Venture capitalist Cameron Price is a workaholic and great at his job, but his boss is convinced Cam needs a more balanced life. A wife on his arm would prove Cam’s the right man to take over the company. When a gorgeous caterer cooks up the perfect event and catches Cam’s eye, he proposes an innovative arrangement they’ll both benefit from.
Lauren Brody knows Cam’s plan is crazy, but pretending to be his fiancée will allow her access to networking at events she’d never get into otherwise. It could be just the break she needs to get her catering business on the map and book the kind of clients she’s always dreamed of cooking for.
If she can convince Mr. Buttoned Up Tight to have some unscheduled fun along the way, theirs could be a perfect arrangement.
Each book in the Invested in Love series is STANDALONE:
*The Billionaire's Runaway Fiancee
*The Billionaire's Private Scandal
*The Billionaire's Holiday Engagement
*The Billionaire's Reluctant Fiancee
About the Author
By day, Jenna is faster than a speeding toddler, stronger than a stubborn husband, able to leap tall Lego structures in a single bound...but by night, while the family sleeps she writes romance novels where no one ever has to scoop up after the dog, change diapers, clip coupons, drive carpool, do laundry, mop floors, get silly putty out of hair, vacuum, empty the vacuum bag (gross!), exercise, count calories, apply bandaids, clean up puke...wait where was this going? Oh, Jenna writes romance because it is glamorous. Just ask the dog.
By day, Jenna Bayley-Burke is faster than a speeding toddler, stronger than a stubborn husband, able to leap tall Lego structures in a single bound...but by night, while the family sleeps, she writes romance novels where no one ever has to scoop up after the dog, change diapers, clip coupons, drive carpool, do laundry, mop floors, get Silly Putty out of hair, vacuum, empty the vacuum bag (gross!), exercise, count calories, apply Band-Aids, clean up puke...wait where was this going? Oh, Jenna writes romance because it is glamorous.
Read an Excerpt
The gunmetal gray sky outside his office window mocked him. Cameron Price reminded himself the internet claimed it rained more in New York than here in Seattle, but that little tidbit hadn't kept the leaden sky from unloading its fury each time he stepped outside.
He needed to like it here. Maybe if he focused on the good. In the summer it would be beautiful, but he had to get through November without going mad.
The coffee tasted better, though he couldn't decipher the way people ordered it.
At least he got to drive a great car and live in a big house. But the car was a gas-guzzler and the house as white and cold as a hospital.
He grunted in frustration and sat up straighter in the leather desk chair. The party tonight had him riled, and he needed to get over it. Which was why he'd driven into the city, to get a vision of the office in its Saturday relaxed attitude. Everyone expected him to show up on Monday, but he wanted to get a beat on the inner workings before he started meeting people at the party tonight.
When he'd arrived, technicians were setting up the computer and phone in his office. Cameron toured the building on previous trips to Seattle for meetings, so he knew the layout well enough to find his way around. This allowed him to not look completely out of place standing outside the door, covertly listening as two of his executives instructed the tech people on the set-up.
From the irritated tone of their voices he knew he had his work cut out for him. The challenge relieved him; he'd been so worried the smaller branch of the venture capital firm wouldn't give him enough opportunities to prove to the board he could steer the ship.
He'd entered the office with a smile and greeted the two men as if they hadn't been talking behind his back. Cameron was proud of his reputation for efficiency, even if it did mean people called him ruthless. He made money for the firm and their investors, and that was the bottom line.
They spoke to him with thinly veiled curiosity, wanting to know his plans to guide the business. He told them nothing, partly because it wouldn't be a discussion, and partly because he wasn't sure yet just what this promotion entailed, and how much control he'd be allowed to wield. After a brief conversation about the weather, Cameron had ushered them all out of his new office, knowing he'd see them later tonight at Anders's house.
Scratch that, his house. He had to start thinking of himself as living here, instead of just stepping in and filling the boss's shoes on the left coast.
When Anders confessed he hoped to retire in three years and wanted Cameron to take over as CEO when he did, Cameron never expected the honor to include a stint running the West Coast office. A native New Yorker, he'd never expected to live anywhere else. But he wanted to helm the most influential venture capital firm in the country like he wanted his next breath, so he nodded and smiled and packed his bags.
Two days later, he struggled to adjust to a new town, new house, and new job. He'd made the right decision, the only decision to make his career aspirations happen. This fish-out-of-water, out-of-control feeling didn't sit well with him, and he needed to be rid of it quickly.
"The view is better when the mountain is out."
Cameron swiveled in his chair to face the door, seeing his mentor and boss, Bob Anders, framed in the doorway. He shook his head at the barrel- chested older man. "The mountain comes in and out?"
"From the clouds." Bob nodded his bald head and entered the room, closing the door behind him. "You'll see. I had to learn to like New York, you'll learn to like Seattle."
"I will, if I can borrow your decoder ring." Cameron pushed his dark hair back and said a small prayer of thanks his hairline showed no signs of receding. "I ordered coffee this morning, and the girl rolled her eyes at me."
"Try ordering a half-caf tall skinny mocha with a shot of sugar-free vanilla hold the foam back in New York. You get exactly the same response." Bob settled into a leather wingback chair opposite the desk. "You'll need to lose the umbrella." He thumbed back toward the door where Cameron's coat and umbrella hung on hooks. "It screams tourist."
"It's raining, Bob."
"Get used to it, Cam."
The both laughed. "Anything else I should know from someone who grew up here? You owe me. I've shown you the best hot dogs, pastrami, and bagels New York has to offer."
"That you did. Let's see: never complain about the rain; learn coffee- speak; and enjoy the outdoors."
"In the rain?" Cameron's lip curled in a smirk.
"I warned you about that." Bob shook his head and returned the grin. "Everything ready for the party tonight?"
"Should be." Bob's wife, Sonja, had given him the number of a caterer and said she'd used the company whenever they'd entertained. Never having hosted a dinner party before, Cameron didn't know what part to play in the whole performance.
"You'll be doing a lot of this, you know. Entertaining clients, investors, and staff. It's an important part of the leadership role."
"You mentioned that." And little else.
"It's a lot for one person to take on. That's why Sonja has been so assertive on the wife issue."
Cameron straightened his shoulders. Not this again. "I don't see how that makes any difference. I can hire people to cater and clean, I don't need — "
Bob held up his hand. "You'll see. Listen to Sonja on this one. Besides, she's good at this. We're not talking about finding you some trophy bride. You need a capable, intelligent partner who can handle everything and make your life easier. I couldn't focus on running the company and managing my own funds if Sonja didn't make everything else happen. I'll be here Monday for the introductory meeting, and you can always reach me by phone, but I don't expect to have much to do with this office."
"What does that mean?"
"Cam, I'm not as young as I used to be. Ferrying back and forth between both coasts is just too much. And it put a lot of pressure on you to run the New York office. This way, I'll be able to give one hundred percent to New York and not worry about the funds managed here. This is your ship to steer. Neither I, nor the board, will second-guess your decisions. And in a few years, I'll be able to retire. You can choose which office to run the firm from."
"I appreciate the confidence you have in me."
Bob waved his hand through the air and stood. "There's no better place for you to develop the new alternative energy fund. I stopped in today to make sure things were set up for you, but you've already done that. One step ahead of me, just like in New York."
Cameron stood and followed Bob to the door.
"You should probably head out to the house. Traffic can be murder."
"Are you sure you and Sonja wouldn't be happier at the house than in a hotel? It's not like there isn't room. And you have lived there off and on for a while now."
"Sonja prefers the hotel, closer to shopping and less traffic. Besides, it's your home now."
With a nod Bob left, leaving Cameron alone in the near empty office. The room was a virtual copy of his New York office. Standard mahogany desk and bookshelf, leather desk chair and two wingbacks, small round table and three chairs in the corner. Even the same model telephone. And just like in New York, nothing adorned the walls. He hadn't thought it odd until he'd gone to pack up his office last week, and left with little more than a document box.
He shook his head and shrugged into his coat, picking up the umbrella. Did people here really not use an umbrella when it rained? He made his way out of the offices with a minimum of head nods, thankful the sky spared him as he stepped across the parking lot to the caldera-red Jaguar.
Like the house, the car had been Anders'. A car Cameron never would have chosen for himself, but he did find the purr of the engine exciting as he pulled into traffic. The roar of the open road beckoned him, but instead he got bumper-to-bumper traffic and too much time to think about the song and dance he'd have to put on at tonight's dinner party.
He didn't enjoy the fakeness behind charm and brownnosing sure to come from tonight's party, employees trying to say what they thought he wanted to hear in order to get on his good side. He found the performances annoying, preferring honest opinions to groveling boot lickers. He dreaded the schmoozing, but needed to prove to the executives at the Seattle branch of Anders & Norton that he was indeed the man for the job.
Turning up Debussy louder, he let his mind wander to a place he rarely went. So often numbers and facts clouded his brain. But this sound system had amazing acoustics for such a small car. The piano suite vibrated through him, so loud and melodious it was almost like he was playing himself.
He'd played twice a day since he arrived. The piano room at the house was a bright light in this whole scheme. He smiled as the music took over, feeling the notes in his fingers and seeing them in Technicolor in his mind. After Debussy came Chopin and softer colors, almost relaxing him. Until he took the exit off the cramped freeway and steered toward suburbia and the house he'd live in for the duration of his time in Seattle.
Cameron drew in a deep breath and clutched the steering wheel tighter as he waited for the garage door to rise. The front of the house was as gray as the Seattle sky, again threatening a cold November rain.
The mock-Tudor McMansion struck him as wasteful and pretentious. And yet, all of the people attending the party tonight would think he approved of the way the upward lights at the base of the house washed the walls in color and illuminated the landscaping. In reality, it was wasteful of energy and he hated contributing to the growing light pollution epidemic. But the house belonged to the firm he moved across the country to run, and so he found himself sleeping inside its stark white walls.
Pulling into the garage, Cameron killed the engine and sighed in resignation. Tonight, the top twenty executives at Anders & Norton would convene to find his weaknesses and exploit them. He'd have to find theirs first.
Never in the history of time did there exist more perfect raspberries. And in the middle of November, no less. Lauren needed her first event for Cameron Price to be absolutely perfect. She knew nothing about the elusive venture capitalist, only his missive instructing her to duplicate the last party she'd catered here at the Anders's house.
Last summer, when raspberries were ripe and plentiful.
Lauren Brody tucked her strawberry blonde hair behind her ears and popped a raspberry in her mouth, instantly remembering why she preferred her fruit in season. The sweet tartness she expected turned out to be more tart than sweet. She swallowed the sour pill and took a deep breath, the warm scents of toasting potatoes and roasting garlic warming her troubled mind. She smoothed her palms against her white button down blouse and black slacks, the professional look of the uniform comforting her.
This party would be perfect, she'd see to that. She always did. Come For Dinner catering was known for creating perfect dinner parties for business executives in their homes. That's how she avoided the wedding and engagement party circuit. She shuddered at the thought of having to deal with stressed out brides every day.
It was much better to work in elegant kitchens like the one in the Anders' home. Well, Cameron Price's home now. This event served to announce his ascension to managing partner, and running the Seattle office of the venture capital firm. That's all she'd been able to get out of his assistant. She couldn't get a hold of the man himself to find out if there were any food allergies or special diets she needed to account for, what his personal tastes were. And still, with so little to go on, she had to create his perfect coming out party.
Lauren dropped one basket of raspberries into a tall pitcher and covered them with ice cold Grey Goose Vodka. She swirled the mixture and inhaled nothing but the crisp scent of pure alcohol. Not good. She turned and plastered on her most pitiful expression.
"Tell me you brought it." Lauren stuck her lower lip out for good measure. Her chef, Diego Vargas, had been dead set against replicating the raspberry menu.
Diego turned from his chilled avocado soup and shook his dark head at her. "It's in the green cloth bag. We'll need to line the rest of them up on a sheet pan and spritz them with simple syrup, then let it dry."
"You are a culinary god, and I bow at your greatness." Lauren gave her best curtsey and scampered past Ricky to get to her salvation. A bottle of Chambord, sure to put enough raspberry kick in her pitcher of raspberry martinis. She spun back around to find Ricky had already spread the remaining raspberries, more than enough for the salad and dessert, on a sheet pan per Diego's instructions.
A grin lifted her cheeks as she took in the scene. The granite countertops glistening and pale hardwood floors shone from the cleaning that always began the party process. The maple cabinets had a built-in wine rack, but it was empty. Lauren wasn't sure if that meant Price had just moved in, or abstained from alcohol. She prayed it wasn't the latter. She didn't do virgin cocktails.
"That man needs to fire his maid." Anne, perpetually in charge of cleanliness, bustled her spindly body into the kitchen and dropped her towels and sprays into a box by the door. She peeled off her rubber gloves and smoothed her hands over gray hair locked away in a tight bun before addressing the group again. "That bathroom looked clean, but it was filthy. Disgusting."
"Never trust what looks clean actually is." Lauren gave a smile to her friend. Anne's job went unnoticed by clients, but was invaluable. A caterer was only as good as the last party, and if someone got sick ... Lauren didn't want to go there. Not tonight, when things would go perfectly.
"I'll go dress the bathroom." Anne said, picking up the heavy box full of towels linens and candles.
"I left an extra vase of roses on the sidebar. Will you place it on the vanity?" Lauren watched as she nodded and walked out of the kitchen with purpose.
"You went overboard with the roses." Diego's white teeth flashed against his dark skin.
Lauren returned the smile. "Don't let the tenderloin get past medium, oh wise one." She stuck out her tongue for good measure.
"Don't you worry about it. You have bigger problems, like slicing that Brie. Leave it on the counter any longer and you won't be able to cut it into chunks."
Damn. Why did he always have to be right? About food anyway. Lauren stepped quickly to the counter. She uncapped the Chambord and poured in enough to make the martinis delicious before placing the pitcher into the stainless steel refrigerator. She returned to the cheese she needed to cube for the salads, relieved to find it firmer than she feared.
"That is one impressive piece of man." Anne returned to the kitchen and set the box down, pretending to faint into one of the kitchen chairs. "I'm talking TDH in a power suit. And the brightest blue eyes I have ever seen. Iridescent almost. Yummy."
Electric blue eyes! Oh dear. This could be a problem. Lauren closed her eyes and took a deep breath, the handsome face of a guest at one of the Anders' parties two years ago filling her mind. She shook her head to dispel the piercing cerulean gaze making her pulse race.
She hadn't caught his name, or seen him since. But damn if he didn't have the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. And he'd spiced up her dreams on more than one occasion. Damn, damn, and double damn. She knew better than to ogle random party guests. Just her luck, that guest turned into her client.
"What are you talking about?" Lauren kept working on the Brie. She couldn't let Diego be right about it going soft before she chunked it. And she needed to keep her hands busy, and remind herself he had no way of knowing what she'd fantasized about.
Anne crossed to the sink, washing her hands. "I think it's the client, but I didn't ask. I'm telling you, if I were twenty years younger I would have offered to have his children."
"Anne!" Lauren bumped her with her hip. "No propositioning the clients. We're a full service catering company, but that's one service I draw the line at."
"Besides, he could play for my team," Ricky offered.
"That's true," Anne said with a sigh. "He did seem rather pleased with the way Lauren dressed the rooms."
Lauren grinned, glad she'd impressed him. Not because he might be the man she drooled over, but because she needed this account. The Anders' entertained here a few times a year, but they were on the East Coast the rest of the time. If Cameron Price took over on the West Coast, this account had amazing potential. Save them from catering for frantic brides kind of potential.
Excerpted from "The Billionaire's Holiday Engagement"
Copyright © 2017 Jenna Bayley-Burke.
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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