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Robert straightened his cap and brushed a speck of dirt off his neatly pressed chauffeur's jacket before pushing away from the gleaming black stretch limousine to greet his employer. Stairs were being pushed up to the small, expensive jet. It would be only a matter of a minute or so until the plane's door opened and he finally saw Brenton again. How long had he been gone this time? Almost a week. To Robert, it could have been a month.
For Colorado in early autumn, the evening was mild. The sun was setting behind the Rockies to the west, painting the sky with vivid oranges and purples. Since he was focused on waiting for the door to open, he barely noticed anything.
After an interminable wait, Brenton emerged.
Robert's breath constricted as the other man descended the metal steps. Brenton's shoulders were slumped. Now that his father had been diagnosed with dementia and his mother wasn't coping with her strong husband's decline, Brenton seemed to carry the weight of the Marston family's empire on his slender shoulders.
What Robert wouldn't give for the opportunity to help his boss relieve some of his stress. But the mere hint of that would cross the boundary lines the Marstons kept between them and the hired help. "Welcome home, sir," Robert shouted above the roar of a departing plane. He sincerely meant the greeting. He couldn't keep the grin off his face. For the last few days, he'd felt like a little kid anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. "How was your flight?" He moved in to claim the man's expensive leather briefcase. Some designer label, he knew. But unless it had something to do with cars, logos meant little to him.
"Three time zones in five days," Brenton said.
"The car is cool. I've poured you a whisky."
"You're a good man, Silles."
It was a fantasy to hear Brenton call him anything other than his surname. Robert opened the rear door. As Brenton slid inside, Robert caught a whiff of the man's scent. He smelled of power, of success, of ambition, all laced with pheromones. It had musky undertones, and Robert knew it hadn't come out of a bottle. Harnessing his thoughts, Robert placed the briefcase on the carpeted floor and then closed the door.
Another employee hurried over with the rest of Brenton's luggage, and Robert took it from there. Anything for the man who'd seen his potential and offered him a respectable job. He'd started at the bottom, waxing the estate's vehicles, washing car windows and performing small maintenance jobs such as changing the oil, checking the antifreeze and adding windshield washer fluid. He'd also been assigned responsibility for maintaining their boat and golf cart.
The family, he'd realised shortly after joining them a decade ago, had more money than some small countries, but they economised where they could. At times, Brenton was required to travel on commercial flights.
Robert had been around the Marstons long enough to know they were all serious about philanthropy. They treated their employees fairly and participated in charity fundraisers, but they were also expected to increase the family's coffers for the next generation.