Saturday, April 26, 2014

Giveaway & Excerpt: BILLIONAIRE (#1-7) by Juliette Jones






 BILLIONAIRE: The Complete Book #1-7





SYNOPSIS:


Lila Carmichael is a good girl, a high-achieving academic, punctual to a fault, unfailingly conscientious - and embarrassingly inexperienced. After graduating from Princeton, Lila moves to New York City and begins her job search. Innocent and naïve, she is swept away by an uncharacteristic bloom of total abandon as soon as she meets the tall, dark-eyed CEO of Wolfe Enterprises. Under Alexander's potent influence, Lila undergoes a thorough transformation from demure virgin to lusty goddess in just two days. Given her upbringing, it's only natural that Lila would be attracted to such a pinnacle of stability, but as emotion and lust entwine, she begins to question the motives behind her covetous, hedonistic desires.

Alexander Wolfe needs a new assistant to help him run his publishing empire. One résumé in particular catches his eye and he decides to interview the candidate one-on-one in his private penthouse office. When a green-eyed goddess walks in, Alexander, for the first time in his life, finds himself powerless to resist. The difficulties of his past ensure that his protective instincts are fiercely attuned, and Lila's vulnerabilities, combined with her nubile body and voracious new appetites, only succeed in ensnaring Alexander past the point of no return.

Set in New York and Paris, Lila and Alexander's connection is a whirlwind of lust, love, jealousy and obsession. Will they find their happily ever after?




EXCERPT:


BILLIONAIRE (Part 1)

Lila
I felt a cool sense of confidence as I rode the elevator skywards, not because I thought I was in the running for the job I was about to interview for, but for the opposite reason.  It was a dream job, beyond the scope of my experience, and I knew I was unlikely to score a gig this good.  Sure, I had an English degree from Princeton; I’d graduated near the top of my class; I’d brought along a portfolio of publishing credits.  But I was hardly alone in those credentials.  The small, neat ad for CEO’s assistant at Skyscraperwould attract the best of the best.  Every college graduate within a three-state radius would be clambering to get their résumés seen. Not because we had a lifelong dream to be a CEO’s assistant, but because an underling job like this one would lead to other opportunities within the company.  And it was a company that every aspiring writer and journalist alike would have sold their teeth to work for.  That rare combination of glamorous and highly acclaimed, Skyscraper was the It magazine of the year.  I knew most of the other applicants would have more experience than I had, which happened to be exactly none, since I’d graduated only two weeks ago.
So there was an element of resigned defeat to my mood as I approached the meeting.  Still, as I checked out my look in the glass reflection of the polished elevator walls, I couldn’t help but notice that my new makeover had definitely done wonders.  At the insistence of my roommate, Eva, who’d orchestrated not only a shopping spree but also a pampering frenzy, I’d undergone a startling transformation.  I had a stylish new haircut.  I’d been massaged, waxed, trimmed, glossed and groomed to within an inch of my life. New city, new priorities, Eva had proclaimed.  You’re no longer a student, you’re a hot young urban professional, she’d told me. Living the dream in New York City.  I’d argued that I wasn’t a professional until I actually landed a job but she’d laughed that comment off as a technicality.  Looking like you do, it’s only a matter of time, she said.  Employers love hot, and you, my friend, are the total package.  Time would tell if Eva’s estimations were at all accurate.
I tried to let her enthusiasm rub off on me as I studied my own reflection.  My long, honey-blond hair fell in sleek, waving skeins; highlights of platinum caught the light.  My incongruously dark eyelashes had been lengthened by some carefully-applied mascara.  A light green wrap sweater over a short black skirt hugged my curves and emphasized the green of my eyes.  I had wondered if the V of the neckline was too low for a job interview but Eva had laughed at my prudishness and ordered me to ‘get real’.  She’d even insisted that I wear no bra or underwear.  According to Eva, it was the secret to success.  It gives you an added sensuality that no one can quite put their finger on, according to Eva.  I’d protested, of course, but her mulishness had won me over. Just try it, she’d insisted.  You’ll see.  So here I was, clad from head to toe in exactly one layer of clothing.  To-die-for black leather boots completed the outfit.  The boots had cost a fortune, but Eva had reasoned that the cost would spur my impetus to get earning as quickly as possible.  I didn’t bother telling her I had that impetus anyway, cringing every time I thought of my student loan.  Anyway, I knew I’d never looked better.  And it was true: my wanton secret made me feel bold and somehow risqué.
With that in mind, as the elevator binged and the doors slid open, I took a deep breath, squared my shoulders and entered the lobby of Skyscraper.  A lone receptionist sat behind a large mahogany desk with a massive print of the New York skyline mounted on the wall behind her.  She watched me approach and took in my hair, my body and my boots with a somewhat critical eye.  If I had worried that more than hint of my own cleavage was visible, I laid that concern decisively to rest now, as the receptionist’s ample breasts were barely concealed by an almost-sheer fitted black top.  Her outfit, her gleaming long dark hair and ruby red lips seemed to announce that her after-work plans were already on her mind.  Employers love hot.  Apparently so.
“Lila Carmichael?” she asked.
“Yes.  I’m meeting with the interview panel at three o’clock.”
“Actually, Miss Carmichael, several members of the panel are otherwise engaged this afternoon.  You’ll be meeting with Mr. Wolfe himself.”
I had heard rumors about Alexander Wolfe’s reclusiveness and also his ruthlessness and acumen when it came to matters of business, but even so, I felt mildly relieved by this.  Public speaking had never been my strongpoint, and a one-on-one meeting sounded less intimidating than a full-blown inquisition before a panel of many.
“He’s expecting you,” said the receptionist. “Go right on down this hallway.  Take the elevator up to the 27th Floor.”
The phone rang and the receptionist gestured down the long wood-panelled hallway before she picked it up.  I wanted to ask her what number Mr. Wolfe’s office was, but she was already immersed in conversation.  His door probably had his name on it, I reasoned.
Fine, I thought.  I can handle this.  No problem.  A brief interrogation by a stuffy publishing executive, followed by a dismissive ‘We’ll call you if we’re interested’.  I knew already it was a phone call that would probably never come.  I’d wait a few weeks before reality settled in, as I meanwhile resumed my search through the classifieds for an opportunity that might be slightly more realistic.
I walked down the hallway, finding the elevator.  I wondered if this was a private elevator.  I knew it was not the same one that accessed the lobby of the building.  And as the doors closed, I noticed the elevator car had an opulent air, with gold features and lengths of plush velvet panelling.  When I reached the 27th floor – the top floor – I stepped out to a glass hallway boasting a killer view of the city below.  There were several swanky leather chairs flooded with sunlight that I wouldn’t have minded sitting in for a while, appreciating the view.  Next to the chairs was a single door.  So Mr. Wolfe was the only executive with an office on the 27thfloor.  Maybe he was the president of the company, or the lone CEO –a thought that didn’t help ease my nervousness.  I wished now that I’d read up on the power structure of Skyscraper.  I’d only seen the ad in the paper two days ago and between my shopping agenda and Eva’s grooming-appointment schedule, I hadn’t had time.
I knocked on the door.
It may have been a full minute before the door opened.  A man stood there, silhouetted momentarily by the sunlight streaming in from behind him.  If I had been expecting an ordinary, middle-aged, work-addled managerial type, I was sorely mistaken.  In fact, it took a few moments for my eyes to adjust to the extent of my miscalculation.  There was nothing ordinary about this god-like creature.
He was tall, and big, dominating the space entirely.  His black hair was neat but slightly longer than one might expect from a man of power, which he clearly was; it touched his collar, lightly curling in places.  He wore an extremely well-cut suit but didn’t appear entirely at ease in it, as though it constricted a natural wildness that could barely be contained.
“Mr. Wolfe?” I said, and my question came out breathy and cautious.
His eyes were as black as his hair and were narrowed in surprise at the sight of me, as though I had somehow caught him off guard.  His face was swarthy and tanned, and his features were incongruously rugged for the setting, as though he spent more time sailing the Southern seas or wrangling broncos than doing deals in an oppressive, airless boardroom.  He was too masculine to be called beautiful but it was a word that came to mind.  His full lips twisted into a slight sneer as he motioned with one hand for me to enter, his eyes trailing intently across my face and my body as I stood before him.
“Ms. Carmichael.”  His voice was deep, tinged with bass notes that sounded almost like a purr.  “Please, come in.”
I experienced a violent rush of contradicting urges.  Deep-rooted instincts piqued with genuine warning, which I found unsettling.  Was he dangerous?  Even more disconcertingly, these warnings were overridden by a potent wave of undiluted longing, which stunned me with its ferocity.   I don’t care if he’s dangerous, I thought.  I could not tear my gaze away from his huge, broad shoulders and his strong arms, where the muscles were defined even under the layers of his clothing as he clutched the edge of the door with gripping, brutal fingers, opening it further.  Isolated and alone as we were, I couldn’t help feeling I was walking into Mr. Wolfe’s lair.  No one will hear you if you call for help.  Oddly, despite this flicker of fear, I didn’t hesitate.
I walked into the room and felt a thrill of anxious excitement as he closed the door firmly behind me, clicking the lock into place.  “You’re very punctual, Ms. Carmichael.  I like that in an employee.”
A good start, I thought.  “Please,” I said.  “Call me Lila.”
“Lila.”  My name, spoken in that molasses-rich voice, sounded strangely erotic, like the subtle vibrations of his speech poured lazily into my body, charging me with a new, sensuous hum.  I wanted to hear him say it again, to groan it, to growl it in deep, pleading tones.  What was wrong with me?  This was not like me at all.  I was a clean-cut girl, a scholar, punctual, reliable, conscienscious to a fault.  And embarrassingly inexperienced.  I’d had boyfriends, but this was the first time I’d ever felt such an instantaneous and desperate pull of white-hot lust.  That his mouth caressed my name in that way seemed almost indecent, as though he’d tasted a part of me.  At that thought, my nipples tightened as I watched his mouth.  His full, pouting lips.  What would that mouth feel like on my body?  Licking.  Biting.  Everywhere.
I silently cursed Eva for encouraging me to go commando.  I felt like my clothes were entirely sheer, like he was somehow penetrating them with his predatory appraisal.  My aroused nipples would be easily visible, and I could feel the warm, wet heat between my legs; I hoped desperately that it wouldn’t be detectable somehow through the thin wool of my short skirt.  I willed my body to control its responses, but it was no use: I felt needy and wanting and entirely lacking in self-discipline.  I want to step closer, to touch him.  I could barely restrain myself from doing this.  I’d gone mad, that was all there was to it.
Flustered, I forced myself to unlock my eyes from his sinfully perfect mouth.  I distracted myself by taking in the surroundings.   His office was large, and circular.  Half of the oval was lined with pale wood shelving, concealed cupboards and the subtle framed outline of two doors; the other half was floor-to-ceiling curved glass windows.  A large, modern desk sat in the middle of the room.
He half-sat against his desk and folded his arms across his chest, causing his suit jacket to tighten against his arms.  He’s inhumanely strong.  He could so easily overpower me.  These thoughts only served to arouse me further, until my nipples were painfully beaded.  Copying his motion, I folded my own arms in an attempt to conceal myself, but he noticed my body’s response to him and his mouth quirked in a laconic half-smile.  He moved to take off his jacket then, which he tossed onto a chair.  Amused or not, I couldn’t help but notice – through a quick, tentative peripheral glance - a swell in the area I didn’t dare stare at.
This was too much.  My body was combusting within the potent cloud of alpha-male pheromones he was emitting.  I turned abruptly away from him and walked over the window, looking out over the vast expanse of the hazy city.  “Nice view,” I commented. I gave myself a point of victory for the blithe, offhand tone of my voice.  Meanwhile, a light throb in my slippery depths was pulsing distractingly.
“Would you join me in a celebration, Lila?” he said.
I dared a glance over my shoulder.  “What are you celebrating, Mr. Wolfe?”
“Call me Alexander,” he said.  That he was a rich, powerful man was obvious enough.  That I was an unemployed entry-level job seeker was equally obvious.  I was, in more ways than one, at his mercy.  His request for me to call him by his first name felt like a small triumph, an invitation for a familiarity that was inappropriate, perhaps, but wickedly enticing.  I wanted to issue invitations of my own.  An inner sense of decorum and better judgment wondered at my pleasure at his offer.  Alexander.  The name suited him. Strong, dark, controlling.
“Today is my birthday,” he said.
“Happy birthday.”
“Thank you.   I was just sent a bottle of Moët on ice by my brother Jake, which was delivered only minutes before you arrived - which to me seems rather serendipitous.”
“Oh?”
“I don’t like to drink alone,” he said.  “Can I tempt you?”
I couldn’t even begin to describe how tempted I was.  I knew it was unwise to accept his offer.  A glass of champagne would only amplify the effects of my desire.  But my desire had a mind of its own.  It wanted to be fed and stoked and ignited.  It was a wild thing that was inhabiting me and taking over, causing my skin to flush and my body temperature to rise.  I slid the cashmere of my top down an inch or more over my shoulder in an attempt to cool my rising flame by a degree.  “I wouldn’t want to you drink alone on your birthday.  As long as you won’t hold this against me.  This is, after all, a job interview.”
He smiled, and his gaze caressed the milky-white skin of my exposed upper shoulder.  “There’s no reason we can’t get down to business while we enjoy my brother’s gift.  Please, have a seat,” he said.  He pulled a chair close to his own.  I sat, and he handed me a glass of champagne.
He stretched out his long legs and leaned back in his leather office chair.  By this time it was fully apparent that he was as aroused as I was, but he acted as though nothing was out of the ordinary.  He sipped his champagne and glanced out the window, as though to allow me to take my time studying the magnificence of his long, powerful body.  Even concealed beneath the civilized layers of his business clothing, the outlines of his form were, in every way, impressive.  I imagined myself unfastening his pants,taking him in my hands, in my mouth…
I took a drink, following his gaze, concentrating on the steely lines of the city far below.
“So you’re looking for an assistant?” I asked, instantly regretting my banal comment.  Of course he is, you idiot, or you wouldn’t be here.
His eyes glimmered as he seemed to read my internal banter.  “I’ve had the same assistant since I founded the company twelve years ago.  She’s sort of a Moneypenny type.  She’s retiring.”
“You founded Skyscraper?”
After a long pause, he confirmed, “I did, yes.”
You … own the company?”
“Is that surprising to you?” he asked, taking a drink from his flute.  His large hand held his champagne glass carefully; he looked like he easily could have snapped the stem of it without any effort at all.  Amusement lurked in his dark eyes at my naiveté, maybe, or my complete lack of tact.  I felt foolish for even asking the question, and especially for being so shocked by his pronouncement.
I fumbled with a reply.  “No, of course not.  I just … you just seem too young to own an entire publishing company.”  Not only too young but too hot, was my unspoken thought.  Publishing people were typically dowdy and pale, like they’d spent months on end in a musty, dimly lit library.
“Thirty-three isn’t that young.  I was young when I started.  I’d only just graduated from Princeton.”
“I … just graduated from Princeton.”
“I saw that on your résumé.  It was one of the reasons I decided to interview you.  And you completed your degree in only three years.  Impressive.”
I took a sip of the bubbling liquid, wondering what the other reasons were, but I held my questions.  Maybe it was best if he did the talking.  My nervousness had made me thirsty, and the champagne was the most delicious I had ever had; it tasted refreshing and expensive, and I sipped again.
“A woman who enjoys a good drop,” he smiled, topping up my glass.  “Another quality I admire.”
His playful tone and suggestive smile only succeeded in igniting the traitorous urges of my body one notch higher.  My senses felt hyper-aware, and my erogenous zones felt piqued and unsettlingly heated.  Alexander ran a hand through his hair and rubbed his jaw, as though sensing the signals I was struggling to control, and tuning into them.  His outrageous handsomeness caught the chiaroscuro light of the shadowed interior space and the bright light of the day.  His tanned face, his lips, his glinting dark eyes rimmed with thick black lashes.  The man was an absolute specimen of masculine beauty.
“Are you aware that Skyscraper is only one of the companies owned by Wolfe Enterprises?  One of the smaller ones, in fact.”
“No,” I said.  “I didn’t know that.”
“We run a number of publishing companies.  Two magazines and a book publishing company, as well as three Internet businesses and several investment companies.”
I was beginning to grasp just how rich and powerful Alexander Wolfe was.
“I have to be honest,” I told him.  “I’ve never been an assistant before.  I did an internship last summer for a literary agency, but the job mainly involved reading manuscripts and writing up reports.  But I’m a quick learner, and very eager to please.”
His dark eyes spangled, and I realized I sounded like a complete try-hard.  Eager to please?  I’m coming across like a total imbecile.
“I’m very glad to hear that,” was his languid reply.  “I think you and I have come to an agreement, then.”
His black-satin voice seemed to penetrate the air as a physical force, touching me and ruffling me.  My arousal was very nearly uncomfortable, blooming in a furtive aching swell.  The champagne’s effect swirled through me pleasantly, allowing my barriers to soften and my nerves to settle somewhat.  Rather than fighting my body’s responses, I eased into them.  Instead of straightening the neckline of my thin sweater, I left it askew, allowing the upper skin of my breasts to be revealed.  I shifted in my chair, settling onto one hip and crossing my legs, which forced the hem of my skirt to ride scandalously high.  This was entirely unlike me, but I was hardly doing anything he wasn’t doing.  His erection was straining at the fabric of his pants and was in fact so enlarged that it threatening to escape the confines of his waistband.  I found myself wishing that it would.  At this point, high with desire and a glass of champagne, I hardly cared if I got the job or not; I was enjoying this foreplay much too much.  It was a completely new feeling for me, and one that I decided I needed more experience with.
“I do require that whoever I hire must be available immediately.”
“I’m available whenever you want me,” I replied, only realizing after I’d made the statement the double entendre.  Despite the effects of the alcohol, I felt my cheeks redden.  “I meant, of course, that I’m available if you decide you’d like to hire me.”
“A few more questions first,” he said.
“Of course.”
“It’s a somewhat demanding job.  Long hours.  I need someone who can basically be at my beck and call, at any hour of the day or night.  We have affiliates in London, Los Angeles, Paris, Sydney, and so forth, so we’re a 24-hour business.  It can be hard on … significant others, if you were to be working a lot.”
“I don’t have a significant other.  I have a roommate, but her hours are ridiculous.  She works for a law firm and she’s studying for the bar.”
“Fine,” he said, and his smug charisma hit me in the low pit of my stomach.  “There will be times when my assistant will be required to travel with me.  Frequently, in fact.  Do you like to travel?”
“I’ve always wanted to, but I haven’t had much opportunity to travel, actually.  I never, well, we never had the money.  But as a graduation present to myself, I decided to get my passport issued, just in case I get the chance some day.   I just got it.  This morning, in fact.  I have it here, in my bag.”  I was so excited about my passport, I considered retrieving my bag from where I’d placed it near his desk, and showing it to him.  This incredibly beautiful man is a sophisticated billionaire.  Stop coming across like a hick and a schoolgirl, I scolded myself.
“Perfect,” he said.  He reached for a pen and a small piece of paper.  He scrawled some numbers onto the paper and handed it to me.  “This is the starting salary.  Negotiable, of course.  I will cover all business-related expenses.  You’ll have a driver, and an expense account, if you agree to take the position.  In addition, my apartment is in this building, and I have an adjoining studio apartment available for your use, if you have need of it from time to time, which you will, when I require you to work late into the night.”
I glanced at the number he’d written, and held back a gasp, wondering if my eyes were deceiving me.  It was more than triple what I might have expected to earn from an assistant’s job.  A salary this generous would allow me to pay off my student loan within the year, especially if I could cut down on other expenses.
“What do you say?” he said.
“I say … yes.”  My voice was no louder than a whisper.
“Well, then, Lila.  You’re hired,” he purred, leaning forward to place his empty glass on the desk.
As he moved, I caught a light whiff of his scent; he smelled of soap and mint and masculinity.  And there was more to it. Something elusive and outrageously, crazily appealing.  The light-musked spice seemed to unfurl something in me, intoxicating me with an unruly obsessiveness.   Unconsciously, I leaned slightly towards him.
The long strands of my hair fell forward with my movement, spilling over my bared shoulder.
“Your hair,” he said softly, fingering an end strand, “is lovely.”
My lips parted.  I was having trouble breathing in enough air.  I wanted to breath his air, his breath.  That scent of him, that one whiff, was not enough.  I leaned closer, quietly urgent for more.  His fingers twirled around the strand of my hair, forming a lightly ensnaring hold, pulling gently.  I followed his pull, encouraging it, accepting any invitation he was giving.  Sensing my consent, he pulled me closer, and closer, until my mouth was only inches from his.  My nipples had softened during our discussion and with the soothing effects of the alcohol.  Now, at his nearness, they rose and peaked into tight little buds of sensation.  Concentrated lust seemed to center there, and radiate slowly throughout my body in shimmery, uninhibited waves.  Alexander released his grasp on my hair.  His movements were dreamlike and tentative, like he was being guided by foreignly vehement urges that he was attempting – unsuccessfully – to control.  His hand paused near my breast.   His lower lip was close to my mouth, as plump as ripe fruit.  Unable to hold myself back, I brushed my mouth against his lips in a feather-light kiss, touching my tongue to the rounded curve of his lip.  He groaned, and his fingers touched my nipples through the soft fabric of my top.  He teased them between his thumb and fingers, kneading them into ripe buds.  Searing sensation surged through my body.  I gasped as he pinched tighter, rolling my aching flesh more insistently, controlling me entirely with his touch.
This is not actually a requirement of the job,” he said against my mouth, cupping my breast in his large palm, squeezing lightly. “Tell me to stop and I will.  Tell me to continue and I … will.”



 


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Juliette Jones is the author of BILLIONAIRE and WILD RIDE. She has worked as an editor, a librarian and the administrative assistant of a hot billionaire. She lives in New York City.


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