Authors: Mia Taylor
Copyright 2016 by Mia Taylor- All rights reserved.
In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.
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Scored by the Billionaire
A Secret Baby Sports Romance
By: Mia Taylor
Table of Contents
Bonus Story: Dance with the SEAL
(A ballerina Navy SEAL sports romance)
Liona Gregory arrived at Dempsey Field at a quarter to nine. A security guard admitted her through the office entrance, and although she'd been to the massive stadium dozens of times on League business, she politely thanked him when he offered to lead her upstairs to the offices. They rode up in the elevator, and he asked a few cheerful questions about the upcoming season, and if she was coming to meet the new boss-man.
"He and I have met before," she said with a demure smile. The inner door of the elevator was polished steel, and its reflection was as clear as a mirror. She looked at her face, admiring the perfect job she'd done on her eyes, with the bronze and charcoal blend of color and clean, sharp wings at the corners. The highlight on her cheekbones, the contour, and the shade of matte purple lipstick were all perfect. Her long, wavy black hair was pulled tightly back into what she called her business bun, and her suit, a twelve hundred dollar Givenchy creation from Saks, was a creaseless work of art. On the outside, she was as ready as could be for this.
The elevator door opened. "His office is just down on the left," the security guard said. "You can't miss it. He's expecting you."
"Thank you," she said, and stepped out of the elevator. The door closed behind her, and she took a deep breath, exhaling slowly to collect herself. The jacket on this expensive suit felt tight when she took a deep breath, because her breasts were still swollen with milk. Back in New York, Liona's mom would be struggling to get baby Ashley to have her breakfast of formula from a bottle. Little Ashley would have to get used to it. She'd had six months of breast feeding, and now it was time for Liona to go back to work, either at the League office, or out here if this interview went well.
But Liona imagined this interview was going to be a very complex chess game. She would have to be really damn clever to negotiate this little affair.
She walked down the hall. Through the open doors of several offices, she could see empty desks and boxes stacked on the floors. There was a lot of turnover at the moment as the ownership changeover played havoc with the staff. Of course, if she ended up taking the business operations position that was on the table, it would be her job to stabilize the whole procedure. She immediately began thinking of names, but they were all New York names. She'd been in the Apple too long. She would need to go local to fill to a lot of these posts.
The hall curved gently, as the building curved around the massive indoor stadium space, and soon Liona saw the owner's office. She slowed her pace and walked quietly, moving on tip-toes so that she could get the first look at the new owner of the Corsairs: billionaire business and real estate investor, notorious playboy, and world-class smartass, Carlson Murphy.
He was standing with his back to the open door, looking out through the huge glass windows that overlooked the playing field far below. He stood with his hands casually in his pockets. He was wearing a gorgeous tan suit. Liona immediately noticed how perfect his posture was, and how strong he looked in this candid moment. It made her feel good for Ashley, her baby, knowing that she came from such good physical stock. After all, even though he didn't know it, Carlson Murphy was little Ashley's father.
"Ahem," she said, announcing her arrival.
Carlson turned and saw her, his handsome face breaking into a wide smile. "Liona!" he said, crossing the room to first shake her hand and then kiss her on the cheek. "Thank you so much for flying out to meet with me. How was your flight in?"
"The same as always," she said. "Thanks for the limo at the airport."
"My pleasure," Carlson said, directing her toward a chair. "Sorry, the office is a dump. The last guys took everything out, and it'll be a few days before we have the decorators in. As you can see, there's a lot of work to be done here. I want a new workplace aesthetic in place, as quickly as possible to demonstrate a shift in workplace culture here. I want this place to be as progressive and empowering as possible at all levels. That's the culture I want to put in place."
The chairs were vinyl-covered office chairs, no better than one might find in the waiting room at the dentist. Carlson's temporary desk was a folding work table. He had a stack of folders and a laptop, with a briefcase and a coffee mug. "Can I get you anything?" he asked. "Water, coffee, tea? There's some champagne in the fridge. I think the previous owners were saving it for when they won a championship, but, well, we saw how that played out."
Liona laughed. "I'm fine, thank you."
He sat down in the chair across from her. "You look fantastic. You really do. I'm sorry we didn't get a chance to see each other more during the handover process. After you did all your investigations, I thought you'd be involved all the way through."
"I would have been," she said, "but I took leave. I'm still on leave, technically. I'm not due back at the League office for another three weeks. Unless I jump ship to the Corsairs, that is."
Carlson smiled. "Well, we're here today so I can convince you that jumping ship would be the right move."
"Okay," she said, with a restrained smile. "Can we deal with the elephant in the room first?"
He glanced around the room. "I don't see it. Just kidding. Yes, please, let's be perfectly frank with each. What would you like to talk about?"
"Well, there are certain, shall we say, Human Resources-related issues about taking a job with a boss that you've been intimate with. I don't think it would benefit either of us to act as though a particular night in a particular hotel room didn't happen."
"Excellent, yes, let's deal with that. Here's how I see the situation." He looked up at the ceiling for a moment, considering his words, and then he smiled and looked at her. "I have had intimate encounters with many, many women. Because of my social circles, many those women are highly educated and excellent in their fields. From my perspective, I would be doing a disservice to both those women and my own businesses if I discounted them as potential candidates in my organizations. That said, I believe in strict no-harassment workplaces. And in the case that I had a business relationship with a person that I had also known socially or romantically, I would insist those relationships be kept absolutely exclusive." He thought for a moment. "But at the same time, I can't stand in the way of people's feelings."
Liona smiled. "That seems conveniently vague."
He shrugged. "Well, here's the conundrum," Carlson said. "It's very important that we do not allow harassment in the workplace, and it's also important that we do not allow unfair or preferential treatment in the workplace because of a romantic relationship, be it prior or current. But that said, the workplace is still the number one place that people meet their significant others in America. So while I expect that people, myself included, will date in the workplace, I do insist that people behave in a fair and appropriately professional manner and observe all Human Resources guidelines that are in place to prevent any improper behavior."
"Wow," she said with a grin. "That sounds like a speech you've had to give a few times before."
"No, not at all," he smiled. "To be honest, you're the first person I've interviewed that I've slept with."
"You didn't think about it before inviting me to interview for this position? How you would deal with the fact that we were together?"
He laughed and shifted in his chair. "Well, Liona, here's what I thought about when I decided to reach out to you about joining the front office of this team. You spent a full year investigating me on behalf of the League. You went through everything. You went through the finances of every business I've ever been involved in, from my first comic book store to the real estate investments to the franchise restaurants and the insurance groups. Everything I've ever touched, you touched to make sure it was one hundred percent clean. You spoke to people I didn't even remember meeting to make sure that they didn't remember me ever touching anything dirty."
She nodded. "It was my responsibility to make sure that you were an appropriate candidate for owning a team in the most prestigious and profitable sports league in North America. We had a lot of old creeps and kooks owning teams. We have no interest in letting any new ones buy their way in."
He laughed. "I have the same approach to my own businesses. When I owned that first comic store, I hired a kid to cover me on Wednesdays so I could catch the occasional break and work on my other projects. Well, I found out from one of my customers that he was swiping product. He was taking about forty dollars' worth of comics a week. I didn't do my due diligence to find out if he was a creep or a kook, to use your words. Well, the stakes are a little higher now. This is a damn-near billion dollar investment. I've staked my entire fortune, every part of my portfolio, on the success of this team. I need someone like you to help me stock my business-side team with only the best people. No creeps. No kooks."
She smiled and nodded. "That is what I'm best at."
"Look," he said, sitting forward and resting his elbows on the table. "Let's be straightforward with each other. You're a forensic accountant. You look at business information and you can learn everything about a person. You know me better than my mother knows me. You've know everything about me. Hell, you even interviewed my ex-girlfriends."
Liona laughed. "Yes, quite a few of them actually."
"Right," he nodded. "And I know what you're capable of. You're here, so I know there's some interest in the job. So let me ask you: what would it take to bring you on board?"
She raised an eyebrow. "Are you talking about terms?"
They spent some time discussing money, benefits, perks, vacation time, travel allowances, and bonuses, all without Liona making a commitment. They talked about Carlson's vision for the team, the type of culture he wanted to build both in the office and on the field. They talked about the city. They talked about the facilities. They even began talking about players, which would be outside of either of their profile of responsibility.
Liona found herself laughing at Carlson's jokes. He had an easy charm about him when he spoke. She was reminded why she'd been attracted to him in the first place. Their night at the Marquis Hotel was not something that just came about because of too many drinks and a spur of the moment whim; she'd spent a year interacting with him on a regular basis, and her attraction to him had steadily grown. Yes, he was attractive and funny, but he could also be surprisingly humble and self-deprecating. He was a serial dater, and usually had a movie star or super model on his arm. He was trouble, and she knew it. But he was also irresistible.
Eventually Carlson looked at his phone. "We've been here for two and a half hours," he said. "What are you doing for lunch?"
She smiled. "I don't have any plans."
"Shall we go? You're here until tomorrow, right? Your afternoon is open?"
Carlson called for his car to pick them up, and they made their way down and out of the stadium, finding his Lincoln waiting for them. Carlson's driver, a thirty-something man in a suit, was holding the back door open for them. "Hello, sir, madam," he said, as they slide into the car.
"Hey, Ken," Carlson said. "You can relax. This is Miss Gregory. Um, we don't have reservations anywhere, but can you find us somewhere half decent for lunch?"
"Sure," he said, and as they pulled onto the road, Ken pushed a button on a phone and started speaking into his headset, asking for directions to a restaurant.
"He'll find something for us," Carlson said to Liona.
She caught him glancing at her legs. She crossed them and glanced out the window. "This is a great area of the city," she said. "Are you expecting to spend much time here?"
"Yes," he said. "I'm going to be living here. This is by far my biggest investment ever. This is the pinnacle. Becoming an owner in this league?" He laughed. "This will be the first thing they write in your obituary. Owner of the Corsairs. I'll have to be here, well, probably ten months of the year, anyway. What about you?" he asked. "Could you give up New York?"
Liona shrugged. "I guess I would have to."
"You don't sound happy about that."
She smiled at him. "It's all part of the game."
They cruised away from the huge stadium and into the downtown core of the city, passing by the train station and the big hotels, the museums and historic buildings that have been converted into shopping malls. "Okay," Ken said, "I got a spot at Kiplinger's. It rates a four-and-a-half in the Zagat, so I hope it's all right."
"That's great, Ken," Carlson said. "Thank you. Sorry I didn't give you more notice."
Ken drove the car through the business district to a high class shopping area, and onto a side-street, pulling up in front of an old brick townhouse. "The reservation is in your name, sir," Ken said as he double-parked the car and hopped out, moving to open the door for Liona.
"Thanks," she said with a grin. "I got it."
Liona and Carlson walked up the steps to the restaurant. It was a huge place. Three townhouses had been combined to make room for the upscale restaurant. Carlson gave his name to the greeter and they were led to a table near a window looking out onto the street. A server promptly arrived to take their drink order.