Authors: Jenn Marlow
Tags: #romance, #action, #series, #short stories, #contemporary, #sagas
Copyright © 2015
All Rights Reserved
. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
oe!” I heard his deep voice gruff from the kitchen, which was located down the hall. I giggled. Not because of his urgency or even the harsh sound of his voice; that wasn’t comical. Not in the slightest. I knew it was real, but I giggled because it was like my eyes had instinctively rolled to the back of my head; it was like they had been perfectly honed to detect his voice and immediately reflect the annoyance that it caused me.
But I knew he meant business, and I knew better than to diddle-daddle when he called.
Rather than continue to look through the spreadsheets that he told me to look through, I knew I should see what he needed. I sighed, turning my tablet’s screen off. The King was waiting, after all.
I made my way from the office, towards the kitchen, not paying any mind to the gorgeous view that could be seen through the window to my right. It ran all the way—uninterrupted—from one end of his penthouse to the other.
I knew what it looked like; I had seen it multiple times over the last couple of months, but I was captivated by it each and every time I walked past.
I wondered, when I first started working for Mr. Sholts, if he realized how lucky he was to have a view such as that, but it seemed almost lost on him. He had lost appreciation for it, clearly, if he had ever really appreciated it to start with.
But I knew I couldn’t look. If I did, I would stay there, staring out, for hours probably. So rather than look and then focus on it, I continued on, over the entire length of the hardwood-floored hallway towards the kitchen.
“What do you need, Mr. Sholts?” I asked, turning the corner.
I noticed he was shirtless, standing in his kitchen over an array of deli meats, bread, cheeses, and condiments.
He really has to make a sandwich shirtless?
“A lot...” he said. “You may want to take notes.”
You’d think that he’d show leniency on me, considering I was still new. But he hadn’t and he wouldn’t. He had worked me hard from the very first day I had arrived nearly eight weeks ago. However, it wasn’t a surprise. I knew his reputation. He was a hard ass. He wasn’t the lenient type.
“I’m just kidding...” he said, obviously noticing how much I stiffened.
I sighed a sigh of relief and relaxed a little bit.
“If that’s all, I need to get back to those spreadsheets, Mr. Sholts.” I hoped I hadn’t sounded too annoyed—I was, but I didn’t want to sound it.
“Go on a date with me,” he smirked, leaning his shirtless back on the countertop.
Work-place sexual harassment, much?
I rolled my eyes again and sighed with annoyance. He had been trying to get me on a date since my first day in the office.
“We’re on about that, again?” I groaned, tightening my grip on my tablet.
“I think it’d be good for you,” he smiled.
. He was so cocky that I couldn’t even stand it.
But his reputation of being a total jerk of a boss wasn’t the only thing he had a reputation for. With his glorious—yet irritating—good looks and great financial success, it wasn’t hard to believe either. Indeed, Mr. Sholts was what one would call a bit of a ladies’ man.
And he wasn’t just a ladies’ man, either. He was a ladies’ man with a craving for the ladies, himself. In other words, he was a player.
I wasn’t sure how he was able to be such a player, though. Sure, he was gorgeous, intelligent, motivated, successful, and young—but that was it. He was a total jerk. I honestly couldn’t stand the man—even from the time of my first interview.
He really was gorgeous, though. I never had to remind myself of that. He was a pain in the ass, for sure, there was no denying that. However, there was also no denying that he was sexy as all get-out. I had never seen anyone as gorgeous in my life; and it wasn’t just because I was from a small town. There, he would have shined like a movie star. I knew that. And despite what many would think, and much to everyone I had spoken to in the city’s surprise, I had seen all the big box movies and I had seen all the men the rest of the world drooled over and found sensational. This man, though, he trumped them all.
I couldn’t believe my eyes befell someone so attractive in person. With light brown hair sort of coifed perfectly and a clean shaven face, he was really young in appearance. He
young, after all—mid-twenties and already a billionaire. He really was what one would think of when they uttered the word “perfect”—and the fact that he was a billionaire likely added a nice little cherry on top.
And probably the fact that he had rippling muscles on every square inch of his body. I wondered how he found the time to go to the gym so much, but it was a priority to him.
He was the epitome of rich and sexy. He trumped everyone. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
I couldn’t understand how, but he did.
I would have attributed his good looks to genetics, but I saw his parents and—although they were far from unappealing—his looks still far surpassed theirs.
Same with every other member of his family whom I came across.
He was almost perfect-looking, and that intimidated me more than his success, more than his money, and more than his harsh attitude.
It intimidated me more than I could have ever been intimidated.
I was a farm girl after all.
And to me, it wasn’t just that one could look better with money by buying the latest fashions, staying the best groomed, or anything of the sort; it was the rarity of him being so rich. There were only around five hundred people across the globe who could be considered billionaires, and he was one.
The thing that was crazy, at least to me, was that he looked a little better before—by the pictures. Better than perfect seems like something odd to suggest, but it was true. Lately, he looked a little run down, but I guess that could happen to anyone with a multi-billion-dollar business to run.
“It’s not like you have any better offers...,” he spoke again, smirking as if he was reassuring me somehow.
I sighed. Indeed, he was rich, he was smart, and he was gorgeous—but it would take some shallow women to get over the fact that he was such an asshole.
“No. Thank you though,” I answered. The funny thing was that it wasn’t the first time I turned him down. And something told me it wouldn't be the last either.
“Come on, I could take you on a yacht... Doesn’t that sound nice?” he asked, glamorizing his money in front of me. My eyes immediately and instinctively rolled to the back of my head once again. This time he saw it, but I really didn’t care.
“Money doesn’t really mean much to me,” I said, gripping my tablet once again before pivoting on my heels to head back into the office down the hall. “Get back to making your sandwich.”
I felt his eyes on me as I turned, and I knew exactly what he was doing, but I didn’t care. I kept moving forward.
I couldn’t even be mad at him for being rich. It wasn’t like he was always rich. He wasn’t a kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Sure, he was likely spoiled now that he made his money, but it wasn’t as though he was always like that.
He came from a middle-class family, with middle-class values—my Googling skills were phenomenal, by the way—and he had made his billions from working. Working hard.
He was intelligent, that was his biggest gift in life. I was sure his mom and dad, Peggy and Howard, hadn’t expected him to be so intelligent. But he was. Always inventing things as a child—like a regular ol’ boy genius—he quickly grew a reputation for his brilliance.
It wasn’t long until that brilliance developed into something more though.
He created an operating system—and not just any operating system—a revolutionary one. And with that creation came a tech company that branched out into one of the largest tech empires in history. He had definitely made a name for himself, and it was a positive one.
When I first applied for the job, I was captivated by him. Impressed to the very core, and it took a lot to impress me. He was the quintessential success story. And I had wondered upon my preparation for the interview if he still held characteristics from his young brilliant self. I didn’t get a good indication until after getting to know him, but it didn’t take long though. After a couple of weeks, I knew that the old him was very much gone. There was no childlike wonderment left behind, and there was no tiny-inventor left in him, not anymore.
And I was no longer captivated by him. Sure, I was impressed with what he had done. However, I was far from captivated.
But I was the only one. Everyone else was still very much captivated. The public loved him—but they didn't know him. Not like I did.
Hell, I had only been in the game for a couple of months, and I felt like I knew him almost better than anyone.
He didn’t have any friends; his family wasn’t readily in his life as much as you’d think. In truth, I was probably the closest person in his life, and to me, that was just incredibly sad.
I walked back through the kitchen just to see the sandwich he had just made completely untouched.
“I thought you were going to eat?” I called out, not sure where he had gone off to. I was sure my voice would carry though.
“I’m not hungry...,” he trailed, coming up behind me. “Can’t seem to even force food down nowadays.”
“But you made the sandwich.” I couldn’t fathom someone making a sandwich and not eating it. Not in my family. That would never happen
“You do look a little pale,” I said, noting his appearance. “Are you feeling OK?”
He was ghost white with a small hue of yellow, and his eyes looked tired, restless even, as if he hadn’t slept in days.
I walked up to him, ready to feel his head to test for a fever. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to be his nurse, too. I was everything else for him, after all. But just as I outstretched my hand, he pulled away from me—almost angrily.
“I’m fine,” he grumbled, grabbing the sandwich and tossing it into the trash. “Thanks, by the way, for pointing out my flaws.”
I could tell that the last bit was meant to be humorous, but there was something about the way he said it that made me think that perhaps it wasn’t completely humorous.
“Do you spray tan?” I asked, not really sure why he looked so orangey-yellowish.
“No.” His response was stern, and I knew better than to tell him why I had asked. I knew that he wasn’t in the mood; and I knew by the way he leaned against the countertop that he really wasn’t feeling very well.
And without any further conversation, he walked away.
I sighed and traipsed back to the office, knowing that I had to get back to work. It didn’t take long though—just a few location changes between office and kitchen—until I finished the last bit of work that I had and he was standing behind me with a look that I rarely saw...a look of approval.
“I guess you can go home. I don’t really have much else for you to do.” I was shocked. My eyes widened, the expression likely showing through blatantly. It was early. He never let me go that early.
I wasn’t unhappy though. I hurriedly grabbed up my strewn reports and tossed them into their respective folders and then placed all of those, almost messily, into my brief case.
“Don’t forget your tablet,” he said in a whisper, as he gestured towards the bar just before turning on his heel. I watched him, blankly, as he walked out of the dining area, and secretly waited for him to turn around and tell me he was kidding, but when he continued to walk and turn the corner, I knew he was being for real. I knew that he wasn’t going to take it back.
I nodded to myself, just before grabbing my brief case and slowly lifting myself out of my seat. I walked just as slowly to the tablet, still giving him plenty of time to change his mind if he was going to. I wasn’t sure why I was giving him extra time; I should have made out like a school kid when they were dismissed from class early. Quickly, without any sort of objection—but this was just so incredibly strange that I wasn’t even sure how to behave.
I grabbed the small electronic device and placed it in my open briefcase before slinging it over my shoulder. I sighed a sigh of relief and began my journey towards the door.
I was free.
fter what felt like a long, excruciating drive through downtown, and a horrific experience with a lack of spaces and creepy bystanders in the parking garage next to my apartment, I finally walked into my apartment building. Although the journey there took seemingly forever, and possibly because of that, I was happier than I’ve ever been to be home. I took in my surroundings, and suddenly, it was like everything that I originally found to be less than appealing with the place was suddenly the most appealing. It was almost as if I hadn’t gotten off of work early.