Authors: Kb Winters
A Billionaire Romance
By KB Winters
Copyright © 2015 KB Winters
Published By: BookBoyfriends Publishing
Table of Contents
The weekend had been spent on a mad shopping spree with Hannah, an afternoon at the nail salon, a long, hard ride on Cherry Bomb up and down the 101, all capped off by an all night bar-hopping bender.
By Monday morning, I was fucked.
I peeled myself out of bed and did my best to stay upright as I lurched around my apartment while I got ready for work. I threw on some work-appropriate clothes, careful to cover all my tats, and dabbed on my usual makeup before racing out the door, as fast as my jelly legs could take me.
My head was pounding, and by the time I reached the office, I’d decided that there wasn’t enough caffeine in the entire world to drag me up from the pit I was in.
By ten o’clock, I couldn’t take it anymore and left to go down the street to a little coffee shop that had passed my coffee snob test.
It was funny to think that a week ago, I would have been happy scrounging in the bottom of a tin can for instant grounds, and now, with a fluffy bank account, I was happy to shell out five bucks for a cup of coffee.
Although…after my shopping adventures with Hannah over the weekend, I might need to think about dialing it back a little bit.
It had been worth it, though. I caught my reflection in one of the windows I passed, and had to admit, I looked amazing. I’d replaced my entire wardrobe, thrown away everything from my stripper days, and bought enough clothes to fully stuff my closet.
Shopping with Hannah had been fun, but had only ended up being a temporary fix for my broken heart. As it turned out, Hannah and Jett were donezo, so she was more than happy to continue our outing and hit up a few bars. By the end of the night, we were both sloppy drunk, and I ended up crashing at her place Saturday night.
I stepped inside the coffee shop and let the sweet aroma fill my senses.
“Ahhh,” I sighed to myself as I took my place in the short line up in front of the counter.
“Smells amazing, doesn’t it?”
I jerked around and found myself face to face with Parker Lee. I’d been introduced to him—by Cooper—on my first day at Brighton Enterprises. Parker was the manager of the Plush division. So, technically, on paper, he was my boss. Although, I knew—and I suspected he knew—that really, I answered to Cooper.
My stomach rolled at the thought of Cooper, a strange mix of desire and rage bubbling within.
I shoved it down and stared up into Parker’s smooth face. He was similar to Cooper, in some ways. Power suit, tall, imposing, and seemed to be well aware of his effect on the opposite sex.
“Yeah, I just found this place a couple days ago,” I said. “Well, actually, my nose found it.”
“Aha, well, job well done. I come here every day.”
“Mmm.” I nodded and turned back around. The line was moving, so I shuffled along and used it as an excuse to avoid further conversation with Parker. He was handsome, and from what I’d heard, single. But I was in no mood for another man, and my head was pounding, begging me to keep quiet until the painkillers and caffeine could fully work their magic.
I could feel Parker behind me. He stood closer than needed, considering the line wasn’t that long, but he wasn’t so close as to be socially unacceptable.
Just like Cooper.
I squeezed my eyes, desperately trying to push him out of my mind.
Finally, it was my turn. I stepped to the counter and rattled off my order. The barista was entirely too chirpy and I had a hard time not wincing with her every word. Once I paid, I went over to wait by the end of the counter. The guy making the drink smiled at me, but didn’t try to strike up a conversation.
Bless his heart.
“So, Allison, you’ve been with Plush for a little while now, but I’m realizing that I don’t know anything about you,” Parker said, sidling up to me after placing his order.
I looked up at him and forced a smile. “It’s only been a week,” I replied.
“It’s been a very busy week for me, otherwise I would have made more of an effort, I assure you.” He smiled at me and I couldn’t help the feeling that he was digging for something. “So, tell me.”
“Tell you what, exactly?” I asked. My mind was still fuzzy from the hangover and I wasn’t sure if maybe I’d just missed something, or if he was playing some sort of game with me. Either way, I wasn’t really in the mood, but since my new job would eventually require that we work together, I knew I didn’t have much of a choice but to entertain him.
“Something about you,” he said, still smiling. “Are you from LA?”
I shook my head, but stopped immediately as the pounding increased. “Umm. No, Kansas, actually.”
Really? I had lived in Kansas my whole life, and I’d never found it that interesting.
I smiled at him and silently willed my drink to be ready soon, so I could have a plausible reason to get out of this conversation and away from Parker.
“Did you come to California for school, then?”
“No, actually. I just thought LA sounded like a cool place to be, so after high school, I packed up and came out here.” I rarely let myself think about the reasons why I’d left Kansas, so I certainly wasn’t going to divulge that to a perfect stranger. In the middle of a bustling coffee shop, no less.
The man behind the counter picked up a cup, called my drink, and set it down.
“Sorry, that’s me,” I said, interrupting before Parker could get out another question. I rushed forward and picked up the cup.
Just as soon as my hand touched my cup, the man set another cup down next to it and called Parker’s name.
Parker smiled, swooped next to me and picked up his cup. “Come on, let’s walk back together,” he said.
I forced out another smile and started towards the doors. He held the door open for me as we left the coffee shop. I fell into step with Parker, who seemed to be taking his time—otherwise there’d be no way for my short stride to keep up with his long legs. Especially not when every step sent a new jolt of pain to my head.
“How long have you been with Plush?” I asked, hoping he was the type of man who would be able to talk about himself endlessly and let me off the hook so I could nurse my coffee.
“About three years now. Coop and I knew each other back in school, actually.”
My ears perked. Parker had suddenly become a hundred times more interesting to me. He probably knew all of Cooper’s quirks and secrets.
“I never really imagined myself the head of a cosmetic and fragrance company, but that was the opening, so I took it.”
I took a long, slow sip of my coffee. I wanted to find a way to ask about Cooper without seeming like some crazy, overeager fan girl.
“Brighton is a good boss, though. You don’t have to worry about that. He takes very good care of his employees,” Parker continued.
Oh, I know he can take care of me…that’s the problem.
“I heard you worked at Spotlight. Is that true?”
Parker laughed. “Don’t tell me you had to work for the dragon, Rita.”
I couldn’t help but laugh, snorting slightly as some of my coffee threatened to escape my lips.
“Sadly, that is also true.”
He groaned and shook his head. “Cooper won’t let me go over there and give her a piece of my mind, but believe me, I’d rip her a new one if given the chance.”
“She’s a monster,” I agreed. I couldn’t tell if it was the painkiller/coffee cocktail making me feel better or if it was the energy of our mutual disdain for Rita, but I was warming to Parker and almost sad when we arrived back at the office.
“Well, I’m glad you’re here now,” Parker said as we stepped onto an elevator.
I smiled. “Me, too.”
“What would you say to dinner, with me?” he asked as the elevator doors slid closed.
A rush of heat filled my cheeks and I found myself speechless. Parker was a handsome man, who genuinely seemed like a nice guy. There wasn’t really any logical reason to decline, but there was something clutching at my guts, making it hard to know how to answer.
Almost on cue, the elevator slowed and the doors opened.
I automatically glanced left and sucked in a breath.
Cooper was standing there, waiting for the elevator.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
“Allison,” he said, staring at me as if I was the only occupant of the suddenly-small-feeling, metal box.
My heart thumped against my chest and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from him. Just seeing him had me completely undone. Lust, anger, frustration, desire, and sadness all flooding through me faster than I could even register every emotion. It was all a tangled mess, wrapping around my heart.
“Good morning, Cooper.” Parker’s voice floated over my shoulder.
Cooper’s eyes left me, only for a second, to flick over to Parker. When his dark stare returned to me, his eyes were narrowed slightly as if he could read what had just been discussed.
“Good morning,” he answered. “Allison, I was actually coming to see you.”
“Oh.” That was it. That was all I could say. I stepped back as Cooper boarded the elevator and the doors slid shut again, trapping the three of us inside like some kind of cosmic joke.
It was the most awkward, tension-charged thirty seconds of my life.
When we arrived at the floor that housed the IT department, I finally exhaled, realizing I’d been holding my breath the entire ride.
“Well, I’ll catch up with you later, Allison. Let me know about tonight,” Parker said before giving Cooper a cordial nod and heading off in the other direction.
Cooper tensed and gripped my arm. “Tonight?” he growled under his breath.
Fuck my life.
I swallowed hard and allowed Cooper to steer me to my office.
“Sit,” he commanded, once the door was closed behind him.
I sank into my desk chair and set my coffee down on the table. Somewhere along the way, as he’d steered me down the corridors to my office, frustration had won out over the other emotions, and as I gripped the arms of my desk chair, rage was all I could feel pulsing through my veins. He was treating me like a dog on a leash, dragging me down the hallways like that. Where did he get the idea that I was his property?
By the time he opened his mouth, I was ready to go to war.
“What was that all about?” he asked. His jaw twitched as he waited for my answer.
“I went to get a coffee. I didn’t realize I needed your permission for that.” My teeth were clenched and my fingers dug into the leather even deeper.
“That’s not what I meant.”
“Then ask me more specifically. I swear, Cooper, you need to take some sort of etiquette class. Then again, I’m not sure that even Emily Post herself could help you.”
Cooper smiled and it sent a chill down my spine. “Charming,” he said.
I offered him my own strained smile and then unclenched one of my fists long enough to take a sip of coffee. “You were saying?”
“Allison, don’t push me. I’m in no mood.”
I sighed and set the cup back down, harder than intended and some of the precious liquid splashed out the top. “What do you want?”
“What was Parker talking about? What’s happening tonight?”
“That’s really none of your business.”