Authors: Cynthia Dane
Tags: #Billionaire Romance
The Billion Dollar Contract
THE BILLION DOLLAR CONTRACT, #1
Copyright: Cynthia Dane
Published: 4th February 2015
Publisher: Barachou Press
This is a work of fiction. Any and all similarities to any characters, settings, or situations are purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise transmitted without written permission from the publisher. You must not circulate this book in any format.
Clarise @ CT Cover Creations
Letter From Celeste
My Dearest Ethan,
As much as it pains me to do this, I’m afraid that I have no choice but to leave you. I don’t want to admit it, but I love you. I fell in love with you quite a while ago. In truth, I never thought it would be possible. You were too standoffish, too proud, too involved in your own life to spend much time with me outside from what you needed. And yet I stubbornly fell in love with you. It was both the greatest thing and the worst thing to ever happen to me.
But I can’t spend my life with a man who barely knows I’m there. I don’t want to take this further and end up alone every day anyway. Even when we were together, I felt like there’s this huge divide between us. I realize now that it’s because you don’t love me like I love you. I honestly wonder if you’re even capable of such a thing. I don’t mean this to offend you, but you just don’t seem like the kind of man who will ever be able to give his heart away.
You and I, we will never have the type of relationship that I need. It will only be about what you need. I thought that I could be happy with everything else you had to offer. But then I had to stop and wonder if this was the kind of life I have in mind for me. No, no it’s not.
I wish I could say that I’m sorry that I have to do this. But I know that you will bounce back soon enough. Another woman will catch your eye, and you will go on as you always have. You have this way with people that just brings them into your world. My only wish is that one day you will be able to meet someone halfway. To follow love where it wants to lead you.
Goodbye, Ethan. I would ask you to never forget me, but I don’t hold onto any hope that such a thing as possible.
Some of her clothes remained in the penthouse. Ethan stared at them, wondering what he should do with a woman’s clothes. He could donate them. He could ask his receptionist if she wanted them. Or he could stare at them forever, reminded of the woman who got away.
Instead he folded them up and put them in the dresser. A few of Celeste’s other clothes remained there. He wondered if she left them there on purpose, just so he would never forget her.
How could he forget her? How could he forget any of the women he had loved?
Police sirens jerked Jasmine awake. The cold in her unheated apartment kept her awake. The beast at the end of her bed had been awake all along.
Those cold, piercing green eyes were the only things Jasmine could see in her bedroom. The sun was barely up, but by God she saw Prince Blackbeard Esq. II staring at her as if she were about to be marched off to the chopping block.
Jasmine whined as she burrowed beneath her covers and tried to go back to sleep. She had dreamed of a handsome man talking to her in a restaurant. There was so little to live for these days. Handsome strangers of her subconscious would have to be it.
Two sharp claws dug through Jasmine’s thin blanket and pierced her leg.
“Holy-!” She shot up, the comforter on her bed tumbling to the floor while Blackbeard hissed and grumbled his pithy cat crap. “All right! I’ll feed you!”
Cats were supposed to be warm and cuddly. Jasmine had never bought into the thinking that they supposed themselves rulers of humans and used them as slaves. People who thought that had never met the kitties of her youth, each one more adorable than the last and more often than not purring in her lap.
Blackbeard was different. That asshole was a psychopath.
Tufts of fluff left hairball trails down the hallway until Blackbeard came to a complete stop in front of the living room. Jasmine, who stuck a toothbrush in her mouth on her way to the kitchen, tripped over her little darling and stumbled against the rancid carpet. Blackbeard huffed before waddling toward his empty food bowl. He was most displeased at its lack of contents.
“You’re already a huge fatass,” Jasmine mumbled on her toothbrush. She fed her Norwegian Forest Monster anyway, listening to his whining as if it were her alarm clock.
Every morning for the past three years, she got up to the sounds of Blackbeard’s life ending again. Most cats were supposed to have nine lives. Blackbeard had lived about a thousand now.
Jasmine didn’t have time to fight with the cat food – or the ants coming out of the cat food. Nor did she have time to scrub some suspicious looking spores off a bowl so she could eat some cereal for breakfast. She barely had time to pop back into her rickety bathroom to put on some deodorant and brush her hair.
This is it. Today’s the day.
Jasmine took in a deep breath and fished for the one nice dress she had. The one not eaten by moths or destroyed by mold.
She lived in a dump but had no choice. Although she hated making Blackbeard live in this cesspit of an apartment complex, it was better than living on the street. Jasmine had been unemployed for the past few months.
No way am I moving up in the world anytime soon.
Most days she could ignore the funky smell, the creaking floors, the noisy neighbors, the terrible internet, and the gunshots outside. She could even ignore the drugged out losers mistakenly coming to her door every other night because their dealer lived a floor above her. What she couldn’t stand was not having a job, or at least a job that wasn’t a temp position lasting three or fewer weeks.
But today she had an interview, and not just any interview.
Jackson-Cole called and wants me to come say hello.
One of the largest employers in the city, and Jasmine was about to join their legions.
Until Blackbeard clawed the stockings on her legs, anyway.
Jasmine unlatched three locks before stepping out into the crisp winter air. Her feet squished what may have either been dog crap or slush, but she had no idea nor did she care. She had shown up to job interviews with worse on her feet.
Without a car, Jasmine had no choice but to walk all the way to the Jackson-Cole building three miles away. While she walked, she rehearsed possible interview questions in her head.
“How long have you dreamed of becoming a secretary?” “Oh, ever since I was a little girl. I couldn’t wait to turn twenty-five and become a nameless slave in the business world!”
She probably shouldn’t say that.
“Hey Pancho!” She waved at a St. Bernard standing guard at the corner of her street. He belonged to a blind man who sat at that corner all day waiting for someone to talk to him. Today he had his hat already pulled over his head to block the sun while he dozed. When Pancho barked, the man jerked awake and asked Jasmine where she was off to.
“Job interview. Watch the place for me?”
“Would if I could, sugar girl.” He laughed before pulling his hat down again. Pancho barked one more time.
Jasmine shuffled down the sidewalk in her nicest shoes that were probably covered in Pancho’s dog crap. Beater cars blaring dance music rolled by, one of them stopping long enough to ask Jasmine what she was doing dressed like that in the roughest part of town. “Girl, you’re wearing what might as well be Swarovski crystals all over your pretty dress. Hop in and let me give you a ride. Or at least let me give you three bucks for a bus.”
It was Juan, one of Jasmine’s friends in the neighborhood. They met shortly after she moved into her stain on humanity of an apartment and some dumbass tried to break in and make off with her analog TV. Juan was central in smacking his cousin upside the head and returning her TV. He had signed himself up as her street protector ever since.
“I’ll take the offer if you could guarantee me bus fare every day after I get this job.”
“Damn! Moving right on up in the world, huh? Tell you what, you speak real nice about me to those suits and I’ll get you a bus pass for a month. Sound good?”
Jasmine smiled. “Sure. But I’m just interviewing to be a secretary.”
Juan finally turned down his music and touched her arm through the car window. “My ma’s been a secretary all my life. Ain’t no shame.” He passed a wad of dollar bills into her hand and then took off down the street again, waving at her. A police officer at the nearest intersection focused his binoculars on Jasmine. A man handing her money while she was dressed nicely? God knew what he was thinking.
Whore on patrol. You’re next, officer.
The next bus arrived on time, and Jasmine was more than happy to ride three stops down the avenue.
Amazing to see the world change so quickly.
Just two intersections away from her inner-city living sprouted the CBD, rising higher than any other in that part of the great U. S. of A. Glass walls, immaculate topiaries, fancy cars riding through… if Jasmine didn’t know any better, she would say that some fairy godmother had boarded that bus at the last stop. She looked to the woman sitting next to her, a large lady wearing a bank uniform and texting.
Jackson-Cole was the biggest building of them all. Jasmine could see it from a mile away outside the bus window, more glamorous than anything Hollywood could come up with.
I guess dreams come true there.
She would find out soon enough.
For as peppy as she felt on that chilly winter morning, a quick shiver of anxiety shot down Jasmine’s spine the moment she disembarked the bus on the corner of the sidewalk. She shoved her hands in her jacket pockets and stared at the monster building before her. She also stared at the men and women coming in and out of it, all of them dressed in business finery. Men in designer suits. Women with their designer bags.
I wish I had a designer bag.
In truth Jasmine thought they looked silly, but it was a status thing. She wanted to have the status of owning such an item more than anything else.
So it can get stolen.
There went her smile.
And there went her confidence the moment she walked into the atrium where she was to meet her interviewer.
Lines of men and women wearing lower-end suits and dresses filled the atrium, each of them poring over résumés and searching for something frantically on their phones. Pens whipped through the air over papers. Security guards attempted to keep them orderly. More than one person looked at the others amassing in the room and started sobbing.
“What in the world is going on?” Jasmine asked the guard standing at his post.
He didn’t bother to look at her. “Job interviews. Guessing you want a turn, huh? Stand over there.” He pointed to the end of the line far, far away from any office where interviews could be taking place. Jasmine thanked him but it did not inspire any confidence as she slinked over and asked the girl in front of her what she was applying for. As it so happened, it was the same exact position Jasmine wanted.