Ceod by him complete ser.., p.1
CEO'd By Him Complete Series Box Set, page 1
CEO’D BY HIM
By Nella Tyler
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 Nella Tyler
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A man’s shoes tell you his story.
Holding up a pair of John Varvatos designer derbies, I said out loud, “A gentleman worker with the gumption to know he looks good, and the wherewithal not to be an ass about it.” Plus, they matched my navy shirt and pressed khakis. “Yep. I think this is the right story for today, Dad.”
After tugging on my shoes, I adjusted my shirt, ruffled the front of my hair and glanced at myself from head to toe. “Not bad, Boldin. Almost look like you know what you’re doing.” Then I sighed and stared for a long moment into the mirror before wincing and turning away.
I was doing it again. Looking for my father in my face.
Twelve weeks ago, he had returned from a trip to Bendin, a country in Western Africa, with unusual jet lag. At first, my father had shrugged it off. He was an old pro at flying and told me he thought he must have caught a twenty-four bug or something.
But when his lethargy persisted for another two weeks, he’d gone to the doctor, and then called me over afterward for dinner. After making me laugh my ass off about Bendin, old stories from my childhood, my crazy grandparents, his mood suddenly shifted. In a serious tone, he told me how proud he was of me and the man I was becoming.
And then he’d mentioned, in a casual manner, as though he wanted me to know – but not to worry – how he’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and only had two months to live.
Thinking back, I remember I’d been stunned, but incredulous. Even after the first time I went to the hospital with him, I’d been skeptical. One, because he so matter of fact about it.
Two, because I didn’t want to. It had been me and my dad since I was three-years-old. The dream team, the dynamic duo, the Boldin boys.
Now it was six weeks after his death, and I was still incredulous.
Lukas Boldin was a force of nature. A mountain-mover. A giant. An important man in the film documentary world. The CEO of Bold Pictures. My dad and my best friend.
He couldn’t be gone.
I kept pulling out my phone, staring at it, expecting his name to pop up or to hear that familiar rat-ta-tat hammering on my door announcing he’d popped by. Throughout the day, I’d make a mental note to tell him something, and then I’d stop.
And like an iron fist straight to the sternum, I’d remember.
Terrified that I’d forget something he told me – about how to live, how to love, or how to create – his words were on an endless loop in my brain in his familiar, comforting voice.
More than anything, I wanted it to stay that way. I didn’t want to remember remembering his voice. I wanted his words and voice to stay with me. No, I needed that gruff cadence, his sharp wit, and that unique timbre to stay with me. It seemed the only feasible way of carrying his company forward and filling his shoes.
Remembering what my dad said, so I’d know what he would do.
Walking over to a shelf by the bed, I picked up a picture I’d moved from the living room to up here. It was of my father, grinning as he sat on the ground, a vintage twins-lens camera cupped in his hands. Fairy penguins, the smallest of those flightless birds on earth, clustered around him.
Staring at it, I remembered how the air had whipped through that rocky place in huge gusts. How the air had reeked of brine and low tide. And how my dad had roared with laughter as the penguins came scurrying en masse to greet us their new playmates.
I was the one who’d taken it, sixteen years ago, during our first trip to Australia. Back then we’d had cheaper gear, so the photo, taken with a disposable, looked older than it actually was. The colors were a bit blurry and washed out.
But my father and his personality could not be not dimmed by time. His eyes were bright blue, his graying hair wild from the wind, and his joyous excitement palpable. He’d always walked in a state of constant expectation, of forward momentum, and infinite possibility.
More than his films, or his company, I considered that his greatest contribution to this planet. He’d imbued that in his vision, his protégés in his company, and his son.
At least I hoped he did.
But for that to just end, for him to be gone – it gave me the sense that I’d been tossed into a different world. One where there were more questions than answers. One where I was alone, in charge of a company I knew scant about.
It had all happened so fast, sometimes I found myself freezing up, sure I was dreaming. It reminded me of when you wake up from a bad dream with a gasp. One moment you were falling out of the sky and the next you’re flailing on your solid mattress. You gaze around, pressing your hand into the pillows and reassuring yourself everything is as it was.
However, in my case, nothing would ever be as it was.
Hands shaking now, I tried to pull strength from the grin captured in this picture, live in that moment again and remember everything he had taught me. His words about fortitude, strength, mental clarity, love, fun, and hell, even the damn penguins in Australia.
Inhaling, then exhaling slowly, I reminded myself how he’d shown me to never give up.
And forcing myself to grin back, I said, “I got this, Dad,” and headed out the door.
A half hour later, I was the first one at Bold Pictures, besides Lou, the security guard. He’d nodded at me over the desk, and it had heartened me. But I still needed more time before the big Monday meeting today. Once upstairs, I headed for Dad’s office.
Pushing open the door, the first thing I noticed was the gloom, followed by the chill in the air from disuse. It had only been three months; how could a presence disintegrate so fast?
Once I had the curtains up, the office warmed a little, and something of Lukas Boldin stole back into the room. Glancing into an ornate mirror that hung on the wall, I again checked my shirt and then gazed at my face. And sighed.
If only I didn’t look so damn young! I didn’t look qualified to run a Popsicle stand. Never mind a multi-million dollar production company that released cutting-edge, powerful, and thought-provoking documentaries. I should be handing out foam fingers and hot dogs at Regions Field.
Turning my thoughts to today, questions about the future and the company assailed me once again. Would the team laugh behind my back at youthful presumption? Or would they fear for their livelihood? Or were they already smelling blood in the water?
Gripping the edge of my dad’s desk, I happened to glance down, and then froze. A pair of Dad’s Oxfords were kicked off underneath. Throat tight, I sat down heavily, not sure whether I wanted to throw up or pass out. Before I could decide, a knock came at the door.
“Come in,” I said, rasping a little, and wondering who was here so early. And, with a thrill of fear, what they might want from me.
“Hey, bro,” Max Lindley, a tall black man, with close-cropped hair, wire-rim glasses, and sleeves of beautiful tattoos ducked into the office. “Knew you’d already be here. Throw up yet?”
“Is it that obvious?” I groaned, then accepted the cup of coffee he handed me. “Thanks. Let’s just hope I hurl before the meeting and not during it. I don’t want to be that memorable.”
Max was the COO of Bold Pictures – usually. Sometimes
But my father found out all that later. All Dad said he saw in Max was potential, enthusiasm, and a love for films. Something my Dad understood well. And he’d hired him on the spot as a page.
As Max came over to stand by me, I was once again struck by how strange it was to be taller than Max. Once upon a time, he was the biggest, coolest guy I knew besides my dad. A surrogate older brother. Now he would become my right-hand man – as he had been my father’s.
Would Max resent that? Should he be in charge?
Even though I flattered myself that I was a close study, Max had an uncanny eye and frowned at me. “Don’t be goin’ and thinkin’ like that, Kris. You’re a Boldin; this is your company. I’m here for you, man, and that’s the end of it. I don’t want to hear another word.”
“Well, I can’t help it when you’re reading my mind,” I pointed out, grinning in spite of myself. “Thanks, Max. I couldn’t do this without you.”
“Nah, Bold Pictures couldn’t do this without a Boldin. C’mon, it’s in the damn name.”
“I hope there’s more to it than just that,” I replied, sipping the coffee and jiggling my knee.
“Kris, you know me, and your Dad had some long talks over the years, and in the last few weeks, too. He never, not once, doubted your ability to step up to the plate and shoulder this responsibility.” Max’s light green eyes focused on me, and he scratched at his scruff. Only nine years my senior, Max still always had some serious wisdom to lay down for a thirty-four-year-old. “Your Dad is proud of you, sitting in his chair, getting ready to face down the gauntlet of the unknown.”
Digging my fingers into the cup, I nodded, and said, “I just don’t want to screw this up. This is his – all his.” I gestured around. The posters in frames on the walls from his films, the awards cluttered on the shelves, the floor to ceiling windows, and the sturdy old-fashioned wooden desk.
“Kris, you’ll be fine. And if you make mistakes, you’ll be all the better for them.”
Smiling at Max, I held up my coffee to him in a salute and said, “From your mouth to the board’s ears, my friend.”
“So, next on the table is the question of semiotics when it comes to future productions. What is our direction now? We’ve got three environmental pieces, one on consumerism, two on space, and three on sports. But like I-I’d told Lukas, we’ve been lacking a pivotal creative point around which to operate. It’s a problem.” Hans Resmorn sounded out of breath as he finished up.
Semiotics? I asked myself, wishing I could google that without being obvious. It sounded familiar, and I had a feeling it had to do with colors or symbolism, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“And we should consider our budget constraints when it comes to new equipment. I know we like to toy with the cutting-edge Red equipment, but they want us to fully commit to using them alone. They’ve been hounding me the last two weeks. But I know Lukas was hesitant about that. Panasonic, Sony – those are companies we do not want to alienate. Especially if Red loses steam in the years ahead.” Lucy Minto, a fierce Japanese woman, who was petite but commanded the room when she spoke shot me a look. “They’ll want an answer by the end of the fiscal year, if not sooner.”
What does Lucy do again? I was drawing a complete blank, even though I’d looked over everyone who was going to be present at the meeting today just last night. And when the hell does the fiscal year end? And Red? Like the color red? Or no, that’s a camera-making company, right?
“Bold team,” Max said in his most reassuring tones. “We do not have to decide everything today. Yes, I understand it’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a staff meeting, but please, remind yourselves that we have time. We’re doing well, all things considered.”
Lucy rolled her eyes, and I saw one of the older board members blink rapidly.
“We haven’t even begun to talk about stock shares,” he spoke up in a quavering voice, his wispy hair floating around his head like a halo. I didn’t even know what his name was. Part of me didn’t want to care. “There’s blood in the water. Selling might be–”
“Sell?” Lucy exclaimed, her cheeks going red as her eyes flashed. “Sell Lukas Boldin’s film company? To whom, Lionel? Michael Moore?” She snorted. “Or what, is Ashton Kutcher bored?”
Lionel Meeks, that’s right. And Lucy was the VP of Finance.
This summed up the first half of the meeting – people firing off questions, but not giving anyone space to breathe or answer. I could feel the tension building in the room; more than one person was rubbing their temples and glancing at the clock. I had to get things in hand.
“There’s going to be an acclimatization process,” I heard myself say. “Just like when you’re out in the field, we’re probably going to have to climb up the mountain, come back down, and then go back up. Then do it again. Rinse and repeat.” That had been a phrase of my dad’s. “But at the end of the day, I know you all. I know Bold Pictures.
“We can do this. We’ll make it to the peak, and over the next one. I also know there is a lot to do and the last six weeks have not been easy on any of us.” Here I paused, glancing down, and then resumed after a beat. “So first I want to thank you, and then I want to say, that I’m here. We’ll carry my father’s vision forward.”
“Well said,” rumbled Max and a murmur of assent went around the room. Even Lucy’s face softened, and I swear I heard a few unanimous sighs of relief.
From there, the rest of the meeting went well. I was able to parry any holes in my knowledge with compliments, reassurances, and even jokes. Once I made Lucy laugh, and she looked almost as shocked as everyone else in the room, which only made us all laugh again.
By the end, there was a sense of relaxation, of determination and momentum. Except for one person – Hans. He was fidgeting, shaking his head, and finally blurted out, “But, what is the vision for Bold Pictures? Lukas knew we were starting to flounder in that regard – he wanted to revitalize our films and this company. I think we should hold true to that vision. Right, Kris?”
Swallowing, knowing I was running out of witticisms and words to bridge the gap, I nodded. “Hans, you know as well as I do we can’t just pull a vision out of thin air. We’ll get there. But thank you. You’re right – that will the crux of our success moving forward.”
After that, I was relieved to see almost an hour and a half had gone by, so I dismissed the meeting since if we stayed there any longer, people would miss lunch.
With a sigh, I made my way back to my office and sat in my father’s chair. Wordsmithing could only get me so far as a CEO. There were so many things I didn’t know about filmmaking, about running a company, hell about how the coffee machine worked. While this place had been a second home in a lot of regards – I’d never worked here in any serious capacity.
What is the vision for Bold Pictures? Hans’s words sliced through my head like a whiplash.
Heart sinking, I stared out the windows, hoping the answer would come.
Instead, all that came were more questions. Questions about my legitimacy as a CEO. Again, I had the uneasy feeling that a real documentary filmmaker would better serve my father’s legacy.
Am I leading Bold Pictures down the path my father would want? I asked myself. Or am I leading it straight into a place of no return?
“Well, sugar, I’m as pleased as punch to hear that; speaking of which,” Anna Dewitt said this in a rush as she flagged down the young waiter who was scurrying by our table. “Could you please top off my drink? Oh, thank you.”
I tried not to laugh as the wai
Sipping my own glass of sweet peach sangria, a new recipe that Mama Birch’s Cafe had come up with for May, I said, “After all this time, I can’t believe that Mr. York will trot up my front steps, open my little mailbox and slip it in. Today. It comes today. My broker’s license. Cammie Book.”
“Talkin’ in the third person, are we now sugar?” Anna’s southern tones always got richer with just a sip of alcohol. “Well, what’s the plan now? I feel like you’ve been pursuing it forever!”
I let out a long breath. “I’m going to go to Birmingham Realty and ask for a job.” Anna’s eyes went wide. “I know, I know. But I interned with them this past fall, so I think I have a good shot. Everyone there was so amazing to work with – I mean, could you imagine?”
“Oh, Cams,” Anna bit her lip and then reached across the table to pat my hand. “You know I’m as plainspoken as they come. And you know I love you and think you’re as sharp as a whip, but Cammie, that is a very reputable, very old-money company. I swear, I think they were here before the Mayflower. I just, well, I guess I think your standards are a little high for starting off – I mean this is your first job as a real estate broker… I don’t want you to get your hopes all up.”
At that moment, the waiter returned, his cheeks going pink, and Anna beamed at him, which gave me the perfect opportunity to roll my eyes.
Of course, you don’t, Anna, I thought with a weary sigh to myself.
Walking up the neat concrete path to the cottage I’d been renting for the past two years, I checked my watch for the fourteenth time. Then I tried to refrain from skipping or flat out running. Mr. York, the postman, a leisurely, jolly fellow, was usually here by 1:30 p.m. It was 2.
by Nella Tyler have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes