“Come here, Mr. Hill.” Edie called me over to her.
“When did I become Mr. Hill?” I asked my father’s long-time secretary.
“When you became the head man in charge. Now, let me fix your tie.”
I stood still as she adjusted my tie. It was a ritual of ours. Anytime she saw me she needed to adjust something. Whether it was my tie, fuzz on my jacket or an out of place hair. I looked at Edie as a second mother. I was so glad I was inheriting her. Though I had an office I never had a regular assistant due to my consistent traveling.
“You ready for this kid?” Edie walked with me to the large conference room.
“I don’t think I have a choice. I’m just glad you’ll be my right-hand gal now.”
Edie stopped and looked at me. “Eason there’s-“
“Eason! There you are.” My father’s booming voice came from the door of the conference room.
“Of course, Dad. You said you needed me here. So, I’m here.”
“Perfect. Make sure you sit next to me. Today is one of my proudest days.” He placed his arm around my shoulders.
“That I made a board meeting? That’s a pretty low bar.” I laughed as I followed him into the bustling conference room.
“You’ll understand soon enough.” He left me to mingle with a few of the board members.
I took my seat and found my two brothers were already there. Wilder had an arrogant smile on his face. Kai, my youngest brother, had his face in his phone. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he didn’t realize he was at a board meeting. The chatter continued around the table until my father found his way to his seat. A tense feeling came over me. Could I really do what my father wanted?
“Good morning everyone.” My father began. “I hope all of you are doing well. Thank you all for coming on such short notice. I don’t anticipate this to be a long meeting. However, I have some important items I need to share.” The tension in the room could have been cut with a knife. I looked over my shoulder to Edie and gave her a smile. She had a strange look on her face and avoided my look.
“Without any more fanfare, I am here to tell you that I plan on retiring as of Monday.”
A murmuring went around the table.
“I’ve chosen Eason as my successor. With his ability to bring in a diverse amount of business I know he will take Hill Incorporated to the next level. However, not only will I be retiring but our beloved Edie will be also.”
I snapped my head to him. “What?”
My father gave me a quelling look then smiled back at the board. “To make things official, we need a vote. All those in favor raise your hand.”
I didn’t pay attention to the vote. My safety net was leaving along with my father. Fear I hadn’t felt in years made my blood freeze. What the hell was I going to do?
“It’s unanimous.” Father declared. His hand landed on my shoulder jerking my attention back to the issue at hand. “Eason Miller Hill will be the new President and CEO of Hill Incorporated.”
Clapping filled the conference room. I looked at the smiling faces that had more faith in me than I did. Standing from my seat, I put a hand around my father’s shoulders and acted like this was exactly what I wanted. In my head, I was riding free on my ranch in Wyoming. That thought alone brought me a sense of calm that I needed to get through the meeting.
“You’re retiring too?” I asked Edie at her desk.
“I’m sorry, Eason. It’s just that when your father told me he was leaving I felt like that was my cue to retire and spend some much-needed time with my family. I have a new grandbaby that I want to cuddle. I think I’m going to start there.”
“I can’t say I’m not disappointed that you won’t be my right hand but I’m happy for you, Edie. You deserve it.” Bending down I gave her a hug.
“You bet she does. Eason please come in here.” My father called from inside his office.
“I better go. Don’t be a stranger. I’d be willing to let you up to the office if you felt like you would be willing to drop off some of your fantastic baking.”
Edie winked. “I just might do that.”
I left Edie to her packing and went into my father’s office. Shutting the door behind me, I approached his desk.
“Are you happy, Eason?”
“Yes. Are you happy with my decision?”
“I’m glad you’re retiring. I think it’s well deserved.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about. Are you happy to be the man in charge now?”
I stared at my father. The idea of being honest and telling him that it scared the shit out of me wasn’t something I think he wanted to hear. But, other words wouldn’t form anything else that would be believable.
“Your silence says everything, Eason. Look, I know you enjoy traveling and spending time on your ranch. That doesn’t need to stop. In this day and age, you can have both you just need to find the balance. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Yes.” No. I had no idea how I’d do anything that he just made sound so easy.
“Good. I know you are the right man for this position. I’ve got even more good news for you.”
“They’ve already found you an assistant. She sounds more than capable. If she’s half as good as I’ve been told she will be better than Edie.” My father smiled then said softly, “Don’t tell her that though.”
I laughed. “You’re secret is safe with me.”
“Alright, you better go start packing up your office. The next week is going to be a doosy and starting Monday morning the helm is all yours.”
Nodding I walked to the door.
“You’ve got this.”
I left the office with conflicted feelings. What I needed in that moment was a stiff drink. When I entered the elevator that would take me down to my office, I sent out a text to my brothers.
Me: I need a drink
Kai: I’m there.
Wilder: Of course you do.
Kai: Where are we going?
Wilder: Shit. I haven’t been there in ages.
Kai: Love Jake’s. The chicks are always hot there.
Me: Jake’s it is. I’ll see you there at 6.