Samantha Matthews turned her back on her wealthy family to focus on social work. To some, she’s the heart of kindness. To others, she’s caught up in a never-ending battle to make up for the harm her family—and their companies—inflict on the world. So finding Samantha at a charity bachelor auction is hardly surprising. Only she’s just bid on the wrong guy. Oops.
Samantha was supposed to bid on her brother’s bestie. But it’s nearly impossible to tell one stick-in-the-mud CEO from another, and somehow she’s managed to snag herself one dead-sexy Taylor Jennings. Only the completely insufferable billionaire cuts her off dismissively before informing her that sex is definitely off the table.
Now Samantha’s ready for some sweet payback. She’s got plans for Taylor, and all of them involve heat, sweat, and hammering…for Habitat for Humanity. Only Taylor isn’t quite what she expected. And Samantha’s about to get just what she paid for.
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|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
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This was the last place Samantha Matthews wanted to be.
The dentist with some random person's fingers in her mouth. Standing in the pouring rain in a sheer white shirt with no bra on. Hiking in ten feet of snow with only a pair of high heels to protect her feet. Stuck in an elevator with her ex from college. Heck, all those things combined, shoved into one day ...
Would still be preferable to this.
Caviar and champagne filled the tabletops around her. Expensive perfume peppered the air. Priceless pearls dangled around necks. Diamonds twinkled in the lights. Gucci and Prada draped over artfully exposed shoulders. Stuffy voices with fake, trilling laughs topped off what was pretty much her worst nightmare. Nine out of ten times, people like the ones around her were concerned about one thing and only one thing. Money.
She'd been one of them.
When she walked away from her life of wealth and luxury, she'd left this whole scene, too. Fundraisers. Lavish dinners. Balls. They were all ridiculous excuses to put on your best diamonds and show off how much more money you had than everyone else in the room.
She'd always won that contest, even at a young age.
Those days are gone.
Tonight, she'd forgone the private appointments for a custom gown and worn a dress she bought on clearance at Macy's last year.
She'd never been happier.
"More champagne, miss?" A waiter brandished a golden tray filled with whiskey and champagne like some kind of prize. Today it was.
Money might not buy happiness, but champagne sure made the world seem a little happier, even if only for a little while. "Thank you."
The waiter bowed and moved on to the next guest. A woman in last year's Prada sneered at Sam's clothing, so she lifted her glass in salute and took a long swig. The bubbles played on her tongue, tickling her throat as she swallowed. After the older woman turned away, Sam scanned the room for any signs of her target.
He hadn't bothered to show up yet ... at least, she didn't think he had.
Of course, she didn't actually know him.
Her best friend Izzy texted her three hours ago, begging for Sam to bail her out. Izzy was running off with her boyfriend and getting married, unbeknownst to the rest of her family, but she had previously promised to attend this charity auction fundraiser and bid on her brother, whose assistant had mistakenly RSVP'd yes to the event.
According to Izzy, her older brother Andrew was a bit of a recluse. He wasn't big on crowds or getting auctioned off to the highest bidder, so he had no intention of actually going out on a date with any of the women here to bid on him. But since his sister was off marrying a guy none of them liked ...
It was now her job to find Andrew Michaelson, bid however much money she had to on him, and save him from a fate worse than death itself — being forced into a situation he didn't want.
She took another sip and squinted at the stage. A handsome man was currently on the auction block, seeming as if he wanted to be swallowed up whole by the earth, and she winced in sympathy. She wouldn't want to stand there while people bid on her worth, either. Her fingers twitched in her lap, eager to put the guy out of his misery, but she flattened them on her thigh.
He wasn't the man she was supposed to save today. She mentally checked the schedule she'd read earlier, remembering that Izzy's brother would appear onstage last, so there were still several guys left before he popped up.
Turning her attention to her phone, she skimmed an email.
We had four people drop out of tomorrow's build at West Fourth Street. We are asking for any and all volunteers to step forward and fill their spots so we can still reach our goals. If you're available, please let us know by replying to this email.
Sam bit on her tongue as she mentally juggled her commitments for the weekend. She was booked to help at the animal shelter on Saturday, but they certainly wouldn't mind if she pushed her volunteer date to Sunday.
I'm in. See you at nine.
She checked the stage again, but they still had two more bachelors to go before they got to her man at the end. Picking up her champagne, she took another sip and opened Candy Crush on her phone. Time to demolish her record.
Somewhere between candy explosions, two more men, and a finished glass of champagne, Sam lifted her head, and her heart stopped beating for a second. The last man strode out, and he walked onto the stage like he owned the place — which, if she didn't know any better, she just might believe. He was incredibly handsome, in that he-must-be-an-actor-because-he's-too-pretty-to-be-normal kind of way. His muscles were huge and hard. His brown hair was slicked to the side with a hard part, and his square jaw spoke of a stubbornness only someone with equal stubbornness such as herself would recognize.
He wore a black tuxedo with a deep blue bow tie, a cocky expression, and walked onstage with his phone in his hand, typing furiously and ignoring the crowd of ladies who watched him with bated breath.
Hello, Izzy's brother.
Even she had to admit that, despite being totally not her type and way too sure of himself, he was hot with a capital H. Of course, he probably used those looks and his money to get pretty much anything he wanted, whenever he wanted it. It was what men like him did.
That was why she avoided them.
But those arms ...
Forcing herself to stop admiring the way his jacket hugged his broad shoulders, she grabbed her orange flag off the table and waved it enthusiastically, happy to finally be at the part where she could bid and leave. Two hours was more than enough, thank you very much.
"One thousand, to the lady in red."
Izzy's brother lifted his head, checked out Sam, and returned his attention to his phone, typing even more furiously now.
A blonde lifted her flag, smiling at the guy on the stage.
He didn't seem to notice.
"Fifteen hundred to the woman in gold."
He didn't even lift his head this time.
Just kept typing.
She was this close to not saving him and letting him suffer through a date he clearly didn't want to go on, but she'd promised Izzy she would buy her brother, and she didn't break promises.
Not even ones she really wanted to.
She lifted her flag again.
"Two thousand to the lady in red."
Slowly, the man lifted his head again, locking eyes with her. For that brief second of eye contact, goosebumps rose on her flesh, and a surge of electricity tickled the nape of her neck.
What the heck?
The other woman raised her flag.
Sam stood, completely done with all this crap. She just wanted to finish bidding and get far away from Andrew and the weird way he made her feel. "I bid three thousand dollars," she interrupted.
"Three thousand dollars to the lady in red!" the announcer called out, smiling at Sam gratefully. She was the hostess, and she clearly appreciated the high bid.
Andrew's gaze turned intense.
She inhaled, her stomach tightening into a fist.
The other lady frowned and put her flag down, shooting Sam a dirty look.
"Going once, going twice. Sold, to the lady in red!"
Sam downed the rest of her champagne, ignoring the trembling in her thighs at the idea of approaching this god-like man, and gathered her purse. After she let him know he owed these fine people a bunch of money for the pleasure of spending an evening alone with himself — Izzy said she'd already arranged for her brother to cover the bid — she'd hit the road.
She had a house to build tomorrow.
As she made her way across the room, the champagne hit her, and a fuzziness warmed her stomach. The kind that warned you if you had another, you'd regret it in the morning. "Whoops," she whispered. "Too late."
She started to climb the stairs to the stage, but a man stepped in her way, offering her his arm. "This way, Miss ...?"
"Matthews. Sam Matthews."
He grinned at her, giving her a discreet once-over. "I'm John."
"Hey, John," she murmured, treating him to the same perusal.
He was cute, in a safe, down-to-earth way. He was the type of guy she'd bring home for a night and never see again. Not guys like Andrew, who thought they owned the world and everyone in it. Guys like Andrew were too uptight. Too cocky. Too sure of themselves.
Maybe she should get John's number.
He bowed to her. "I'll take you to the cashier. Your date will be waiting for you there."
Oh. Right. She already had a "date."
"Thank you," she said.
Hopefully Andrew didn't mind her impatience to get out of here. Though, to a guy like him, that was probably pocket change. He wouldn't even notice the missing cash. But still.
Maybe she should have waited it out and tried to get the best price.
She did love the thrill of a good deal.
John led her to a woman who had an iPad Pro, a swipe thing for credit cards, and a big smile. "Congratulations, Ms. Matthews!" Sam watched John go, regretting not asking for his number.
The bubbles had done their job, and she could use a night of fun.
"Ms. Matthews?" the woman said.
Sam took a second to be impressed that the lady had discovered her name in the ten seconds it took her to walk over to the makeshift cashier station. "Uh ..." She searched the room for Andrew. Where was he? "Thanks."
"We appreciate the donation you made and want to make sure you know that all the money from tonight will be going to help those children with cancer that we showed on the screen before the bidding, as well as their families. Not a dime will be taken by us, the country club, or the staff of Helping Children."
Sam nodded, peeking over her shoulder.
Was he behind her?
"That'll be three thousand dollars. Will you be paying with cash or credit?"
"Um, yeah, no." Sam choked on a laugh. "Neither."
The woman frowned. "I don't understand."
"Don't worry, you'll get your money. It's just ... I'm here as a favor, you know? I bid on him so he didn't have to go on a date, because he's my best friend's brother. I did it for him. Well, actually, I did it for her, because I don't know him, you know?"
She stared at Sam, her mouth parted. "I ..."
"Can I speak to Andrew? That'll fix this."
She blinked. "Andrew?"
"Yes, the man I just bid on. Andrew Michaelson."
The lady stared at her. Did she drink a little too much of that champagne and somehow freeze time inside her head??
After what felt like a million years, the woman shook herself slightly and cleared her throat, staring at something behind Sam. "Ms. Matthews ... I fear there's been a mistake ..."
"No, there hasn't. Like I said, you're getting your money," Sam interrupted, her cheeks hot because everyone in the room was staring at her. Everyone except the man she needed. "Andrew knows what's going on. If you get him and let him know —"
"I'm sorry, but that's not possible." The woman wrung her hands in front of her. "You see, Andrew already left. With his date."
His date? Sam's heart thudded against her chest, and her legs weakened for an entirely different reason now. "He ... left? I ... don't ... understand."
"He left with his date. There was a last-minute schedule change, and Andrew needed to go first, so he changed places with one of our other men." The woman hesitated. "Andrew went first, Ms. Matthews."
The nervous guy. That had been Andrew.
Sam's heart fell to her stomach, rolled out of her, and hit the floor with a sickening thud. If Andrew had already left, then she hadn't bid on him at all, and the man she had just offered to pay three thousand dollars for was her responsibility ... and she needed to fork up the cash.
"But if I didn't bid on Andrew, who did I bid on?" she asked slowly, a bit too loudly.
"Me," a deep voice said from the distance behind her.
The masculine voice sent shivers down her spine, and her whole body tingled with something she didn't fully understand or welcome.
Slowly turning, she locked eyes with the man she'd bid on approaching her now. She hadn't been able to see this from far away, but his eyes were green. Like bright moss green. He also had a charming dimple in his chin that somehow softened his hard jaw. His expensive tux was paired with an equally expensive cologne, and he was even hotter up close than he'd been from a distance, totally breaking the Mona Lisa rule.
She had a feeling it wasn't the only rule he liked to break.CHAPTER 2
Taylor hated being here and despised being auctioned off.
Even if the woman who bid on him was unbelievably intriguing. She stared at him with a combination of sparkling eyes and disdain, and for some reason he couldn't look away from that contradiction. She wore her long brown hair in a loose bun, with a few curls escaping around her cheeks, and her blue eyes hadn't left his face since he'd spoken to her. He suspected she was ten seconds from crying, screaming, or both.
She'd clearly been determined to win the bid for him, which meant only one of two things. One, she was hoping a date would lead to an "in" to becoming the future Mrs. Taylor Jennings, with access to his massive wealth. Or two, she needed something from him, and this was her big shot to try and get it. Either way, he wasn't interested.
His phone buzzed, and he glanced down, frowning at the message. "Unacceptable," he muttered.
The current hot-ticket impending bankruptcy on the market, Granger Pharmaceuticals, had declined his extremely generous offer. Didn't they realize that without his help, they would be holding onto a useless building with millions of dollars in worthless equipment inside? If they didn't consolidate fast, they'd get a fraction of the worth for all the shit in their building they refused to let go of. For the life of him, he would never understand why people refused to admit when they gambled everything on something and lost.
"Excuse me?" the woman said.
His eyes were on his phone, but he could clearly see her annoyed, tapping foot below it. The shoe wasn't like the fancy designer ones women usually wore to this sort of thing.
"Sorry, that wasn't for you." He finished typing an angry response to his accountant before focusing on the woman again. Her cheeks were pale. "Are you ready for our date, Miss ...?"
"Matthews. Sam Matthews."
"Sam." He cocked his head. "I'm Taylor Jennings."
She swallowed, wringing her purse in her hands. It, unlike the rest of her outfit, was not cheaply bought. It was Gucci. He always bought his mother Gucci. "I don't want to go out on a date with you," she blurted. "I just ... uh ... I don't know how to say this."
How unfortunate. He wouldn't have minded wining and dining her. Something about her drew him in, and he'd wanted to learn more about the woman who had spent three thousand dollars to go on a date with him. But apparently his "date" wanted door number two instead: a chance to ask him for money for some project or business idea.
Hiding his displeasure, he slid his hand into his pants pocket, holding a business card out for her. "Three thousand will get you about twenty minutes of my time."
Her jaw dropped. "Twenty minutes? Seriously?"
How much more time did she need to pitch a business proposal? "I feel that is more than enough time, but ..." He shrugged lazily. "I suppose we could up it to thirty, if you insist."
"A thirty-minute date with you, all for the low cost of three thousand dollars," she said drily. "Wow, how generous of you."
Date? But she'd just said she didn't want a date with him. Damn, this woman was confusing. He couldn't read her, and she was still frowning at him as if he were gum under her shoe.
"I'm sorry, I must've misunderstood your intentions. Would you like a date? I can take you to a nice restaurant." He gave her a once-over again. That was definitely an off-the-rack gown and discount shoes, despite her expensive purse.
But, damn, she wore it well. "You would probably like that, right? A special treat out somewhere nice?"
She reared back, nostrils flaring. "Excuse me?"
Shit, he'd pissed her off again. He seemed good at that tonight. Annoyed at this whole situation and himself, he gestured with his business card again. "Look, I don't care if you want a date or a business meeting. Either way, call my assistant, and she'll set one up for us. Bring a tight portfolio because I'm only giving you thirty minutes, no matter how much you pout at me."
She took the card angrily. "I won't be shortened to thirty minutes. You owe me a full date for the kind of money I'm paying for you."
"That's fine. If you want a date, I'll give you a —" His phone buzzed again with a counteroffer. It was ridiculous. "Son of a bitch."
As he typed furiously, her foot tapped faster.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "An Accidental Date with a Billionaire"
Copyright © 2019 Diane Alberts.
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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.