Taken Over by the Billionaire

By: Miranda Lee

CHAPTER ONE

MURPHY’S LAW STATED that if anything could possibly go wrong, then eventually it would.

Jess did not subscribe to this theory, despite the fact that her surname was Murphy. But her father was a firm believer. Whenever anything annoying or frustrating happened, such as a flat tyre when he was driving a bride to her wedding—Joe owned a hire-car business—then he blamed it on Murphy’s Law: bad weather at the weekends; down-turns in the stock market. Recently, he’d even blamed the defeat of his favourite football team in the grand final on Murphy’s Law.

Admittedly, her dad was somewhat superstitious by nature.

Unlike her father, Jess’s view of unfortunate events was way more rational. Things happened, not because a perverse twist of fate was just waiting to spoil things for you without rhyme or reason, but because of something someone had done or not done. Flat tyres and stock-market crashes didn’t just happen. There was always a logical reason.

Jess didn’t blame Murphy’s Law for her boyfriend suddenly having decided last month that he no longer wanted to drive around Australia with her, having opted instead to go backpacking around the whole, stupid world for the next year! With a mate of his, would you believe? Never mind that she’d just gone into hock to buy a brand-new four-wheel drive for their romantic road trip together. Or that she’d started thinking he might be Mr Right. The truth, once she’d calmed down long enough to face it, was that Colin had caught the travel bug and obviously wasn’t ready to settle down just yet. He still loved her—he claimed—and had asked her to wait for him.

Naturally, she’d told him what he could do with that idea!

Neither had Jess blamed Murphy’s Law for recently having lost her much-loved part-time job at a local fashion boutique. She knew exactly why she’d been let go. Some cash-rich American company had bought up the Fab Fashions chain for a bargain price—Fab Fashions was in financial difficulties—and had then sent over some bigwig who had threatened the managers of all the stores that, if they didn’t show a profit by the end of the year, all the retail outlets would be closed down in favour of online shopping. Hence the trimming of staff.

Actually, Helen hadn’t wanted to let her go. Jess was an excellent salesgirl. But it was either her or Lily, who was a single mother who really needed her job, whereas Jess didn’t. Jess had a full-time job during the week working at Murphy’s Hire Car. She’d only taken the weekend job at Fab Fashions because she was mad about fashion and wanted to learn as much as she could about the industry, with a plan one day to open her own boutique or online store. So of course, under the circumstances, she couldn’t let Helen fire poor Lily.

But she’d seethed for days over the greed of this American company. Not to mention the stupidity. Why hadn’t this idiot they’d sent over found out why Fab Fashions wasn’t making a profit? She could have told him. But, no, that would have taken some intelligence. And time!

Before she’d been let go last weekend, she’d asked Helen if she knew the name of this idiot, and she’d been told he was a Mr De Silva. Mr Benjamin De Silva. Some searching on the Internet just this morning had revealed a news item outlining the takeover of several Australian companies—including Fab Fashions—by De Silva & Associates, a private equity firm based in New York. When she looked up De Silva & Associates, Jess discovered that the major partner and CEO was Morgan De Silva, who was sixty-five years old and had been on the Forbes rich list for yonks. Which meant he was a billionaire. He was divorced—surprise, surprise!—with one son, Benjamin De Silva: the idiot they’d sent out. A clear case of nepotism at work, given his lack of intelligence and lateral thinking.

The office phone rang and Jess snatched it up.

‘Murphy’s Hire Car,’ she said, trying not to let her irritation show through in her voice.

‘Hi, there. I have a problem which I sure hope you can help me with.’

The voice was male, with an American accent.

Jess did her best to put aside any bias she was currently feeling towards American males.

‘I’ll do my best, sir,’ she said as politely as she could manage.

‘I need to hire a car and driver for three full days, starting first thing tomorrow morning.’

Jess’s eyebrows lifted. They didn’t often have people wanting to hire one of their cars and drivers for that length of time. Mostly, Murphy’s Hire Car did special events which began and ended on the one day: weddings; graduations; anniversary dates; trips to Sydney airport; that sort of thing. Based on the central coast a couple of hours north of Sydney, they weren’t an overly large concern. They only had seven hire cars which included three white limousines for weddings and other flash events, two white Mercedes sedans for less flash events and one black limousine with tinted windows for people with plenty of money who wanted privacy.

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