Read an Excerpt
Right Billionaire, Wrong Wedding
Sexy Billionaires Series
By Victoria Davies, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Victoria Davies
All rights reserved.
Dear Mr. King,
It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation.
"Dear Mr. King?" Allison mused, chewing on the end of her pen. "Maybe I should go more informal?" After all, she had worked at the company for four years. Or should she be formal? Hell, maybe the request should just be sent to HR, skipping her boss altogether.
She banged her head against the desk. This shouldn't be so hard. Sure, there would be people at the office she'd miss leaving behind, but wasn't her freedom worth it? It wasn't like her decision to leave was based on a whim.
"How informal do you need to be?" A curly red head poked around the side of her open door. "Just say yo, Darian, gotta split. Forward me my pay."
Allison lifted her head to see Gillian, her office mate, grinning at her. "Not exactly the tone I'm going for."
Gillian walked farther into the room. "I keep hearing you mutter about this letter. Honestly, how long have you been trying to quit? Just pull the trigger already."
"It's not that simple. I've got months left on my contract, and if Darian denies me a reference, I'm sunk."
Gillian rolled her eyes. "You want a life beyond King Enterprises. I say that makes this all very simple. Sure, you signed a contract, but people find ways to break those all the time. Have you even tried asking Darian to let you go? His response might surprise you."
"We're right in the middle of the Sterling acquisition. You know this isn't a good time to leave."
"Darian King is always in the middle of something. On any given day that man has a dozen plates in the air at once. Being without an assistant for a few days will be a bump, but you know as well as I do there are scores of people who'd jump at the chance to be at his beck and call. You've served your time. Let someone else take over." She flashed another grin. "Not that I'm looking forward to losing you. Once you go, I'll need a new partner in crime."
Allison waved her hand at her friend. "Back to work with you. I need to focus on this."
"You don't need a letter. Just go talk to him," she said as she walked out of the office.
Go talk to him. It seemed so simple. Except she knew Darian would never understand her desire to get out of the rat race and start over at a quieter position. He'd never wrap his mind around the fact that she wanted something different. A slower pace. A balance in her life. Darian wasn't the sort of boss who let the clock dictate when he worked, and he expected the same of his executive assistant. And that had been fine in the beginning when she'd lived and breathed for her job. But as the months rolled by she'd realized one very painful truth.
She'd made Darian King her whole life, and it didn't take a genius to figure out she was merely a shadow in his.
No, she needed a change. A life where she wasn't devoted to someone else's success instead of thinking about her own. Maybe with a new career she'd finally get to be home at a decent hour. Maybe cook dinner instead of living on takeout. Hell, she might even meet someone if she wasn't constantly catering to the whims of her boss.
But she knew as soon as she went to Darian with her request he'd come up with a dozen logical arguments against her decision that she'd never be able to refute. He'd offer her more money, more flexibility in her schedule. He'd promise she could have a normal nine-to-five job, that he'd never again call her at four in the morning with an urgent problem she had to rush to the office to help him fix. And because he'd been the only man to take a chance on her, she'd believe him. Then a week would go by, maybe two, and her phone would ring at midnight. A troublesome deal would keep her in his office till the stars were out.
And once again, she'd be stuck working an impossible job for an impossible man who demanded perfection.
Allison closed her eyes. She wanted more than to be a round-the-clock employee. And the only way she'd ever get it was by leaving.
Don't back down, she told herself. This isn't some passing desire.
She had a right to her own life.
Resolved, she turned back to her computer, her fingers flying over the keys.
"I appreciate everything you've done for me," she muttered as she typed. "Time to move on to new challenges." Sentence by sentence the letter came to life before her eyes. It was clear and concise. Professional in every way. After printing out a copy, she read through the finished product.
"I should redo this section," she said to herself, tapping the paper. This had to be perfect. Perfect enough to convince the man who ruled this company with an iron fist to go against his best interests.
The phone rang as she analyzed her opening line again.
"Allison Reed," she greeted, her mind focused on the screen before her.
"My office. Now."
The line went dead.
She shook her head at the familiar summons. Darian wasn't a man who wasted time on unnecessary words.
With a last glance at her letter, she opened the top drawer of her desk and tossed it inside. She'd fix it up later. One way or another, it would see its day, she just had to bring it up at the right moment.
Pushing up from her chair, she smoothed a hand down her crisp black suit and did a quick check in the wall mirror. Her perpetually messy brown hair was secured in its usual bun, the only style that seemed to tame her volume of curls. Leaning closer, she smudged away a fleck of mascara under one amber eye, but the rest of her minimal makeup remained nicely in place. Straightening her lapels, she nodded at her reflection. Professional as ever. She was nothing if not the perfect assistant. At least for a little while longer.
Her heels clicked across the floor as she strode to Darian's office. He'd left the door ajar for her, and she slipped into the room she had been in so many times before.
Her office was by no means shabby. Darian wouldn't stand for that. But his domain put hers to shame. The massive corner office boasted floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides. His large mahogany desk was as cluttered as ever, despite her best efforts over the years to organize it. Today, though, he stood by the leather sofas arranged around a glass coffee table. How many nights had they spent on those sofas, combing through files? She'd lost track. Long enough for the Thai restaurant down the street to memorize their late night orders.
"Darian," she said.
He turned, and as always, her heart gave that familiar, annoying flutter when his eyes met hers.
Damn, unwelcome butterflies.
Towering over six feet, he looked more like an actor than a CEO. His dark hair was combed back so that nothing softened the sharp planes of his face. Those chiseled cheekbones and piercing blue eyes would put any A-lister to shame. His jet black suit had been custom tailored to perfection and she nearly sighed at the sight. A man who spent as much time as he did behind a desk had no business sporting such a hard, athletic body.
"Look at this, Ali." He tossed a folded paper onto the coffee table.
Without a word she crossed the room and picked up the paper. Unfolding it showed it was a printout of an email. Scanning it quickly, her brows rose in surprise.
"Jenny is getting married?"
"To that musician she's been seeing for years. That's not the surprising part. Keep reading."
Turning back to the email she finished off the last few lines.
"Oh, Darian," she said, fighting back a grin.
"She asked me to plan the damn wedding."
"Well, she's out of the country ..."
"Please. You know my sister. Even if she were the next block over she couldn't handle an organizational nightmare of this magnitude."
He wasn't wrong. Allison had met Darian's flighty sister on a number of occasions. She'd once arranged to take her to lunch at one of San Francisco's most sought after seafood restaurants, only to later learn she'd been stood up because Jenny skipped town to go on a road trip with some friends. The younger King was pretty much a blonde Anti-Darian and proud of it. Whereas the man before her had worked hard to make something of his life, Jenny had chosen to travel the world, working in whatever dive bar or retail shop she could find. Having a fiancé was probably the most stable thing she'd done in her adult life.
"She just dropped this on me," he said. "Not even a phone call. Just a wedding date."
Allison read through the email again, her eyes widening. "This is in less than a month."
"It takes longer than that to plan a wedding."
"What is she thinking?"
He snapped his fingers. "Exactly."
Allison sat on the arm of one sofa. "So," she said, looking up from the paper. "That just leaves one question. Are you going to do it?"
He turned to gaze out the window, no doubt taking in the spectacular view he'd earned for himself.
Allison stared at his profile, knowing even before he spoke what his decision would be. Darian King was many things, but first and foremost he was a devoted brother. He might go after business deals with a ruthlessness that sometimes took her breath away, but when it came to those he loved, no price was too high.
It was a frustratingly endearing quality.
"I can't say no, can I?"
"Actually, you can," she said, pushing to her feet and closing the distance between them. Even in her heels she only came up to his shoulder. Few men made her feel petite, even when they had a few inches on her, but Darian had always been different. Standing this close to him, a shiver of awareness shot through her that had no place in their professional relationship. "You could do what any sane person would do and tell your sister this is too much to ask."
Crystal blue eyes flicked toward hers. She met his gaze, ignoring the way her stomach fluttered when he looked at her like that. As if he could see beyond her perfect secretary facade and valued the woman he saw underneath.
"But you won't turn her down," she said.
Those expressive eyes shuttered. "Because I'm a sucker," he said, turning back to stare out the window.
She put a hand on his shoulder, trying not to think about how she enjoyed the contact. Curling her fingers around the soft material of his suit, she tugged on his arm to reclaim his attention. "Because you're you." He might drive her mad, but her desire to leave King Enterprises didn't negate all the good qualities about him that had drawn her to him in the first place. There was a reason she'd spent years bending over backward for this man. He inspired a loyalty that went far beyond the regular professional bond.
"I don't know the first thing about weddings," he said.
She scoffed at that. "Good thing they invented Google."
"Flowers, dresses, music. Rings — Do I have to buy the rings?" He looked a little green at the thought.
"I'm sure Jenny has taken care of that part." Thinking twice about the flighty King she added, "But it can't hurt to check."
"We need to find people who can do this immediately."
"I believe the word you are searching for is 'wedding planners.'"
"Yes." He sprung into motion, striding for his computer.
Allison's hand dropped to her side, watching him go. When his mind was focused on a task, nothing could stop him.
She flexed her fingers, not that she'd wished to touch him longer.
"I need meetings with the best wedding planners in the city," he said as she followed him to his desk.
"A month isn't much time. The best are probably booked."
The look he gave her was the one adults gave children when they'd done something adorable. She scowled in return.
"Get me the numbers, and I'll get the appointments."
She arched a brow. "Since when did wedding research fall under my job description?"
Turning away from the computer, a faint smile twisted his lips. "You're my assistant, aren't you, Ali? Assist me."
She crossed her arms and waited.
Darian released a sigh. "Sorry." Leaving the computer, he pushed to his feet and came toward her. "You know we've got the Sterling acquisition looming. A wedding is the last thing I need on my plate. I know nothing about that world."
"And I do?"
"You know what I mean. You know about everything." He reached out and cupped her upper arms. "I can't do this without you. You know it. I know it." He smiled down at her. "I need you."
I'm giving you my notice. I've had it with requests that have nothing to do with my job description. The late night phone calls and the ridiculously early mornings. I'm a professional, not your servant. You can do this without me.
She opened her mouth to say it. Really she did. But staring up into his eyes, she found the words frozen in her throat.
Leave. You don't owe this man anything. Take back control over your life. Leave Darian King behind.
The thought caused an invisible vise to clench around her chest.
"Say you'll help me."
How many times had he said that to her? How many times had she jumped at the chance to be whatever he needed? One last impossible task, she told herself. One more and I can leave with no regrets. He'll be so grateful he'll give me the reference I need. We both win. But for better or worse, this will be the end for us.
One more month and she could walk away with everything she wanted. There was only one choice.
"I'll help you," she promised.
And then I'll leave you.CHAPTER 2
"What were you thinking?" Darian demanded.
A feminine voice sighed over the speaker phone. "This is why I emailed you first. I figured you'd need time to come to terms with the idea."
"Of planning your wedding." He couldn't believe the words were actually coming out of his mouth.
"You know how hard it is to organize things from across an ocean without seeing anything? Matt is on tour till the end of the month. I can't leave him."
"I'm not sure begging for gigs counts as being on tour."
Jenny hissed into the phone. "You're always so hard on him. This is the band's big break. There are producers coming to the shows. We've been working toward this for years."
"Why not wait till it's over then plan the wedding?"
"Because we've been dancing around this step for so long. I dreamed of getting married at home, and this will probably be my only chance to do so for a long time to come. Matt is going to have to move east, and I'm going with him."
Which meant his nomadic sister would be even farther away.
With a sigh he leaned back in his chair. Jenny tended to move around the globe on a whim, but she always came home. However, soon it seemed her home would be a long ways from him. "Fine," he yielded. "But you will be helping. When I call, I expect you to answer."
"Scouts' honor. But really, big bro, I trust whatever you decide on. Keep all the receipts for me, and I'll pay you back when I'm in the States again."
He couldn't stifle his derisive snort. "It would serve you right if I held you to that."
"I mean it."
"Call it an early wedding gift, Kit," he said, using his old pet name for her. Paying her way was nothing new. No need to stop now.
"Thank you, Dare. I really appreciate all you're doing. All you've done. Matt and I both do."
"Just make sure you catch your flight here and don't get sidetracked chasing Matt's big break."
"Will do. And honestly, just ask Allison any questions you'd have for me. She's got better taste than either of us."
He couldn't help his smile. After four years, even his sister understood how he depended on Ali. "I've already made her promise to help."
"Bet it didn't take much. That woman would do anything for you."
"She's the best assistant I've ever had."
A soft laugh met his words. "Right. I've got to run, but I'll check back in a couple of days, okay? Do whatever Allison tells you and everything will be fine."
"I'll remind you I run a billion-dollar corporation."
"Sure. Listen to Allison. Love you, Dare. Talk soon."
The call disconnected before he could say anything more.
Sighing, he tossed the phone back on his desk. Even after all these years she had him wrapped around her finger. Of course, what else was new? That die had been cast the day he first saw her fresh from the hospital. With five years between them, he'd been old enough to know his life was never going to be the same. Suddenly, he'd had to share his home with a tiny bundle of screaming joy. As a child he'd been unimpressed.
Excerpted from Right Billionaire, Wrong Wedding by Victoria Davies, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2016 Victoria Davies. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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