Found in You

Found in You: Page 18

A lot was accomplished within a relatively short amount of time."

"If by a lot was accomplished you mean I can barely walk, then yes, you're correct." I'd never had sex in a moving vehicle before, and considering my rigid seatbelt safety policy, it hadn't ever occurred to me that it would be something I'd want to do. Hudson, however, made everything seem like something I'd want to do, when it involved him anyway. And the man's skills in the bedroom apparently carried to the backseats of cars as well, his expert techniques and positions making me come without ever having to unbuckle.

We walked along a pathway to the atrium where dinner was being served buffet-style. Around us, the pleasant smells and aromas of the fresh outdoors overcame me, putting me in a relaxed mood that was impossible to achieve in the hustle and bustle of the city. It was amazing that such a place existed so close to the chaos of NYC.

"What is this event for anyway?"

"It's sponsored by CotF," Hudson answered. "Children of the Future. They're a foundation that provides resources for foster children. This event is a thank you for those who have donated."

"And how much have you donated?" It truly interested me the causes Hudson contributed to.

"Not how much, what."

I looked at him questioningly.

"I donated a school."

Holy shit. A whole school. Of course he did.

"And several scholarships on top of that. I came tonight to meet the new principal. I want the foundation's Board of Directors to realize that though I'm not hands-on with their program, I'm still around."

I shivered at his hint at omnipotence. It was the same way he handled all his business, I was finding. He left things in capable hands, yet was never too far away for things to go unnoticed. Hopefully, he trusted me enough to not notice everything going on at The Sky Launch. Like, who I was making deals with for events.

God, I had to stop dwelling on that. Hudson wouldn't find out. It would be fine.

I grabbed a glass of wine off a server's tray as he passed and downed half of it, grateful for the instant buzz.

Hudson kept his arm around me as he greeted people at the buffet. He'd told me once that he never ate at these things and now I understood why. He was too popular to ever pick up any food. I decided to wait to eat with him later, nodding and smiling as he introduced me and made small talk. But, having never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, I was also eager to explore. So when a new associate came by to say hello, I excused myself politely.

"One moment." Hudson put a finger up to pause the balding man he was speaking with. To me he said, "Alayna, you're welcome to stay."

My heart thumped loud enough I feared he'd hear it. It had been difficult for Hudson to let me in on his business dealings and inviting me to participate was a big step.

"Thank you, but I want to catch the sights before the sun sets." I squeezed his hand. "Unless you need me-"

"No." Though there was a trace of need in his tone. Need like I felt for him every minute of every day-the unquenchable desire to always be near him. "I simply want you to be comfortable. Let me introduce you before you leave. Alayna, this is Aaron Trent. Aaron, this is my girlfriend, Alayna Withers. Perhaps of more interest to you, she's also my promotions manager at The Sky Launch."

I stepped forward to take Aaron's hand.

Aaron's grip was strong, though nothing compared to Hudson's. "Nice to meet you." His greeting was dismissive and he quickly dropped my hand, turning his attention to Hudson. "The Sky Launch? I'd heard you were giving the place a makeover."

"I'm not. Alayna is."

"Great," Aaron said, but his focus stayed on Hudson. "I'd love to chat sometime about what my team could do for you."

Hudson gestured to me. "Alayna's your woman. I'm sure she'd be happy to meet with you. Alayna, Aaron owns an advertising firm. His company is quite excellent. We've used his services many times."

A surge of giddiness shot through me as I understood why Hudson had wanted me to stay. "Ah, Trent Advertising. I didn't realize you were that Trent." They were a hard firm to get in with. Hudson introducing me could be a big coup for me. If we were alone, I would have shown Hudson just how much I appreciated the connection.

Finally, Aaron turned to me. "Ms., uh..."

"Withers," Hudson filled in for him.

"Yes, Ms. Withers. Sorry, I've never been good with names."

No, you simply weren't interested in me until you realized I could give you something.

I decided to make it easy for the man. "Mr. Trent, I'd love to meet with you. Should I call your office to set something up?"

"I'd love to stop by the club when it's open, check things out so I can come up with some ideas for a campaign."

"How about tomorrow evening?" Hudson asked.

I deflated momentarily at the thought of spending a Friday evening away from Hudson. But, he was right in his suggestion. Friday was a great night to see the club at its best.

Aaron appeared as if he also regretted giving up a Friday night. But who could say no to Hudson Pierce? "Sure."

"We open at nine, but if you can come by around, say eight-thirty, we could talk a bit before it gets crazy." Good thing I had my business plan already outlined. Otherwise I'd have to pull an all-nighter to be prepared.

Aaron agreed to the time and then began discussing campaign ideas with Hudson. Feeling like a third wheel, I excused myself again, and left to wander.

I made my way first to the Shakespeare Garden with a second glass of champagne in hand, stopping here and there to admire the unusual plants, their fragrances mixing and lying heavily in the sweltering June air. From there, I journeyed through the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Astounded by the tranquil beauty in the rolling landscape, I found a bench to sit on and enjoy the view as dusk fell as I sipped on my beverage.

Now and then, other guests passed, and eventually a man in a navy suit showed up accompanied by an older gentleman with salt-and-pepper hair that matched his silver three-piece. They lingered over the pond and in the quiet gardens, their conversation drifting over to me.

"The deal closed Monday?" the navy suit asked. "Unfucking believable. You're a lucky son-of-a-bitch, you know that?"

I closed my eyes, hoping to close out the conversation that was in stark contrast to the serenity of the environment. But then, a familiar word caused my ears to perk.

"...Plexis wasn't something he wanted to let go. Had to fight him tooth and nail." It was the older guy speaking now, speaking about Hudson's beloved company that he'd fought to keep from being sold by his shareholders, but lost. "Fortunately, the rest of the board was not on Pierce's side."

This guy must work for the corporation that bought Plexis out from under Hudson.

"So what are your plans now?" the younger guy echoed my internal questions.

"With Plexis? Well, there's a lot of money in it if we break it up and sell off the pieces."

My stomach fell with the salt-and-pepper's admission. It was exactly what Hudson had been afraid would happen. It would mean a lot of jobs lost.

"But we're not discounting the idea of reselling it as a whole." The older man turned toward the younger, eyebrow raised. "If we had a good offer."

"Oh, are you expecting me to offer?" Navy suit guy took a step back. "Don't get me wrong, I'd love to get my hands on Plexis, but I don't have that sort of money right now."

"Just thought I'd put the bug in your ear. In case."

The men resumed walking the path, the older one smiling at me as he passed.

I waited until they were several feet away before I shot up from the bench and headed off in the opposite direction, back toward Hudson. This was his chance to get Plexis back, to turn it into the company he'd envisioned it could be. I'd even helped him work out some preliminary ideas on how to make it profitable. I was as excited as I hoped Hudson would be, knew he would be.

It took a bit of searching before I spotted Hudson in the Cherry Esplanade. He was conversing with a striking auburn-haired woman, maybe a little older than me. An unexpected knot of jealousy formed in my gut, and I had to keep myself from running to his side.

He saw me as I approached, his eyes beaming with a fondness that made the knot loosen. "Alayna."

The way my name slid off his tongue-it never failed to make me dizzy.

Hudson turned to the woman who I could now see was definitely older than me, perhaps by ten years. "Please meet my girlfriend, Alayna Withers. She's running the promotional division of one of my nightclubs."

The woman introduced herself before Hudson had a chance. "Hi. Norma Anders." Her focus went right back to Hudson. "I hadn't realized you were seeing anyone, Hudson."

"We've been private. Her wishes, not mine." Hudson's lie tickled me. "But I've finally convinced her we should tell everyone."

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