Authors: Sonora Seldon
Tags: #Nightmare, #sexy romance, #new adult romance, #bbw romance, #Suspense, #mystery, #alpha male, #Erotic Romance, #billionaire romance, #romantic thriller
Five Minutes Late
by Sonora Seldon
Copyright © 2014 Sonora Seldon
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.
Published by Sonora Seldon, 2014.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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1. Five Minutes
Five minutes. Three hundred seconds, that’s all. I was just five minutes late, and if it hadn’t been for those five fleeting minutes, none of this would have happened.
If she hadn’t been five minutes late, I’d be the richest corpse on the planet.
Why would anyone even notice I was late?
The headquarters of Killane Corporate Holdings was a sleek glass-and-steel skyscraper that dominated the downtown Chicago skyline and had enough floors to make a Sherpa dizzy from the altitude. Every one of those floors buzzed with activity, as executives, financial analysts, tech gurus, and corporate lawyers bustled about on their shared mission of making Devon Killane, asshole extraordinaire, even more obscenely rich than he already was.
Me, Ashley Daniels? I was the humblest worker bee in the place, an overlooked and underpaid big girl assigned to receptionist duty at the main entrance. Every day, I dealt with weighty responsibilities like answering phones, making coffee, and directing visitors to the senior receptionists in charge of granting access to people who were actually important. I watered the lobby’s exotic ferns and bromeliads, I ruled the doughnut supply – between me and a few homeless guys who came by most mornings, we usually finished off around a dozen of those glazed beauties – and I surfed the internet when nobody was looking, which was most of the time.
Why was I even a receptionist in the first place? I’d applied for a web design position, a job that was a perfect fit for my training and talents – but of course that opening had gone to a tall, slinky blonde with supermodel legs and big doe eyes, whose experience with websites probably didn’t go much beyond ordering stiletto heels and sex toys online.
Oh, I’d been hired, all right – only for reasons no one had bothered to explain to me, I’d been hired to plant my sorry ass behind a desk in the lobby, smiling like an idiot while I performed a job that a shaved chimpanzee would have found insulting.
If months of trying to nail down a job hadn’t sent my checking account so desperately close to zero, I would have flipped off the head of Human Resources and told him where he could go and what anatomically impossible thing he could do with himself when he got there.
But I had rent to pay – on a studio apartment that was smaller than the average bathroom at Killane Corporate Holdings – and I helped my mom with her bills, so I couldn’t afford to be proud. Instead of pride, I survived on fantasies about suing this mega-corporation for discriminating against girls with ample figures and more than a scrap of intelligence.
Not that any of the busy and important people who ignored me every day would have noticed or cared if I’d stood on my chair and screamed at everyone in sight about fair hiring practices – I learned a long time ago that when you’ve got more than a few generous curves in all the wrong places, you become invisible to the oh-so-thin-and-stylish crowd.
So why would anybody care if frantic traffic, an overturned cement truck, and a maze of construction detours conspired to make me five lousy little minutes late that Monday morning? In particular, why would somebody like Devon Killane, CEO of Killane Corporate Holdings, notice that I was late, or even that I existed at all?
Devon Killane was my boss, in the same sense that the President of the United States is the boss of the guy who mops the floor at your local federal courthouse. I rarely even saw him, since as an entitled asshole of a billionaire, he was far too good to use the main entrance to the building like us common folk – nope, the lofty Mr. Killane had a private entrance, a private elevator, and a private helipad on the roof for those days when he felt like leaving his Rolls-Royce limousine in its private garage.
I heard about him, though. It was hard to avoid hearing about someone who was splashed all over the gossip magazines, the celebrity websites, and the financial pages – my boss was a legend from here to Vladivostok for his money, his looks, his erratic personality, and his women.
Devon Killane commanded a fortune of almost sixty billion dollars, a mountain of money generated by a business empire with outposts on every continent except Antarctica. Factories bearing the Killane Corporate Holdings logo manufactured everything from toothbrushes to battleships. He owned banks and airlines and hotels. His agribusinesses decided what was going onto the shelves of your local grocery store, and at what outrageous price. He built skyscrapers like the world was his own private Lego set, and he bought properties in Hong Kong and Paris and Buenos Aires the way you or I would buy spaces on a Monopoly board. He crushed rivals and engineered hostile takeovers, and Wall Street walked in fear of his every whim.
And since the world is beyond unfair, he was not only filthy rich, but also drop-dead gorgeous. He had the face of a Hollywood heartthrob, as well as the broad chest, tight ass and rippling muscles of a Greek god who worked out all day – and have I mentioned that he towered over us ordinary mortals, at six feet and five full inches? Oh, and that at thirty-eight, he looked at least ten years younger? How about his thick raven-black hair and those striking blue-violet eyes? I’ve seen entire websites devoted to nothing but his damn eyes, I swear.
Women swooning over him in the checkout line didn’t seem to mind that he was also batshit crazy.
Brilliant, sure – he had Harvard degrees in philosophy and history, he held engineering patents that began as designs he sketched out on napkins at four-star restaurants, in his spare time he wrote thousand-page books about economic and political theory, and rumor said he had a photographic memory.
But that razor-sharp mind wandered down some very strange paths.
His moods skated all over the place – one minute he’d be all smiles and laughter, and the next he’d interrupt a board meeting to quote the Tibetan Book of the Dead from memory while staring off into space at something only he could see.
He built toothpick bridges on his desk that descended to the floor, marched out the door of his office, and formed graceful loops up and down the hallways. He once hired a petunia farmer from Oregon to deliver a lecture on 17
century Flemish painters to a conference room full of puzzled software designers – and just why did he buy a mounted specimen of a blue whale, better than one hundred and ten feet long, and have it dumped into the ocean off Miami while a brass band played a funeral march on the beach? Beats me, but you learned not to ask questions when you rode the Killane Crazy Train.
His women sure didn’t ask questions – they just took a number and waited. Actresses with real Oscars and fake breasts, rake-thin models from Rio and New York, heiresses, porn stars, WNBA centers and entire teams of soccer players, tattooed lead singers for alternative rock bands – if you were gorgeous, exotic, and female, you’d be on a magazine cover with him sooner or later.
Big girls need not apply.
Well, you never saw him on the red carpet or the evening news with a woman who had a real body – but in private, who knew? In private, alone under the covers at night, you could read one of those lurid bestsellers about people having nonstop kinky bunny sex and you could imagine his face on the hero, imagine being tied down as he loomed over you, moving between your legs and …
Yeah, yeah, I confess, I read those books too. So sue me. After all, how else is a curvy girl with minimal dating prospects supposed to have a little fun? But no, I didn’t fantasize about my moody billionaire boss from a distance, imagining what it would be like to feel his strong hands on me, to have him … well, not while I was at work, anyway. At work, I concentrated on keeping my lowly little job, because I couldn’t afford to be broke and homeless, not on top of being big and dateless, and not with my mom counting on me.
But at 9:05 on a Monday morning in February, my careful little life spun out of control in a heartbeat.
2. Trial By Doughnuts
A guy I recognized as a mid-level accounting executive emerged from the building’s grand entrance to hold the door open for me, and that should have been my first clue that something was wrong – in my role as the Invisible Big Girl, people held doors open for me maybe once every other blue moon and executives never did. But I smiled, muttered a hurried, “Thank you, sir,” and hustled inside, intent on getting to my post and doing a great impersonation of someone who’d been there on time.
I rushed across the lobby to reception, head down, thankful for the strange lack of foot traffic, wondering why it was so much quieter than usual, trying to remember if the departmental reviews were today or tomorrow –
“Ms. Daniels, why is there a man who smells like rotting cabbage sitting in my lobby, eating my doughnuts?”
My head snapped up. My mouth dropped open, my heart shivered and skipped, and time slowed to a crawl.
Devon Killane was sitting in my chair. He was leaning back in my chair, his feet were propped up on my reception desk, and he was staring right at me.
My first response to seeing apocalyptic disaster in a $5,000 suit?
“Um, sir, I …”
Yep, I am
witty under pressure – impressive, huh?