The concept of loving someone was foreign to Hayden. He’d grown up without a mother to show him compassion, without a father to teach him respect, and without a family to correct his faults. It may sound strange, but it was the truth that Hayden was alone. In a way, his very existence was cursed; and yet, he was blessed. He had never struggled to survive, never gone without.
His father was the Chairman and CEO of Aberdine Corp.; a cognitive, neurobiological, and genetic research facility based out of Minato, Japan and his mother was a local idol named International Model of the Year for two years running. When his parents passed away, Hayden had inherited his father’s company and the couple’s stocks and bonds; as well as the life insurance payments on his mother, father, and fraternal twin brother. Overnight, he’d become the richest five year old in the world and he would never want for anything again. At least, not anything that money could buy.
Bored with life, Hayden turned sixteen and assumed leadership over Aberdine Corp. The company had continued to thrive even after the death of Hayden’s father, Roland Lance Aberdine, and had surpassed an annual revenue of $2.46 billion. Two years later, countries across the globe partnered with this revolutionist, creating what is now the leading pharmaceutical company of the 21st century. To Hayden, it was just another game to occupy his time; the employees, nothing but pieces on a chess board.
Now leaning into a mahogany chair in the New York branch executive suite, Hayden took a moment to breathe. Flashbacks of this afternoon’s meeting pounded behind his eyes, trying to break free from his mind. Apathy, a state of indifference or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation, and passion. The psychiatrist had prattled off the definition as easily as his secretary now poured coffee. She glanced up at her boss with a mixture of concern and frustration before exiting the office, leaving him to his thoughts. He swung around in his seat, turning to face the city skyline.
At times like this, his office did little to comfort him. It was a shame, really, since he’d paid a pretty penny for a professional from Shanghai to redecorate, instilling contemporary Feng Shui into his hostile environment. His office was certainly extravagant but it was all imagery. He needed it to appear perfect, just as he needed people to believe that he was flawless. If he didn’t maintain his facade then the eternal game he was constantly playing would cease to be amusing. He now closed his eyes, taking in the scent of a nearby aromatherapy candle, and allowed his thoughts to wander.
The “good” doctor had claimed that he irrevocably suppressed his emotions in order to survive the loss of his family, as well as the stress of running a multibillion dollar corporation. When he’d denied her statement, she’d insisted that he was mourning the loss of his parents and “other half”. He’d laughed; he hadn’t meant to but before he’d realized what the feeling in his chest was, before he’d been able to stop her from seeing his face lit in amusement, the sound had escaped.
The woman had been damn shocked too. Her face blushed crimson and she’d struggled, futilely, to regain control of her emotions. Instead, she’d ended up bent over her desk with her skirt around her hips, begging for more of what he had to offer. It was pathetic and he now scoffed at the thought. Women were useless and far too easy to manipulate. They all wanted the same thing and, if it suited his whim, he would give it to them. First, they sought physical gratification without the complications of constraints. Then, when they realized that their feelings had developed into something more, they tried to bind him into a relationship in which he refused to contribute. Women were far too emotional; their complexity exasperating him beyond compare.
Hayden easily tossed away his thoughts, opening his eyes to take in the setting sun. It was summer and the days were long. Judging by the violet skies outside, he ventured to guess that it was around 8:30 pm. He didn’t bother glancing at his white gold Rolex in confirmation. He was in no rush to leave the office so instead he rested, focusing on a memory that was over thirteen years old. The memory was so lucid that he could have sworn it was just yesterday. It had been the last night he’d seen his family alive, and it now consumed his body.
Hayden’s brother, Clayton Lance Aberdine, had recently joined their mother in a photo shoot for some international clothing line and the launch party was set for that evening. Hayden had been invited to join in on the festivities but he had insisted that such events did not suit him. His mother, Anaka Noelle Aberdine, had giggled playfully and agreed to let him stay home with their maid, Rosalee. His family knew that the reason Hayden refused to go was because he and Clayton had, once again, been fighting. They also knew that once he had decided on something, as stubborn as he was, no one would change his mind. Anaka supported his willfulness and often told guests that it encouraged his individuality; after all, he would one day lead a company with over 8,000 employees. Hayden was the first born and with that came great responsibility. His mother had every intention of seeing that he enjoyed being a child, before the stress of adulthood consumed his life.
Now preparing to leave, Hayden watched his mother from the bottom of the staircase. She looked so beautiful, kneeling next to Clayton in a crimson, silk evening gown. She’d been at the top of the modeling industry for over ten years and some claimed no one would ever be able to surpass her. She adjusted Clayton’s bowtie and tilted her head to inspect her handy work. Jet black curls lay pinned atop her head, exquisite jewels holding them in place, and a few wisps had escaped to cling to blushing cheeks. Hayden’s brother listened intently to their mother as she rattled off various names of guests that would be attending.
Hayden watched the scene bitterly, resenting Clayton. No, it wasn’t resentment. He despised his brother. It was natural, or so Hayden believed, but he had never understood why his brother loathed him in return. Hayden knew the cause of his own anger. Clayton, the spitting image of their mother, was always being fawned over by their family and friends. Hayden did not care for the attention itself but, instead, was angered by the fact that they were not identical twins. He wanted his mother’s appearance, delicate and gentle, and detested his brother for stealing that away from him as well. Clayton was selfish, always taking what he wanted for himself, even if it belonged to Hayden. It was childish, really, but that did little to change the facts. His brother was a thief, robbing Hayden of everything he desired.
Anaka smiled at the pouting child, so warm and gentle that he had rushed forward to grasp her free hand. He’d begged her to stay but she’d lovingly insisted that it was their responsibility to go and reminded him that he was welcome to join them. He’d refused, not allowing himself to be lured into attendance, although he desperately craved his parents’ attention. His father descended the staircase, ruffling Hayden’s hair as he walked past. Joining his wife at the door, the couple looked back at Hayden, as if giving an opportunity for him to concede, before marching out into the winter chill.
Smiling slightly, Hayden brushed his hand through his hair, thinking about his father. He knew his jealousy spawned from his brother’s appearance but he also felt pride that he, alone, took after their father. It was contradictory if he thought about it, but Hayden never stopped to consider what truth might lay there. His father was the kindest man he knew and anyone you asked would say that he was also handsome beyond compare. He was British-American with gold locks that naturally fell around a masculine face. His emerald eyes spoke of wisdom and trust, and feelings Hayden no longer understood.
Hayden loved his father. Hayden loved his mother. He wanted them to be happy and he wanted to please them. Deciding to apologize to Clayton when they returned that evening, Hayden waved once more as the car smoothed its way down the driveway. He watched his parent’s figures through the back windshield until he could no longer see the car through the falling snow. That was the last time he ever saw his family.
A few hours later, they were reported missing. Guests testified that they’d never arrived to the party. The police investigated with little results only to later discover their vehicle well outside the Tokyo area. Officers claimed that his parents’ had been the victims of a carjacking and stated it was just a matter of time before their bodies turned up.
He was sent to live with the Co-Chairman of his father’s corporation but Hayden quickly realized that the man was more interested in his inheritance than in the helping him to cope with the loss of his family. Hayden returned to his father’s birthplace, New York City, to live with his family’s maid while he educated himself on international business. He separated himself from the world and its deceitful people, deciding that a person’s only value was in his wallet or the skills he had to offer.
Glancing out at the now darkened sky, Hayden returned all attention to the overly cluttered desk, sparing only a quick glance at the tickets in the corner. His flight was scheduled for 7 am tomorrow morning and he was already dreading the 12 and a half hours cramped into the plane. He stayed focused on the task at hand but, in some dark corner of his mind, he acknowledged the psychiatrist’s erroneous observation. He was not apathetic. He was cold and calculated, resenting the world for its betrayal. His mask was perfect though. No one could possibly imagine that the only thing he desired was complete destruction. He would sabotage everything and, when nothing was left, he would crumble with this prison of a company.