Greek Passions

By: Holly Rayner




When she told the security guards where she needed to go, she quickly realized that it was a good thing she had arrived early. She had to walk through a metal detector before being wanded, and made to suffer the indignities of a pat down.



Do you honestly think I’m hiding something there? Kally growled internally, eyeing one of the searchers dangerously.



“I’m just doing my job, ma’am,” the woman answered in response to the glare.



Her purse was searched, and when nothing more dangerous than a nail file was found, Kally was led to a private elevator. It featured a touchscreen panel beside the car doors, at chest level, that scanned both of the guards’ fingerprints before accepting a complex code.



“This’ll take you straight up, miss,” one of the guards remarked as the car doors opened. “It’s full of cameras, and a boatload of special sensors. If we’ve missed anything, the elevator will lock you in and hold you until the authorities arrive.”



“There’s a comforting thought,” Kally replied sarcastically, wondering how the overenthusiastic search she’d just been through could have missed anything.



“Don’t worry, Ms. Jones. You’ll be fine. You have no prohibited items on your person. But it’s very important that you remember to…” Kally never heard the rest, as at that exact moment, the doors slid shut in front of her.



“That never gets old,” the guard chuckled, walking away.



“Let’s hope it doesn’t get us fired either,” his companion returned anxiously.



When Kally arrived on the fortieth floor, she was again searched by armed security guards, before being ushered into the office at the end of the hall.



By this time, she was feeling like a harassed pin cushion, and she glared at the security team with contempt on every line of her face. The team seemed to be used to this, and only indicated a door in the center of the hall. The door was made of oak, and the nameplate named the occupant as 'Alexandros Stratos, CEO.'”



“Let the games begin,” she whispered.





FIVE





“Ah, my biographer is here,” Alexandros said warmly, rising from his desk to greet her.



His office was not nearly as extravagant as Kally had expected it to be, but it was certainly beautifully decorated. Oak paneling ran halfway up the walls to meet crimson wallpaper that was embossed with flower patterns. The plush carpeting was a matching color, and a huge, tinted window loomed behind the desk. The desk itself was large, also made of oak, and topped with fine, crimson leather. It was strewn with files, a computer monitor, and a solitary framed photograph. In each corner behind the desk were elegant one-legged tables that bore dozens of small curios from places throughout the world.



“Good morning, Mr. Stratos,” Kally replied, shaking the proffered hand. “Shall we begin?”



“Straight to the point, Ms. Jones. I like your style,” he replied, smiling. “I thought we should begin with my childhood. We touched on it briefly the last time we met.”



“Yes, I remember.”



“Well, I grew up in a large but spartan house in Kaminos, with my mother, father, two brothers and a sister. Darius was my elder brother. From my earliest memories of him, he always aimed to please. My mother said that when he was a baby, he wouldn’t even cry for very long. He threw himself into everything he did, but nothing was ever enough for my father. Peter is younger than me. He was always a schemer; he took credit wherever he could get it, sometimes quite ruthlessly. Briza, the youngest, was clever, like my mother. Even at an early age she had a head for figures. She hated our father more than any of us, because everyone was forced to compete except her.”



“Because she was female?”



“That is what Briza thought, but it was really because she was so good with numbers. Our father planned to have her replace my mother as finance director, and he gave her little choice in the matter. Our father raised us with fear and want as bedfellows. He said that way, we would learn the true meaning of life. It started when I was about six years old. One day, there was only one bed for us to sleep in. He’d send us to school for the day, and whichever of us he felt did the best would get the bed. The rest of us would have to sleep on the cold floor. Eventually, Peter turned against me and Darius. He tried to keep us up late, and destroy our homework. At school, he would get us blamed for things we hadn’t done. Anything so that he could get the bed.”



“Didn’t your father ever figure out what Peter was doing?” Kally asked, trying to keep the shock she was feeling out of her voice. She had pulled a tablet out of her purse, and was making notes as Alexandros spoke.

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