All That He Wants (The Billionaire's Seduction #1) by Olivia Thorne

Part 1

1

I’m writing this because I’m heartbroken.

I’m writing this because I’m in love.

I’m writing this because more amazing, astounding, mind-blowing things have happened to me in the last two months than in my whole life before I met him, combined.

I’m writing this because I’ve lost more than I ever thought I would be able to bear.

And even though I hate myself for doing it, I pray to God I can hold him…

…kiss him…

…make love to him…

…just one last time.

? ? ?

Okay, enough of mopey beginnings. I’m really not that kind of girl, I swear.

I guess I should say ‘woman,’ not ‘girl.’ I am 24, after all, and, well, you know – ‘yay feminism,’ right?

It’s just that I never really felt like I was an adult. In a lot of ancient societies, they had some sort of ritual that women go through where you know you’re a woman afterwards. ‘You passed the ritual? Congratulations, you’re a woman by definition!’

In the 21st Century United States of America, getting married or having a baby probably qualifies. Although I’ve never been married or had a baby, so… problem not solved.

I guess the other closest possibility for a single woman is losing your virginity… but that happened for me when I was 17, and I sure as hell didn’t feel like a woman with my high school boyfriend. Or my two college boyfriends. Or any ‘boyfriend,’ really.

He was the first one that made me feel like a woman. Entirely. Through and through.

But we’ll get to that soon enough.

2

My name is Lily Ross. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, went to the University of Georgia, got a business degree with a psychology minor, had a horrible time getting a job after college, finally moved out to Los Angeles because my best friend Anh got hired at a prestigious consulting firm and promised me she could get me in, too. She did… although in a terrible position for next to no pay.

But I’m not complaining, mind you! (Not much, anyway.) It was a job, I had my foot in the door, and – Los Angeles! Come on! One of the most glamorous cities in the world!

That much is true, though I never saw the glamorous side of it until waaaaay after I arrived.

Also, Anh had an apartment in Hollywood! Land of movie stars, the silver screen, the place where dreams come true! Right?

Wrong.

Hollywood as an idea – the ‘dream factory’ – I guess that’s still valid. But Hollywood the ‘place’? The geographic location you’ll find on Google Maps? All the film studios and movie stars bolted over 50 years ago. Except Paramount Pictures, but they’re right next to a graveyard, so let that tell you something.

Our Hollyweird apartment is down the street from a tattoo parlor and a skeezy-as-hell ‘Thai massage’ parlor.

That was my first introduction to reality versus fantasy.

I know these are all boring details to you, but I guess I bring it up for a couple of reasons.

One: as you’ll see very shortly, my version of fantasy and reality began to blur together quickly and very dangerously.

Two: I was intimidated as hell by the women in Los Angeles when I got out here. It’s like the best skin/hair/boob gene pool dumping ground in the country. (And if you want some extra help in the boob department, the plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills will gladly sell it to you.) Sometimes it feels like every good-looking girl from every town in America comes out here to try to make it… and when you’re not in that crowd, it can be rough on your self-esteem.

However, as my dad used to say, sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut.

In case you missed it, I’m the blind squirrel in that analogy.

Nothing that happened to me happened because I’m gorgeous. I’m not. In Los Angeles, I’d almost say I’m plain.

At 5’4”, I’m fairly short by LA standards. I could stand to lose 10 pounds (maybe even 15… that’s it, I’m cutting off speculation at 15). I’m not even in the same zip code (okay, not even the same state) as Sofia Vergara or Jennifer Lopez in terms of, um, assets. Not exactly Victoria’s Secret model material.

Guys I’ve dated tell me I have pretty eyes. My hair’s good. I like my cheekbones. I have nice calves, and they look even better in heels. (We’re not going to talk about my thighs.)

I’m fairly smart, I think I’m funny (you may beg to differ after you’ve spent enough time with me), and I have a few interesting quirks.

The point is, none of this happened because I look like a pin-up model. Because I don’t.

Hell, I’m still not sure how it happened.

3

It was a Friday night at Exerton Consulting, and of course, my boss was being a douchebag.

Excuse my French.

Exerton is a small multi-national consulting firm with offices in a few big cities around the globe – LA, New York, London, Tokyo. But they’re not among the biggest fish in the pond, not by a long shot.

‘Consulting firm,’ you ask. ‘What does that mean?’

(If you didn’t ask that and don’t care, skip down about ten paragraphs.)

It means that other companies think they have problems, so they get Exerton’s ‘experts’ to come in and tell them how to fix said problems. Efficiency problems, human resources problems, hiring problems, blah blah blah, are your eyes glazing over yet?

By the way, most of the problems are things the companies could have solved by talking to lower-level employees, or by trusting good people in their own organization. But they never do that. Oh no. That would be craaaazy.

Don’t mind me, I’m just being snarky because I got hired as a temp secretary. I couldn’t even make the cut to regular staff, much less a junior consultant like Anh.

Anyway, back to the douchebag boss.

I work in the Executive Compensation division, which advises companies on how much to offer when they’re hiring high-level executives – CEO’s, CFO’s, and other alphabet-soup positions – in order to be competitive.

So, basically, I make $20,000 a year (which, in LA, is like $12,000 a year in Atlanta) supporting a senior VP who makes at least a half million a year, who advises companies on whether they should offer 11 million or 12 million to a potential new CEO who drove the last company he worked at into the ground.

Sorry, I’m a little bitter.

I’m even more bitter because my boss, Klaus Zimmerman, is… well, he’s not the nicest person on the planet. Even more than that, he’s disorganized, high maintenance, and wishy-washy. He can’t find anything and yells at me like it’s my fault his office is a pigsty. He is constantly coming up with a humongous list of time-consuming demands that he adds to hourly. He makes a hundred last-minute changes on any big project we send out, which means that I’m constantly begging the copy room guys to reprint and rebind 50 reports at 5:45 PM so I can make the last FedEx pickup. Otherwise I get to drive seven miles through LA rush hour – which is, to say, I get to wait in traffic 45 minutes – to drop off the delivery at the closest shipping office.

And he has the evil, evil habit of saving a ton of busywork until 6PM Friday night, which he needs corrected and emailed to him, because he ‘has to work at home on the weekends.’

Ah – but I get paid overtime for this!

Which means I make $12.50 an hour instead of $10. (Don’t forget, the temp agency gets their cut.)

And virtually every Friday night is shot because I’m exhausted by the time I wrap up at 10PM getting Herr Klaus’s reports ready.

I don’t think he even works from home on the weekends. I think he just likes torturing me.

But I shouldn’t complain, because if Klaus weren’t such a jerk, I would have never met him.

4

It was 5:55 PM on Friday when Anh stopped by my desk and put on her sad, hesitant face.

Anh (pronounced ‘On’) is this adorable little Vietnamese American girl whom I’ve known since I was a sophomore in college and she was a freshman. At barely five feet in heels and a year younger than me, I feel okay calling her a ‘girl.’ She wouldn’t mind.

I envy how thin she is; I like that she’s one of the few people who makes me feel tall; and I love her for getting my sense of humor, for having been my therapist/mom through a couple of wretched breakups, and for generally putting up with me.

Plus, she lets me pay less in rent even though our bedrooms are the same size. I think she does that because, even though she got me the job, she feels bad that I wound up working for Herr Klaus.

I refer to him as ‘Herr Klaus’ because ‘the Exec Comp Nazi’ might get me fired. Yes, I know, I know, I shouldn’t go around comparing my jerk boss to actual, real-life monsters who destroyed millions upon millions of people’s lives.

But if Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld could do it with a guy who sells soup…

Anyway, that’s why ‘Herr Klaus.’ Anh resisted the nickname at first because she’s so sweet and tries to look for the best in everyone, but my continual usage of it wore her down.

“Herr Klaus snapping the whip again?” she asked.

“Yes. And not the type of whip I like, either,” I mumbled.

That was a joke, and Anh knows it. In the bedroom, I’m about as vanilla as they come. (Pun not intended on ‘come.’)

Well… I was.

But we’ll get to that, too.

She laughed, then put on the sad face again. “Do you think you might be able to come out with us to the club?”

Anh had a bunch of friends who went out clubbing on Fridays to blow off steam. I had been able to join them exactly one night in the last four months.

“No,” I sighed, “it’s one of those Friday nights.”

“Awwww,” she said, and patted my head sympathetically, sort of like you would a poodle. It’s something she started when we first roomed together in college, and it stuck. By the way, she’s the only one who can do it and live to tell the tale. “Text me when you get off. I’ll slip away, get some Haagen Daaz at the grocery store, and we’ll crack open a bottle of wine back home and watch a bad romantic comedy.”

I love my roommate. Have I mentioned that I love my roommate?

Five minutes after Anh left, Klaus came out with his briefcase.

He was a short man who managed to be both scarecrow-skinny and yet have a small pot belly going on beneath his pricey suit. Except for a perpetually sour look, he was okay looking. Between that, his money, and the authoritative presence he struck that many women would mistake for confidence, he seemed to do all right with a certain class of Los Angeles gold digger.

“I need those documents for Teramore thoroughly proofed,” he snapped.

“Okay.”

“Not like last month on the Morings report,” he added snidely.

I had missed something minor – which meant Klaus had missed something minor, too, since he was supposed to proof all the reports, but would he ever admit to a mistake on his part?

See, that was a trick question. Klaus doesn’t make mistakes. According to Klaus, anyway.

The client had joked about the mistake in a phone call.

Klaus does not like to be laughed at. Or about. Or near.

So I had been catching hell for, oh, three weeks or so.

Inwardly I seethed. You make twenty or thirty great saves, and no appreciation. You make one lousy mistake, and you hear about it for weeks.

“Okay,” I said, forcing a smile.

“I don’t have time to continually look over your shoulder,” he continued.

I had to grit my teeth.

I’ll be staying four hours late tonight, when you could have just gotten the work to me earlier instead of dithering on the changes. Meanwhile, you’ll be having drinks at the ‘hottest new restaurant in LA’ with some silicone princess. And not ONCE will you be looking over my shoulder the entire time, asshole.

“Fine.”

“Your continued employment here is dependent on your making a better effort. I hope you understand that,” he said, checking his smartphone.

If nothing else, I have learned self-control in my six months as Klaus’s secretary. Because there are many times when I am ten seconds and one letter opener away from a 20-year prison sentence for murder.

I think I could get off on temporary insanity, though.

If I made a video recording of how he treated me, I think it might even be ruled justifiable homicide.

“Understood,” I said in as annoying and chirpy a voice as I could manage.

“And another thing – ” he started in.

Mercifully, that was when my phone rang.

“Excuse me,” I said, relieved to escape a murder rap once again, and picked it up. “Exerton Consulting, Klaus Zimmerman’s office.”

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