Home > The Billionaire's Promise (Scandals of the Bad Boy Billionaires #4)

The Billionaire's Promise (Scandals of the Bad Boy Billionaires #4)
Author: Ivy Layne


CHAPTER ONE

MAGNOLIA

 

* * *

 

T-MINUS TWO YEARS

 

* * *

 

I couldn’t breathe. He opened the door, and my breath was sucked from my lungs in one big whoosh. If you’d been there, you’d understand. One second, I was standing in the hallway, waiting impatiently to be interviewed for a job I wasn’t sure I wanted. The next second, the door was swinging open, and he was there, filling the door frame, six and a half feet of panty-melting hotness. A towel slung loosely around his waist, barely clinging to his lean hips, and drops of water slid down his broad, defined chest. He leaned against the door and looked down at me, his eyes scanning me from head to toe. Was it too late to run?

There was no way I could work for this man. Vance Winters. Heir to billions, renowned artist at the young age of twenty-eight, and secret angel investor in up and coming tech companies. All of that was intimidating enough. I hadn’t taken into account the impact he would have in person. I’d seen pictures in the society section of the paper and in glossy magazines. They didn’t scratch the surface.

First, he was tall. I’m right in the middle, neither tall nor short, and he towered over me, all of him sculpted muscle and smooth, golden skin decorated with elaborate, inky black tattoos. From the way the towel dipped across his abs, showing every inch of the cut V of muscle between his hips, as well as a stark tan line, I knew the golden skin came from the sun. He must spend a lot of time outdoors. I tried not to imagine him jogging without his shirt. Or swimming, that too-long dark blond hair pulled back, powerful legs propelling him through the water. I definitely didn’t imagine tugging on the towel to get a better look at the white skin below the tan. Absolutely not.

I blinked hard. What was wrong with me? I had a boyfriend. He was a good guy, a med student, and we’d been together for years. He wasn’t in Vance’s league, but he was very attractive. Brayden. I had to think of Brayden. I was quiet, but not easily intimidated. Not usually. There was something about the way Vance lounged in the door, his blue eyes lazily hooded as they studied me. He threw me off balance. Then he grinned and said, “Are you coming in?”

My knees went weak. That grin. Holy crap. With his blond hair, vivid blue eyes, and all those golden muscles, he reminded me of a Viking. A debauched Viking with a killer grin. I don’t know where it came from, but in a crisp, cool voice, I said, “I don’t know. Are you going to get out of the way?”

Another grin, and a wink. Vance Winters was trouble. Fighting the weakness in my knees, I straightened my spine and followed him into his loft, ready to get this over with.

“Can you make coffee?” he asked, gesturing to his ultra-modern kitchen. “Consider it part of your interview.”

Again, not sure where the attitude was coming from, I said, “Are you planning on getting dressed?”

He looked down at his lack of attire and shrugged. “Do you want me to?” His tone suggested I’d be crazy to cover up all that gorgeous. He was right. Telling Vance Winters to put on clothes was a crime against nature. A man with a body like that should be naked all the time.

But I was there for a job interview. I wasn’t looking to get laid. Brayden. I had Brayden. I wasn’t into casual hookups anyway, even if I were single. Vance Winters was known for many things, and sleeping his way through Atlanta was one of them.

“Please,” I said, as coolly and professionally detached as I could manage. Not waiting for his response, I turned to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. I heard him leave and let out a breath I hadn’t known I’d been holding.

What was I doing here? I didn’t need the job. Well, I did, and I didn’t. I had money. My grandmother had left me well provided for. I wasn’t wealthy, not like the Winters family, but I had a beautiful home—my grandmother’s—and enough money to live on if I was careful. Six months ago, I graduated from Emory with a degree in Business after staying an extra semester to complete dual concentrations in Finance and Accounting. I’d planned on working for a year or two, then going for my MBA. A month after I’d finished school, my grandmother had died.

I should have seen it coming. She’d been almost eighty, and for the last few months of her life, she’d been unusually tired. She’d refused to go to the doctor, saying she was fine. She’d been wrong. Losing her had leeched every drop of vitality from my life. For as long as I could remember, my grandmother was the only adult I could depend on. She remembered my birthday. She gave me a home for summer vacations. That first year in boarding school, eight years old and terrified of being alone in England, she’d called me every night, the time difference be damned.

Iris Henry had loved me like no one else, and then she’d died on me. I’d imagined I’d be able to return the favor one day, had envisioned caring for her as she aged. Instead, I was rattling around in her house, alone, losing my bearings more and more with each day that passed.

I’d been drifting for months when I’d run into Rupert Stevens, an old bridge crony of my grandmother’s. I’d known him since I’d been a child, and if Rupert wasn’t family, he was the closest thing to it. It hadn’t taken him long to size up my situation. Two days after we spoke, his wife, Sloane, Vance’s manager, had called me with a job offer. I knew if I didn’t at least drag myself out of the house and go see Vance, Rupert would call in the cavalry. I was having a hard enough time dealing with my grandmother’s death. I didn’t think I could take an intervention from her bridge club, no matter how well-meaning.

So, I was here, willing to let Vance Winters interview me to see if I’d fit the role of his assistant. I hadn’t been sure I wanted the job when I’d knocked on his door. Now, after seeing him in the towel, I thought my best option might be to tell him ‘no thanks’ and go home. I remembered the ridges of his six pack and my mouth watered. I hadn’t had sex for over a month. Brayden was never home lately, and when he was, he said he was exhausted.

I caught the scuff of a bare foot on hardwood and turned to see Vance prowling toward me, his magnificent body covered by a pair of jeans so old they were worn white at the knee and an equally threadbare t-shirt with the faded logo of a classic rock band. All that luscious tanned skin was covered, only the trailing vines of a tattoo visible on his left arm. His streaky dark blond hair was wet and loose around his face, his vivid blue eyes dancing as they took in the full mug of coffee in my hands.

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