Skye Benning

 After a turbulent flight to Shanghai a young woman with a pensive expression on her beautiful face rested her head on her palm and sighed. Why does he have to get married?

She rubbed the space between her eyebrows as she gazed out the small window of the luxurious private plane, extremely upset that her elder brother will be getting married soon. Unable to reconcile to the fact she was in a very bad mood. The entire flight from New York her head was filled with ways to disrupt the upcoming nuptials. She watched flashes of lightning streak across the gloomy gray sky filled with ominous rain clouds. Brother… I finally can see you again. 

    Skye Benning was wearing a stylishly tailored designer outfit and looked like a model as she gracefully exited the plane. The short black jacket and high waisted beige pants with a cinched waist fit her slim body perfectly and half her small oval face was covered by a pair of dark Fendi sunglasses. She quickened her pace down the steep stairs in her Christian Louboutin black leather booties, anxious to go to the company and surprise her brother, Shao Zu Tang. A thin man wearing a black Armani suit walking behind Skye diligently raised an umbrella sheltering the petite woman from the drizzling rain. Concerned about the slippery steps he lifted an eyebrow and warned. “Miss, walk slowly.”

  Suddenly she adjusted her mood, her sparkling amber eyes filled with a mischievous gleam. Skye’s cherry red lips curled up into an impish grin which contrasted with her otherwise sophisticated appearance. Hmmph! Perfect weather for Shao Zu’s stupid wedding! I hope it rains and rains and rains! A flood! A flood would be even better! Wash away the bride before he puts the ring on her finger! Haha…

    A tall handsome Chinese man sat restlessly inside a luxurious black Rolls Royce Phantom with dark tinted windows not far from the tarmac. Due to severe thunderstorms in the area the private plane was delayed by over an hour, worrying him about his sister’s safety. He nervously twisted the jade and gold ring on his index finger. It was impetuous of the little girl to come to Shanghai under these weather conditions. 

   Shao Zu Tang has been uncharacteristically distracted and unable to concentrate, ignoring the detailed report he was reading on the computer. When the sleek plane emblazoned with the eye-catching royal blue and gold logo of the Benning Group finally came into view his deep ink black eyes were filled with relief and anticipation. While he watched Skye walking towards the car his heart skipped a beat and his throat became dry. There was no one else in his world besides Skye Benning who could stir this heartless man’s emotions and make him anxious.

    When the driver opened the back door, Skye was stunned when she was greeted by a familiar face. Speaking English she enthusiastically remarked. “Brother! I didn’t expect you to have time to pick me up.”

   Shao Zu Tang watched his little sister with a scorching gaze hidden behind his mirrored sunglasses as she stepped into the car. The man’s eyes were pitch black… a bottomless abyss filled with possessiveness and obsession as her sweet scent lingered around him. Skye’s long honey blonde hair was slightly windblown and loosely hanging down from a sparkling pink diamond hair clip. Combined with her flushed red cheeks and fox-like amber eyes she had a captivating unruly appearance that instantly took his breath away.

   The man maintained his taciturn appearance and controlled his excitement while sitting next to his most beloved woman. The body and face that has occupied his dreams almost every night.  Skye you are perfect…soft…sweet and breathtakingly beautiful. After he took a deep breath he calmly closed his laptop then smiled, softening his cold features. He responded in English with a very slight Chinese accent. “Naughty girl, why didn’t you tell me you were coming to Shanghai early?”

   Skye Benning’s clear amber eyes were full of charm as she hugged his arm. She looked up at his flawless face as she affectionately teased him, “Brother, I wanted to surprise you.” Skye’s seductive red lips formed into a beguiling smile, “I see that isn’t an easy thing to do.”

  He gently brushed Skye’s soft honey colored hair back behind her delicate ear with his slender finger. He chuckled when he heard her stomach rumble. “Hungry?”

   She leaned her head on his  strong chest as she softly replied, “Famished.”

  Shao Zu Tang instructed her assistant and bodyguard Wyatt Malone to open her room at the Golden Phoenix Hotel then told the driver to take them directly to the elegant 527 Club. He has been living in Shanghai for the past four years establishing himself and the Benning Group. The 527 Club he bought a year ago quickly became a popular night spot for the young wealthy elites with money to burn. There is a luxurious casino hidden on the top floor that attracts big spenders. People often asked the significance of 527 but he would refrain from answering, only he knew the special meaning of 527… that was the day he met Skye Benning.

     When they arrived at the 527 Club he lightly kissed Skye on her forehead. “Little girl, wake up.”

  Skye stretched her arms and yawned. She used a coquettish tone and fluttered her long black eyelashes, “Brother, carry me.”

  He laughed and pulled her seemingly weightless body into his arms as the driver opened the door. The driver was shocked. He worked for Shao Zu Tang for a few years and has never seen him pampering a woman. Shao Zu playfully tapped Sky’s small nose, “Lazy kitten, you haven’t changed one bit.”

  She snuggled into his broad chest, “ Brother, I missed you so much.” She pouted, “Grandfather would have kept me in that god awful private University in Switzerland over break if it weren’t for your wedding. That is the only reason he allowed me to come to Shanghai.”

  Shao Zu Tang frowned at the mention of his upcoming wedding. If he wasn’t her adopted brother he would marry Skye. He has been in love with his sister since the first day they met as children at the mansion. Both his parents and Skye’s father were killed in a plane crash while  their companies cooperated on the building of Ice Lotus Mountain Ski Resort. Skye’s grandfather, J. Barret Benning adopted Shao Zu Tang because he had no male heirs. The only concession the old man made was allowing him to keep his surname. 

   J. Barret Benning was straightforward about the adoption. He didn’t mince words or hide the reason he had taken Shao Zu into his home. He clearly informed the boy he wasn’t a philanthropist, the adoption was because he recognized the twelve year old boy’s limitless potential. Shao Zu resigned himself to the fact he was merely the old man’s pawn, knowing without relatives he would end up in an orphanage.

   Due to the trauma from his parents being killed and the realization the old man had selfish reasons to adopt him, Shao Zu was cold and withdrawn. When he first arrived at the Benning’s mansion, Shao Zu stood in the living room like a lifeless puppet until Skye grabbed his hand unexpectedly. The chubby little six year old girl wearing a white dress embroidered with pink bunnies dragged him to a garden full of colorful blooming flowers. She had a cute soft voice and her eyes were like stars as she excitedly pointed out her favorite flowers and told him their meanings.

   Skye Benning was like a shining star, bright and lively. After clumsily making a flower wreath she stood on  her tiptoes and still couldn’t reach his head.  She put her short little arms on her hips and puffed out her red cheeks until he obediently bent down. Shao Zu wanted to resist but her infectious smile and laughter melted his frozen heart. He unknowingly lifted his lips in a slight smile for the first time since his parents died. It seemed from that day forward Skye was the only warmth he has had in his life.

    Shao Zu  was a gifted student who surpassed the old man’s expectations, graduating from Harvard Law School at the age of twenty two. Shao Zu quickly became a force to be dealt with in the business world. He had a cold and intimidating aura and was unwavering in negotiations. He would find his opponent’s weakness and use that to his full advantage, making them bend to his will or suffer severe consequences.   

    Shao Zu Tang’s name resounded in the business world, he became known as the bold and ruthless CEO of the prestigious Benning Group. Shao Zu Tang’s tenacious attitude and lack of a moral compass was the reason why J. Barret Benning entrusted his adopted son to build their presence in China. He patted himself on the back for allowing the boy to keep the surname Tang; it ultimately facilitated interacting with the Chinese families wary of foreigners.

     Seated so close to Skye again Shao Zu was aroused by her seductive appearance. She has grown into a rare natural beauty in the last couple years. Her body filled out in all the right places but she is still slender, appearing fragile as a porcelain doll. Skye’s face still has a little baby fat which gives her an innocent look that makes a man want to bully her. He licked the inside of his mouth as he stared at her luscious red heart shaped lips yearning to taste them again. 

   Shao Zu remembered when she returned drunk from a graduation party. He helped Skye into her bed and she pulled him down then kissed his lips. She was wearing a loose black cashmere sweater that highlighted her fair skin. When she wrapped her thin arms around his neck the sweater slipped down revealing a black lace bra. It was all he could do at the time not to ravage her alluring body as she held onto him, igniting the fire he had been suppressing. Although he indulged a little he refrained from going too far.  The next morning he was grateful Skye didn’t recall their entanglement. No woman, no matter how beautiful, has been able to attract him, his overwhelming desire for Skye has never diminished. The longing has only grown stronger as she blossomed into a beautiful young woman. 

   He laughed and lightly flicked her forehead to lighten the mood, “You just arrived in Shanghai, let’s not talk about unpleasant things like my marriage.”

  Skye suddenly had a complicated expression as she peered quizzically into his unfathomable pitch black eyes. “Brother, are you saying you don’t want to marry Chloe Wang?”

   He caressed her cheek with his large warm hand, “It is true, I don’t love the woman. The marriage is an order from Grandfather. I can’t refuse. The merger of our two families will enable the Benning Group to expand more fluidly into the Asian Market.”

  Skye wanted to beg him to reconsider because she hated Chloe for usurping her position in Shao Zu’s heart, but no one was allowed to refuse their grandfather’s orders. She changed the subject, not wanting to think about his marriage any longer. “Did you get a private room at the Club?”

  “Of course.” He plays with a strand of her loose hair. “Do you think I want to share you with anyone on the first night you are here?” 

   The driver was dumbfounded when he looked in the rear view mirror and witnessed their intimate behavior. Skye was leaning on Shao Zu and he was wrapping a loose strand of her honey blonde hair around his finger. Did the sun rise in the West today? CEO Tang  being affectionate to a woman. Strangely though…he sounds more like a boyfriend than the girl’s brother!  He came to his senses when he almost ran up onto the curb as he turned into the rear parking lot. The driver was sweating waiting for Shao Zu to reprimand him but the damning insult never came from the backseat.

   The driver inwardly thanked Skye for diverting Shao Zu’s attention as he parked in the rear of the Club at Shao Zu Tang’s private entrance. Shao Zu  carried Skye into the Club unaware the scene was witnessed by one of Chloe Wang’s friends outside smoking a cigarette.

   Once inside the private room he set Skye down on the couch. She leaned back on the comfortable white leather couch, “Shao Zu…I don’t want to go back to Switzerland. Could I stay here with you? I even learned to speak Chinese, I could work at the company.”

   He poured a glass of sweet red wine then handed it to Skye, “I don’t think Grandfather would agree.” 

   Shao Zu Tang got a headache every time he thought about his future with Chloe Wang. She was a very annoying woman. The old bastard is convinced the Wang Group is the key to gaining a foothold in China. I definitely don’t agree. They are too entrenched in the past and haven’t accepted the fact that e-commerce is becoming a more viable way to conduct business. It is self-evident  that a majority of consumers would rather sit at the computer and order online than go to a traditional brick and mortar store.

  Skye took the wine and gulped it down making her eyes water, she coughed and patted her chest. Annoyed he didn’t take a minute to consider the idea she blurted out, “Shao Zu! I am not a child anymore! I don’t want to go to that stuffy school, it is so boring!”

  Shao Zu had a helpless expression, “Grandfather won’t agree.” I can only hope after I take over Wang Enterprises in two years I can strike a deal. Keep the subsidiaries under the umbrella of Wang Enterprises I establish then give them back the  core company in exchange for an amicable divorce from that wretched woman.

  He sat next to Skye and stretched out his long legs then she laid her head on his lap. “So unfair. Brother, I thought you would at least say you would talk to Grandfather.”

   Shao Zu stroked Skye’s silky curled hair, “You graduate next year, by then the company will be on solid ground. There is a good chance Grandfather will say yes.”

   Skye had made the decision before she came to Shanghai that if Shao Zu didn’t agree to help she would stay in the city anyway. Very well,  Plan B. I saved all my money for the last two years and I can pawn my jewelry if need be. There is no way in hell I am going back to Switzerland! I am not fluent in Chinese yet but I have confidence I can survive here. Most people speak English and I will improve my by speaking Chinese on a daily basis.

  The server came into the room and placed all of Skye’s favorite Chinese dishes on the exquisite rosewood table. Skye’s eyes lit up and she momentarily forgot she was angry at Shao Zu. “Brother, is that Abalone with Sea Cucumbers? You remembered!”

   The man’s deep black eyes reflected his adoration as he unblinkingly stared at the beautiful little woman he loved. Shao Zu had a pampering tone as he placed food on her plate, “I know all your likes and dislikes.”

  Skye was sitting next to Shao Zu and impulsively kissed him on the cheek which sent a wave of heat through his taut body. It took all of his self restraint not to carry her to the couch and press Skye underneath him and declare his sovereignty.

   She hugged him and inhaled his familiar masculine scent mixed with the woodsy smell of Ambergris. I love being held in his strong arms. I feel safe and secure. I love the way he smiles at me and pats me on the head. The feeling of being pampered by him. When Brother is married we will grow apart, he won’t have time for me anymore. 

    Skye was in a complicated mood and impulsively sat on Shao Zu’s lap. She locked her eyes onto his ink black eyes as she wrapped her arms around his neck. He felt his heart tighten, her beautiful amber eyes had a thin layer of mist and small crystal tears hung on the corner of her eyes. She coaxed Shao Zu with a soft kittenish voice scratching his heart with her words.  “Brother, don’t marry Chloe Wang. You are far too good for that woman.” 

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