Shattered by the CEO

By: Emilie Rose

Prologue



“Y ou will return to Kincaid Cruise Lines as acting CEO for one full year.” The lawyer paused dramatically, his eyes finding Rand Kincaid’s over the top of Everett Kincaid’s will.

“And you will convince Tara Anthony to come back with you as your personal assistant.”The words hit Rand like a bullet, knocking him back in his chair and punching the air from his lungs. “No. Hell no.”

The lawyer didn’t flinch. Years of dealing with Rand’s bastard of a father had probably left the man immune to profanity and raised voices.

“Should you refuse, not only will you forfeit your share of your father’s estate, but your brother and sister will lose theirs, as well. In fact, if any of you fail in your assigned tasks, then I’m instructed to sell all of Everett’s holdings to Mardi Gras Cruising for one dollar. The business, the estate, the investment portfolio.”

Son of a bitch. Rand slammed his palms on the table and shot out of his chair. He should have known the old man would find a way to pull his strings—even from the grave. “Mardi Gras is Kincaid’s biggest rival, and the CEO is my father’s sworn enemy.”

“I am aware of that.”

Clenching and releasing his fists by his sides, Rand paced the length of the Kincaid Manor dining room. He glanced at his younger brother and sister and saw more than grief and shock in their pale faces. He saw resignation, and in the case of his brother, frustration and suppressed anger.

They expected Rand to walk. The way he had five years ago. The fact that he’d failed to contact Mitch or Nadia or return their calls in the interim had no doubt contributed to their lack of faith in him, but he’d cut all ties because he hadn’t wanted to put them in the middle of his war with their father.

Rand struggled to shake off the invisible straight jacket cinching tighter around him. He owed Mitch and Nadia, and not just for abandoning the family business.

He pivoted and refocused on the attorney. “Anyone but her. Not Tara Anthony.”

Within three weeks of declaring she loved Rand and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him, the woman had gone after deeper pockets when Rand refused to cough up a wedding ring.

“I’m sorry, Rand. Everett insisted on Ms. Anthony.”

His father would. The manipulative despot. He had always coveted whatever Rand had and then he’d taken it by fair means or foul and flaunted his successes like a cat leaves a carcass on the doormat.

“And if she refuses?” Rand would make sure Tara did.

“Then you’ll change her mind. Unless you choose to fail, there is no other option.”

Another dead end. Frustration burned like acid in his belly. “I’ll contest the will.”

The lawyer didn’t even blink. “Contesting by any of the three of you immediately results in forfeiture.”

Rand struggled with the urge to punch something. His tyrannical father had closed the obvious loopholes before unexpectedly dropping from a heart attack in his latest mistress’s bed three days ago. But there had to be a way out, and if there was, Rand would find it.

He planted his fists on the table and leaned toward the attorney. “Richards, you know my father must have been mentally incompetent to demand this.”

“He wasn’t crazy, Rand,” his brother said before Richards could reply. “I’d have known. I worked with him every day. You would have known, too, if you’d stuck around.” Mitch made no attempt to conceal his anger.

Nadia’s head bobbed in agreement. “Dad was impossible, insensitive and immoral. But he wasn’t insane.”

A volley of curses ricocheted around inside Rand’s skull. He straightened and nailed his brother with a hard stare. “Why aren’t you protesting? CEO should be your job.”

Mitch shrugged, but his jaw looked rapier-sharp. “Dad wanted you.”

Rand couldn’t contain his snort of disgust.

“That’s a first. You were always his favorite and his right-hand man. I was his sparring partner—the one he liked to beat.” Not physically, but in every other way. Sports. Business. Women. Until his father had taken their competition too far.

Rand looked from his brother to his sister. “This all-for-one garbage is absurd. He spent his life trying to drive us apart.”

“And it looks like in death he’s trying to bring us together,” Nadia replied.

Richards cleared his throat. “Over this past year Everett realized he’d made some mistakes. He wants the three of you to help him rectify them.”

“So he won’t eternally rot in hell,” Rand muttered. A sense of doom descended on his shoulders. He was trapped. Like a rat in a maze. Exactly how his father liked it.

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