Chapter 33 : Cherchez La Femme

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Raul's POV

"So that's that," Carmen Elizondo says, her fingertips tapping lightly on the conference table. "Now that the question of Raul Marin's position at the company is put to rest, Saldana has a last-minute item to add to the agenda. Nothing will be formalized today, but I think you'll want to hear it."

We're only twenty minutes into the board meeting because it didn't take long to resolve the issue of my staying on as CEO. I take a moment to silently congratulate Kate and myself for my masterful handling of this problem. I'm looking forward to celebrating this victory with her tonight. I can cook her something. There won't be enough time to make ropa vieja — maybe arroz con pollo?

I sigh. Right, Nicolas Saldana seems to be about to drop a bombshell. Not that he's implying it as such, but I know the man. He takes every opportunity to make trouble. He looks so nervous, though. I wonder why.

"I see no reason to object," I say evenly.

"Me neither," Oscar Perdomo says, looking around. Everyone else nods their assent.

"Gracias," Saldana says. "I won't beat around the bush. I'm selling my interests in the company."

I narrow my eyes. "To whom?" I say.

"I'm glad you asked." He nods at the secretary, who gets up and heads toward the door. "I think you'll be very pleased with this development, Raul."

Knowing the man the way I do, I have no doubt it means something painful. I take a deep breath. "We don't invite outsiders to these meetings, Señor Saldana. Not without prior approval from the board and we don't do that without good cause."

"I think we can make an exception just this once," Tia Carmen says. She looks amused. "I for one am quite curious."

Some of the others shrug. No one objects until Tina Osorio raises her pen. "I see you're all going to agree to this, so I'd just like to register my objection."

"That is noted, Señora Osorio," Tia Sylvia says, nodding at the secretary tasked with taking meeting notes.

The double doors of the conference room sweep open and Gigi walks in.

"What the hell is going on?" I demand.

"Hello to you too, Señor Marin," she says, eyes twinkling.

"I think most of you know Señorita Guillerma Ramirez?" Saldana says, getting up. "We're in the process of selling her my shares, so she'll be taking my place on the board in a week or so."

"Have a seat, Ms. Ramirez," Tia Carmen says, looking even more amused now. "I must say this is a pleasant surprise."

"Thank you, Tia," Gigi says, smiling brightly. She saunters over to the seat beside Saldana. Her soft white suit — a soft white double-lapel slashed cropped jacket and asymmetric mini skirt — looks far too stylish for the office. "I'm looking forward to being a part of the Marin-Elizondo family."

I feel the gaze of the other directors on me. Clenching my teeth, I try to keep my expression neutral. "You know, of course, that the board will have to approve of this first."

"Honestly, Raul," Saldana says, annoying me even more with his use of my first name. "What reason do you — or anyone else here, for that matter — have to object?"

"I'm not saying I have any objections," I say. "Just reminding Señorita Ramirez of how things are going down."

"I appreciate that, Señor Marin," Gigi says. She turns to look at the other directors. "I leave my fate in your hands."

***

Raul's POV

"You know something," I say, pacing across the carpet in front of my desk. "Now is a good time to tell me."

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