Country Billionaire: The Complete Series, страница 1
© 2016 Jenna Chase, Amelia Clarke
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are all productions of the authors’ imagination.
Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented as 18 or over.
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Country Billionaire 1
“Ugh, I have to find a job,” I groaned to my best friend Laurissa. We were at our favorite café and she was listening to me whine about my dilemma for at least the hundredth time. We’d been friends since junior high and we’re now going to the same college together. As juniors, she’s had to go through my moping every single summer for the last three years. Every year we come home, and every year we have to find a job to make money for the three months were back in our hometown.
“You know, if you just keep moaning about it, you’re never going to actually get one. To get a job you have to start applying. You do this every single summer so this time I came prepared,” she said as she grinned and pulled a folded newspaper page from her bag. I could already see the bright yellow highlighter marking a square around a position she thought I would be well-suited for.
“Oh boy,” I said rolling my eyes, “What do you have for me this time?”
“You’re going to love it,” she said as she teasingly waved the page through the air. When she saw me looking at her questioningly she placed it on the table in front of her and then used a single slender finger to push it over to my side. “Right there,” she said poking the add several times.
I took a moment to read it and then raised an eyebrow, “Horses? You think I should work with horses?”
“Not just the horses. You know whose place that is right?”
I looked down at the page again trying to figure out what she meant. “Oh my god, it’s that guy, the hot one.”
“Not just the hot one, but also the one with all the money,” she said with a smile. “And look, he needs someone for the summer. Someone that likes horses. I know someone that likes horses,” she said giving me the eye.
“Yeah, but…I don’t know…I’ve heard he can be a real jerk. Plus, I like horses but I don’t really know anything about them.”
“Ok, all of that might be true, but look a bit further down. Look at what its paying!” she said letting out an excited squeal. “I’m telling you Clara, this job is made for you, and it comes with bonus eye candy.”
“And I’d have to deal with a potential asshole.”
“Maybe if you just stare at his sexy body but don’t actually interact with him.”
“That is not a solution. What boss have you ever had that you never had to talk to?”
“Well, fine, all bosses are assholes, at least this one comes with good looks and a really good pay rate. C’mon, at least apply,” she said pouting at me.
“Alright, I’ll apply, but I’m not promising more than that.”
“Great! Here’s the application she said reaching in to pull some more papers from her purse.”
“Jesus Laurissa, did you have this all planned or what?”
“Umm…just a little. I brought this too in case my words weren’t convincing enough,” she said as she reached back into her bag and withdrew a photograph. A photograph of the man with the horses, the hot one-time rodeo star that now owned the biggest ranch in the area. I took the picture from her fingertips and looked him over. I couldn’t deny it; he was scorching hot. Tall, lean, muscled, strong chiseled features, lips you could kiss for days, crystalline blue eyes – just my type.
“Shit,” I breathed as I set the photo down and picked up the pen that my friend had supplied. “I don’t know if I say it enough, but, I just want you to know that I secretly hate you,” I said with a light laugh.
“It’s not so secret if you tell me now is it?” she said as she pushed back her chair to stand. “I need a refill, and because I’m such a great friend, I’m going to get you one too. I expect that application to be finished by the time I get back.”
I watched until she was standing at the counter ordering and then I picked up the photograph again. Even if I got an interview, even if I managed to get the job, could I stand to work for a man that looked this good and was known to have such a bad attitude? My mind considered what working for him would be like, and then I decided I would cross that bridge when it came. Hell, I probably wouldn’t even get the job. This guy really knows his horses and he probably wants someone that is an expert as well. I laughed to myself for even thinking I had a chance, and then I continued the application just to please Laurissa.
She returned to the table a few minutes later. “So, did you get it done?” she asked.
“You were gone less than five minutes. How on earth could I have finished an entire application in that time?”
“Ok, ok, just hurry up,” she said as she wiggled in her seat. I could tell she was up to something but I wasn’t sure what. There was bound to be a reason she was wanting me to get done with this thing so quickly. Normally I’d just take it home and fill it out whenever but she was demanding that I complete it right now.
“What are you planning?” I asked as I squinted my eyes at her.
“Oh, nothing,” she said as she angled her straw to her lips.
“No. I can tell, it’s something.”
“Just finish it and then you’ll see. I’m not talking to you again until you’re done,” she said as she swiveled to sit sideways in her chair and looked away from me.”
“Whatever. I know you’re up to something,” I said as I looked back down and continued to write.
It took me about ten more minutes to finish and then I handed her the paper. “Is this satisfactory?”
She held it between her hands and studied it scrupulously. “Yep, looks good. Let’s go,” she said standing and grabbing her purse.
“Uh huh. Get your things,” she said walking away from the table without waiting for me. I had to jog to catch up to her once I’d slung my purse over my shoulder.
“Care to tell me where we’re going?”
“Not yet,” she teased. “Just get in the car and relax. You don’t want to look worn out and flustered when we get there. Focus on calm and collected. That’s what you should be going for right now.”
“I hate you,” I grumbled under my breath.
“I know you love me. I love you too,” she said with a wink and an air kiss. “Now let’s get this show on the road,” she finished as she started the car and backed out of the parking spot.
She drove until we were heading out of town. Then I started to catch on. “Oh no, this is not happening right now.”
“Yes it is, my mom always told me it was the squeaky wheel that gets the grease so we’re just going to drive on up to his farm and hand him the application ourselves. Besides, you’re pretty, he’s hot, I bet he’ll hire you right on the spot just so he has something nice to look at.”
“Well gee, thanks for discrediting any other talents I might possess.”
“You don’t need anyone to tell you that you’re smart.”
“You’re really making me do this right now? I’m not dressed properly or anything.”
“It’s a farm. He won’t care.”
“I hope you’re right,” I said grudgingly. “I wish you’d let me prepare a little bit,” I continued as she slowed and turned on her turn signal.
Red Mountain Acres was carved into a large wooden plaque that hung from a cast iron gate that crossed over the road. It was elaborate, beautiful, and currently hung open granting us entry.
“Are you sure we’re allowed in here?” I asked hesitantly as I hoped I could use the trespassing as an excuse for us to leave.
“We’re already headed down the road now so might as well keep going,” she said with a carefree wave of her hand. I never understood how she could go through life caring so little and I wished that a little bit of her carelessness would rub off on me.
“It’s really pretty,” I said as I looked out over the lush fields that seemed to go on for miles. “Just look at all of the horses.”
She glanced to the side as she drove, “You can tell he takes really good care of them. They all look clean and healthy. You know if he takes care of horses that well, just imagine how he treats his women,” she said offhandedly.
“Yeah…” I said wistfully. Could a guy that cares this much about his animals be all bad?
“Look! There he is!” Laurissa suddenly exclaimed as her arm shot out across the car to point at a figure out in the field. He was walking towards us slowly, his shirt swung up over his shoulder.
I gulped as my eyes wandered down his muscular torso. I couldn’t stop myself from licking my lips as I took in the light sheen of sweat that accentuated his perfect six pack. Holy shit! My mind screamed as I fought for breath. He was absolutely gorgeous. No man I had ever seen before even came close to the handsome ruggedness that he oozed. “Oh my god, I don’t think I can do this,” I said when I could finally breathe again.
“Shh! Close your mouth and stop staring. He’s almost here!” I hadn’t even realized my mouth was hanging open, nor that I was staring. I tore my gaze from his body and felt my nerves beginning to get the best of me. “Just be yourself. He’s going to like you.” She pushed the button that rolled down my window as he stepped closer and leaned against the wooden fence that separated us.
“Can I help you?” he asked. I found myself surprised that he sounded nice, and even smiled, instead of chastising us for being on his private property.
Laurissa was the first to speak up, “We saw your ad in the paper! We brought an application,” she said gleefully. Despite the fact that she was the one responding, his eyes never left me. I could feel them boring into me as I did my best to ignore his focused attention.
“Are you the one that’s applying?” he asked speaking directly to me.
I kept my eyes on my balled up fists in my lap. “Yes…but…but if this is a bad time we can come back later, or we can just leave the application, or whatever you want,” I sputtered. I felt like a complete idiot.
He remained silent for a long moment and then replied, “I’ll see you now. Go ahead and drive up to the house.” Just like that he turned from us and began to walk up the lightly sloping field that led to the large house at the top of the hill.
“Did you see the way he was looking at you?” Laurissa asked as she put the car back in gear and slowly drove the rest of the way up the long gravel drive.
“No. I mean, he had to look somewhere, right?”
“Not like that he didn’t. He couldn’t take his eyes off of you. This job is sooo yours. Plus, maybe you’ll end up with a bit of a bonus,” she said with a laugh and an eyebrow raise.
“Please shut up,” I said as my cheeks began to burn.
“He is really hot huh?” she continued.
“Yeah, he wasn’t bad,” I answered trying to minimize the impact his body had on me.
“Man, I could ride that man all the way to town,” she said as she burst into a fit of giggles.
“Ok, that’s it. We’re not talking about him anymore. So, you coming in or what?” I asked as I unbuckled my seatbelt and flung open the passenger door.
“This is all you. He wouldn’t even look at me. Go work your sexy magic. I’ll just wait here. If you take too long, I noticed there’s a picnic bench back over there. I’ll go watch the horses if I get bored.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yep, absolutely. Go get your stallion…I mean, go get your job!”
God I could kill her sometimes. I reached down and smoothed my top and skirt as I headed towards the front door. Glancing out over the vast property I noticed he hadn’t quite made it up the hill yet. He lifted an arm and waved to me. I fumbled and managed a half-wave back. Ugh, embarrassing, my mind grumbled as I watched him close the rest of the gap between us.
“Come on in,” he said as he slid his arm past me to reach for the door knob. My breath hitched in my chest when I was momentarily confused and thought he was going to grab me. I felt a mixture of relief and disappointment as he pushed the door in. I could already imagine the feel of his large hands on my body, and it was bothering me how interested I was in the idea. He’d leaned in close enough that I caught the delicious scent of him. The manly smell of his body teased my senses and had me longing for more.
“Will your friend be joining us?” he asked with a strange look on his face. It was a mix of apprehension and hope and I didn’t know what to make of it.
He held the door open and motioned for me to head in. When he stepped in behind me I held out my hand awkwardly and tried to hand him the application. “Um…here’s the application…and no, it’s just going to be me. She said she’d wait outside.”
“Don’t worry about that. We won’t be needing it, and good, I’m glad it’s just the two of us,” he said with a sly smile. “Go ahead and have a seat on the couch while I run put on a clean shirt.” I wanted to beg him not to but I knew it wasn’t the time. He didn’t even know my name yet. “You’ll be ok Clara?” Shit! He had noticed my name on the application.
“Yeah. I’ll just…” I began as I sat down on the couch. “I’ll just be right here,” I finished as I perched on the edge of the seat.
“Great. I’ll be right back,” he said as he rushed up the stairs.
The living room was gorgeous. Not in the way that you expect those with money in Manhattan to decorate, but more of a country charm. This was a different kind of lush wealth. It was comfortable and manly and everything was obviously quality. I’d never been anywhere like this before. In the corner was a large bronze statue of a buck, at least 10-foot tall. It stood in front of a full wall of windows and I couldn’t stop myself as I stood to approach it. It was beautifully detailed and smooth as I ran my hand across the sculpted chest. The metal was cool and inviting as I continued around to its side, my hand never leaving its bronze body.
The skin along the back of my neck suddenly prickled when I realized I was no longer alone. Directly behind me, less than a foot away, his voice echoed through the room, “Quite a work of art isn’t it?” he said as he reached forward and placed his hand beside mine on the sculpture. “I knew I had to have it the moment I saw it. It was one of the first things I ever bought with my money,” he continued, the sound of a smile tinting his voice.
“You were in rodeo weren’t you?” I asked as I turned around to face him.
“Ah, so you’ve heard the stories,” he commented.
“Just a few. You’re a bit of a local hero,” I answered finally losing some of my nerves.
“I don’t know about that. But yes, I was in rodeo.”
“You must have been very good,” I said as I gestured to the incredible house around us.
“I was until a bull got my leg. I was smart enough to invest while the money was still good. It’s the only way I’ve managed to have this place. Anyway, enough about me. While I was upstairs, a thought occurred to me. Why don’t we tell your friend out there to go ahead and head home, and you come out with me to dinner.”
He was so smooth when he said it, like it was no big deal.
“But what about the interview?” I asked feeling suddenly anxious. Can I handle going to dinner with him? My heart was already fluttering every time he looked at me.
“I can ask the same questions over dinner can’t I?” he said. I could tell he already knew how I would respond. He knew I would say yes. We’d had a connection from the first moment we’d seen each other and as much as I tried to deny it, he was rushing towards it head first.
“I’m not really…” I began as I looked down at my clothes.
“You look lovely,” he said with a crooked smile. “Now go tell your friend that you have a date.”
“A date!?” I exclaimed suddenly unable to breathe.
“I’m sorry, I meant an interview,” he said with a light laugh. I looked him in the eye and he stared right back. He reached forward and ran his finger along my jawline eliciting a light sigh from my lips. I closed my eyes and felt my chest heave. He stepped forward and leaned down, his lips lightly brushing my ear. “Call it whatever you want but I think I might need you as more than an employee.” I gasped and felt my face flush red. He pulled back and released my chin.
“I’ll…um…I’ll be right back,” I said as I fumbled with the door knob and let myself outside. As soon as the door closed behind me I leaned back and tried to work out what I was going to tell Laurissa. I decided there was nothing to tell her but the truth, that he wanted to do the interview over dinner. No fishy business, just a hungry guy wanting to kill two birds with one stone. Right, I didn’t even believe that myself.