Excerpt: The Billionaire Submissive

Chapter One

Donovan Morgan stared out at the panoramic view without really seeing the skyline of downtown St. Paul. His corner office was mostly glass, giving him an unimpeded view of the world he’d supposedly conquered. He’d just closed another million-dollar deal, yet he felt nothing. No joy, exhilaration, or the rush of competition he’d thrived on his entire life. It was like he’d been left outside in the frigid winter to freeze solid, just another ice sculpture in the wintry park.

Never mind it was full-blown summer in Minnesota and the winding river below was crammed with boaters enjoying the warmer temps.

His secretary buzzed him. “Mr. Morgan? Your ten o’clock appointment is here?”

Miss Wruthers never managed to sound very sure of herself, even when she knew damned well he was expecting this meeting. She’s only been here a week. He smothered a sigh. Hopefully she’ll gain more confidence. Assuming I don’t bark at her and terrify her to death. Without looking, he reached down and pressed the intercom. “Send him in.”

He heard the door open and shut, but he delayed turning around to greet his guest. He didn’t want to appear too eager. Or God forbid, desperate.

“I have the file you asked for, Mr. Morgan.”

He’d used Andy Wells many times in the past when he needed dirt on the competition in order to gain some leverage. The man was a pit bull when it came to tenacity and fight, with the nose of a bloodhound and the speed of a greyhound. If there was any secret to be uncovered, Andy would find it, carefully peeling back layer after layer until the ugly truth was bared, and if he couldn’t find it, no one else would either. Donovan kept him on his personal staff and paid the man extremely well. To ensure Andy never had cause to go digging into Donovan’s own secrets.

Without replying, he turned and accepted the manila file. It was disturbingly thin and light. If this was all the dirt Andy’d been able to dig up on this prospective…

What could he call her?

Client?

Date?

Trick? No. That would be me.

Sitting down, he laid the file open on his desk and let his gaze linger just a moment on the picture paper clipped to the inside of the file. Lilly Harrison wasn’t exactly a gorgeous woman but she was quite attractive. Long, coppery-brown hair fell in a curly tumble about her shoulders, pretty face, light blue-gray eyes, lush, curvy body. Perhaps a little too short for his personal tastes and certainly not the model-thin slip of a woman so popular in the media, but her curves suited him perfectly.

She had an easy, open smile and a light in her eyes he instinctively mistrusted, even while his instincts told him that spark was the key to hooking her interest. Light implied warmth and sweetness, even innocence, and if there was anything he’d learned about Lilly Harrison before he’d hired Andy to dig deeper, innocence was the last thing in her mind. But he could certainly use that spark of curiosity to his advantage.

The next page listed the basic overview of her background. Age twenty-nine, single, self-employed as a stained glass artist in Oakdale after bailing on her white-collar job five years ago. Doing well enough to purchase her own townhome, though she owed a considerable amount on the mortgage yet. She had a sick younger brother with a ton of medical bills. He could use that to his advantage. Her parents were still alive, living near the brother on the other side of Minneapolis. Comfortable but not well off, and from the suburb they lived in, conservative and possibly even Catholic. Even better leverage.

He turned the page and scanned the list of her male “acquaintances”. A.K.A. the men she hired herself out to. The johns.

Is that what I’ve come to? Just another john trying to hire a prostitute to get what I need? Like a junkie on the street?

He forced himself to read every single name, even though he didn’t recognize any of them. At least she wasn’t involved with high-up politicians. Andy had even taken a few pictures, although none of them were compromising. Lilly and her gentleman getting into a car, getting out of a car, going into a restaurant. Evidently she occasionally did couples too. They were dressed to the nines as if they’d been to the opera. She wore a gorgeous slim-fitting black gown that hugged every wicked, sweet curve and strappy bright red platforms adding four inches to her height. The stilettos made him drool. The red made him insane, tantalizing him like a bull in a ring.

Ridiculous. Some poor sap actually paid for her services and took her out to eat? Andy had also included the names of each hotel she’d gone to with her clients. All upper-class hotels, certainly not the scary, cheap one-night-stand sort of places he’d expect a woman like her to use.

A woman like her.

He ran a hand over his face, rubbed his eyes, and then gripped his head like he had a headache. What the hell am I doing? Am I actually this desperate?

“She’s real careful, Mr. Morgan. She always uses her name to check into the hotel and it’s always booked and paid for in advance. By her. She’s seen these men in public before, and there’s not a single trace of anything suspicious or scandalous. Two of them are married, all of them are pretty well off. I mean, they’re nothing like you, boss, but they’re wealthy enough to pay her a grand a night.”

“That’s all she charges them?”

“As far as I can tell. She doesn’t do random guys, either. She takes them out to dinner first. Only then do they get to go to the hotel with her. They never go to her house and she uses a different hotel for each man. I don’t have any idea how they hooked up with her. I couldn’t connect any kind of web presence to her name or credit cards at all. All of the men are regulars. I clocked Mr. Smith seeing her once a week. Mr. Hamilton even hit her twice last week.” Andy chuckled. “She must be damned good at what she does.”

Donovan pinned the man with a glare that made Andy gulp like a teenager caught smoking weed in the stairwell. He didn’t say a word, just kept a steady, critical eye contact until Andy dropped his gaze and rushed to fill the heavy silence.

“No criminal record. She got a bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud though she doesn’t use it. Accounting. She has a savings account but it’s not huge. Just twenty grand. Her brother’s bills are five times that. She’s been making regular payments to her parents to help them out. She has a small retirement account left over from her corporate job but no other investments.”

Donovan turned his attention back to the file. She’d never been married. No children. A single woman on the verge of suffering the strident call of her biological clock. Ordinarily he’d run like hell in the opposite direction, but Lilly wasn’t the typical woman. He wasn’t interested in dating or marrying her.

I’m interested in hiring her. That’s all.

He smothered a wry laugh and shut the file, though he couldn’t drag his gaze away. It sounded so simple. So clean. So basic. Nothing as dirty as what he really wanted from her.

“That’ll be all, Andy. Thanks.”

Andy stood, but didn’t rush toward the door. “Sir?”

Surprised, Donovan raised his gaze to the man’s face. “Yes?”

“She seems like a real nice lady. I mean, despite… She’s nice.” At the skeptical look that must be on his face, Andy hurried to explain. “I always like to run in to the person I’m investigating in some part of their everyday routine, just to see how they respond. She’s polite and well mannered. She spoke to me, she didn’t give me the brush off. She wasn’t rude. She has some kind of mutt she must love a great deal because she takes him for a long walk every single day. All her neighbors speak well of her.”

“What’s your point?”

Andy’s cheeks flushed and he stuttered but he didn’t drop his gaze. “I don’t know what your intentions are and, frankly, it’s none of my business. I just wanted you to know she’s not some skank looking to make a quick buck or a gold-digging bitch out to screw every lying bastard out of his money. She’s nice. I’d like to be her friend and I don’t say that about many people.”

Donovan wanted to ask if he qualified as someone Andy would want to have as a friend, but he already knew the answer. He was the boss man, the hard ass who made the money and paid the lawyers to screw everyone until they got the best deal. Even I wouldn’t want to be my friend.

He spun his office chair around to look out the window. Cold, so cold and numb and hard. He was tempted to strip out of his Armani suit and stretch out in the sunlight shining in through his window. Maybe he’d thaw out.

Nope, he’d tried that already. All it did was first give him a miserable sunburn in some unspeakable places, and then eventually tan him as dark as island native. He was still so numb he couldn’t feel a thing. “I don’t need a friend, but I’ll keep that in mind.”

Andy didn’t say anything else but took the opportunity to escape.

No, what I need…

Donovan used his reflection in the glass to straighten his already perfect tie. His next business meeting might actually be one of the most important of his life.

The reason Andy hadn’t been able to find anything to connect Lilly to the men is that he’d failed to make the connection to the local BDSM community, probably because she’d been out of “circulation” for a few years. That was actually good. Donovan didn’t want anyone to be able to connect her to the underworld of sexual deviants like him.

What I need is absolute secrecy. And Mistress L.

 

 

Standing outside the seventeen-story building on busy Kellogg Boulevard, Lilly almost changed her mind and went home. Sure, this was an old building and not one of those modernized shiny steel and concrete skyscrapers, but she still didn’t quite believe someone in downtown St. Paul would honestly be interested in a stained glass commission from a relative nobody like her. The building had once been the St. Paul Post Office and had sat vacant for years while sale after sale fell through. Then billionaire investor Donovan Morgan had swept in and bought the building at a bargain-bin price. Of course that was still millions of dollars, but he’d gotten a whole city block right next to the new light rail station for a few bucks per square foot.

A brass plate next to the old-fashioned art-deco doors proclaimed Morgan Industries. She’d done a little research before accepting the appointment, but for the life of her, she still didn’t know exactly what that meant. He wasn’t into a single business, but owned hundreds of different companies and franchises all across the globe. His interests and investments were as varied as his many charitable contributions. From what she could tell, he basically just bought and sold companies, usually at a fraction of their value, which suddenly skyrocketed after his purchase. It was like he had the Midas touch.

So what did a man like him want with a stained glass window?

Especially when he had the funds to hire a world-famous artist?

Sure, she’d finally built up enough business she could almost pay her mortgage on just commissions and classes, but she’d been busting her ass for years. A wealthy, important client like him could be the stepping stone to larger commercial contracts she hadn’t been able to tap yet. With his recommendation, she could maybe even open her own gallery. This one project could make her career.

The ground floor had been rented out to various fast-food joints, coffee shops and even a one-hour dry cleaner. Business must be good, because people were scurrying back and forth like ants, jostling her every which way. Of course it didn’t help that the appointment had been scheduled right before lunch. A woman with blonde hair pulled back in a sleek bun and dressed in a nice navy suit ruined by hot-pink tennis shoes practically knocked her into the wall on her way to the front door.

She remembered the claustrophobic feeling she’d gotten inside her day job’s cubicle. How even one less minute of fresh air and sunshine outside during her lunch break would have made her as vicious as a rabid dog the rest of the afternoon. She’d had to quit or else go postal on her innocent coworkers. Or start taking anxiety meds. Quitting her job and finding something she truly loved was better than numbing herself with medication the rest of her life, even if she’d had to struggle to make ends meet.

She had to wait while the elevator emptied like an endless clown car at the circus, but she had it alone for the ride up to the top floor. The higher she went, the more underdressed she felt. She’d worn the only suit she’d kept from the days of corporate slavery, but it was out of fashion and, frankly, a little too tight. She’d quit caring so much about always doing what was “right” and being perfect in all ways, instead simply living and loving her life. She’d never been happier and if some man didn’t like a little extra padding he could keep on walking because she felt sexy and she took damned good care of herself.

If I ever have to face a day without pie, I’ll just give up and stay in bed.

She stepped out of the elevator and put on her polite smile for the waiting receptionist. Maybe it was her imagination, but the secretary’s smile seemed more like a sneer than a professional greeting. Lilly glanced down at herself to make sure all buttons and zippers were appropriately closed. Check. Her silk blouse was a little low cut but she wore a lace cami underneath. She’d worn serviceable plain black heels and not her favorite fuck-me stilettos. With a mental shrug, Lilly followed the other woman into Mr. Morgan’s office. Screw it. If I have to come back to see him, I’m wearing the leather mini skirt and those shoes.

Since his picture was readily available in all the media stories covering his acquisitions and success, she’d known he was a gorgeous man of the tall, dark and handsome variety. She hadn’t expected to be affected by him. Pretty, svelte, arrogant men weren’t her type.

He was pretty, and yeah, he was damned svelte in that impeccable suit. He stood behind his desk, arms crossed, shoulders wide and feet planted, aggressively defiant and proud. It almost made her laugh. She couldn’t resist a wide smile, even if he didn’t know the cause. She hadn’t even opened her mouth yet and he was chomping for a fight. This’ll be fun.

“Miss Harrison.” He spoke in a clipped, hard voice echoing with disapproval. No wonder his secretary had looked at her with such disdain. She’d already picked up on the alpha’s opinion. “Do you have a portfolio?”

Not at all. The large leather thing she held in her hand was merely a strange saddle she’d used on the jackass she’d ridden into town. Of course she had a portfolio. What artist would ever go to a prospective client meeting without a single example of her work?

She didn’t bother answering, but simply stepped closer and opened the leather portfolio on his desk. Of course the pictures were upside down, but she didn’t change it. She wanted to see how he’d respond.

The obvious solution would have been turning it around to face him. Instead, he came around the massive desk to stand beside her. Too close, actually. He intruded on her personal space.

What an interesting situation. If she were at a BDSM club and a submissive dared to approach her so boldly, she’d be more than happy to accommodate him with a little punishment and discipline to teach him his place. In fact, a submissive would only behave such a way if he deliberately wanted to antagonize the Mistress. Could he have any idea…?

She didn’t see how he would know. More than likely he was just an arrogant, filthy-rich asshole who was used to using his physical strength and immense wealth to intimidate people.

Still, she had to teach him a lesson in some way. In a professional setting, though, her options were limited. She certainly couldn’t give him a quick, hard pop with a crop, more’s the pity. And if she wanted the commission…she couldn’t smart off in front of his subordinate.

There was more than one way to battle. It didn’t take words. It didn’t even take action. She closed her eyes a moment and centered herself. This kind of dominance involved her personal energy and will, where every ounce of her concentration, every muscle in her body, was focused on one thing. Releasing a deep breath, she opened her eyes. Like he’d done earlier, she widened her stance just by standing taller, easing her shoulders back, lifting from her core. She projected calm, assertive power. The will that he would step aside and out of her personal space. He would respect her will and her presence. There was no doubt in her mind. No hesitation. He will do as I ask. Or I’ll walk out of here without even entertaining his proposal. I don’t need this job that badly.

“This one’s nice.” He traced a finger over the sketch she’d done of one of her favorites. The glass was all clear, but with different etchings and bevels, she’d created a complex window that cast snowflakes over the entire room. “How big was it?”

Keeping her energy focused, she used her lower voice range that vibrated her body. “Three by three feet.”

She swore his hand trembled slightly as he turned to the next page, but he didn’t move out of her space. “That’s much smaller than what I intend. Could you accomplish the same kind of complexity in a larger scale?”

“Of course. Clear glass in a variety of finishes can be very striking, especially in a large space where color may be too distracting.” She leaned down, deliberately letting her shoulder bump his as a warning. She turned to the next page. Even with only clear glass, you could see three crosses and a rising sun, casting its rays out in all directions. “This one’s in a church down in Iowa, the focal point behind their altar. The final measurements were ten by twenty, though I had to frame the window into pieces to give it the appropriate stability.”

He didn’t back away from the shoulder bump. In fact, he bumped her back, nudging his way deeper into her personal space. He even slid his right foot in front of hers, like he was trying to block her out from her own portfolio.

Lilly cast a quick glance at the secretary. Rooted into place, she watched their interaction with wide eyes, rubbing her arms like she had goose bumps. Some people were sensitive to this kind of energy play, and between her calm assertiveness and his aggressive pissing-match attitude, the energy was definitely high in the spacious office. Maybe he didn’t even realize his secretary still watched. “What do you think, Miss…?”

“Wruthers,” the secretary spoke with a delicate breathy voice. “Isn’t stained glass rather…antiquated? If you were going to remodel the building…”

He let out a low growl, whether from irritation because his underling dared disagree with him or mere frustration that Lilly wasn’t intimidated, she couldn’t be sure. “That’ll be all, Miss Wruthers.”

Evidently the young woman hadn’t been in his employ very long, because she winced and paled, hurt by his callous reply. She scurried out and the door thumped behind her a little too loudly.

He stretched, arching his back even while he leaned down over her work, resting his elbow on the desk casually. For such a lean man, he exhibited quite the nicely rounded ass. It was all she could do not to give him a good, hard swat and see how high he’d jump. “Where were we?”

Lilly let her mouth quirk since he wasn’t looking at her. Silly boy. He really needs a good thrashing.

It’d be all too easy to press against him, letting her body weight urge him down against the desk. It’d be fun to have a big, powerful man like him beneath her, bristling with the urge to fight, but also strangely obedient. Knowing he was too strong, too big, that he could overpower her at any moment, but he chose not to… Instead, he chose to put himself into her hands, to let her do as she would. The ultimate power rush. That he was arrogant, gorgeous and used to being the alpha CEO in all aspects of his life only made it hotter.

Lost in such a tantalizing fantasy, it took her a moment to realize she was pressed against the back of his leg, hugging his thigh with both of hers. Practically riding him. Either he’d backed further into her space or she’d leaned into him. She couldn’t remember. Neither option was appropriate behavior in an office setting, certainly not when she didn’t even know what his inclinations were.

Embarrassed, she jerked backward. “Pardon me, Mr. Morgan. I must have lost my balance.”

He straightened and turned toward her, his dark eyes narrowed on her face. “Lost your balance?”

She gave him a bright smile and without blinking or looking away, said, “I’m not used to wearing heels.”

She had a feeling he knew she was lying but he decided not to call her on it. It wasn’t like he’d peeked into her closet and seen her glorious shoe collection. He settled on the edge of his desk, the epitome of casual male elegance. A wicked glint flickered in his eyes, a knowing smile on his lush lips warning he saw through her thinly veiled disguise that said “nothing to see, just an ordinary woman with boring, normal sexual desires”. Nothing dirty or naughty here. “I suppose you don’t get out very often.”

“Rarely. I’m such a homebody.” She gave him a tiny smile back that said “I know you know I’m lying and I don’t give a fuck”. “Why don’t you show me the space you’re thinking about filling with stained glass? I can take some measurements and give you some ideas of what might work best.”

“Of course.” He straightened, managing to make the movement a delicious, sinuous slide, drawing her gaze down all six-foot-plus length of him. He might have never really worked a day in his life, certainly not outside of an office setting, but his body coiled with sinew and lean muscle. There wouldn’t be much padding anywhere on him except that delectable backside. Nothing to stop the hard thud of a paddle. Or the cut of the crop.

She gave herself a little shake, forcing those thoughts to the back corner of her mind. Later, she’d pull them out and let the fantasy unwind. She’d wonder what kind of fancy underwear he wore. Whether he really had a model’s body beneath the expensive suit or office flab. Whether the rest of him was as darkly tanned as his face and hands. How he’d sound when she brought the crop down on his ass.

But only after I finish this commission. Until then, all business. Mistress L isn’t allowed to come out and play.

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