twice a year with his managers in a nonwork environment. “We’re discussing intrusion prevention, network access control, and threat response products.” He’d winked. “Very sexy stuff.”
Daniela showed zero interest in the subject, which was not unusual. Actually, Kyle had yet to find a girl who showed any genuine interest in his job—although many of them were plenty captivated by the penthouse and Mercedes SLS AMG it afforded him.
“But if I’d
you, it wouldn’t have been a surprise.” Daniela pouted. “Can’t you skip it? What will your father do? Ground you for not going to some boring meeting with a bunch of computer nerds?”
Not surprisingly, that comment hadn’t gone over so well with Kyle.
Perhaps their conversations were getting lost in translation, or maybe she truly didn’t care. But Daniela had never seemed to grasp that his job at Rhodes Corporation was a
position. Not to toot his own horn, but he was a shining star at the company—and it wasn’t because he was the boss’s son. He was, simply, just that good at what he did.
Nine years ago, Kyle had had his reasons—very private, personal reasons—for dropping out of his PhD program and joining Rhodes Corporation, but the reason he’d stayed at the company for so long was because of the work experience. In his industry, there was no better man to learn from than Grey Rhodes—the billion-dollar empire he’d built from the ground up was concrete proof of that.
That being said, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. His father may have been CEO of the company, but Kyle was in charge of network security and insisted on autonomy: he ran his department the way he wanted. True, every now and then he and his father butted heads and stepped on each other’s toes…well, actually, that happened a lot. But they were professionals, and they worked through it the same way any other CEO and executive VP would work through their issues. His father respected his opinions and had come to see Kyle as his right-hand man.
The problem was, Kyle didn’t want to be the right-hand man anymore. He was good, he was ready, and he was driven. But at Rhodes Corporation, there could only be one man at the top. And that spot was taken.
He had ideas. Plans for the future that likely did not match up with those of his father. And the time to put those plans into motion was quickly coming.
That evening, he and Daniela had argued over her comment for almost an hour. In the end, however, Kyle had tried to make amends. She had flown into Chicago to surprise him, after all. He didn’t want to spend the entire night fighting, especially since they wouldn’t see each other for a couple weeks.
“I’ll tell you what,” he’d said, putting his arms around her and pulling her closer. “I’ll pick up a bottle of champagne on my way home from dinner. We can have a private celebration when I get back.”
“Aw, babe, you tempt me,” she’d said, kissing his cheekaffectionately. “But I feel like…what’s the expression? Living it up tonight. I think I’ll give Janelle a call. She’s in Chicago for a shoot with Macy’s. You remember Janelle, don’t you? You met in New York that night we had drinks at the Boom Boom Room…” her voice trailed off as she strolled into his bathroom, toting her enormous makeup bag.
That night, Daniela didn’t get back to Kyle’s place until five a.m., only a half hour before he normally woke up to go for his daily run. She let herself into his place with the key he’d given her and passed out cold on his bed, on top of the sheets and snoring, with her Christian Louboutins still on. Kyle didn’t bother to wake her, and she was gone, having left for L.A., by the time he came home from work.
That was probably the second sign of trouble.
He didn’t hear from Daniela for the next four days. At first, he assumed she was busy with the music video shoot, but when she didn’t return any of his calls or text messages, he