Authors: Cynthia Dane
Tags: #Billionaire Romance
His demeanor was stern, unchanging. This was a man who dealt with shit every day of his life and had learned how to quash it beneath his shoes. Not like how Jasmine tripped into it on her way out her front door.
Does he smell it? Oh no.
Jasmine scraped her heel on the carpet before looking down and realizing that this was probably Persian.
Oh no no no!
She stood up straight, hands behind her back and chest out.
I didn’t do anything.
In that moment, Ethan’s visage softened. Suddenly he was no longer a hardass billionaire getting ready to tear out the throat of an incompetent idiot. Instead he seemed almost wistful in the way he gazed at Jasmine, a charming smile blooming on his face before he fastened his top suit button and stood up, hand extending.
“Greetings. Thank you for taking the time to see me.” His voice was silkier than his suit – or his hair, which was freshly cut, cleaned, and styled to fall right above his ears. Jasmine raised her arm to shake his hand. Ethan took it, softly at first, like a true gentleman. Then he crushed it with a handshake meant to impress old men in the business world.
“Ah…” Jasmine shook her hand out. “Pleasure…”
It was the only word she could eke out as she gazed upon Ethan so close to her.
Why wouldn’t a billionaire look so good?
Better still that he was so young. How young, Jasmine had no idea. She had heard that he was one of the youngest self-made billionaires in the world, but didn’t know any specific numbers. Thirty, maybe. Definitely younger than thirty-five, unless he had access to a fountain of youth.
“Pleasure indeed.” Ethan sat back in his leather office chair and hooked one leg over the other.
Of course that’s where Jasmine’s eyes went. She had to avert them before she manifested a bulge there. “I’m sorry that I haven’t caught your name yet, Miss…”
“Jasmine,” she croaked. After clearing her throat she continued, “Bliss. Jasmine Bliss.”
The smile almost fell off Mr. Cole’s face. “Bliss?”
“Yeah.” Jasmine shifted in her seat not two seconds after sitting in it. “Blame my parents.”
“It’s a lovely name. Happen to have a résumé?”
Jasmine pulled it out of her folder and placed it on Ethan’s desk.
Shouldn’t he have one of my résumés if he called me up here for an interview?
Who was Jasmine to judge how things went on in Billionaire Town?
Ethan spent a minute looking over Jasmine’s résumé. In that time he didn’t bother to look at her, aside from the occasional glance here and there. Jasmine attempted to maintain a happy demeanor – but not so happy that he would think she was crazy.
No big deal. Just hanging out with a billionaire thinking about giving me a job doing something.
After that minute he started asking her questions. What did she think of her major? How was her thesis defense? What was her favorite temp job so far? She answered these with ardor, not because she was desperate to show him how well-trained she was in answering such questions, but because she was afraid that if she didn’t speak, her voice would completely crap out on her. The longer she stayed in this office, in the silence of Ethan Cole mulling over her answers while looking like an underwear model in an Armani suit, the quicker Jasmine realized the absurdity of this situation and that she wanted nothing more than to get up and run away before anxiety consumed her for breakfast.
“Do you have a significant other, Miss Bliss?”
“Excuse me?” Jasmine held either arm of the chair in her hands.
That’s not a legal question.
Did the laws apply to a billionaire? “N… no.” Why did she answer? She should have stood her ground! Jasmine hadn’t attended all of those interview classes at the unemployment agency for nothing. “I do not.”
“What about children?”
“No.” Something wasn’t right about this.
Ethan went back to looking at the résumé as if it were a literary masterpiece. Then he smiled, chuckling under his breath as if something greatly amused him.
Don’t make fun of me for going to community college.
She doubted this rich ass could relate to doing such a thing. “I ask because the job I have in mind for you requires a lot of time. A lot of hours. I wouldn’t want to put you out of your family, if you had one.”
Another shift in her seat. Jasmine wasn’t sure she liked the sound of a lot of hours.
How many is a lot?
“I see. Well, I’m ready to work. I’ll do whatever it takes. But… what position am I interviewing for, exactly? I wasn’t given much information when I came up here.”
“I have need for a new personal assistant. My last one, ah, she didn’t work out, unfortunately.”
A million questions burned in Jasmine, but she didn’t dare ask.
“Looking at your résumé, it seems that you have quite a bit of administrative experience. Tell me, have you ever been someone’s personal assistant before?”
Not like that, and definitely not on this scale. The closest Jasmine ever got to that was when she worked in a one-man office. She was the secretary, personal assistant, driver, hairdresser… “Not really, no.”
I should be selling myself.
But a part of Jasmine realized that it was futile. There was no way she was going to get a job as Ethan Cole’s personal assistant. Might as well be honest about it so she didn’t waste any more time. “I have a lot of office experience all over the city, though. Name a neighborhood and I’ve probably temped there.”
“Yes, temping. I saw that on here.” Ethan flipped the résumé over and smiled once again. He had the kind of James Bond smile that could stab a woman in the heart. Too bad Jasmine had been jaded so thoroughly by the job search to care. “Good way to get experience. You don’t have any issues with talking on the phone, do you?”
“No issues. I can call anyone and I can answer the phone at any time. It’s no big deal.”
“Excellent. By all accounts, Miss Bliss,” Ethan almost lost it saying her name like that, “you may be what I’m looking for.”
Although he looked at her as if this were already settled, Jasmine couldn’t help but lean forward with her head cocked to the side. “
” she asked. “You’ve got to be kidding. No offense, but I’m not sure you looked at the other people filing in for a job. One of them has to be more qualified than me for a job as important as the personal assistant to someone like you.”
“To be sure, that’s so.” Ethan shrugged. He was like a boy being told he should pick sportier people to be on his dodgeball team instead of his friends. “But like I implied, I’m not interested in any of those people. You’re the one who intrigues me, Miss Bliss.”
“Why in the world?” Jasmine needed to stop before this potential gravy train pulled out of the station without her on board. “Look, I don’t want to sound ungrateful, Mr. Cole, but I’ve been confused ever since one of your lackeys came downstairs and dragged me up here. I don’t know you. And you
didn’t know me since you had to ask my name. There’s no way I’m qualified for such a job. I’m really confused right now and would love an explanation as to why you want
of all people running your errands and being paid to do so. By the way, what kind of pay are we talking here?”
“Ah, yes, money.” Ethan folded his hands on his desk but remained upbeat when faced with such questions.
He must hear scarier in the boardroom. Let alone coming from someone like me.
“You would receive the base starting salary of thirty dollars per hour. I’m afraid that’s all there is in the budget for someone starting out in the company. Oh, and you would also receive the full Jackson-Cole insurance plan and various stock options.”
“Thirty… thirty dollars an hour?” Did she hear that right? That was more than she made at her past three jobs combined. Plus insurance! And stock options, whatever those were!
“But you are right when you say that something else is afoot. There’s another… aspect to this job that you would have to perform.
“Oh?” Once again she was afraid to ask.
“Yes. If you complete your contract, you will receive a very nice bonus at the end. That is if you decide to go along with the other aspect of this job as well.”
“What is it?”
Ethan Cole sat up straight in his chair, his striking profile puncturing the air as he turned and gazed at the wall before returning his attention to Jasmine. “I need a woman who can fulfill more than the usual needs of an office worker. Beyond taking calls, grabbing coffee, and jotting down notes for me.” He reached into a drawer and pulled out a piece of paper. It fluttered down in front of Jasmine, and Ethan provided a pen for her to sign it with.
No. A non-disclosure agreement. “Before I tell you and we continue with this interview, I will need you to sign that. If you choose not to, then this interview is over.”
“Huh…” Jasmine picked it up and read over the fine print. It was the standard NDA she signed at most of her temp jobs. She had to promise to not mention anything Ethan was to say next to anyone else she knew. Strange, but not unheard of. Jasmine picked up the pen and signed and dated the NDA after making sure it only applied to the interview contents. “Okay then.”
Ethan took the paper, glanced at Jasmine’s signature, and placed it into a folder at the end of his desk. Once it was stored away, he said, “I need a new sub, Miss Bliss.”
Someone must have turned down the thermostat, because the temperature dropped about twenty degrees in that fancy office. “A new sub what?” Jasmine scratched her chin. “A new substitute? A new sub sandwich? What?”
A beat, and then Ethan laughed. Pitiably, Jasmine might add. “You’re a witty woman, Miss Bliss. I like that. No, I mean a new submissive. Sexually.”
Jasmine had been told a lot of ridiculous things in her life. One time in elementary school, a male classmate tried to convince her that Santa Claus was really an informant for the FBI. “He flies over those war countries and reports back to the president!” he insisted. Then in high school, her career counselor told her that she could be anything she wanted to be with a four-year degree. That was almost more ridiculous than what Ethan Cole said to her just now.
“Ex… excuse me?” Color drained from her face. She wasn’t sure she even had a face anymore. Pretty sure it was sucked off her head from having her mind blown. “I’m sorry. I must have misheard. It sounded like you said you wanted to hire me to be a sexual submissive.”
Jasmine waited for Ethan Cole to blanch in disgust, or maybe humor.
he was supposed to say.
“Boy, that would be weird!”
Yes. Yes it was even weirder that Mr. Cole was not making such faces now.
“That is what I said, Miss Bliss. I admit it’s rather unconventional. Not every day you’re given such a proposal, I’m sure.”
“No. I can safely say I do not get asked to be some rich guy’s…” She wanted to say
bitch. Sex toy. Slaaave.
But before any of those words could come tumbling from the Voicebox of Sarcasm, Jasmine pushed back her chair and looked beneath the golden trim of Ethan Cole’s spiffy desk.
She got up, bent down, and peered beneath the chair. Nope. No camera there either. Next she looked under the desk lamp. No chips. “Oh, come on! You got me!” Jasmine laughed, one hand wagging in Ethan’s direction. “Who put you up to this? No, no, not anybody I know, surely. But I admit that this is definitely a fun way to end the day! Where are the cameras?”
Jasmine sat back down in the plush leather chair, this time slumping down as she crossed her legs, pulled out a chocolate from her purse, and started munching. “Whatever. You can’t hide them for long. That NDA was for a TV show, right? Where’s Ashton Kutcher?”
“There are no cameras, Miss Bliss. I’m sorry, you must be confused. This is a serious offer, not a television prank.”
Any good humor Jasmine managed to drum up instantly left her body as if Ethan Cole were a professional exorcist. “You’re joking.” Not a question, because Jasmine could seriously not believe anything but was going on. This was a sick, twisted joke from a man who got his jollies dangling a job in front of young women before jerking them away again.
“I’m not. Granted, I’m used to seeing looks of disbelief, but not quite at this level. You’re a strange woman, Miss Bliss.”
“Strange? No, I’m pretty sure
is when I’m called into some random billionaire’s office and asked to become his sex doll.” Jasmine sat up straight again, this time fueled by the anger bubbling in her stomach. Then her chest. Then her throat. “Are you kidding me? If this desk weren’t right here between us, I swear to God I’d slap you.”
“Please hear me out before making a final decision.” Hear him out? What, did he think that because he was a good looking rich guy Jasmine would sit and listen to whatever fell out of his mouth?
Of course. “I’m not going to mince words with you, Miss Bliss. I find it’s easier to be blunt about what I want.” Ethan smoothed his tie as if he could redirect Jasmine’s eyes to his chest.
Damnit! “I’m a man of many appetites. Have been my entire adult life. I’ve had various subs over the years, but quite frankly, I don’t care to date or look for the perfect partner of the moment. Especially now that I am, well, who I am.”
Be smugger, jerk.
“It’s easier to approach the women I come across in my life. When I saw you downstairs… I couldn’t help but be captivated by you. You’re very beautiful, Miss Bliss.”