Authors: Jeannette Winters
Barrington Billionaire Series
Author Jeannette Winters
Brice Henderson traded everything for power and success. His company was closing a deal that would cement his spot at the top. The last thing he needed was a distraction from the past.
Lena Razzi had spent years trying to forget Brice Henderson. When offered the opportunity of a lifetime, would she take the risk even if the price would be another broken heart?
Do you love reading from this world? Continue with Always Mine from my sister, Ruth Cardello, and Fierce Love from my niece Danielle Stewart Their series will mirror my time line. It isn’t necessary to read theirs to enjoy mine, but it sure will enhance the fun!
An original work of Jeannette Winters, 2015.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, places, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.
This book is dedicated to my brothers who continue to ask me about my books even though I know they really don’t want to hear the details. Thanks for always being there.
I am also supported by a team of beta readers who aren’t afraid to tell me the truth. Thank you for that!
Karen Lawson, Janet Hitchcock, E.L. King and Marion Arche, my editors as well as Nicole Sanders at Trevino Creative Graphic Design for my cover, you are all amazing!
And to my co-workers, you all know who you are. Your endless support and cheering on is so appreciated!
To my readers who brings joy into my life with each and every message.
Always keep romance in your lives!
illed with frustration, Brice Henderson slammed the phone down as he leaned back in his chair.
There were times a partner came in handy, but, for the most part, it meant only another opinion he didn’t want to hear. Asher Barrington could put whatever deadline he wanted on the project, but no one was going to tell him what he had to do or when he had to do it. Not in his company or any other part of his life.
Those days are long gone.
Asher didn’t get it.
A highly sensitive chemical compound is not something you can rush. One mistake and
. . .
He didn’t want to even think about the consequences; they would be catastrophic.
No one is pushing me into supplying a deficient product
. That thought alone brought back the last time he had seen his father. It had been more than three years ago and had ended with one hell of an argument around this very issue. “Stop this project now or consider yourself unemployed.” In that moment, he’d thought his father was a controlling asshole who wouldn’t even take the time to listen to what this project could mean for them as a family.
Always his way or the highway.
Asher Barrington reminded him of his father at times. Only one way, his way, drive forward as hard as you can, and if something is in the way, crush it. The decision to walk away from the family business hadn’t been an easy one. As the eldest, his siblings assumed he would eventually take over the business. It was lucrative, but he could see the writing on the wall. His father’s investments were working now, but times were changing, and Brice wasn’t going to get caught behind the eight ball.
Too many years had been spent in his father’s shadow, and for what? To be given the same treatment as any other employee and at times even worse? The days of being under his father’s thumb were long over. Never would Brice allow himself to lose focus on all that mattered to him again.
My dreams, my future.
Although that argument was in the past, Brice hadn’t wasted or regretted one moment of it. Hell would freeze over before he went back to his father, asking for his old job back. It didn’t matter how much time it took; his name was on this project, and there was no way he was going to deliver a substandard product. If that meant his staff had no social life, so be it. Each one of them knew what they were in for when they chose to leave Poly-Shyn and work for him. Yes, he was demanding and what some may call arrogant, but they were all paid extremely well, so as far as he was concerned, they had no right to complain. He wanted and expected one thing from them.
For the most part, he could count on each of them to do their job and do it well. There was only one problem. His personal assistant, Nancy, informed him she needed to take emergency family leave to care for her sickly mother. The look on her face when he’d suggested yesterday that he would be willing to pay for a nurse so she could continue working was one he had never seen before from her. “Some things are more important than a job or money. I only hope you realize that before it’s too late and you’re left with only your regrets to keep you company at night.” Her words had echoed through him all day. However, the outcome hadn’t changed. On an ordinary day, she was an important part of his team, but at this critical time, she was invaluable. Nancy had a shrewd way of handling the day-to-day mayhem and only directed something to him that truly needed his attention. With her out for an extended period, he had no idea what bullshit was about to fall into his lap, and right now he had no time to deal with any of it.
Getting up from his desk, he headed out of the office. Between Asher and Nancy, these next few weeks were going to be hell.
I need the answer now.
Nancy looked sweet and innocent, but he knew she was as tough as nails. There were times he was grateful she had the courage to challenge him. But right now wasn’t one of those times.
“You better have good news for me,” Brice bellowed.
Nancy raised her eyes from her computer screen without even a blink of an eye, as she responded, “You gave very specific instructions about the skills my temporary replacement needed to possess.”
“And after all these years you should know by now they are non-negotiable.”
Shaking her head, Nancy added, “Then you should remember I have never let you down before.”
He didn’t respond, only glared at her.
She was right. As usual.
Nancy knew he trusted her. Otherwise, he would never have let her interview and hire someone without even meeting her replacement. Even though she was correct, if she was looking for praise for doing her job, she wasn’t going to get it from him. “So when can I expect her?”
And she better damn well be good.
A small grin appeared on her face as she answered, “She’ll be here first thing tomorrow morning.” Brice opened his mouth to say something, but Nancy raised her hand to cut him off. “Before you say it, I have researched her background, performed an extensive interview, and have already prepared clear and concise instructions. She also has my cell phone number for any emergencies, and yes, I have informed her you are not to be interrupted under any circumstances whatsoever.”
And this is precisely why I need you to stay.
Brice didn’t have any time to waste trying to convince her to change her mind. All he could do was trust that she’d hired the right person for the job. It was a gamble, and he was the one with a lot to lose if she didn’t work out.
I don’t have any choice.
“You’ll be hearing from me if she can’t do everything I requested, and you’ll need to get your ass back to work.”
“Brice, you won’t be disappointed with this one. I guarantee it. I’m more worried that you won’t want me back after my mother—” Nancy stopped herself from saying more, the words too difficult to say.
It was the first time he had seen her anything other than confident. There was nothing he could say to change what she was going through. In a much softer tone he said, “Your job will be here.” She smiled and nodded her thanks. Before Nancy became emotional, he left her desk and headed for the elevator. Calling over his shoulder, he said to her, “I’ll be in the lab if anything urgent comes up.”
He needed everyone to be on top of their game. The formula was nearly perfect, and some of his team mistakenly thought that was close enough. Over the next few weeks, he was sure they were going to regret ever saying those words to him.
I won’t tolerate any incompetence in this company. Mine or anyone else’s.
Once he entered the lab, he went into the office and shut his door. There wasn’t time for interruptions or small talk with the chemist. With Asher moving up the timetable, he wanted to make sure everyone was giving one hundred fifty percent. He had risked everything, and nothing or no one was going to get in the way of seeing his vision become a reality.
Lena Razzi couldn’t believe she was going to be late for the first day of her new temp job. She’d had many of them in the past but normally got to meet the boss or staff in person prior to accepting the position. Even the interview had been handled over the phone. If it was going to be a long-term assignment or permanent position she probably wouldn’t have taken the job because she didn’t want to work for someone who couldn’t even take five minutes to meet her. But since this wasn’t going to last forever, she didn’t have much to lose.
I can put up with anything for a month. I’ve worked for difficult bosses longer than this for less money. How bad can Mr. Henderson be? He’s clearly a very busy man, which suits me because I also prefer to be busy.
Although her phone interview was extensive, there were a few things Nancy had stressed more than once. The top of the list was to make sure Mr. Henderson had his coffee and clean towels ready and waiting for him when he came in from his early morning run.
Running late was not going to be a great first impression. But my first impression of my new boss isn’t so great either.
Maybe if she explained what happened with her son, Nicholas, on his first day at daycare, it would help.
decided it was the perfect time to have a meltdown and didn’t want Mommy to leave. It was so unlike him. Normally he was a bundle of joy, all smiles, and loving everyone.
Today, not so much.
All she could do was hope Mr. Henderson liked children and understood her plight.
He’s probably a cranky old man who hates them, and his run is probably a walk around the block.
Rushing into the office building the security guard stopped her.
“Hi. I’m Lena Razzi, Nancy’s temporary replacement. I was told to report to the ninth floor.”
He looked her over and said, “We need to take your picture for your badge.”
Not now. I’m late enough already.
“Okay. Let me take care of a few things for Mr. Henderson, and I will return shortly.”
The man shook his head. “This is a secure facility. You cannot access the elevator without your badge. It will only take a few minutes. Follow me, please.”
Lena wondered what else Nancy may have failed to inform her about this company.
I really should have asked more questions.
The only reason she hadn’t was it had been an opportunity too good to pass up. Forcing a fake smile, she did as he said.
At least I will have a valid reason for being late.
Within minutes, she had her badge and was riding the elevator to her new office. She looked at her picture and was horrified.
That camera takes horrible pictures.
She had taken the time to apply her makeup perfectly this morning before Nicholas had even woken. The picture, however, didn’t reflect that. Opening her purse, she pulled out a compact mirror, and to her horror, it wasn’t the camera after all.
Nicholas, I guess you weren’t the only one having a hard time saying goodbye this morning.
Anyone looking at her now would think she had been out all night drinking and hadn’t made it home yet. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. Her mascara was ruined and the elegant light hint of blush she applied was now streaked.
Can my morning get any worse?
She couldn’t believe this was happening.
Digging through her bag, she found many items, none of which were going to fix the issues at hand. Without makeup in her bag, the best thing she could do was remove as much as she could. Lena contemplated spitting on a tissue to wipe it off when she remembered her emergency pack of baby wipes. Opening the packet, she was relieved to find one left. She ran it over her face the best she could. Looking back into the mirror she was thankful for the improvement, but nothing fixed her eyes.
Maybe he’ll be in a meeting, and I won’t even see him today.
Nancy had said he spent most of his time in the lab.
Please let this be one of those days.
As the elevator doors opened, she stood as confidently as she could muster—head held high—and headed to the end of the hall where Nancy had said she would find her desk ready and waiting for her. What had she been thinking to take on a job like this? She had all the skills needed to do the job and to be great at it, but she was a single mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. And there lay her answer. She was doing this for Nicholas. The money she had in savings before she gave birth was quickly diminishing. With her student loans, rent, and basic necessities, she had no choice other than to take this job and make it work. Besides, it paid her weekly what other jobs paid for an entire month. No matter what, even if he yelled, screamed, or worked her to the bone, she had to remind herself this wasn’t about her. This job was all about Nicholas, and there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him.
There were times she thought about reaching out to his father for monetary help, but he had made it very clear he wanted no children or family. She wasn’t going to expose her son to that type of rejection twice.
I can and will do this.
Putting her purse in the desk drawer, she headed for the closed office door near her.
Really, how bad can it be? It’s only going to be for one month.
Lena knocked softly.
Please don’t be here yet.
“You’re late,” a deep voice barked from the other side of the door. Before she could answer, the door was pulled open, leaving her face to face with her new boss.
? How? Why? Doesn’t he work for his father?
Everything in her said turn, run, but instead she stood there frozen, unable to move or speak. As her initial shock wore off, it was replaced by anger. Her pulse was racing. It had been three years since she had seen him and the last time he had broken her heart. It had taken a long time to get her life back on track, to stop wondering or caring what she had said or had done to make him break it off so abruptly. Now, here he stood with a look of contempt on his face. If anyone should be pissed off at this situation, it should be her. His eyes fixed on hers. Lena turned her face slightly to avoid the direct contact.
I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions.
That was a different time; she wasn’t the same person any longer.