All That He Wants (The Billionaire's Seduction #1)(2) by Olivia Thorne

“Hey, Lily,” a familiar voice said.

Stanley, the front desk concierge/guard. One of my favorite people at Exerton. Huge black guy, looks like he could benchpress a station wagon, but sweet as a teddy bear.

“Hey, Stanley,” I answered warmly.

“Mr. Zimmerman there?”

Stanley had had plenty of joyful run-ins with my boss through the years. He’d taken to using my ‘Herr Klaus’ nickname, too, but obviously he was worried about being overheard.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, he’s standing right in front of me.”

At which point Klaus began scowling and waving his hands in a ‘no, no I’m NOT’ kind of way.

“…although he’s on his way out to a very important meeting,” I amended.

With a silicone princess named Natalia or Buffy or Chantal.

Stanley sounded a little strange as he continued to talk. I couldn’t quite peg it, but it was almost as though he were… intimidated.

Which is hard to do with a 300-pound dude who can benchpress station wagons.

“There’s, uh… there’s this gentleman here who wants to speak to him.”

“Oh… tell him I’m sorry, but Mr. Zimmerman can’t. If you put him on, though, I’ll make an appointment for him next week.”

“Uhhh… he says he’s from LMGK.”

Oh CRAP.

LMGK was one of Exerton’s major rivals, a true international behemoth with offices in over two dozen cities across the globe. There had been rumors flying for months that LMGK was going to acquire Exerton, and things I had seen in the upper echelons tended to support those rumors. Like meetings between Klaus and all the other department heads with bigwigs from LMGK.

“Uh… hold on, Stanley.” I pulled the phone from my ear and covered the mouthpiece. “There’s a man in the lobby from LMGK who wants to speak to you.”

Klaus groaned and checked his Rolex watch. His very gaudy, very expensive Rolex watch.

“Oh GOD… of course this happens to me right now… what’s his name?” he snarled.

I uncovered the mouthpiece. “What’s his name, Stan?”

“A Mr. Brooks. Mr. Connor Brooks.”

“Connor Brooks,” I said to Klaus – who put on the snottiest expression imaginable, like one of the queen bitches from the old Lindsay Lohan movie Mean Girls.

“Who?!”

I shrugged.

“Screw it, he’s not messing up my Friday night,” Klaus sneered.

Versus YOU screwing up every single one of mine, I thought angrily.

“I’m out. Take a message, schedule an appointment, whatever, but I’m out.”

With that, Klaus started for the elevators. He was out of sight in three seconds flat.

I sighed and turned back to the phone. “Put him on, would you, Stan?”

“Sure thing, Lily.”

There was the sound of the phone exchanging hands.

I don’t know what I expected. Maybe a high, nasally voice, the sort of whine that would belong to a guy who didn’t have anything better to do on a Friday night except schedule business meetings. Or a boring monotone like the guy who says, “Bueller… Bueller…” in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

But I certainly wasn’t expecting what I got.

5

I think I can safely say it was the sexiest voice I’d ever heard.

George Clooney sexy.

Barry White smooth.

Clive Owen without the British accent.

And young. Much younger than the men I just mentioned – but I can’t think of any hot actors my own age with a voice like that.

Deep. Rumbling. Powerful.

And confident.

You could tell from the first few words that this guy was used to getting his way. Not a demanding prima donna, but just kind of a ‘the king has spoken, now make it so’ kind of way.

You could also tell he was trouble from the get-go.

“This is Connor Brooks from LMGK. Please put Klaus Zimmerman on.”

I just sort of sat there, hypnotized.

If his voice was wine, I’d want to drink it all. night. long.

Pour it all over me, please.

After a couple of seconds of me being a silent doofus, he spoke again, more impatient this time. “Hello? Is anyone there?”

I snapped back to reality. “Uh… I’m sorry, Mr. Brooks, but Mr. Zimmerman left just a few minutes ago. I can make an appointment with him if you – ”

“Who’s this? What’s your name?” he asked.

He was forceful, but he wasn’t a jerk. He wasn’t rude, other than the fact that he’d interrupted me.

Which, okay, I guess is sort of rude, but if you’d heard his voice, you wouldn’t mind if he interrupted you, either.

“Lily. Lily Ross.”

“And you’re his secretary, Lily?”

“Yes sir.”

“Ahhh, ‘yes sir,’ I like that,” he chuckled mockingly. “Lily, you have his cell number, don’t you?”

“Uh… yes, but – ”

“I’m going to need that number, Lily.”

He kept saying my name again, over and over. Sometimes when people I don’t know do that, I get annoyed. It’s a fake sales-y way to build intimacy so they can sucker you in for a set of steak knives or comprehensive life insurance.

This guy, though… I really, really wanted to hear him say my name some more.

“I’m really sorry, Mr. Brooks, but I can’t give out Mr. Zimmerman’s cell number – ”

“We’re wasting time, Lily. You and I both know Klaus is still in the building. I need his cell before he drives off to whatever frou-frou wine bar he’s going to tonight.”

Bagging on Klaus.

I liked this guy.

Well, I loved his voice, but now I liked his personality, too.

But I wasn’t about to catch a world of hell for a sexy voice. I figured I would be fired at worst; at best, three months of nagging and complaining. I could hear it already: And don’t give out my phone number again to anybody like you did LAST year…

“I’m sorry, Mr. Brooks, I can’t.”

“Discretion. I like that. Then I need you to come down here, Lily. And bring your cell phone.”

“…excuse me?”

“Come on, Lily, daylight’s burning. Stanley will be here to chaperone, and I promise I won’t bite. But I need to talk to Klaus. Immediately.”

“I’m… not sure I’m comfortable – ”

The voice on the other end sighed.

“Lily.”

Pause.

“Please?”

When he said ‘please,’ he didn’t beg.

He didn’t whine.

He wasn’t even really ‘asking.’

He…

God.

I know you’ll think that everything that happened afterwards is coloring how I’m interpreting it now, but…

…it was almost sexual.

It was the tone of voice a man might use on a woman in the bedroom, when she’s on the verge of orgasm and he wants to push her over the edge.

It was the voice of a man who knew how to get what he wanted from women. A man who knew how to push all the right buttons – and skillfully. Who knew how to ‘ask’ without really asking at all.

A man who could make you want to say yes to just about anything.

I’m blushing as I remember it.

“I’ll be down in two minutes,” I stammered.

“Good,” he purred, and hung up.

6

I was really, really nervous as I rode the elevator down all 23 stories to the lobby.

One, I was nervous that I was about to do something really stupid and get my ass chewed out by my boss.

Two, I was all butterflies about seeing the stranger who owned that golden voice. If he sounded that good, imagine how he must look…

Let me explain. I’m not great with guys. I don’t flirt very well – in fact, any guy I find really attractive, I kind of lose it when I’m around him. Maybe it’s lack of practice. I don’t get approached that much by really handsome men, even though LA is the capital of pretty boys. I hear most of them are narcissistic and self-involved; I wouldn’t know, since they rarely give me the time of day. And when a hot, charming guy does start talking to me at a party, I either give giggly, airheaded responses that make me look stupid, or stilted, one-word answers that make me seem like I’m not interested, when in fact I’m just nervous as hell. After a minute or two of that, most of the hot ones move on.

I tend to end up dating average guys, guys I become friends with first – guys who are sort of cute, not intimidating at all. The type of guy who becomes more attractive the longer you know them. The type that grows on you. Nice guys. Regular guys who are even-keeled and sweet, or at least seem that way for the first several months until the bad things start floating up to the surface.

I like that – I like nice guys. But once… just once… I wanted to have one of the hot ones.

So I was nervous that he was going to be absolutely gorgeous, and that I was going to make a fool of myself.

Three, I was pretty much positive there was no way he was as good-looking as his voice would suggest, and I didn’t want to ruin the fantasy.

I know, it sounds stupid – “Oh, you’re afraid he’ll be good looking, and you’re afraid he’ll be ugly! Make up your damn mind!” Followed by a slap on the back of my head.

But hear me out. Ever see a guy from the back, and you’re like ‘DAMN, break me off a piece of that’? (Not that I would get to break me off a piece of that in reality, but I can still dream.) Amazing ass, great shoulders, gorgeous hair, fantastic arms? You’re thinking somebody went back in time and made a clone of Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp at age 27. Or 33. Or 38, even. And then you see them from the front…

And you’re like, ‘Oh, no. No, no, no.’

It’s the ‘glamorous Hollywood is actually composed of tattoo parlors and skeezy massage parlors’ effect.

Or the Monet effect: beautiful from far away, but not so good up close. I think that was from Clueless.

Either way, reality doesn’t match up to fantasy.

Sometimes I won’t even try to see what the guy looks like from the front even though his backside belongs in a Greek temple. I’ve been disappointed enough that I treasure my little fantasies.

It’s all about managing expectations. Again, with nice guys, it’s, ‘Oh, he’s kind of cute… I’ll go out with him. Oh, he’s funny… and he’s got a good personality… okay, I’ll give it a shot.’

‘Low expectations’ equals ‘not as much disappointment’ in my book.

And my expectations for Mr. Connor Brooks were sky-high.

If I were going to be disappointed, I would have preferred to hold on to my fantasy.

As it turns out, I was not disappointed.

Far, far from it.

7

The crowd in the marble-floored, exquisitely decorated lobby was thinned out by the time I stepped out of the elevator. In Los Angeles, anybody who has a modicum of power or money jumps ship by 4PM so they can get a head start on traffic. To home, to drinks, to dinner, or maybe out of town to Vegas.

Everybody else pretty much calls it quits by 6PM and accepts their lot in life is to suffer on jam-packed freeways.

The peons, like me, are stuck watching all the other people get on with their lives.

So when I walked out of the elevator, there weren’t that many people to get in the way of my seeing him.

Oh.

My.

God.

He was standing at the desk chatting with Stanley. It had to be him. No way that one man that gorgeous, and another guy with the voice on the phone, could simultaneously coexist in the same building and not be the same person. The odds were too high. Even if they were two people, their combined sexiness would pull them together and fuse them into one perfect male, like two stars passing too close to each other in space. Sexiness gravity.

See? ‘Sexiness gravity.’ Good God. This is the sort of stupid stuff that starts running through my head and why I sound like an idiot around hot men.

And he was hot. Over six feet tall, probably six-two. Dark, wavy hair in a fashionable cut, slightly over the ear but not too long. Strong chin, perfect jawline. A strong nose that was just rough enough to make him look more manly than pretty-boy. A perfectly even set of white teeth in a heart-melting grin. And the lips on that smile… oh my. Those were lips made for long, lingering kisses.

The most astounding, crystal-clear blue eyes. Like ocean water in the Caribbean, the color you see in picture-perfect postcards. They somehow managed to envelope you with their warmth and send a shiver through you, too, like he could look deep inside you to your innermost secrets and desires.

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