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Oedipus Rex

The Italian Tycoon's Mistress

By: Cathy Williams

CHAPTER ONE


‘WHAT’S this?’

It wasn’t so much of a question as a demand for an immediate explanation. The past two days had been regularly punctuated by such demands, thinly veiled as polite enquiries. Rocco Losi had descended into the cosy feather bed of Losi Construction like a panther leaping into a gathering of easy prey, intent on a kill.

Richard Newton glanced worriedly to where one long brown finger was pointing at a small entry on the printout and sighed.

‘That’s one of the subsids,’ he explained, leaning forward to peer at the entry and then subsiding back into his chair with a feeling of doom.

‘One of the subsids. Where’s the paperwork relating to this particular subsid?’ Rocco pushed his chair back and coolly contemplated the fair-haired man who seemed to be caught in a state of nervous agitation.

This exercise was proving to be a nightmare from hell and, as far as Rocco was concerned, the level of the executives only helped to aid and abet the impression. It was a marvel that his father’s company managed to make the profits it did considering that a great majority of the chief executives were of the old-fashioned, jocular, verging-on-retirement type. Richard Newton, the accounts manager now perspiring in front of him, was one of the younger members of management and Rocco would hardly have called him cutting edge. In fact, the man wouldn’t have lasted more than five seconds in his own corporate giant where dead wood was shed and under-performers were left in no doubt of their eventual fate, should change not be forthcoming.

But then the cut and thrust of life in New York’s fast lane was considerably more savage than here, in Shakespeare’s County.

Rocco placed his hands flatly on the surface of his father’s desk and enunciated his next few words with grim, measured brutality.

‘Listen to me very carefully, Mr Newton. I don’t want to be here. I have been compelled to leave my offices in New York because of events which have left me no choice. However, I am here now and I don’t intend to give you all a perfunctory pat on the back and leave you to muddle along the way you appear to have always muddled along. I do not expect to have to ask any questions because I expect all the information I require on my father’s company to be right here. In this room. Sitting on this desk. Waiting for me to look at. Do I make myself absolutely clear?’

Rocco Losi watched the man sitting opposite him nod weakly and felt not a scrap of compassion. He wasn’t here to get a popularity award or to make friends. He was here to temporarily take charge of his father’s company so that public confidence in it could be maintained until such time as he could depart these shores back to the city that had been his home for over ten years.

Nor was he prepared to do a surface job. That wasn’t his style. He had come, albeit against his will, and he intended to turn over whatever stones were necessary to make sure that Losi Construction was performing to its highest possible level.

The file had been fetched and placed in front of him. Without bothering to look at him, Rocco informed Richard Newton that he was to remain precisely where he was until he had answered all questions to his personal satisfaction.

He took his time with the file, barely aware of the man patiently waiting for him to finish, then he sat back and looked at Richard Newton in silence for a few seconds.

‘Explain to me where this particular subsidiary fits in with the general profit-making scheme of the company.’ He linked his fingers casually together and waited. He had always felt that people, generally, underestimated the great virtue of silence. In his experience, there was nothing more persuasive when it came to getting a truthful answer than silence. It could be unnerving and quite deadly.


‘Ah. Yes, well…your father makes a healthy profit with his company. It’s one of the most respected building firms in the area, you know. And with the boom in housing over the years, with no end in sight, well, as you can see from the general spreadsheets, things are doing quite nicely. More than quite nicely.’

Rocco watched this inexpert evasion of his question with hooded eyes. Nor did he encourage the meandering by saying a word. Instead, he glanced at his watch, then returned his attention to Richard Newton’s flushed face.

‘As for where it fits in with the profit-making…well…it doesn’t. Not really. You probably don’t understand how things work out here, Mr Losi. I mean, you’re accustomed to a more aggressive type of environment, I guess…’

‘I’m looking for an answer in one sentence, Mr Newton. You are the chief accountant. Surely it cannot be that difficult.’

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