A/N: Thank you to Midnight Cougar for being a rockstar. xx
Disclaimer: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the author. No copyright infringement is intended.
James Hunter, Jr. POV
My fingers trace the engraving of the nameplate that sits front and center on my desk—Vice-President of Hunter Valley Bank. Soon to be President if I can push my father into retirement. He and my stepmother spend all of their time in Florida, anyway. I don't know why he's dragging his feet at naming me his successor.
I turn toward the picturesque glass windows of my office and stare out at the tree-covered valley named for my family, as I contemplate my next moves.
My eyes follow along Hunter River where for years fathers and sons have hunted these woods and fished the winding river. The Hunters own thousands of acres of land and have no intention of selling out like the Blacks did.
I won't be played a fool like Jacob Black or bought off like Bella.
We need to contain the current threat, and I won't go down without a fight.
Edward fucking Cullen is trying to take over my town. His name alone sets my blood to boiling. Who the fuck does he think he is?
Everyone is bending over backward wanting to accommodate him, but I'm not as easy as Bella or the rest of the township.
I can see what kind of threat he is to our way of life here. His presence will draw the curious and the crazy. Forksville will lose its small town charm in ways no one can anticipate.
Tonight we will vote at the township council meeting on privatizing the roads around Wildflower Farms. I have been actively campaigning against this disruption with my fellow council members and I believe I have the votes to end his takeover plans. Then we'll send him back to wherever he came from.
I don't give a fuck.
It's unfortunate Bella will be brokenhearted, but I know she will crawl back on her hands and knees, begging me to give her another chance.
While I like that visual, I will be the one calling the shots this time. I'll be the one to turn her down when the time comes. Then Miss High and Mighty will learn her place. She's no one without me. None of them are.
But first, this community needs me to slay the greedy monster who has invaded us and keep Forksville off everyone's radar, which means shutting down Edward Cullen from buying his way into their good graces. Forksville isn't for sale.
"Mr. Hunter, your father is on line one. He says he must speak with you." Chelsea interrupts my thoughts over the intercom of my phone.
"Tell him, I'm on my way to a meeting." I huff then check my Rolex watch. "I'm already late. I'll call him when I'm finished."
Who knows what he wants, but at this point, I can't deal with him right now. I scrub my hands over my face and shove away from my desk, grabbing my briefcase then heading out the back door.
I slide into my Porsche 911 and drive the short distance to our government offices where everyone is waiting for the meeting to start. I look around at the packed audience and nod at my fellow council members. "Are we ready?"
A high-pitched squeal stops me in my tracks. "Jimmie! Can you believe it? He's actually here! Bella said she would introduce me. Do I look okay?" Vic readjusts her blouse, opening another button to show a little more skin, then smooths down her skirt.
"Vic? What are you doing here? You never attend township board meetings." I'm surprised by her presence, but my eyes drift to her chest—my favorite of her assets.
"I know, but this one is different. We're getting a movie star. Isn't it fantastic? Everyone is so excited. I'll see you after the meeting. Vote yes!" She giggles, causing her chest to jiggle, and blows me a kiss.
I watch the sway of her hips as she walks to the front row of the audience, which is now a side show circling around Edward Cullen with Bella next to him. Vic joins the crowd of those in attendance to introduce themselves and request autographs, proving my point of what a disruption he will be to this town. He's turned this board meeting into a circus.
I take my seat at the front of the room, ready to get down to business. The sooner we shut down his plans, the sooner we can all get back to the real matters at hand like building improvements starting with the police and fire stations, which will be financed by my bank.
Smack, smack, smack.
Mike slams down the gavel several times to call the meeting to order. "Everyone, please be seated. It looks like standing room only in the back."
Once the room quiets down, he begins. "I hear by call this meeting to order. Let the record show those in attendance this evening. I am, Michael Newton, Supervisor. Also present, Lauren Mallory, Clerk; Bob Banner, Treasurer; Trustees, Jacob Black, Harold Greene, Dr. David Gerandy, and James Hunter, Jr. Also in attendance, Jason Jenks, Township Attorney; Charlie Swan, Police Chief; Tyler Crowley, Fire Chief; Jessica Stanley, Recording Secretary; and approximately 110 audience members. There may be more outside."
Jacob smirks from beside me, shaking his head. "That's about a hundred more than we normally have. I hope we haven't created a fire hazard."
Mike looks concerned at all the new faces then checks with Chief Crowley. "Tyler, are we at our occupancy limit?"
Tyler shakes his head. "No. We're good."
Mike nods. "Okay, first on the agenda, let's go over unfinished business with a litigation update from Attorney Jenks."
Three hours later, and the discussion is finally ending. I only hope that Harold and the Doc haven't been swayed by Cullen and Company.
"I believe that concludes the new business on our agenda. Thank you to Mr. Jasper Whitlock, Mr. Emmett McCarty, and Mr. Edward Cullen for your proposal. We appreciate having the documents before tonight's meeting, giving us ample opportunity to go over your changes in greater detail and fielding our questions and concerns. I don't believe it is necessary to continue with any further deliberation, as we have also heard from all the parties involved, including Mrs. Clara Swan and Miss Isabella Swan. I think everyone on this board is prepared to vote. Normally, this is a vote that would occur during our closed-door meetings, but we want to give Mr. Cullen a decision without another month of waiting. We need a motion to vote."
Harold speaks up, "I make a motion we vote on the Cullen proposal."
"Do I have a second?"
"I second it," Jacob says, as Mike nods then continues.
"All in favor say 'aye.'"
"Aye," everyone echoes.
"All opposed say 'nay.'"
There's silence as the room fills with anticipation. Finally, we will be able to send Cullen packing. I share a look of understanding with Harold, who gives me a small smile. The Doc doesn't look in my direction, but stares out over the restless crowd.
"The motion to vote unanimously passes." Mike flips through two pages in front of him. "Trustees, we will vote individually and answer when your name is called. Please say 'aye' in favor of the modifications to parcel FT-13-28-008-022 including the one-time payment from the WF Trust Fund for improvements and renovations to the Forksville library, fire, and police stations, or 'nay' against."
Everyone nods in understanding. Here we go.
He's so far up Bella's ass it's ridiculous. I knew he would be a lost cause. So, I didn't even bother trying to convince him otherwise. They are business partners and he needs her.
My grin widens at the shocked expressions and increased whispers from the audience. That's right. Old Harold Greene hates change. The high school principal was an easy one to convince. No one thought there would be opposition, but boy are they going to be wrong.
What? I can't believe my ears as anger pulses through my veins. That fucking doctor. He flipped. Unbelievable.
I shake my head at the turn of events then my eyes lock with Bella's. "Nay," I say in challenge, wiping the smile off her face. This still isn't over with the vote at two to two.
Mike nods and looks around the room. "That leaves mine as the deciding vote." His eyes finally land on Bella then the others in the front row as he scans their hopeful faces. "And I vote 'aye.' The proposal is approved by a vote of three to two. Considering this evening's vote, we will address budget adjustments next month."
The audience lets out shrieks and squeals of excitement while others pat Cullen on the back as he shakes the hands of those nearby.
"Congratulations, Mr. Cullen, and let me be the first to welcome you officially to Forksville. Please keep the board updated on your progress. This meeting is adjourned." Mike slams down the gavel to end our evening.
I hurry, making a beeline for Gerandy, then grab his arm before he can escape. "What the hell, Doc?"
I suspected Mike would vote with Bella, as they are old friends, but not the Doc.
"James, as much as I don't want to see things change, it is inevitable. This town needs the money he brings. Improvements to our emergency services are vital. It's a win for both sides." He pauses letting his hand rest on my shoulder. "This is a business decision and not a personal one. Take my advice and stop holding a grudge. I know your pride is hurt, but you shouldn't let that rule your every decision. She's moved on and you should too."
I don't like his implication that this is still about me pining away for Bella. "You said you were voting with me. What changed? Do you understand what kind of craziness you have unleashed on our town?"
"I said I was open to a discussion with you and I listened—to both sides. Now, if you'll excuse me. Charlotte is waiting." He points his thumb behind him.
I look over his shoulder to see his wife standing nearby and wave in her direction. "Yeah. Sure. I'm just…" The reality of the vote sets in taking some wind from my sails with my anger changing into something else. "…disappointed."
"Hello, James." Her smile is easy. She has always treated me with great kindness through the years and feels like a member of the family.
"Evening, Charlotte. How is retirement treating you?" I ask. She worked for my father at the bank for over thirty-five years before retiring two years ago. Charlotte Gerandy knows about loyalty, something that seems to be lost on her husband.
"Wonderful, I'm hoping I can get David to join me soon. I think everyone will like Dr. Snow. He's moved into a home downtown and is such a sweet, young man."
I nod my agreement. I knew the Doc was taking on a new partner in his practice. "It looks like changes will continue for a while."
"Sometimes it's for the best." She gestures toward our empty seats at the front of the room. "Like young Jacob taking over for Billy or you for your father."
"That reminds me. I need to call him."
"Please tell him 'hello' from me. I'm sure he loves Florida this time of year. Maybe I can convince David to get away from the snow for a few days."
"I will. Good night." I've always had a soft spot for Charlotte and still do.
"Good night, dear." She gives me a warm smile then follows the Doc out of the building.
I take my phone from my pocket and notice more missed calls from my father. I wonder what is so urgent and call him back.
"Junior, my boy!" he shouts, and I pull the phone away from my ear then turn down the volume.
"Hey, Dad. What can I do for you?" I watch as the crowd dwindles.
"I wanted to call and congratulate you."
His words catch me off guard. "Congratulate me? For what?"
"For landing a new client. Let me see, what is his name again?" I hear him shuffling through paperwork. But a new sense of dread washes over me, and I know what he will say before he utters the name. "Oh here it is—Edward Cullen. I received copies of the paperwork this afternoon from his lawyer. Uh, his name is here somewhere. There it is—Jasper Whitlock. Great work!"
"I'm surprised. I had no idea." That my father could be bought off too, but I should have known better. James Hunter, Sr. has always loved money first and his family second.
"Well, you shouldn't be. Your Wall Street education is paying off. I knew sending you to New York was the right move for our future. I called Jasper to confirm the details, and he said he would give you your copies tonight as he would see you at the town council meeting."
My eyes land on the lawyer in question. "Yes, he's here, but I haven't had a chance to speak with him yet."
"There's a non-disclosure agreement in there, but son, that's typical when dealing with this large of an account. Don't let that worry you. If you need any advice, don't hesitate to ask."
"All right, I'll let you sign those papers and seal the deal. Our new President has landed a multi-million dollar account. Congratulations, I'm proud of you, son. I was just waiting for a sign to show me you are looking out for the bank's future interest and I don't think I'll get one bigger than this. I'll have Jenks send over the paperwork for your title change and a complete transfer of power for the bank tomorrow."
I'm finally President.
And I have Edward Cullen to thank.
A/N: Oh, James. Times are changing in Forksville. I hope you enjoyed hearing from him. He isn't Edward's biggest fan, but it seems like that will change too. Let me know what you think. We'll hear from Maggie next. Thanks for reading. xx