Authors: Bella Love-Wins
Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Belmonte Publishing, LLC. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Club Prive remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Belmonte Publishing, LLC, or their affiliates or licensors.
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A Bad Boy Billionaire Romance
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I took another hit from my asthma inhaler.
“Yes, I’m fine,” I told my twin sister, Sophia.
“You’re wheezing like a dying goat, Paige. Stop saying you’re fine when you’re not. You don’t look too hot, either.”
I rolled my eyes. She was so annoying sometimes. “Thanks for the reassurance, sis.”
“Seriously, what the hell are you wearing?”
“It’s called business casual, Sophia.”
“Uh. No. Just…no. That’s not business casual.” She folded her arms and glanced down my body for the third time since she stepped out of the shower of our shared bathroom. “That’s more like
, if I had to give it a name.”
“Mime couture? Really? What the hell is that?”
“Well, look at yourself,” she remarked, towel-drying her short, vixen-red pixie cut hairstyle, which was a stark contrast to my long, chestnut brown hair that looked jet black whenever it was wet. “Where did you find that black and white long-sleeved turtleneck? Who even wears those anymore? And those bulky black slacks are hiding your best assets, honey. Honestly, if you throw on a pair of white gloves and red suspenders, you may as well go join that street performer guy who does the naked cowboy act over at Times Square. You’ll probably make more money than the temp jobs too.”
I scowled. “Ha-ha. You’re hysterical.”
Sophia narrowed her emerald green eyes, framed at the moment by black horn-rimmed glasses. She picked up the blow dryer and her hairbrush. “While we’re on the subject, I have no idea why you decided to take this dumb job as a temp. And it’s Friday, for Christ’s sake. Who would be such a dick to put a candidate through an interview this close to the end of the week? You’ll be torturing yourself all weekend long not knowing whether you got the job or not.”
“It’s a huge company. I’d be a fool not to go.”
“If you say so. And why are you being so stubborn anyway? You go on interviews for different assignments almost every week, when you know how nervous it makes you.”
“They’ve all been excellent temp positions. The only downside is they were all temporary.”
With one arm crossed under her breast and a finger tapping against her mouth, she looked at me with an expression I’d seen before. Sophia was up to something. “You just need to figure out a way to make one of these jobs un-temporary.”
I leaned closer to the mirror to put in my contact lenses, flashing her an annoyed sideways glance through the mirror’s reflection as she turned on the blow dryer. “We all can’t be celebrity bartenders now, can we?” I shouted over the sound.
“First of all, I’m not a celebrity bartender, and second, that’s not the point.”
I searched through my makeup bag for some lipstick and mascara. “So what is it, Sophie? Tell me so I don’t have to read between the lines. We may be twins, but I’m not a mind reader.”
Shutting off the blow dryer, she turned to look at me. “The point is, as usual, you’re setting yourself up for a world of stress and self-loathing by taking a temp job. Put that same energy into finding a real job at one place, and you’ll be a heck of a lot happier. Or better yet, take a break. Have a casual fling. Relax and enjoy yourself for once. These jobs don’t even matter anyway.”
“You think I haven’t tried finding a real job? I was busting my ass for six months after graduating, going to one interview after the other to try and find something stable. That didn’t work out, or have you forgotten the daily lectures you gave me because you were covering all the rent?”
“That was almost two years ago, Paige. Things are a little different now, aren’t they? I earn a lot more, and I told you over and over again that I don’t mind helping out. I’m just saying.”
“It’s bad enough that we’re almost twenty-five and still sharing this tiny apartment.”
“Look. Now is the time to enjoy yourself a little. Or settle into a real career. You have a degree that’s in pretty high demand. You can do this.” She scanned down my body again. “But not in
getup. Hang on.”
Sophie was gone for a few minutes. I went to her bedroom to see what she was scheming. “I can’t wear your clothes, Soph,” I told her when I saw her perusing the stuff hanging in her closet. “I need office wear, not nightclub dresses.”
“Just trust me, okay? I should have done this months ago. You’d probably have a real job by now.” She turned to face me with a hanger of clothes in each hand. “Okay. You’re wearing these. Get over here and try them on.”
“Girl, are you crazy?” I had to object. She was holding up a soft pink suit jacket with matching pencil skirt, and a stretchy leopard print top with cap sleeves and a deep v-neckline. Way too revealing. Not to mention suggestive. “Nuh-uh. No way. They’d turn me around and send me right back home if I showed up in those.”
“I think you’re talking about what you have on right now.” She came around the bed and placed them over my chest. “Wow. This works! You should see your eyes and skin right now. You’re practically glowing. Pink is your color, sis. And mine too, of course.”
“I’m not so sure, I can—”
“Geez, Paige. Just try it on before you dismiss it.”
I unzipped and stepped out of my dress slacks to get the skirt on. While I was putting on the rest of her ensemble, she returned to her closet. She pulled out a knee-length fuchsia wool-lined winter trench coat, and threw it on the bed, then she searched through her boxes upon boxes of stilettos.
“No, not your shoes too, Soph. I can’t walk in those seven-inch death traps you call footwear.”
“The ones I have in mind are boots, okay? You’ll love it.” She pulled out a large shoe box and set it on the bed, opening the lid. “See? It matches your top.”
I pushed my arm through the suit jacket after putting on the top and skirt. They were leopard print stiletto ankle boots. “I’m not wearing those,” I insisted. “I’ll break an ankle before I get out of the building.”
“I’m not. It’s winter out there.”
“You don’t wear these on your commute. Take them in a shoe bag and put them on before you walk into the office. That outfit with this coat and these boots…you’ll make one hell of an entrance.”
“Jesus. You’ve done it your way for months. Will you listen to me? Try it my way just one time. If it doesn’t work, I’ll never bug you about your poor fashion sense again. I promise.”
I looked at the boots again as she slid them into a shoe bag, then I met her gaze. “Fine. Just this once. I’ve got to finish getting ready.”
“You’re welcome, sis,” she added, following me back to the bathroom. “But I have a feeling you’ll be thanking me later.”
“We’ll see.” I checked the outfit in the mirror. “Wow. It’s actually not as corporate skank as I thought.”
She shook her head. “Whatever.”
“Okay, you’re right. I look both hot and professional.”
“Damn straight. And take a look at your ass in that skirt! You are smoking hot.”
I turned to the side and checked the mirror. “Wow. Are you sure I should wear this? I mean, it’s a little risqué, no?”
“Not at all. Your look is making a statement.”
“And what does it say?”
“Hmmm. It says,
don’t let my temp agency status fool you
“Thanks, but I hope it doesn’t come off as,
I’ll do anything including spread my legs for a real job
She smiled and returned to drying her hair. “Whatever works. Big sis always knows best.”
“You’re still holding those ten minutes over my head, huh?”
“Only because I have to.”
I dug around in my makeup bag on the counter, looking for my favorite lipstick. “Hey, did you take my Raisin lip gloss again?”
“Oh. Yes. Hang on a second.” Sophie hurried out of the bathroom and returned to the door, stretching out her arm to pass me her over-the-shoulder messenger bag. “It’s in here somewhere. Front pocket.” She showed me her phone in her other hand. “I have to call back my new agent. He just left me a message about a weekend DJ gig for an all guys’ retreat somewhere in Nevada! Wish me luck!”
“Luck!” I replied, turning my attention to the near-impossible search for my lipstick in her unbelievably messy bag. How she could find anything in here at all was beyond me.
Sophia was busy on the phone, so I jumped on the opportunity to grab my purse. Throwing on my infinity scarf and winter jacket, I ducked out with the shoe bag before her call wrapped up. I didn’t need more lecturing this morning. I had to take my time going down the four flights of stairs from our one and a half bedroom walkup apartment. No sense letting my asthma act up again. I stepped carefully through two blocks of slushy brown ice and got to the A-train platform of the Franklin Avenue subway station to make my way into midtown Manhattan.
As usual, the subway platform was jam packed with commuters. It took close to fifteen minutes to get on a train this morning. I was grateful that I’d given myself an extra forty-five minutes to get to this interview. Inside the train, the tight space was worse. It was hot, packed to the rafters, and it seemed like everyone had a sniffle or a cough. All I could do was lift my scarf up over my mouth and nose, and hope my already susceptible respiratory system had enough juice to fight off whatever was going around.
I took a long deep inhale when I finally got off the train and made it out to the fresh, chilly morning air. Great. The train station where I got off was less than three blocks from the office building where I had my interview. It meant I had time to spare. A broad smile rose upon my face when I saw the artisan coffee house on the way. Things were looking up. If only this assignment could last more than the three weeks my agency rep had mentioned. Oh, the joys of life as a low-level database administrator with no connections and barely any stable work experience.
I walked into the café. For the middle of the morning rush, the place was fairly quiet. Getting into the short line, I glanced up at the handwritten chalkboard menu on the wall behind the two baristas. After a second of debating what to have, I decided to let my nose do the picking. The sweet, rich scent of hazelnut amaretto curled up my nostrils. Yes, that was the one. Closing my eyes, I took a long, deep breath in and moaned out a sigh.
“Just wait until you taste it,” said a deep, masculine voice behind me.
I snuck a glance behind me and ended up making eye contact with a man’s neatly folded pocket square, tucked into what was sure to be a custom made designer suit. I may have been an information systems nerd, but I knew my menswear. Mom and Dad had operated an upscale custom clothing boutique for years before they passed almost ten years ago. This suit was impeccably made. Sleek wool-silk fabric, meticulous stitching, a slim well-tapered precise fit, a one-button, single-breasted seam, peaked lapels and straight-leg pants.
My eyes eventually crawled up the man’s tall, fit, well-built frame until my eyes locked with the most stunning aquamarine blue eyes I’d ever seen, and I forgot why I’d been staring at him in the first place.
“Pardon me?” I all but stammered out. “I may have missed the question.”
His thick, dark eyebrows raised and his full lips spread into a smirk. “I see that. No matter. Don’t take this the wrong way, but…wow. You’re exquisite. Are you Italian?”
“Half. On my father’s side.”
He held out his hand. “I’m Angelo. And you are?”
I almost stiffened up at the electricity that surged through me when I shook his hand. “Paige,” I said, extending the handshake while I used the extra time to check out the rest of him.
He had to be close to six and a half feet. The nice suit was already assessed, and now I took in what was underneath. All sorts of ripped muscle bulged beneath those well-tailored clothes. Not wanting to get caught ogling at him a second time, I released his hand.
“Nice to meet you,” I offered, concluding my perusal by turning to face forward again.
“Do you know what’s better than taking the first sip of the coffee they make in this place?” he asked.
“Hmmm? What could be better than that?”
“Knowing you said yes when the friendly stranger behind you offered to buy it for you.”
Why was focusing so difficult all of a sudden? “Sorry?”
“Can I get your coffee?”
“Thanks, but I think I can manage,” I answered. He may have been a hot guy with amazing eyes and wearing an expensive suit, but he was still a stranger.
“Maybe next time, then.”
If there was a next time. Don’t get me wrong. He was stunning, a real looker, but I had more important things on my mind than picking up chatty, sexy-as-sin, tastefully dressed men from a coffee house. I was finally at the front of the line too. Good. Not enough time for him take it personally that I’d turned down his offer. I gave the barista my drink order, and paid before moving to the other end of the counter to wait for my brew. He ordered next, then he came to stand at my side, but focused on his phone screen as he waited.
When my coffee was ready, I bolted to the door while he was busy sending a text. Before I stepped outside, I reached into the side pocket of my purse for my inhaler.
Time to ace this temp job interview.
Hopefully Sophia was right about these clothes she picked out for me.