for her. His good mood had changed when Brian invited him to a meeting with Matthew Sealy and Jasmine Taylor.

As he sat and listened to the group’s plan to gain control of the Taylor’s land, he found himself becoming angrier and angrier. The odd thing was, once upon a time Brian’s ploy would have made perfect sense. But not now, and certainly not once the Taylor family was involved.

Brian explained that with Frank Taylor forced to sell his house and land to pay out his sister, King Properties would be in the wings waiting to scoop them up, and was willing to offer Frank more than twice the sum he would normally receive. Consideration would also be given to relocating the family to one of the company's villas until the Taylors finalised their new living arrangements. Despite his earlier protests, Frank would be a fool not to accept the proposal.

Michael objected vehemently to the plan, and focused the brunt of his wrath on Brian, who had approved the letter sent to the Taylors without his knowledge. He reserved a few choice words for Natasha’s aunt as well; he couldn’t believe Jasmine could so easily shaft her own family for a buck. Determined to tell Natasha the truth before the situation got even more out of control, he was shocked to find his girlfriend waiting in Matthew Sealy’s ante-room.

“Tasha, I can explain,” he began, his heart plunging when he saw the hurt look forming on her face.

“I can’t wait to hear, because I’m jumping to all kinds of conclusions right now,” she retorted tightly.

The group moved aside wordlessly as she stalked into Matthew’s office and stood at the head of his conference table, her arms folded defiantly.

Brian grabbed Michael’s shoulder before he could return to the office. “Do you want me to stick around, or...?”

Michael glared at his friend. “No, I think you’ve done enough for the day. I’ll do my own damage-control, if you don’t mind.”

Brian lowered his head, ashamed. “I did what I had to do, Alan. Left to you this project would fall apart, and all over some woman.”

“Not some woman, my woman,” Michael countered hotly. “And you should be the last to talk. Jasmine Taylor has you whipped already.”

He headed into the next room, where Jasmine and Matthew were already seated. He stood silently in the doorway and watched as Natasha slapped a white envelope on the large mahogany table.

“I came down here to ask Matthew what the hell he was thinking sending us this letter, but since you’re here I can get it straight from the horse’s mouth,” she said, staring coldly at her aunt.

Jasmine sucked her teeth. “That wasn’t addressed to you, Natasha. Why you always trying to get into big people’s business?”

Matthew laid a restraining hand on his client. “Natasha, I could get security to escort you out of here since you barged in uninvited. State your case before I change my mind.”

It took all of Natasha’s self control not to slap his self-righteous face. “I had to come, Aunt Jasmine, because your brother took one look at this letter and had a heart attack.”

Across the room, Michael groaned in dismay, and even Matthew’s composure fell.

Jasmine turned a stricken face to her niece. “Oh my God! Is he going to be alright?”

“As if you give a f**k!” Natasha hissed. “I thought you’d be happy, because with him out of the picture you’re one step closer to getting what you want!”

“Look…,” Jasmine began to protest, but her niece cut her short.

“No, you look,” Natasha retorted, leaning over the table. “The only reason I haven’t snatched that weave out of your head is because I know you didn’t think up this ridiculous scheme. You may be a money-grubbing bi*ch, but I wouldn’t label you as conniving.”

Jasmine rose stiffly. “I don’t have to stay hear and listen to these insults. If you have anything else to say to me, speak to my lawyer.”

As the older woman marched out of the room, Natasha turned a scornful look on Matthew. “Well, you must be happy. If you wanted to hurt me, you succeeded.”

He leaned back in his chair, regarding her smugly. “Who says this has anything to do with you? You think way too much of yourself, Tasha.”

“I know you. I made something of myself instead of falling apart when you dumped me for Eve Whittaker, and you resent me for that.”

He snorted. “Whatever. Anyway, I see you landed on your feet in a big way.”

Before she could find out what he meant by that remark, Michael broke in. “Sealy, I need to talk to Natasha. Alone.”

Matthew sat up, startled. “Sure, Mr. King.”

He hastened out of the room and Natasha stared at Michael incredulously. “What did he just call you?”

Michael took a deep breath. “Babe, we need to talk.”

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