Single mom Jeanie Long was trying to save her butt at work by reporting her manager to the company owner. Instead, she finds herself greeted warmly by gorgeous company CEO Camden James...and introduced to his father as his fiancée. Now she's been hired—complete with a hefty pay raise—to be the fake fiancée of the infamous "Penthouse Prince."
Camden doesn't believe in love. He believes in mutually beneficial business arrangements. With his real fiancée off cheating on him, Camden needs someone to help him prove to his father that he's definitely ready to marry. Yet Jeanie's combination of beauty and bluntness act like an aphrodisiac, and their "for the press" kisses look incredibly real. So real that Jeanie and Camden are either really convincing actors...or they've fallen for their own charade.
Each book in the Billionaire Dynasties series is STANDALONE.
* The Penthouse Prince
* The Irish Prince
* The Firstborn Prince
About the Author
Virginia likes knights in rusted and dinged up armor, heroes that snarl instead of croon, and heroines
who can't remember to say the right thing even with an author writing their dialogue. Her books are full
of snark, sex, and random acts of ineptitude—not always in that order.
Read an Excerpt
The Penthouse Prince
By Virginia Nelson, Stephen Morgan
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Virginia Nelson
All rights reserved.
There were seven tan tiles and twelve white ones between the stalls and the door of the ladies' restroom. Jeanie Long counted them as she paced—stomped —back and forth and tried to calm her racing pulse.
She couldn't afford to be fired. In the time it would likely take to find a new position, she could lose the apartment. And her little girl Kaycee? She didn't want to think what would happen to her. Everything depended on Jeanie continuing to tread the fine line she'd so carefully managed to create over the years. To lose the job because of—
The facts of the matter steamed her temper to boiling. Her boss was a jerk, and someone should stop him. She'd known it for a long time, yet she hadn't taken action. If he managed to get her fired because he worried she'd tell someone she'd caught him having sex in the copy room, she'd risk losing everything. Normally, she could follow the chain of command and talk to his direct supervisor. But since the person she'd caught him screwing was his supervisor, she doubted the other woman would be receptive to her complaint.
Which left Jeanie little choice but to jump a few rungs.
Straight to the top.
She just had to hope that bypassing protocol in itself wouldn't get her fired.
She braced her hand on the cold tile wall of the bathroom. The motion set off the dispenser hanging there and washed her already sweaty palms in hot air, but she didn't care.
The press had dubbed him the Penthouse Prince, a playboy better suited to jetting around the globe and posing for pictures on sunny beaches than any actual work, but according to the rumors in her department, he was in house that week. She glanced at her cell phone and verified the time—noon. Lunch hour. Chances were good that he was sitting up there in some leather chair, and she'd be able to corner him—tell him what had happened and hope he'd listen.
Nothing left but to do it.
She snagged her coffee cup from the sink top and headed toward the bank of elevators reserved for the penthouse level. She'd never been up there before. Few who worked in her department had, but she might be able to find a way to make it up there. She did have her badge ... It wasn't like the elevators only worked with a special key or code. Anyone could go up there, but you couldn't get past the front desk without legitimate business.
And she had the most legitimate business of her life. Her job might be on the line.
Perhaps she could just go up, talk to the boss, and everything would work out okay.
She stabbed the button with more enthusiasm than needed, and she cheered up a bit when she noticed a group of banker-looking types also waiting. If she got really lucky, one of them might be headed the same way and have clearance, and she could just trail after him—sneaking her way right to the top. The doors dinged, swished open, and she entered before the herd of banker types.
Gleaming brass reflected her tousled hair, and she lifted a hand to smooth it as music piped over invisible speakers and further grated on her already frayed nerves. The men smelled of too much cologne, and her destination ... Well, if she actually managed to find the elusive Camden James, there was no guarantee he'd even listen to a peon like her.
She chugged coffee and stayed at the back of the elevator, hoping the suits in front of her would provide enough camouflage to get her to the penthouse. She never thought she'd see the big man upstairs in person, let alone talk to him, but what were her other options? Going back down and letting Derek fire her to cover his own bad dealings? Trying to find another job with benefits?
All the more reason. She'd rather get fired for trying. Which left her with nothing to lose.
A slight shift in the floor signaled they'd arrived, and the doors swished open. Her heart raced as she lifted her chin and pretended to be part of the group of bankers. She danced a fine line—too close to the men and they'd notice her and ask what she was doing. Lag too far behind the group and it might be obvious she wasn't with them.
What she didn't plan was being practically herded into a board room. But before she realized what was happening, one of them was holding the door for her ... and she had no choice but to go inside. She'd look even more out of place if she didn't enter.
The marbled floor, slick under her work heels, led into a conference room to the left. The men filed in and took seats. When a guy in front of her turned and caught sight of her, she smiled. His brows furrowed, as if trying to decide if he knew her, and she waved her hand at a chair.
A gentleman, he pulled it out obligingly, not questioning her since she still pretended she belonged. Apparently, she had him fooled.
Just act like you belong.
That strategy had gotten her out of some pretty bad jams. She hoped it would work this time.
Then all of the men snapped to attention. Anyone already sitting stood up, and everyone faced the doorway behind her. She froze. To command that sort of attention, just by entering the room, meant it must be him.
She turned slowly, certain he'd call her out. She expected it, but she only needed a moment, long enough to tell him what was going on before he asked security to escort her downstairs—or off the property.
He probably wouldn't call the cops. It wasn't like she was causing trouble ... She just wanted to talk to him. Supposedly, he knew all of his employees on sight. At least, that was what the last interview she'd read claimed. He might recognize her.
Even in her heels, she was eye-level with his chest. A steel gray shirt—his favorite color, according to the glossy articles printed about him—covered his expansive chest, the bland color only broken by his pink silk tie.
More a fuchsia? Maybe a hot pink? Crap, I'm panicking. Look up, Jeanie. Meet him square in the eyes and say what you came here to say.
She forced her chin up and took in his face, a familiar one since he graced more tabloids than the British royal family lately. He looked ...
Tired? Yep. Mr. Bachelor of the Year, the Penthouse Prince, appeared exhausted.
She braced her hand on the table and waited for him to say something. For him to ask why she was in his boardroom ... or assume she was with the bankers and speak to them.
At least, she'd intended to wait. Instead, the words blurted out of her in a rush she instantly regretted. "Wow, you look tired."
For a moment, a horribly long moment, only silence answered her. Then he spoke, his voice full of the same electrical charm that radiated from his television appearances.
"Darling, there you are. We've been looking for you."
What he'd said didn't register at first. It made so little sense that she just stood there, frozen, clutching her paper coffee cup and bracing a hand on the well-polished table. He closed a hand on her arm and leaned close as if to brush her cheek with a kiss. When his mouth was close enough to her ear that she could feel his warm breath, he whispered, "Play along. I'll make it worth it. We'll hash out the details later."
Breathless shock twined with confusion, and she allowed him to turn her, one hand steering her waist. She smelled his amazing scent, somehow sexy and male and blatantly expensive all in one, and that only added to her fluster. "I—"
He spoke over her and gestured to the steel-gray haired man who glared at them from the doorway. "Dad, I've not gotten the chance to introduce you to my fiancée."
Muscles locked in her legs, and she braced against his touch. "Sir—"
"Since her flight just came in, I'm sure you'll excuse us so she can freshen up, and we can catch up. Gentlemen, Dad?" Nodding to first the assembled bankers and then the man in the doorway, Camden led her out of the room and down the hall, his stride long enough that she was forced to race to keep up.
Did he just shush me?
He pushed her into an office, closed the door, and then leaned on the handle, which left her to consider his back.
His most broad-shouldered and manly back.
Dah-um, the rich boy is built.
When he faced her, the exhaustion she'd noticed in her first impression magnified, and the cobalt of his eyes seemed brighter in comparison to the shadows almost bruising his face.
"We need to talk," he said.
She crossed her arms. This was her chance. "Yes, we do. I have a problem."
"Join the club, sweetheart. You may be the solution to mine."
What was he talking about? She couldn't worry about that now. She might not have this chance again. "I work for you, and—"
"Perfect." He strode past her and riffled through papers on his desk. "I'm going to offer you a substantial raise, a new title, and a list of responsibilities to go with them."
"But you don't even know why I'm here."
He didn't seem to be paying attention to her. Instead, he slid behind the desk and began to tap out something on his computer. "Well, it doesn't really matter why you're here. You were in the right place at the right time, and therefore you are uniquely qualified for this position."
"Sir, I'm not sure what you're talking about, but I'm here about Derek, down in the call center?"
"What's your name?" He paused in his writing to consider her, tsked, and then tapped out more words.
"Jeanie, sir. Jeanie Long. I work down in the call center, and—"
"You don't work in the call center anymore, Jeanie Long. Like I said, you just got promoted."
"Sir, I think there might be some confusion as to why I'm here. I know, I probably shouldn't have snuck up here, no clearance or appointment and all that, but it's vital we discuss my boss, Derek. Aside from making some really ethically questionable relationship decisions, I have proof that he's skimming money. He claims he's buying lunch for us, and holding training, but in reality—"
Again, he brushed aside her words as if they were no more important than dust motes. "So, you're talking hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars, max? You snuck upstairs, invaded my conference room, to tell me about some small-time scam run by one of my employees?"
She bit her lip and nodded. This wasn't going according to plan at all. He didn't sound appropriately appalled.
She was going to get fired. This was a mistake. She never should have risked it.
"I'll fire him," he said.
"You have to understand, I had no choice but to—" Wait. Fire him? Not her?
"Now, moving on," he said. "Your job has responsibilities, as I said, that I think you might be uniquely qualified to fulfill. You faked your way up here—"
"—I'm merely asking you to take part in another façade. The difference is that this one is worth considerably more money, will reap you far greater benefits, and will help me in the process."
So ... she wasn't fired. And he really was offering her some sort of promotion.
"A position has opened up in the company. You're going to take the job. In exchange, I'll fund a new wardrobe, expenses, pay you ... You're from the call center, you said?" His fingers never slowed, flying across the keys.
"So a grand a day would be a significant raise, yes?" Again, he pinned her with his cobalt gaze.
She swallowed. A thousand dollars a day? She could move out of her shitty apartment, put a little money back, get a new car ...and that would only take a few weeks at that pay rate. What kind of job is he referring to? That fiancée stuff ...
"Sir?" She managed the word past her suddenly dry throat. "I work in the call center. I'm not a prostitute."
He couldn't be asking her to ... She shook her head. It was ridiculous. But he'd introduced her ... He couldn't possibly.
"I don't need a prostitute, I need a wife. Well, a fake one to replace my real fiancée who is shagging some actor in Cannes as we speak." One final sounding click, and he stood. He moved to a printer and pulled off the pages that it spit out before slapping them on the desk. "I wrote up a pretty standard gag order. Some of the perks I mentioned ... and my expectations of the role you'll fulfill. Sadly, the duration of the position is unclear at this time, but I'll ensure you're financially compensated for the inconvenience at the time the contract expires." When she didn't move, he gestured towards the contract. "Sign here, initial each page." He tapped a pen on the stack.
"Camden. If we're going to make this work, you're going to have to at least pretend to be comfortable with me." His engaging smile didn't lessen the weirdness of the situation.
"Camden, then. You're asking me to pretend to be your fiancée? Why?" The surreal nature of this whole thing slammed down on her, and she surreptitiously pinched her arm. Not even in her wildest dreams did she fantasize about the most eligible bachelor in America proposing to her—not to mention the unreality of the actual proposal.
"Not important. Sign the papers and get the job. It's really that simple. What have you got to lose?"
He didn't realize what he was offering. She'd come up here expecting to be fired, knowing it was her only chance to salvage her job. He didn't know about Kaycee, didn't know this could change their lives.
"You don't know me." She flipped through the pages and saw he was only asking for her to attend dinners or other events with him, show up at work upon occasion, and in exchange she got the money, a new wardrobe, a car ... "I get to keep a new car?"
She could bank more of the money. Security, being in the black. For the first time, a glittering possibility.
Like winning the lottery.
But there has to be a catch.
"Yeah, you keep the car. I don't need another one." He picked the pen up and handed it to her. "Just sign."
"You don't know me," she repeated, and she put the pen back down. "You don't know anything about me other than I walked into your boardroom. How do you know anyone would even believe this? It takes more than clothes and a car to pretend to be engaged to you."
"I put that in. Page three. No sex, minimal physical contact, and only when it's needed to reinforce the illusion. I get it, not a prostitute, we went over that."
"You're rushing me." She flipped to the third page.
"I don't need to know you. You don't need to know me. It's a lie, a short-term lie, until I come up with another solution. You're perfect for the job. Just sign, we'll take you shopping and maybe get our picture taken ... easy." He tried to force the pen on her again. Obviously, he wasn't used to people who didn't just blindly obey him.
She took the pen and pitched it across the room. "Not until you tell me the catch. What's this all about?"
He ran a hand through his hair and blew out a breath. "My father came for a visit. He's sick of my ... God, my 'playboy ways' in his words. He still owns a large portion of shares in the company and threatened to make things a bit uncomfortable for me if I didn't settle down and get married. It's so old-school, but it's what he wants. I agreed ... and upon me performing a double ring ceremony, he agreed to hand over his shares, making me the controlling shareholder."
"What about your real fiancée?"
He laughed, but there was no humor in the sound. "It'll be all over the news tomorrow. Suffice it to say, she's not my fiancée anymore. He met her, so that complicates this, but if I offer him a viable substitution and claim her story of our engagement was a farce, I can buy my lawyers a bit more time to find a loophole. Simple as that."
"Still not getting what the hitch is for me. Why are you rushing me? What don't you want me to think through? Like I said, you don't know me and—"
"I don't need to know you. We're not really getting engaged, it's fake. I need a female, and I'm offering you money to be that woman. Besides, my father will hate you. It's perfect." Seeming pleased with himself, he finally moved out of her personal space, which made her realize how much his presence jarred her nerves.
Excerpted from The Penthouse Prince by Virginia Nelson, Stephen Morgan. Copyright © 2015 Virginia Nelson. 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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