An intensely sexy Billionaire Fairy Tales standalone novel by Jackie Ashenden that is billionaire romance meets Sleeping Beauty with a happily ever after.
Lorenzo De Santis: Ruthless. Driven. Ambitious.
Lorenzo De Santis is the boss. He's an uncompromising hardass, he doesn’t suffer fools, and he doesn’t have time to deal with witless young interns. But when an old friend asks for a favor, Lorenzo can’t refuse. Even if it means taking on the man’s daughter as a project.
Kira Constantin: Rich. Party girl...Spy.
Kira Constantin feels like she has been half-alive since that one night of partying ended in tragedy. So when her father demands that she go undercover at De Santis Corp as a spy, there’s no way she can refuse. She must redeem herself, even if that means dealing with a boss like of Lorenzo De Santis.
Except neither of them counts on the forbidden heat that flares between them. As Kira and Lorenzo draw closer, spying on him becomes harder and harder. And then Kira discovers that the real villain might be closer to her than she thinks…
Don't miss these standalone Billionaire Fairy Tales:
The Billionaire's Virgin (Cinderella)
The Billionaire Beast (Beauty and the Beast)
About the Author
Jackie Ashenden lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr. Jax, and their two kids and two cats. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their stroppy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, posting random crap on her blog, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.
Jackie writes dark, sexy contemporary romance for St Martin’s Press, the titles Mine To Take, Make You Mine, and You Are Mine.
Read an Excerpt
Lorenzo de Santis wasn't a nice man. As CFO of DS Corp., America's biggest defense and protection company, he couldn't afford to be anything as mediocre as "nice."
He was driven, ambitious, cold, ruthless, and determined.
Which, in layman terms, meant he was an asshole.
Lorenzo didn't give a shit about what anyone thought of him. He didn't give a shit about much, period. In fact, the only thing in the world he did give a shit about was how he could oust his father from his position as CEO of DS Corp.
Standing on the hundredth floor of his downtown Manhattan corner office, in the de Santis Tower, Lorenzo looked out over the New York skyline stretched out beneath him, the buildings like so many supplicants before the throne of an emperor. Not that he was paying much attention to the magnificent view. He was too busy saying no to Ivan Constantin — old friend and head of DS Corp.'s accounts department — and his request that Lorenzo accept Ivan's daughter as an intern.
"What do you mean no?" Ivan said from behind him.
"I mean, 'No, I don't want an intern.' How else do you want me to say it?"
Lorenzo didn't bother with interns; he didn't have the time to babysit eager-puppy new college graduates. And since discovering the traces of some extremely creative accounting, he had even less time or inclination than he normally did. Because that creative accounting wasn't a matter of mere thousands. It was a matter of millions, and for the continued health of his family's company, he needed to stop the perpetrator.
Who'd turned out to be Cesare de Santis himself, Lorenzo's father and DS Corp.'s CEO.
It was a difficult situation, though Lorenzo himself didn't find it personally difficult. No, he'd been looking for an excuse to shaft the old prick for years, ever since Lorenzo had lost the only two people in the world he cared about.
However, the issue that was currently concerning him was how to get rid of his father without the asshole finding out that Lorenzo was planning on ousting him.
Cesare was canny and just as ruthless as Lorenzo, and Lorenzo had no doubt that if Cesare found out that his oldest son wanted him gone, he would take evasive action. Action that would end up with Lorenzo as the casualty.
Not that Lorenzo was going to let that happen. No way in hell.
"Are you listening to me, Lorenzo?" Ivan sounded exasperated.
"No," Lorenzo said. "Did you say something important?"
Sunlight glittered off the windows of the skyscrapers and the traffic moving in heavy streams in the streets below. Already the mercury would be climbing, which meant the city was likely to become even more unpleasant than it already was. Stinking of trash and hot asphalt and heaving with sweaty tourists.
Fucking summer. He hated it.
"I asked you to take five minutes to think about it," Ivan said impatiently.
"I don't need five minutes." He'd taken all of two seconds. "And I've already thought about it." Lorenzo put his hands in his pockets and turned around. "The answer is still no."
Ivan lounged on the deep, black leather armchair opposite Lorenzo's sleek minimalist, black desk. Ten years older than Lorenzo, he was still lean and handsome, looking much younger than a man in his late forties.
Lorenzo had known him for years, ever since Lorenzo, fresh out of Harvard, had first started in the accounts department and Ivan had been tasked with the one job that nobody wanted — managing the CEO's oldest son.
Ivan gave a slight frown. "Oh, come on. What's the big deal? Don't you need someone to get your coffee and dry cleaning? That kind of thing?"
"I have two secretaries already. I don't need another." He gave the older man one of his cold, analytical stares. There was a very good chance Ivan knew about Cesare's fiddling with the books and because the guy was a good corporate soldier through and through, the likelihood was high that he'd also been covering for his boss. Lorenzo was tempted to bring the subject up with him, but then that would involve showing his hand to Ivan. Not a good idea since Ivan would probably run straight to Cesare with it.
"Go ask Rafe," Lorenzo added. "He always needs more pretty young things running around after him."
Rafael was his brother and head of DS Corp.'s PR department, and he had never met a pretty young thing he didn't like.
But Ivan clearly wasn't into the idea because his frown deepened. "I was particularly wanting to place Kira with you. She already knows you and she needs a ... steadying influence in her life. I think you'd be a great example for her."
Lorenzo said nothing, watching the other man's face, wondering why Ivan was pushing it.
He hadn't seen Kira Constantin for years, though he remembered her as a child. A little blonde moppet, causing havoc wherever she went, shrieking and laughing one minute, throwing tantrums and refusing to listen to a word her father said the next. Ivan and Jenny's discipline had been negligent to say the least, and it had come as no surprise to Lorenzo that she'd grown up into a total party girl, treating college as little more than an extended drinking session.
Even if he hadn't been wrestling with the problem of his sticky-fingered father, he wouldn't have wanted a girl like her anywhere near his department. He had high standards for his employees, and Kira Constantin met none of those standards. Hell, she didn't even come close.
"Why does she need an internship anyway?" Lorenzo asked. "Isn't she too busy drinking and socializing and going to sorority parties?"
Ivan's expression twitched. "You know what happened last year. She was involved in that car accident and had to drop out of college because of it. And since I'm not paying for her to go back, she needs something to do."
Ah, yes. Lorenzo vaguely remembered the accident. Kira had been driving — some over-powered car Ivan had given her that she hadn't been able to handle — and had totaled it on the New Jersey Turnpike. Hadn't some people died?
Whatever, he didn't much care. People died all the time. Besides, that was Ivan's problem, not his.
He turned back to the window again. "I don't do favors, Ivan. You know this."
"Yes, I do know." Ivan sounded strained. "But I'm not having her hanging around the house doing nothing. Besides, Jenny's on my back about this one. She wants the internship for Kira as much as I do."
Of course, Jenny. She was Ivan's lovely, but demanding wife, who — in Lorenzo's less-than-humble opinion — led Ivan around by the balls. Really, it was no surprise Kira had turned out so appallingly given how indulged she'd been by both parents.
"What Jenny wants isn't my problem." Lorenzo wasn't thinking about Jenny. He wasn't thinking about Kira Constantin for that matter, either. He was too busy thinking about how to approach the problem of his father's skimming money off the top of company profits. "If you want an internship for Kira here," he went on, watching the glittering stream of traffic in the streets below, "go talk to Dad about it. I don't have time for babysitting random socialites."
There was a silence behind him, which he ignored.
The real difficulty was that he didn't quite have the proof he needed of his father's activities yet. Once he had, approaching the DS Corp. board was the next logical step. Unfortunately, though, the board were fiercely loyal to his father, and they were going to want hard evidence before they took a vote of no-confidence in Cesare de Santis's abilities.
"Funny you should mention Cesare," Ivan said. "Since he was the one who suggested you'd have no problem with taking Kira."
At the mention of his father's name, Lorenzo went very still.
Why the hell would his dad want to foist some intern on him? Cesare wasn't a man who did favors for anyone, and he took no interest at all in human-resource matters. He left that to his management team. So why was he now suggesting to Ivan that Lorenzo could take on his daughter as an intern?
Lorenzo turned around, staring at the other man. "Dad suggested it?" The question came out sharp, but Lorenzo didn't bother to soften it. He never bothered to soften anything.
Ivan's expression gave nothing away. "Yes, he thought it would be good for her, especially considering all she's been through these past six months."
Somewhere in Lorenzo's brain, an alarm bell went off.
His father didn't give a shit about what anyone had been through, he wasn't that kind of man. His complete failure to take into account anyone else's needs or feelings other than his own was legendary, so why was he now concerning himself with the tragic experiences of the daughter of one his employees? And suggesting she intern in Lorenzo's department?
"He knows I don't take interns," Lorenzo said slowly. "So why would he suggest that?"
Ivan leaned back in his chair, steepling his fingers. "I mentioned to him that she was thinking about an internship somewhere, and he suggested here. And he suggested you. He thought you wouldn't have a problem with it." Ivan paused. "I confess, I didn't think it would be such a big deal for you."
The alarm bell in Lorenzo's head rang a little louder.
Ivan was one of his father's favorites and always had been, and because of that he was as loyal to his father as they came. And Cesare de Santis was nothing if not manipulative with his favorites if he thought it could advantage him. Especially the head of his accounting department.
A thought whispered inside Lorenzo's head, insidious.
Perhaps his father had suspicions his oldest son had discovered his creative bookkeeping and was now trying to confirm those suspicions by planting a mole in Lorenzo's department.
It would be very much something his father would do.
Normally Cesare preferred the practical, straight-up guns blazing approach when it came to problems, but when that problem was his own son? Well, maybe he'd decided to be more subtle about it. Maybe he'd decided to get some information first.
And some vacuous, pretty little intern was the perfect way to go about it.
Lorenzo leaned back against the cold glass behind him, keeping his hands in his pockets, outwardly relaxed. "It's not a big deal. I just didn't know Dad was so keen on pushing interns at me."
Ivan leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees, clasping his hands between them. "Look, I understand your concerns. Kira was once ... a little wild."
"An unmanageable, headstrong little bitch, you mean?" Lorenzo met the other man's frown with a cool stare. "Don't look like that, Ivan. You know that's exactly what she is."
"What she used to be," Ivan corrected. "She's not like that anymore. The accident changed her. She's ready to step up to her responsibilities now, and I think it would be good for her to have an example."
"An example of what?"
"An example of drive and determination to succeed. Of self-control and restraint. A mentor to guide her and show her how to behave in a business environment." Ivan gave him a small smile. "You, in other words."
Maybe Ivan was trying to appeal to his vanity. If so, it wasn't going to work. Lorenzo didn't have any vanity. He didn't believe he was all those things. He simply was.
Lorenzo examined the other man's expression intently, analyzing it. If this was all to do with his father's machinations, Ivan would be aware of it, no question.
"What makes you think I have time to be anyone's mentor?" He made the question sound like an idle one, because if this was indeed something to do with his father, then he couldn't afford to alert the old bastard by making an issue out of this.
Ivan's expression twitched again. "I'm not asking for her to lead the company, Lorenzo. It's just an internship. She only needs somewhere to sit and a few mindless tasks, that's it. Give her to Stacey to manage if you can't do it."
Stacey was one of Lorenzo's secretaries — he had two since he was very, very busy indeed — and she didn't really have time to manage an intern either. Then again, if his father was planting an informant in Lorenzo's department, she might have to.
Not that that was essentially a bad thing, since any information an informant passed on could also flow in the other direction.
Anyway, probably giving her to Stacey initially to manage would be for the best. Stacey wouldn't like it, but then he didn't pay her exorbitant amounts of money to like it. He paid her exorbitant amounts of money to be at his beck and call whenever he needed her to be. She could give Kira some mundane tasks that would ensure the girl stayed busy and out of his sight, and totally uninformed about Lorenzo's plans regarding his father. At least until Lorenzo had decided what to do with her.
"So? What do you say?" Ivan prompted. "Both Jenny and I would be very grateful."
Lorenzo stayed silent a moment longer, drawing it out, measuring the other man's response.
"I suppose I could arrange something." Lorenzo kept his voice expressionless. "On the understanding that if she causes any trouble, I'm getting rid of her."
Ivan's smile was white. "Excellent. She won't let you down, I promise."
Oh, but she would. One way or another, she would.
But it wouldn't be him she'd let down, not if he had anything to do with it.
Kira hated waiting. Though over the past six months, she'd gotten used to it. Waiting for people to wake up in the hospital. Waiting for the insurance assessors. Waiting for the police to press charges. Waiting for forgiveness ...
Waiting for Lorenzo de Santis for over an hour — and she knew it was an hour because that's what the clock on the wall said — barely registered.
She took a quick scan around the waiting area yet again, trying not to fidget. The long, low, luxurious couches upholstered in white leather were empty. Magazines were stacked neatly on a glass and chrome coffee table in front of her, the thick pile of the charcoal carpet that covered the area outside Lorenzo's office visible through the tabletop. She supposed she could pick one of those up to read if she got desperate, which might actually happen since she couldn't even check her phone. She'd forgotten to charge it before she'd left the house, and it was now dead as a doornail in her purse.
Not far away was the imposing buttress of a massive black desk, behind which sat one of Lorenzo's secretaries like a soldier guarding the ramparts of a castle. A stern-looking woman in her early forties, she'd given Kira a very disapproving once-over when Kira had presented herself for her forthcoming meeting.
The Kira of six months ago would have either laughed and flipped her the bird, or taken her to task for her arrogant attitude, depending on whichever emotion was ruling her at the time.
The Kira she was now, her control over herself ironclad, had murmured a calm thank you and walked sedately over to the waiting area the woman had indicated, sitting herself down with her hands folded in her lap. Projecting nothing but cool professionalism.
A professionalism that she was hopefully still projecting an hour later.
The secretary was not looking at her now. Instead she was typing importantly on her computer and doing a good job of pretending Kira wasn't there.
Considering the length of time Kira had been there and that various people who'd also been in the waiting area had come and gone during that time, Kira was starting to wonder whether she was really there or not herself.
She looked down at her hands resting on top of the black leather folder that sat in her lap. There was a song playing in her head, and her fingers wanted to tap out the rhythm, and she had a sudden urge to hum along with it.
But no. She wasn't giving into those impulses, not anymore. She'd spent six months with a therapist learning how to contain and manage them, and she'd done well.
She'd continue to do well.
To drown out the music, she began going over all the things she was supposed to say in this interview. How she was very excited to be given this opportunity and that she was a hard worker. That she had a great attitude and a can-do approach. That she worked well in a group but also on her own with minimal supervision. Her strengths were her determination to do a good job, her ability to take on any task with a smile, no matter how small, and her dependability. Her weaknesses were ...
No. Better that she concentrate on her strengths. Her weaknesses were too many to mention.
Excerpted from "The Billionaire's Intern"
Copyright © 2017 Jackie Ashenden.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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