It is a simple greeting that we utter a million times a day, yet we never realize how powerful that word can be. It can create new friends, inspire love, or (in some circumstances) change your destiny forever.
That last one is what happened to me.
I was sitting alone in my favorite coffee shop when a man approached my table. He was tall, handsome, and looked like he stepped off the cover of some Harlequin romance novel. I tried not to notice him, but he sat down without an invitation and said that innocent word that held so much potential.
He leaned forward, and I put my book down to see what he had to say.
“My name is Max Cooper. I’m the CEO of Cooper Enterprises, and I’ve been looking for someone to take on a special project of mine. I want you.”
Shocked, I took a moment to think before answering.
“Why me? As far as I know, this is the first time we’ve ever met. You don’t know me.”
He smiled. “Oh, but I do. I know your name is Audra Stewart, and I know that you come here alone, order the same drink, and sit in the same spot until it’s time to return to your apartment. I also know that you have no social media accounts and prefer to be invisible. Am I correct?”
Despite his charm, the fact that he knew so much about me put me on edge, and I leaned back in my chair to put some distance between us.
“How do you know so much? Are you following me?”
“I had to be sure you were the right person for the job. I know who you used to be, Audra, and I need you on this project. In return, I can offer you enough money to live the rest of your life in comfort. What do you say?”
“My answer is no. If you know who I used to be, then you know why my isolation is important. Now, please leave me alone.”
“Very well. Just…please take my card and think about it. This project is important to me, and I want you to be involved.”
Against my better judgment, I took his card before hurrying out of the coffee shop and returning to my apartment. I triple-locked my door, shut every window, and turned on my laptop for some research on Max Cooper. I found article after article about his successes, his mergers, his business strategies, but nothing about his personal life. Even his website was devoid of personal information, and I must admit that my curiosity was piqued. I missed my old life, and if Max needed my talents, then he would get them. That night, I dialed the number on his card. He picked up on the second ring.
“This is Max Cooper.”
“Hello. It’s Audra Stewert. I’m in.”
“Wonderful. Pack for a week- I’ll have a car come by in an hour to pick you up.”
They didn’t drive me to his office, as I had expected, but to a small house outside the city. Max was standing on the front porch waiting for me as I arrived.
“Welcome to your home for the next week. Everything you need is already inside, and you’ll have a driver on call twenty-four hours if you need him.”
The house was bigger than my apartment and decorated in tasteful blues and greys. The driver took my bag to the master bedroom while Max and I sipped coffee in the kitchen. After a moment’s silence, I cleared my throat.
“So, I think it’s time you told me what the project is and why you needed my talents to make it work.”
He set his cup down.
“I assume you’ve done some research on my company?”
“Then you’ve noticed my lack of a personal life. Believe it or not, being a wealthy CEO doesn’t leave much time for romance. That’s where you come in. You used to be one of the top matchmakers in the world, and I need that confidence to help me find a bride.”
“That was a long time ago. After the…incident…I retired and went into hiding. I don’t have the resources I used to.”
“But I do. I’ll set you up with whatever you need, but you need to do it quickly.”
Those two words clicked everything into place, and I sipped my coffee in silence as I mulled it over.
“How long do you have?”
“Two years. Maybe three with the right medication.”
“And you need an heir.”
“You’re not looking for a wife. You’re looking for a broodmare.”
He thought about that for a long time as he watched the sunrise through the bay window. Finally, he nodded.
“I suppose you’re right. I wouldn’t mind some romance in my last years, but an heir is more important than a wife,” He sighed heavily. “On the bright side, I guess that makes your job a lot easier. All they’d have to do is give birth to my heir and pretend to like me until I’m gone. Then, they’ll be rich and single.”
He gulped the rest of his coffee and placed his cup in the sink.
“Anyway, you must be tired. I’ll leave you to get some rest, but call if you need anything.”
“Oh, and Audra. Thank you.”
Once I was alone, I thought about everything Max had revealed to me. He wanted an heir, and someone to spend time with for his remaining years. Most women would indeed jump at the chance of being Mrs. Cooper and inheriting billions after he died, but it just felt so…shallow. He needed someone that wouldn’t take advantage of his situation, and, after thinking about it for the entire day, I knew how I was going to help him. I called him right away.
“It’s Audra. I think I know how to help you, Mr. Cooper. When can you come by so we can discuss it in person?”
“I’ll be there in an hour.”
While I waited, I dressed in my most professional outfit and had coffee waiting for him when he walked through the door. He smiled.
“You look nice this evening.”
“Thank you. Mr. Cooper, I’ve been thinking about what you told me yesterday, and I think I’ve found a solution that will make you happy.”
“And what’s that?”
“Well, to be perfectly honest, I’ve found you a wife.”
“That quickly? I’m impressed. Who is she?”
He scrutinized me over his coffee mug.
“Yes. You need someone who knows your situation, who won’t take advantage of you, and who can keep your illness out of the public eye. I can do that. You also need someone to bear you a child. I’m twenty-seven, healthy, and (according to my OBGYN) fertile. I’m the perfect candidate.”
Max was silent as he considered my offer, and I was beginning to think he disagreed when he stood up and took my hand. Once standing, he leaned in and gently kissed me. No one had ever kissed me with such passion and gratitude before, and it was hard to keep my composure after he released me.
We married the next weekend, and I gave birth to our son ten months later. Max was the best father to our little Johnny, but his disease progressed, and Max died when Johnny was four years old. Before he died, he left Johnny his company (to be inherited when Johnny was 21) and made sure that we would be well taken care of until that time.
When Max Cooper sat at my table that day in the coffee shop, I had no idea that his presence would change my destiny completely. I became a mother and a millionaire almost overnight, and it was all thanks to a simple “Hello.”