FLIRTING WITH THE CEO
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Alexa Manrique has been trying to move on from her relationship with Lance Salcedo for five years, but she had difficulty doing so. The person walked away from her at a moment when she most desperately needed him. When she was sent to interview the Salcedo Group's new CEO, their paths crossed again, and fate brought them together once more. Ethan Salcedo, the former CEO, stepped down to focus on his wife's company, the Vera Group of Companies. Initially, she was adamantly opposed to the project. However, she had a flash of inspiration about how she might take advantage of the situation to confront the jerk and get retribution for her heartbreaking loss of innocence. Unfortunately, she falls prey to his seductive powers once again. Their relationship was idyllic until Alexa realized that her employer, Ivan Montreal, was hell-bent on ruining Lance Salcedo.
After five years, I couldn’t believe that I returned to Green Town, a community with five-star hotels, luxurious apartments, and condo units. When it comes to the hospitality industry, Green Town has everything! The Green Town also has a casino and a yacht club, and of course, it has a resort with crystal blue waters and fine white sands from accommodation to food and drinks.
Of course, not everyone can enter Green Town. It’s exclusive to people with money and influence. My boss has to sell his soul to the devil to get an appointment with the new CEO of Salcedo Group, Mr. Lance Salcedo.
The Green Town, which was established on the outskirts of a busy district, was a true example of a modern metropolis. In addition to its appeal, it was set against a background of ever-clear sky, which has shaped the city.
Since the overwhelming majority of buildings have been constructed with many glass and light features to mirror the blue sky's aesthetics.
A great deal of attention has been drawn to Green Town because of its excellent recreational facilities. Countless cultures have left their stamp on international relations and the community's character as a result of their presence.
Hundreds of cafés, ethnic restaurants, and pubs provided a wealth of gastronomic options. At the same time, those who were looking for something different may go sightseeing, participate in sports activities, or visit art galleries.
Perhaps, if it were accessible to everybody, I would see many people loitering in the streets or in front of the building used as headquarter for Salcedo Group.
A deep sigh escaped from my lips when I entered the office of Mr. Lance Salcedo. I couldn’t help but become nervous about our first meeting after the breakup. It has been five years, but my chest felt tight as I recalled the event of that night.
“Do you anticipate a seductively attractive secretary with a voluptuous physique behind this desk?”
I was stunned at the secretary’s question because I wasn’t expecting a seductively attractive secretary with a voluptuous figure but rather an older woman in a navy suit with white hair and red lips. The man’s haughty tone was insulting and slightly degrading!
”Good morning. I have an appointment with Mr. Lance Salcedo,” I informed him after ignoring his baseless rant.
“Your name please?” He asked.
“It’s Alexa Manrique, sir.”
Suddenly, he stopped checking his scheduler and stared at me for a moment. “You are pretty,” he announced, and I just smiled. It was unexpected!
“Thank you,” I replied. “Is he already in?”
“My boss is not here,” he answered.
“What do you mean? I was supposed to meet him today,” I told him.
“He took a few days off, Miss Manrique. Is it urgent?”
“Yes, of course!”
The man checked his wristwatch and said, “I think you can manage to catch up with him if you are fast enough. He’s probably on his way now to the yacht club,” he announced.
“Are you authorized to tell me about his location?” I inquired.
“Yes, he ordered me to tell you. Good luck, Miss Manrique,” he smiled mysteriously, but I had no time to dwell on it. “He is not a patient man, so you should move quickly,” he added.
“Many thanks; I'm going right now.”
I hurried up to the elevator and took a quick peek at my wristwatch. I was in panic mode so I ran toward the parking lot, and as soon as I got inside my car, I drove like a maniac.
It was reckless, but I have to meet him before someone else would take my job!
“Are you looking for someone?”
I was startled when someone tried to converse with me as soon as I arrived at the yacht club. “By any chance, did you see Mr. Lance Salcedo pass by?”
“Yes,” he answered briefly before adding, “You must be Alexa!”
I studied his appearance after he mentioned my name casually, but I didn’t recognize him. “Do you know me?”
“No, but Mr. Salcedo instructed me to take you to the island. Oh my, he described you perfectly!”
I rolled my eyes at him because I knew that he was only trying to flirt with me. “Do you think I will fall to your tricks? Nice try, mister!” I glared at him before walking away, but he grabbed my wrists. “Excuse me, sir, but you’re hurting me!” I complained.
“I’m sorry, Miss Alexa. I should have chosen my words correctly,” he apologized.
“Alright. How can I trust you?”
“You can call his secretary,” he suggested.
A few minutes later, I was grateful that the weather cooperated with our journey to Isla de Salcedo. Everything within the boat spoke of money, a lot of money, and I was unsure if it was part of the Green Town’s asset or the new CEO's personal property.
“I hope you don't mind, but who owns this yacht?” I enquired about the guy in his Hawaiian shirt, which was totally unbuttoned and exposed a good deal of his tanned skin, particularly around his chest and down to his flat belly. He raised his thick brows as he noticed I was staring at his toned figure.
“It is mine,” he said emphatically.
I believed it belonged to Lance Salcedo, but I was incorrect! “Ah, this boat is for hire?” I thought it was rented since he did not attempt to claim it as his own while ferrying me to Isla de Salcedo.
“No, but my brother informed me that I was obligated to escort you there. How do you know him?” He inquired while his gaze traveled over every inch of my body, inflicting a sense of violation on me.
I’ve seen Mr. Ethan Salcedo on several occasions along with his wife, the heir of Vera Group, but the man before me looked different. “Perhaps, are you illegitimate?” I knew it was insensitive to ask, but he didn’t look familiar!
“Yes,” he answered without any hesitation. “And you must be special to be allowed on the island,” he added with pure malice.
I clenched my fingers over my chest and locked my gaze on the guy who had undoubtedly thought the worst of me. “I am not a slut if that’s what you are thinking at the moment,” I informed him.
“You're defensive, Miss.” He answered before leaving me alone. When he returned, he brought bottled water and gave it to me. “Stay hydrated,” he advised.
I was thirsty, but I was afraid to drink it. It’s just too risky!
“Could you tell me when we will arrive in Isla de Salcedo?” I enquired because he made me feel nervous.
“Do not fear; I will not harm you, or Lance will kill me.”
I couldn't let go of my guard, despite his assurances that I would be secure with him. “I am not scared, sir.” I lied.
“If you feel unsafe with Lance later on, just phone me, and I'll come to pick you up.”
“Do you think he will hurt a woman?”
”Sometimes, he has an uncontrolled impulse to hurt people,” he replied.
“You must be joking!” When he reported that the new CEO of Salcedo Group was aggressive, I refused to trust his judgment.
“Confirm it for yourself, Miss,” he said. “There is it!” He said excitedly while pointing his finger to a distance.
“What?” I inquired.
“His island,” he replied.
I creased my brow while trying to check the island, but all I could see was a lengthy boardwalk leading to a red-roofed bungalow.
“From here, you'll jump and swim all the way to the boardwalk or the villa, whatever is most convenient for you,” he announced.
I was speechless! “Are you serious?” I asked him because I couldn’t swim at all.
“Did I scare you, Miss Alexa? I was only kidding,” he said.
“You should not have made that diving joke!” I reprimanded him, and he laughed.
“Do you have an aversion to the ocean?” He mocked me about my fragility, and I was frightened he'd push me into the sea as he grew closer.
“Stop!” I shouted at him.
”Hey, I'm not going to hurt you!” He yelled back.
The last sentence astounded me since it was identical to the words Lance said into my ears the first time we made love, and yet he did it.
I assessed the distance between my position on the deck and the ocean, then observed something had been put between the boat and the boardwalk for walking.
“Hmmm, alright,” I said as I followed him, and then I saw that there were other people on the yacht. I didn’t see them earlier! “I thought you and I were the only ones aboard the yacht.”
“That is absurd! I do not sail without my crews,” he replied.
He strolled with me until we reached the boardwalk, where he said his last farewells. “Are you interested in accompanying me to the house?”
“Miss, he dislikes crowds. Have a wonderful time!” He stepped out and made his way back to his sailboat. He waved his hand at me from the top deck and signaled with a hand motion that he was just a phone call away.
I flashed him a warm grin as I began my stroll down the boardwalk to the villa. Lance became even more enigmatic due to the details I got from his brother, Liam Salcedo. If I had known, he wasn't at the workplace, I would not have worn high-heeled shoes on a private island! My blisters from the long trek were troubling me, and I desired to sit down immediately.
From the exterior, the bungalow seemed to be magnificent. It was made of red bricks and decorated with mahogany-colored wooden ornamentation. Small, half-rounded windows light up the home and put it in an asymmetrical design to give it a more modern feel. The structure was built in the form of an L. The expansion continued onto a covered patio that wrapped about half of the home and provided additional living space. Decorative black ceramic tiles were used to cover the low, rounded roof of this building. Grass surrounded the home and the plot, with a large tree in the middle and shrubs on each side of the home.
I crossed my fingers and waited for someone to answer the door before pressing the doorbell. My eyes wandered to the doorknob as someone from within the villa turned it, and I prepared myself for the first time to see him.
Slowly, the door opened, and a grin formed on my lips. I saw his strong hand grasping the doorknob first, and as my sight shifted to his face, I stopped breathing and gazed at him.
“Lance...” I yelled out his name. He seemed puzzled to find me in his doorway, but his uncertainty was nothing compared to the astonishment I felt when I recognized the guy I had met five years before.
“What brings you here?”
He questioned my purpose for coming, which was not what I anticipated from him on our first encounter in a long time.
My heart bled as the agony he'd inflicted poured through my veins, and I felt driven to scratch his eyes. He remained the same callous guy who abandoned me in the middle of the night and forced me to walk a mile to the jeepney stop.
I stepped back, my head shaking with shock. “I'm sorry, but I can’t do this.”
I could look into his eyes; it was wrong.
I believed I could handle it with ease and professionalism; it was also wrong.
“You’re already here,” he replied with indifference in his voice.
“I can always go back where I came from,” I replied as I took my phone to call Liam Salcedo. When Liam did not answer the phone, I strolled away from his home and towards the boardwalk, mentally calculating the number of blisters my feet would have to endure...again.
“Alexa, stop!” When he called, I came to a full halt.
When I heard his voice calling out to me, I paused in the center of the boardwalk, completely pinned in place by his words. I shook my head to clear my brain of the haze that had come over me after seeing him for the second time and attempted to collect my thoughts. Because I was under stress, I persuaded myself to put my personal grievances toward the guy aside and focus on my job.
I breathed deeply and gently turned around to face him, concentrating on my grin the whole time. “You have no clue how shocked I am to know that I’m going to work with you, sir. Please accept my apologies for my previous actions.” I tried to be disinterested, but when he returned my grin, I was having such a difficult time keeping my heart under control that I had to clear my throat.
“I understand what you're going through, and I sympathize with your emotions,” he said, and I rolled my eyes at his praises. “By the way, you look amazing,” he added.
Was it necessary for him to use th
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