For Bennett, the plan was simple. Hire a girl to pretend to be his girlfriend, keep the facade up for six months, stage a break-up, and then claim he was too heartbroken to move on. Hed seen it in a million dramas, he could handle it. For Henley, t…

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Mr. Calloway, wake up. Your mother would like to speak to you.

I lifted my head up from my desk and stared blearily at Henry, who was standing in front of my desk, his cell phone in hand. My mother? Suddenly more alert, I straightened and cleared my throat. Why didnt she call me first?

He quickly muted his phone. I think she knows you wouldnt answer.

No. She says she has something to tell you.

I hesitated. Had she already found out Id changed the locks? Or maybe the security cameras were finally shut off and shed found out about it? Begrudgingly, I took the phone from Henry and unmuted it. Yes, Mother?

Did you finish your work for the day?

I glanced at the pile of paperwork on my desk: plans for new locations, ideas for new promotions, severance plans for the one employee that got fired in California, a paper requesting an updated OSHA certification, a payroll incident our accountant wanted me to double check on. And God knows what else was under of the mess of papers that I hadnt got to yet.

Did you hear about California

The earthquake or the employee being fired? I heard both, I cut her off, feeling a headache coming on.

They had the lowest KPI of all our hotels. Have you called them to talk about it yet?

I glared at Henry, who held up his hands defensively. This was why I didnt answer my mothers phone calls. Why should we tell them something they already know? Theyre probably already stressed about it

I will do it then. Youre obviously feeling sympathetic toward them, even though theyre causing damage to our company.

I curled my free hand into a fist. Fine. Please go right ahead and handle it yourself. Is that all? I have work to do.

Thats not the reason I called you. Michelangelos is your favorite restaurant correct? she asked needlessly. She knew everything about my life whether I wanted to her or not. Be there at eight oclock sharp tomorrow. Dress nicely.

Why? I asked warily. If it was another meeting with an old, balding company head I swear to God

The daughter of Cecil Castrilli would like to meet you, so Ive set up a date with you for her. This is a good chance to get on her familys good side. Dont mess it up.

A date? I said. I have agirlfriend

No you dont. You have a girl whom you are dating, who I havent even approved of.

And there will be no problem with you meeting Cecils daughter. You will be there at eight oclock. You will not cancel on her. You will treat her properly and ask for a second date at the end of the night.

I resisted the urge to hurl my phone across the room. Shed set me up on a date? This wasnt part of our deal.

You said you wanted time to date more on your own. You didnt say I couldnt suggest people.

Whats wrong with Henley? I demanded.

If you want me to point out a problem, I could start with her attitude.

What attitude? You met her once and I have no doubts you said more than a few rude things to her

Im not asking you to marry this girl. Im just asking you to go on a date with her, my mother snapped into the phone. You can keep dating your other girl, but ultimately I will see who is suitable for the company.