Courage (Billionaire Secrets Series, #3)(6)

By: Lexy Timms

“So, you think she’s innocent now?” Everett frowned. “That’s not what you thought yesterday. Yesterday you were convinced of her guilt. What’s changed?”

“You heard her yourself,” Simon replied. “There are now other leads. Other suspects.”

“Yes, but she’s still the most convincing suspect we have for this crime,” one of the board members interrupted. “Wouldn’t it be foolish to keep her on if she turns out to be a spy?”

He realized he was losing the room. Appealing to reason or compassion wasn’t going to work. The board members only cared about themselves. Simon had no interest in corporate politics, but it was obvious that only self-preservation was going to sway them now. “It might end up being foolish to fire her.”

“How so?” Everett asked.

“Heather mentioned it herself earlier,” Simon replied. “She wasn’t given a chance to respond to the charges, and the police were immediately called. If it turns out that she is innocent, she’ll have the perfect grounds to sue us for wrongful termination.”

Everett paused. “Firing her might have far worse consequences than keeping her on.”

“But we can’t just let her stay on if there’s a cloud hanging over her,” another board member pointed out. “What would the rest of the staff think?”

“Some of them would resent it,” Simon admitted. “But the rest might approve of us trying to figure out the truth.”

“Simon, I’m going to have to ask you to step outside and wait while the rest of the board deliberates,” Everett said.

Simon narrowed his eyes, suspicious that Everett was trying to freeze him out of this. He couldn’t allow that to happen. “What? Why?”

“Because you’re too close to this,” Everett replied. “If your assistant does turn out to be the spy, she’ll have managed to pull it off through you. Look, I don’t want to bring up your private life, but we have to face facts. You’re too biased. Your input on your assistant’s continued employment at Dover would be far too unethical.”

Urgency made his heart hammer in his chest. Everything Everett said was true, but if Simon didn’t have a say in the board’s decision then he had no way of protecting Heather. “I can set aside my biases if that’s what it takes.”

“You can’t,” Everett said, his tone disapproving. “If you care about protecting Dover from a lawsuit like you say you do, the worst thing you can do is be a part of this decision-making process.”

His insides churned as the truth of Everett’s words hit him. As desperate as he was to protect Heather, there was no way he could help make this decision. After they’d first been intimate, he had made sure that he no longer had the power to evaluate Heather’s work and decide if she stayed beyond her initial three months. Which meant that deciding her fate now would be completely unfair.

It pained him to leave her vulnerable to the board, but his conscience would never allow him to do otherwise.

Simon got to his feet and nodded in Everett’s direction. “You’re right.”

“I know you’ve always tried to be fair,” Everett murmured. “We’ll keep that in mind while we deliberate.”

“Thank you,” he said with a grim nod.

He stepped out of the conference room and found Heather sitting in the waiting area nearby.

“Have they made a decision already?” Heather asked, her voice shrill with panic.

“No,” he said. “The board just wanted to make a decision without me. It appears it would be unethical for me to help them make a decision about your employment.”

She tilted her head and adjusted the glasses perched primly on her nose. “Why?”

“Because of our... situation.” He cleared his throat when her eyes went wide. “We had a personal relationship beyond our work at Dover, and that means I’m biased. I wouldn’t intend to be biased, but that doesn’t change anything.”

Color bloomed in her cheeks and she let out a shaky breath. “Right. That.”

The silence that followed was almost unbearable. There was so much he wanted to say to her, but she had made herself more than clear yesterday. She was obviously still angry, and he didn’t blame her. Part of him hoped that, if he gave her some space and a chance to cool off, she’d let him in again. Forgive him and give them another chance.