An Heiress For His Empire(8)

By: Lucy Monroe

Another spate of conversation, this time quieter.

“Thank you, Mr. Bellingham.”

Madison tucked her phone back into her purse and faced her father, her expression daring him to ask what she’d done.

Jeremy remained stubbornly silent, or maybe he was in too much shock to react. He had to realize the likely content of those papers, or maybe he didn’t.

Maybe Jeremy Archer was under the mistaken impression that Archer International Holdings was important enough to his daughter that she would not do what Viktor was almost positive she had done.

“What do the papers say?” Viktor asked, unwilling to make decisions based on assumptions.

“As you know, because of the financial deal Grandfather Madison made with Jeremy upon his marriage to my mother, the Madison Trust holds twenty-five percent of the privately held shares in Archer International Holdings.”

“Those shares are your heritage,” Jeremy said.

“Romi is my friend.”

“So you gave her some of your shares?” Viktor asked with no real hope it could be that simple.

“If Mr. Grayson’s company is under threat from AIH or any company remotely affiliated with it, at one minute past midnight on my twenty-fifth birthday, all of those shares will be signed over to Harry Grayson personally. Not his company.”

“You cannot do that!”

“I can.” Madison looked more like her father in that moment than at any other time Viktor had known her.

“And if his company is not under threat?” Viktor asked, suspecting that Jeremy’s calling his daughter’s threat had precipitated some kind of permanent action on her part.

“Half of my shares will be signed over to Romi.”

Jeremy stood up, his face flushing with color, his eyes narrowed in fury. “You will not sign those papers.”

“I will.” Conversely, Madison relaxed back into her chair. “You had your chance to take my friend’s happiness off the table as a negotiating point, but you refused to take it.”

“That’s insane,” Steven Whitley said, speaking up for the first time since his introduction to Madison. “Even half of your shares are valued at tens of millions.”

“Romi won’t have to worry about her drunk of a father ruining her life, will she?” Madison asked her father, as if he’d been the one to bring up the point of the shares’ value.

Jeremy slammed his hand on the table. “I am not ruining your life, Madison, you’ve done a fair job of that yourself.”

“No, I haven’t, but I don’t expect you to believe me.”

“You are not giving away twelve and a half percent of my company!”

Viktor didn’t know if Jeremy realized he’d just effectively taken the third prong of his threats off the table. No way was he going to allow Harry Grayson Sr. to own twenty-five percent of AIH.

Jeremy and Madison were too much alike. Both would go to extreme measures for what was most important to them. The problem was that while Madison was very important to Jeremy, she did not believe it and Jeremy was willfully blind to what Madison needed from him.

Beyond that Archer International Holdings came first with Jeremy, and the people she cared about came first with Madison. Right now, those two priorities were in direct conflict.

Things were going to go completely pear-shaped if Viktor didn’t take control.

“Sit down, Jeremy,” Viktor instructed the older man in a tone that was respectful, but firm.

With a glare for his daughter, Jeremy returned to his seat.

“This meeting has derailed and I believe it is time to regroup.”

Jeremy nodded.

Viktor stood and straightened his suit jacket before walking around the table and offering his hand to Madison. “Come with me.”

“What are you doing, Viktor?” Jeremy asked, his expression considering.

The man knew that AIH sat near the top of Viktor’s priority list, too. The company was the conduit for his own plans and no chance was he starting over because of the father-daughter issues of its owner.

“Madison and I have some things to discuss.”

Steven frowned at him. “You are not the only candidate, you know. This contract was offered to four of us.”

“I am the only one who matters.”

An infinitesimal quirk of his boss’s mouth said he knew that was true, but he said, “I believe that is up to Madison.”

The lady in question made a sound of disparagement. “Right. If the decision is mine to make, I assume it’s to be from the men you included in this meeting. One of whom was already engaged, another is old enough to be my father with a history of failed marriages and the other a complete stranger. And then there is Viktor.”