The Billionaire’s Deal (Episode 1) by Crystal Kaswell Publication date: July 17th 2015 Genres: New Adult, Romance
Kat Wilder is screwed. No parents to take care of her. No money to pay the mortgage for the apartment she shares with her little sister. No chance at a future. She doesn’t even have time to daydream about her passions. She barely gets by waiting tables, getting treated like crap by the wealthy people who think she’s nothing.Then she runs straight into billionaire tech CEO Blake Sterling.Aloof, distant, and utterly in control, Blake is impossible to read. He wants Kat to play the role of his girlfriend and he’s more than willing to dig her out of debt. His intentions are good. According to him.They need to convince everyone they’re madly, deeply in love. Their entire relationship would be a lie. And a big one. The one true thing—the two of them alone, together—that part would be amazing.It would be Blake’s way. Blake’s terms. Blake utterly in control, inside and outside the bedroom.There’s no way she can agree. There’s no way she can refuse.
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The manager takes one look at my discount heels and faded pencil skirt, and he shakes his head. Not even polite enough to glance at my resume.
"Sorry, but the position is already filled."
A.K.A. No luck kid, this is called fine dining, not cheap-ass discount dining.
Expletives pop into my mind, but I hold my tongue. I can't afford to burn any bridges. "Do you know when you'll be hiring again?"
"It's very competitive here."
"I have a lot of experience." I thrust my resume into his hands. "I learn fast. I'll work any shift--holidays, weekends, even the slow ones no one else wants."
He takes the resume but doesn't look at it. "There are no slow shifts here. And we're looking for something specific. Good luck."
He turns back toward the office. The nerve of that asshole. Something specific. He's looking for someone prettier and thinner.
I take a not at all calming breath and walk out of the restaurant. Slow. Casual. Like I don't need the money desperately.
A rush of wind hits my face. Cold today. This won't be a fun walk. I dig into my purse for my phone. I need to check on Lizzy.
Another step and I bump into something solid. Or someone. My ankle shifts. My foot slips out of that stupid discount heel. Shit. I go down, palms flat on the concrete, purse in a lump beside me.
"Are you okay?" A deep voice asks.
Dammit, I was hoping I bumped into a mailbox or at least some normal New Yorker who wouldn't have the time to stop and help.
"Fine." I look up at the voice. Oh, crap. He's handsome. Tall. Broad shoulders. Square jaw and piercing brown eyes.
Embarrassing myself in front of a hot guy. A new high for the day.
"You look a little rattled." He leans down and offers his hand.
Okay. I take it and he helps me to my feet. He has strong hands, but they're smooth. No callouses. He's wearing a suit--expensive from the looks of it. Whatever the hiring manager wants to believe about me belonging at Lotus Blossom, the city's most pretentious Asian fusion restaurant, I know what money looks like.
This guy is pure money.
"I'm fine." I go to take a step. Shit. Pain shoots through my ankle. It's not quite sprained. Twisted, maybe.
"Sit down." He points to the bench behind us. "If you can walk."
"I don't need your help."
"Oh, really?" He raises an eyebrow and nods to my shoe as if to say put it on then.
I shift my weight to my non-injured ankle, but it's in the other discount shoe, and I can't balance at all. "I don't have time for this. I have work in an hour."
"I'll get you to work on time." He slides his arm under mine, like a human crutch, and he sets me on the bench.
My heart races. It's been a long, long time since anyone has touched me like that, with all that care and attention. It's almost sweet. Maybe Money Guy isn't a total asshole.
I take a deep breath, trying to convince my body to calm down. "What's your name?"
He collects the things in my purse, grabs my abandoned shoe, and kneels next to me.
Those piercing eyes find mine. He presses his fingers against my ankle. "You winced when you put your weight on it."
"I've dealt with worse sprains," I say.
He stares at me with a penetrating gaze. This Blake guy is impossible to read. It won't matter soon. I'm no one. He's obviously someone. He won't remember me tomorrow.
"I ran cross country in high school," I offer.
"What do you do?"
"I work at a restaurant."
"A lot of walking?" he asks.
"Yeah. I'm a server."
"You need to rest or you'll aggravate it."
"Are you a doctor?"
"I know injuries."
He stares at me like he's waiting for me to back down. The asshole is sure he knows best.
"I appreciate the advice, but I have to work. If I don't work, I don't make money."
"When is your next day off?"
"Wrap it well today. Ice it tonight. You'll be in pain, but you'll heal okay." He slides my shoe back onto my foot.
His fingers graze my ankle. Something in my body, something I haven't felt in years, lights up. No one has touched me like that in so long.
He stands and offers his hands. "I'll take you to work. My driver is around the corner."
I pick my purse up off the ground and slide it around my shoulder. "I can walk."
"I'll walk with you."
I take a long look at Blake. His expression is impossible to read. The strong, silent type. Not that I care what type he is.
He seems safe. Maybe not safe, but not dangerous.
"Don't make me insist," he says.
I nod and take a soft step. As little weight on my foot as I can manage. It hurts, but only enough to be twisted.
Blake's voice is commanding. "You shouldn't walk on that."
"That's none of your business."
"I bumped into you. That makes your injury my responsibility."
"Nope, my ankle, my responsibility." My fists curl into tiny balls. Who the hell does this guy think he is? "Whatever your noble intentions are, I'm not a damsel, and I'm not in distress. So mind your own damn business." I take a faster step. The pain isn't so bad. I've dealt with far worse.
He grabs my arm. "I appreciate your desire for discretion."
That's a strange way to apologize for being nosy, but Blake doesn't strike me as the apologizing type. I offer him my polite smile, the one I use with customers. "Thank you."
"Don't fake smile at me. I can't stand it."
"Then let me continue on with my life."
He pulls something from his pocket and presses it into my hands. A business card. "Give it a few days and let me how you're doing."
"You mean how my ankle is doing?"
He holds my gaze. There's something in his eyes--some tiny hint of vulnerability. I look at the pavement, then back to his eyes. That vulnerability is gone. Replaced by pure determination.
"That's my personal number. Text or call anytime." He takes a step back. "Be careful."
I nod. "Thanks."
He turns, walks around the corner, and he's gone.
I look at the business card.
Blake Sterling. CEO of Sterling Tech. They're huge, the biggest competitor to Google. Lizzy is obsessed with their web services. Uses them exclusively.
Blake is the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the country.
And he wants to know how I'm doing.
Crystal Kaswell writes steamy romances with flawed characters. When she isn't writing, she is thinking about writing. Or watching way too many episodes of Law and Order in a row.
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