“Sit back and enjoy the ride, because you're going to laugh your butt off!" - Brenda, AL.
After personal assistant Kiersten Abbott wins sixty-nine million dollars in the lotto, she suddenly has more than enough money to quit her impossibly demanding job. But where’s the fun in that? She decides to stay and exact a little revenge on her insufferable ass of a boss.
Billionaire Cole Harrington quickly figures out something’s afoot with his usually agreeable personal assistant. When he finds out about the office pool betting on how long it’ll take him to fire her, he decides to spice things up and see how far he can push her until she quits.
The game is on, with everyone waiting to see who will crack first. But the bet sparks a new dynamic between them, and soon they realize they just might have crossed that fine line between hate and love.
Each book in the Winning the Billionaire series is a STANDALONE story:
Book 1: 69 Million Things I Hate About You
Book 2: The Billionaire's Unexpected Baby
Book 3: Scotland or Bust
Book 4: Pushing His Luck
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Kiersten Abbott jogged on her tiptoes after her boss, Marie, trying to keep her heels from clacking too loudly on the marble tile while still managing to keep up.
Moving at high speed through the office, laden down with coffee cups, coats, bags, briefcases, file folders, laptops, and any other number of items had become second nature to Kiersten. She handed off two of the three coffee cups to her besties who worked in the same office, Izzy and Cassie, who each mouthed "thank you" and quickly went back to looking busy. Marie wasn't technically their boss, but she was the first assistant to Cole Harrington, president and founder of Harrington Enterprises, the biggest think tank and development firm in Manhattan, which made her a sort of supervisor over Izzy, Cassie, and the rest of the assistants in the office. Kiersten was second assistant, which made her Marie's go-to girl. All the work, none of the credit — that went to Marie.
"Keep up," Marie said over her shoulder.
Kiersten jumped, almost spilling the remaining coffee in her hand, and hightailed it to catch up to Marie, who was marching straight for the dragon's lair.
Kiersten made it two feet inside before the sight of Mr. Harrington froze her. The man was on his treadmill, in a pair of loose sweatpants that fit low on his hips, and nothing else. And from the looks of him, he'd been on the thing a while. A few beads of sweat ran in rivulets down the hard-planed muscles of his chest and abs. And whatever the hell those amazing V muscles were called pointed in stark relief to what one tabloid had called "the treasure every woman in Manhattan wanted." Kiersten had scoffed when she'd read that. Seeing everything up close and personal had her rethinking her skepticism.
When one errant drop slipped beneath the band of his sweatpants, Kiersten nearly lost her grip on the coffee. Lucky little sweat drop.
Marie handed Mr. Harrington a towel and followed him to the bathroom hidden behind a cleverly disguised wooden panel in the wall. She stood outside the door, grimacing at the sound of the shower turning on. After a minute or two, she finally spoke, raising her voice to be heard over the running water.
"Mr. Harrington, I'll be out of touch this weekend, but Kiersten will be on call for you and —"
The water cut off and his voice floated through the door. "The conference is this weekend, and I'm the keynote speaker," he said. "I need you there. It'll be much easier to reschedule your thing than it would be to change the conference at this late date."
"My thing?" Marie took a deep breath, her fists clenched at her sides. Oh shit. She was going nuclear.
Mr. Harrington came out of the bathroom, buttoning a fresh shirt. "Yes. Your thing. Whatever it is, cancel it. Change it. Move it. I don't care."
"My thing, as you call it, is my wedding," Marie shouted. "I've told you about it repeatedly. I've spent over a year planning it. It can't be rescheduled."
Kiersten's jaw dropped. No one yelled at Mr. Harrington. Hell, no one even questioned him.
"If you can't fulfill your job obligations — "
Marie flung her hands up. "Don't bother firing me. I quit!" She tossed a ring of keys and a phone onto his desk and marched out, pausing only long enough to grab her coat and purse from her own desk. "Oh my God, that felt good." She glanced at Kiersten and snorted. "Good luck." And then she breezed out, with a spring in her step and a smile on her face.
Kiersten stood rooted to the spot. She risked a glance back at Mr. Harrington, who was slipping into his suit jacket and coming her way.
"Oh shit," she whispered under her breath.
He finally pinned his gaze on her, looking her up and down, and she prayed he hadn't heard her. Those eyes of his were startling. She'd never gotten a close enough look to really see the color, and the steel gray with a darker ring of almost black surrounding them was unexpectedly mesmerizing. He took his coat and coffee from her.
"Who are you?"
"Kiersten, sir." Her voice was barely audible, and she cleared her throat. "Your second assistant."
"Well, Kestin, you've just been promoted. Let's hope you last longer than the last three."
She opened her mouth to correct him on her name, but before she could, he was already firing orders at her as he went back to his desk and started packing up his briefcase.
"I have a meeting in twenty minutes with my project manager, and after that I should have dinner reservations at ..."
He frowned and Kiersten piped up.
"Le Bernadin, sir. Your reservation is for eight o'clock."
"Thank you. Confirm that, and clear my schedule for the rest of the evening."
At least her first task was an easy one. "I confirmed it this afternoon, Mr. Harrington. You're all set."
Working with Marie had been great training. She'd pretty much been running Mr. Harrington's life anyway. Only now she had to deal with Harrington himself. The prospect sent jolts of terror and excitement zinging through her. She could finally show what she was made of and get credit for the work she was already doing. Not to mention a nice raise. Her bank account would be happy to see that. The forty-three dollars currently sitting in there would love the company. And if she had to spend her days glued to the side of her asshat of a boss, well, at least he was easy to look at.
"Wonderful," he said, turning those piercing eyes of his back on her. He stared long enough that she dropped her gaze, looking down to see if she'd spilled something on her blouse or had forgotten a button or something.
Nope, nothing wrong. She met his gaze again and this time didn't look away. Yes, the man practically made her shake in her knock-off Louboutins, but there was no reason he needed to know that.
His lips twitched with a hint of amusement. "Call me Cole."
Kiersten blinked at him. Marie had never called him by his first name. No one did.
"Mr. Harrington makes me feel old. I don't look old yet, do I?" he asked in that charming bedroom voice of his that she could swear would melt M&Ms while they were still in the bag.
Her eyes flicked over him, making his lips twitch further. "No, sir."
"No 'sirs.' Just Cole."
"Yes, sir." Damn. She couldn't stop.
He made a sound that might have been a snort and then turned back to his desk to grab his briefcase. "Here," he said, handing her the phone Marie had left. "Keep it with you at all times. I keep weird hours. Consider yourself on call. All the contacts you'll need should be in there."
He paused for a moment, his brow furrowing. "Get ahold of HR. Tell them to send over the paperwork for your new position, and we'll make everything official. I'm assuming you know where Marie kept my calendar and all the other information you'll need."
Kiersten nodded, but he wasn't really paying attention to her as he rattled off more instructions. "Make sure you're up to date on all my pending contracts and current projects. We've got deadlines to meet, and I have no intention of missing anything because of this ridiculous upset. If you need help with passwords or anything to get into the computers, get IT up here to get everything changed around. See security on your way out for your new badge. You'll need an upgrade to have access to all the floors and offices."
He stopped and glanced back at her. "Shouldn't you be writing this down?"
"No, sir. I've got it." Thankfully, she was quick on her feet and had a memory to match. Clearly, Mr. Harrington, er ... Cole, was going to keep her hopping.
"Cole. And I hope so." He went back to gathering his things, moving about his office like a mini-tornado looking for a place to land. He grabbed the ring of keys Marie had left and tossed them at her. "These should get you into the building, all the offices, my apartment, and anywhere else you might need access to. I don't know which is which, so you'll have to figure it out. My security company will need to be notified to change the passwords for the keypads at my apartment. You'll need to be there for the voice recognition and fingerprint software to be updated. There should be a list of people somewhere on Marie's desk who'll need to be notified that you're my new assistant. Make that happen. I don't want to deal with delays on anything while we argue with someone over whether or not you're authorized to have the information. Switch Marie's plane ticket and hotel reservation to your name for the conference this weekend or make your own reservations if needed. I assume you're available to go."
He gave her a look that would freeze a polar bear's balls, and she nodded. Thankfully, she had no life. She'd rather be making money than sitting at home with Ben & Jerry's.
"Good," he said. "You'll need to change her info to yours for anything else conference related. Also ..." He stopped and grimaced a little. "Make sure Marie's benefits remain in place until she finds new employment, and put a reference letter on file for her. In fact, one of the firms I met with last week is looking for someone. Send them a recommendation. Also, authorize a severance package. And double the usual amount."
He gathered up the rest of his stuff and headed for the door. He paused just before he walked out. "And send her a wedding gift."
Kiersten's jaw dropped again, and this time Mr. Harrington — Cole — did give her a smile. "What? I'm not always a dick."
"Not always, but often," Mr. Larson, Cole's partner, said from the doorway where he'd apparently been waiting. He smiled and winked at Kiersten. Cole brushed by him, muttered, "Don't even think about it," and kept on going. Mr. Larson shrugged and followed him out, leaving Kiersten standing there staring after them, shell-shocked, her mind still trying to process what had just happened.
She'd been thrown into the deep end, no doubt about it. On the bright side, her salary would nearly double. Then again, she knew she'd be earning every penny of it. Cole Harrington was the dream of practically every woman in the world. Young, gorgeous, richer than God, and in many opinions more powerful. He'd developed one of the most popular dating apps around, almost before he was old enough to date himself, owned entire islands, gave generously to charities, and loved puppies and children. Everybody loved him — except the people who worked for him directly.
The phone in her hand buzzed a notification before she could even finish the thought.
"And so it begins," she muttered.
"So, new assistant, huh?" Brooks Larson, Cole's longtime friend and business partner, sat across the table, nursing the dregs of a glass of wine while looking at him with that gleam in his eye he always got when he had an ulterior motive.
Brooks shrugged. "Nothing. You just go through them pretty fast, especially for a guy who refuses to sleep with his secretary like any other self- respecting CEO."
Cole sighed and pushed away his half-eaten dinner, focusing his attention back on the files on his tablet. Brooks had been his best friend and business partner for the better part of a decade, but the man had no filter. "This isn't 1950, Brooks. She's my executive assistant, not a secretary. And she's there to work, not get hit on by a sleazy boss. Mixing business and pleasure is a good way to fail at both. Besides, I need my assistants focused on work, not me, or shit would never get done."
"I thought you were their business."
"My business is their business. My personal life is off-limits."
Brooks shrugged. "If you say so. Though I'm not sure how you get anything done with the revolving door you've got going on. What did you do to piss off Marie?"
"I needed her to work the weekend."
"And she quit over that? I thought that was part of the job description."
"It is. She had plans."
"What kind of plans?"
Cole took a sip of his water and went back to staring at his tablet, not wanting to answer. But he knew Brooks wouldn't leave it alone. "Her wedding."
Brooks stared at him like he'd grown two heads. "You expected her to cancel her own wedding so she could work?"
Cole grimaced. It sounded so much worse coming out of Brooks's mouth. "She knew I needed her at the conference. It was nonnegotiable. Why the woman would book her wedding the same weekend is beyond me."
"Did it ever occur to you she may have had the wedding booked long before the conference was set up? Women plan those things years in advance."
Cole sighed again and scrolled through the file on his tablet. "I didn't give it that much thought. At some point, she would have realized they were the same weekend and she should have changed her plans. Her job was to make my life easier. I paid her very well to be at my beck and call. It was not my job to accommodate her."
Brooks's brows rose, and Cole squashed the slight twinge of guilt that tried to take hold. Yeah, he'd been an ass. What else was new? Didn't change the facts. "I extended her benefits and doubled her severance package, neither of which I had to offer at all since she quit. But despite her failings, she was a decent assistant. While she lasted."
Brooks shook his head. "You sentimental devil, you."
Cole ignored that. "Don't you have work to do?"
"Always. Now, back to this assistant problem you have."
"I don't have an assistant problem. That's one of the reasons I've always got more than one."
"Right. You're the king of backups. Always have a backup for everything and you never have to worry about being without, right?"
Cole shrugged. "It's worked so far."
"Fine, so get another backup. This one is seriously hot."
"I hadn't noticed."
"Then the first thing you should do is have her schedule you an eye appointment. I thought you were busy, not dead. She has that sexy librarian thing nailed."
Cole wasn't blind. Or dead. He was lying through his teeth so he didn't have to put up with his friend giving him shit. How the hell Kiersten had been in his building without him noticing her, he'd never know. His only excuse was that Marie must have been hiding her or keeping her so busy she never managed to be in his presence. Because one glance at those big brown eyes staring up at him, her thick blond hair just begging to be released from her tight bun, had his body screaming.
Brooks was still rambling on. "Even her name — Kestin — so close to kiss —"
"Her name is Kiersten, not Kestin."
"Then why did you call her Kestin?"
"Because I didn't catch it when she said it, and that's what I thought it was."
"She didn't correct you."
Cole sighed again and flicked his finger on the tablet a little harder than necessary, sending the digital pages flying. "I don't know. You'd have to ask her."
"Hmmm, maybe I will. Maybe over dinner at —"
"No." Cole glared at him. Brooks wasn't going to get near Kiersten, even if Cole had to set her up with a full-time bodyguard.
Cole rubbed his forehead, trying to stave off the ache that talking to Brooks often brought on. "Good assistants are hard to find. As you rightly pointed out, I have a hard time keeping them around. It's bad enough with my first assistants, but the second assistants rarely last longer than a month. But from what I can tell, Kiersten has basically been running things since she was hired. Marie had her doing everything already, so there won't be any irritating transition period to disrupt my life. I don't want you chasing her off, or I'll have to go through the trouble of training someone new, especially since I have yet to hire someone to be her backup."
"How'd you find out her real name?"
Cole held up his tablet. "Had HR send over her file."
"Anything interesting in there?"
"Yes. Now go away."
"Why? Do you have a hot date showing up?"
"I don't have time to date."
Brooks scoffed at that. "You need to start making the time. Maybe it would loosen you up a bit."
Cole ignored that. He had no trouble getting a date when he needed one for whatever function he might need to attend. But he rarely let his associations get too involved. It worked great. He had the company of a beautiful woman when he wanted it and his life to himself the rest of the time. No fuss, no future.
He'd yet to meet a woman who inspired any hint of desire to change his MO. The sudden vision of big brown eyes blinking at him sprang up. And wouldn't leave. He shook his head in irritation and did his best to shove Kiersten's image to the back of his mind.
"Dating makes women clingy," he said. "I don't do clingy. I do work."
"Yes, I've noticed," Brooks said, his voice thick with an implied eye roll. "What about that woman ... Betsy or Becky or ..."
"Yes, her. You dated her for a while."
Excerpted from "69 Million Things I Hate About You"
Copyright © 2017 Kira Archer.
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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