Under the Milky Way – part 2

Storm Westlake is beginning to wonder if she’s in over her head. She’s just been given the promotion of a lifetime and is THE fixer for the legendary Shine Clan. Late for her first major event, she takes her place at the head table.

Storm realized that one of the lesser businessmen was staring at her, sizing her up. He wore a simple beige suit. His brown hair was cut neatly over his ears, his green eyes penetrating.

A small shiver ran up and down her spine as her eyes met his. This was a man to contend with, a real player, despite his lesser status. Her professional eye examined him automatically, failing to categorize him as quickly as she could the others.

He worked hard for a living. She could see the lines of stress and worry on his face. He wasn’t rich, but he had ambition or he wouldn’t be here. He carried himself like a fighter, but had the manners of a corporate head. A bit rough around the edges, perhaps, though certainly well mannered.

Feeling her eyes on him, he regarded her calmly, a slight smile playing at the corners of his full lips. His eyes held a message she didn’t dare interpret. Danger lurked behind those green eyes and that smile. She’d have to be careful, he could read her as well as she read him, perhaps better.

“Storm, what’s up with you?” Sophie yanked at her arm. “It’s almost time. Pay attention! You have to introduce him!”

“Who?”

“Your boss! The man who pays you.”

“Sorry.” She stood awkwardly, smoothing her dress, her fingers gliding over the shiny surface.

A spotlight found her, holding her entranced for a moment as she collected her thoughts. She had a speech ready in order to introduce Ralph, the man who had financed this entire operation. His face, as yet unknown by most of the people in this room, was about to cross outer space between Earth and the Crystal Palace space station.

The orbiting space station was now home to his newest enterprise, fronted by Boone, run by the Shine Clan. And she, Storm Westlake, was to be Ralph’s voice.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce the man who made all this possible. Most of you know him only by reputation, a few by name. Fewer still have the honor of knowing him personally. Of those, only a handful have the privilege of calling him a friend. And only two of us here are able to call him family. I now present to you, my employer, clansman and friend, Ralph of the Shine Clan.”

She started the applause. Most clapped politely, but those at the head table clapped with loud, happy enthusiasm. The spotlight winked out, leaving her sun dazzled in the gathering darkness. While she spoke, curtains parted across from her, revealing an eight by ten foot screen.

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