Cole Burns doesn’t suffer the cold or feeling the holiday spirit, but dreams of having a family by thirty, preferably with two or three children, are slowly fading into the fog of winter. It's a sad, sad situation he cannot seem to escape.
For John Michael Diamond, being CEO of Diamond Corporation equates to never finding the perfect mate to share his nest. In fact, it’s next to impossible. Through a twist of fate, he discovers his mate not only lives nearby but is on his family’s estate.
Cole never thought he’d fall for such a crazy, insanely gorgeous rich guy, and yet here he is, wrapped in shifter eagle who serenades him with love songs. This is going to be an interesting Christmas.
Shivers slid down John Michael Diamond’s spine when Pavarotti reached a high B. As CEO of Diamond Corporation, Michael could have anything in the world, yet it was the dead tenor’s voice that he’d always dreamed he could match. Hitting that top note would be an accomplishment.
When the last notes to the aria died, he paused the app on his phone and worked his jaw. After adjusting his earphones, he angled his lower jaw side to side, up and down, stuck out his tongue, and let out a deep huff. He repeated the exercise several times more before rotating his tongue inside his mouth, sticking it out several times. When the muscle felt nice and relaxed, he began the series of lip and tongue-trill exercises his vocal coach had taught him. The drills were simple but effective, and once he was done, he tapped the rewind icon on his phone. He sang along with Pavarotti as he read through the documents on his lap. The smooth ride at the back of the limousine made the last-minute task of signing each page easier.
He was on his way home for Christmas. Not his penthouse in the city, but the family estate in Washington State. His mother and sisters were waiting for him. He couldn’t wait to see them again, well, except for his mother. He loved the fiery woman to death, but she was angry at him for leaving the day after Thanksgiving. Spending a few weeks with them should make up for his faults.
The part of the aria he loved best was coming up, making him look up from the documents. He could do this. He would reach that note even if it killed him. Michael closed his eyes and listened for the cue, tilting his head to the side. Almost there. Taking a deep breath, he opened his mouth, only to jerk in surprise when a ringtone blasted through his earpieces.
“Fucking hell.” He cursed under his breath as he scrambled to pull the gadget from his ears and accept the call at the same time. His fumbling fingers managed to fail him several times before he finally got to connect with the incoming call.
“What?” Michael snapped into the piece.
“Sir, I apologize, but this is important.” His temporary assistant’s hesitant voice trembled through the phone.
“I’m on vacation, Giles.”
“I know, sir, but we’ve been hacked.”
“What do you mean hacked?”
“Our PR social media account’s been hacked, sir. Someone got hold of our password and has used it to post a joke.”
“Who gave it out?”
“We’re not sure, sir. I called you as soon as I got the word.”
“What’s IT doing about it?”
“We haven’t called them, sir.”
Michael closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. A throbbing began between his eyes. “Shouldn’t the guy in charge of the account be contacted first? What’s wrong with your statement, Giles? Why are you even calling me about this?”
“Well, sir, it’s true that Burns is the one of those in charge of our social networks, but he’s not the main guy or the IT guy. That’s Samuelson. And you told me to call you in case of an emergency.”
“And you think this is an emergency?”
“Well…yes, sir. Our account’s been hacked.”
“Let’s say you’re right. Now, what does Samuelson have to say about it?”
“Well, sir, as I’ve mentioned before, we haven’t talked to him. He’s been hospitalized. For appendicitis.”
“So. Samuelson’s out. Who can you call about this?”
“Giles, Giles, Giles,” Michael said. “For the love of God.”
“I’m sorry, sir. But according to my records, Burns is the only one with an IT background. The rest are plain PR guys.”
“Save your apologies. Contact the PR department, have them contact Burns.”
“I already did that, and they told me they couldn’t get a hold of him. Most likely he’s taking a walk.”
“Taking a walk?” Michael couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Yes, sir. That’s what they said.”
Who am I talking to? Cher from Clueless? Michael struggled to control his impatience. “Giles?”
“Why are you telling me all this again?”
“Uhm…as I said before, sir. Because you told me to tell you everything that went on while you’re on vacation. Sir.”
Michael desperately wanted his regular assistant. Why did Magda have to go on a cruise? Why did he say yes when she recommended Giles?
“Should the details to the hows and whys of locating and talking to a PR man, who might just be able to do something about this situation, be a part of your reports to me?”
Thirty seconds later, Michael let out a dramatic sigh at Giles’ lack of response.
“Giles.” He really should stop snapping. Magda would kill him when she found out.
It was a good thing Michael had exemplary hearing.
“Report to me when there’s an actual need. Detailing the process of contacting Burns is not a need. Do you understand me? People are employed to take care of these kinds of situations. I didn’t employ you to bother me with mundane details when we’ve hired people to take care of them.”
Another thirty seconds of silence passed.
God give me patience! “Is there anything else, Giles?”
Michael fought back a loud curse. “What is it?” He tried to sound patient.
“Well. Sir.” Giles cleared his throat. “Burns. Sir.”
“I thought that you may be able to contact him sooner than the rest of us here, sir. My records show that his residence is at the reservation, a few miles from the estate,” Giles said in a rush.
“He is? Why is that?”
“Burns works full-time as a caretaker at the Diamond reservation. Specifically, area twenty-eight. If I read the tracker right, you’re just twelve miles away, sir.”
“Thank you, sir!”