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Billionaire's Inheritance Bride

By:Amanda Horton

 It was supposed to be an ordinary day for Miranda Benson. The alarm  clock went off at exactly 5:30 in the morning as it always did, five  days a week. She knew if she looked out the window, the sky above would  still be shrouded in gray while the horizon beyond, or what little she  could see from the ground floor apartment, would be bathing in shades of  purple as the sun struggled to erase the remnants of the night sky.

She padded softly in worn bathroom slippers to the room next to hers.  She opened the door and grimaced as the door hinge squeaked. It sounded  like a screech in the quiet stillness and she was anxious not to rouse  the occupant in the tiny bed.

But she needn't have worried. Sadie, her 4-year old daughter, was in  deep slumber. Miranda gazed at her intently. The reddish-brown hair  spread like a curtain of ringlets around her pretty face. Her eyes  quivered slightly under the pink hue of closed eyelids as a ghost of a  smile fleeted across tiny rosy lips.

Miranda never stopped thanking the gods for Sadie. It took five years  for her and James to conceive and 48 hours of intense labor pains before  Sadie made an entrance into this world. From the moment the nurse  placed Sadie in her arms, Miranda worshipped her. It was that love that  propelled Miranda through the endless hospital visits when Sadie was  diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis, the same devotion that made her  face the challenges of antibiotics, bronchodilators, anti-inflammatory  drugs and pulmonary hygiene techniques to ease her daughter's  discomfort.

The doctor suggested that they move away from the city. Miranda was  willing, but James was adamant on staying; business was slow and he  couldn't afford the cost of relocating. As James got more entrenched in  business, Miranda was left to fend for Sadie alone. The constant  business trips put a strain into their relationship. James admitted  feeling helpless around their ailing daughter and, while Miranda took  sole responsibility in caring for Sadie, she felt a resentment brewing  inside for James, the father who was never around.

Resentment developed into coldness until there was a wall between them  so thick that Miranda didn't know where to even begin mending it. A  particularly severe bout of asthma sent her rushing with Sadie to her  parents' home far away from the city. They stayed for a couple of weeks  and when they returned, things only progressed from bad to worse between  her and James.

He started spending nights at the office, reasoning that it was easier  for him to manage the midnight deliveries of electronic equipment for  the shop. It didn't take long for Miranda to hear whispers. He was  sleeping with his business partner, a young widow who inherited a small  fortune when her husband passed away.

James was furious when she asked for a divorce; then he begged for  forgiveness and asked for a second chance. Miranda didn't know exactly  when her marriage had started to fall apart but at that very moment when  James was begging her to stay, she knew in her heart it was over.

The divorce was ugly. James wanted sole custody of their daughter,  claiming Miranda didn't have the means to care for her. Miranda  threatened to divulge his affair in court. The last two years were hard  on Miranda; being a solo parent always was. But, seeing her daughter  sleeping peacefully, looking so serene and well, she knew she was doing  something right.

Working as a secretary at Masterson Conglomerate, Miranda was part of a  pool of secretaries that helped the company executives with their  clerical needs. She expected her two year temporary tenure to eventually  lead to the job of a private secretary at the main office.

The girls in her department referred to themselves as ladies-in-waiting,  always wondering where their next assignment would take them. They had a  common dream: to work at H.Q. where all the top executives held office.

Miranda sighed as she stroked her daughter's cheek. She kissed Sadie on  the forehead. "I love you, baby girl," she whispered tenderly, before  returning to her bedroom to change for work. Mrs. Tanner, her next door  neighbor, would be knocking any time soon. Miranda was thankful for the  elderly lady who volunteered to look after Sadie while she was at work.  That, and for the fact that Sadie hadn't suffered any asthma attacks  since moving here.

She kissed Sadie and bid Mrs. Tanner goodbye. The city bus had dropped  her off two blocks away from work when she felt her cell phone buzz. She  groped inside her purse for the phone and read the text message.         

     



 

"Call me." It was from James.

"What the fuck? You need something and I am supposed to call you?" She  ignored the message with annoyance and plopped the unit back into her  purse.

She entered the building and headed to her desk when she noticed a  familiar figure. "My day is headed for Shitsville," Miranda concluded.  Bob Norton, a co-worker who had been desperately trying to date her for  months, hovered nearby. He refused to take no for an answer and seemed  flabbergasted by her unrelenting refusal. It didn't help that the other  girls fawned over him. Bob thought he was God's gift to women and took  every opportunity to make Miranda realize her loss.

Miranda scuttled to her desk; she felt safer with the table between  them. Bob had a nasty habit of standing too close for comfort. He  thought it was sexy. Miranda thought it was nauseating.

"Have you heard the news?" he whispered conspiratorially into her ear.

Miranda felt her skin crawl, like someone had run a fingernail across a chalkboard.

"What news Bob?" she asked politely. "Does HQ need our services?"

"You wish," Bob replied, "there are talks that the memo will come today."

"What memo?" Miranda asked.

"That I'm dating someone from HQ..." Bob hoped to get a reaction with  that joke. Miranda's expression remained uninterested. He continued,  "The Company is cutting back on the number of secretaries and some of us  will be losing our jobs."

Miranda was taken aback. Talks like that have been rife for months but  nothing ever happened. "It's just gossip … " Miranda replied, even as  panic filled her chest.

Just then, Mrs. Mason, the supervisor, entered the building. Bob  scurried back to his table. Ann Mason ran the pool with an iron hand and  discouraged gossip. She was strict with the motley crew. Today she  seemed anxious and ignored everyone as she made her way to her cubicle.  Miranda wondered why she looked so distracted.

When the bombshell exploded, Miranda understood why.

Mrs. Mason called everyone to a meeting. The supervisor waited for the  commotion to die down, cleared her throat, and announced, "As you all  know, there have been talks about cutting down the number of secretaries  working for the company. A new directive has been given to the  executives, for them to write their own letters and memos, cutting down  the need for clerical services."

Ann Mason couldn't look the girls in the eye, "This," holding up a memo,  "contains the names that will be cut. Everyone on the list is entitled  to goodwill money worth three months salary."

She tacked the paper to the bulletin board, grabbed her purse, and made a  beeline for the exit. Eerie silence followed her departure, as though  the memo contained a death sentence. No one dared see the reality  written on the piece of paper.

"Fuck it!" One of the girls exclaimed, grabbing the memo from the board. A ruckus of voices egged her to read out the names.

It sounded like a roll call of death. Each name was met with a groan,  nervous laughter, an expletive, or incredulity. Bob winced as his name  was read. Miranda cocked an ear as the roll call continued, "The last  one to get the honor of being sacked … Miranda Benson."

Wooden legs carried Miranda back to her desk. She felt cold inside. The  harsh reality of her situation hit like a ton of bricks. She couldn't  afford to get fired. What were her chances of landing another job that  had potential? She'd probably end up serving coffee or waiting tables.

The persistent ringing of her cell penetrated her numbed brain. "Hello," she answered, cautiously avoiding the caller ID.

"Miranda, this is James."

"Swell!" Not exactly the person she wanted to talk to right now.

She summoned a degree of civility, "Yes James?"

"I was texting you all morning, but I guess you were busy."

"Not busy. Just didn't want to have anything to do with you," said a wayward thought.

"Well … " James continued, "I just wanted to let you know. I'm getting married again."

"Who's the lucky lady?" Miranda mused, unable to keep the sarcasm away.  Then it struck her, "Oh you mean to the merry widow, your business  partner. Congratulations. You two deserve each other."         

     



 

"Mimi, please don't be that way."

Miranda cringed at the sound of him saying her pet name, as though they didn't go through a nasty divorce.

"I'm sorry," Miranda answered, striving for peaceful ground, "But I do mean it. I hope you'll be happy together."

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