The Billionaire’s Ink Mistress – Excerpt

Chapter One

Jackson Montgomery Warring hesitated before passing the stack of documents over to his client. “As both your personal and corporate attorney for more than a decade, I strongly advise against this.”

Donovan Morgan, CEO of Morgan Industries, leaned back in his chair and smiled at his old friend. They’d known each other since Harvard, and though Jackson had gone on to work for one of the country’s largest law firms, he still handled Donovan’s business personally. “I know what I’m doing.”

Shaking his head, Jackson handed him the stack of documents. “As you wish. At least you’re keeping me as your executor. If anything happens to you, one Lilly Harrison—”

“Soon to be Mrs. Morgan,” Donovan clarified.

“Will be the sole inheritor of your entire estate, regardless of your married status at your death. There aren’t any provisions to keep her from taking you to the proverbial cleaners if you divorce before that time, either, regardless of the cause for separation.”

Donovan signed and initialed each page quickly without reading any of it.

“Does she know you’re doing this for her?”

“No. But I’d greatly appreciate it if you could drop a hint or two about it at dinner.” Just thinking about her fury—and the resulting punishment she’d dole out for giving her literally every single dime he had—made him shiver. “The results will be spectacular.”

Jackson checked his watch and took the papers back. “Sorry, Donovan, but I’m due back in Chicago.”

“Dinner,” Donovan insisted. “I haven’t seen you other than a quick sign here and there in months. Aren’t you even going to meet Lilly and offer your congratulations in person?”

His friend sighed without answering, shuffling through his briefcase. Jackson always looked tired. Who wouldn’t after working at least eighty hours a week for most of his life? But there was an edge to him that had Donovan worried. Although not a single hair or thread was out of place, grim lines bracketed Jackson’s bloodshot eyes and he’d hardly met his gaze all afternoon. It was just a gut feeling, something he’d suspected for a long time. Ever since I realized what kept me on the edge, so hard and miserable and alone.

“It’s not a good time for me to be out of the office.”

“Want to talk about it?”

Jackson smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. “I’m sure you’re dying to hear about all the office backstabbing and shark-infested waters at Larsen & Montgomery.”

“Sure. Even better if you tell both Lilly and me. She’s much more devious than I am.”

A tiny spark fired in Jackson’s eyes. “More devious than you? I find that hard to imagine.”

Standing, Donovan gathered his own briefcase. “Absolutely. Though I ought to warn you that she does tend to curse quite a lot. Come on, man, we haven’t just sat and drank a few beers and talked in years. You owe me.”

“How’s that?”

He led the way to the elevator, pausing at his secretary’s desk to get Monday’s meeting schedule. Rachel Addison was proving herself to be eminently more qualified as his personal assistant than the last woman he’d hired, who’d tried to blackmail him with a few lewd pictures. Luckily Lilly had found Miss Addison and he couldn’t be more pleased. And no, his fiancée hadn’t gone out in search of the homeliest woman she could find. Miss Addison was quite easy on the male persuasion’s eyes and she didn’t quake if Donovan raised his voice. In fact, he was pretty sure she’d promised to call Lilly each time he lost his temper and that he’d sorely pay for that loss of control later. He made a mental note to see if he could earn some punishment next week.

It was all he could do not to race for the elevator doors and leave his friend to flirt with his assistant. She was a beautiful, intelligent woman but she didn’t do a thing for Donovan. She wouldn’t have made him blink an eye even before Lilly. She didn’t have the kind of power he craved.

“Look how easy I’m making your job in handling my estate,” he said. “I’m not even asking you to write up a lengthy prenup.”

“Haven’t I taught you anything about being an attorney yet? It’s all about the billing, and you’re doing me no favors by making my job easy.”

“At this point in your very lucrative career I don’t think missing out on a few hours of billing is going to hurt your bottom line.” Donovan turned his attention to his secretary. “Is Mr. Warring’s hotel room taken care of?”

“Of course, Mr. Morgan.” Rachel didn’t even glance at her boss—she was too busy making starry eyes at Jackson. She rose from her chair and slid an envelope containing the room card toward him, flirtatiously keeping her finger on it. Her clothes were more office appropriate than the killer heels and short leather skirt that Lilly had once worn in to make him drool, but the silk blouse was low-cut enough to give Jackson a good look at her cleavage. If he was paying attention. “I’ve booked the best suite for him the entire weekend at the Saint Paul Hotel as you asked.”

Jackson didn’t even notice. He must be sick or nearly dead. After the years he’d seen Jackson with the ladies back in college, he knew damned well his friend was straight. So maybe he’s no longer into vanilla women, either. There was only one way to find out. He’d have to see if he could get Lilly to give a small—extremely modest—demonstration and then watch Jack to see how he reacted.

“I can’t do the whole weekend. Maybe dinner, assuming there’s a later flight out, but you’ll owe me a ride to the airport.”

Donovan picked up the envelope for him and slipped it inside his coat. “Gladly, as long as it’s Sunday afternoon at the earliest.”

“Donnie—”

Ignoring his protests, Donovan took the skyway toward his parking ramp. “I’m seriously worried about you, Jack.”

“Why?”

“My secretary would give her right arm to have you smile at her and you didn’t even know she was alive, let alone notice the double Ds she tried to show you. Since when does Hollywood Warring miss out on a pretty girl?”

Jackson let out a startled laugh that was more genuine than anything Donovan had heard from him all afternoon. “Hollywood?”

“Isn’t that what they used to call you in your frat house? All that golden boy charm and slick tongue. You had all the ladies standing in line.”

“I haven’t heard that in a long, long time.” Jackson smiled but it was tinged with sadness. “Those were the good old days, Donnie and Jack running amok on campus.” When Donovan took him to his car, Jackson paused, eyes narrowed. “I thought you lived in downtown St. Paul.”

“Not any longer. Get in. It’s just a short drive.” While he waited for his friend to get settled, Donovan called home. “Is Lilly there yet?”

“No, sir,” Chris replied over the car speakers. “Jacob is already waiting for her at the warehouse, though. Should I send him in to bring her home?”

“Yes. I’m on my way with a guest in tow.” Donovan hung up and caught his friend studying him. “What?”

“Your fiancée is at a warehouse and you have to send someone in to get her? Sounds weird, my friend.”

“Jacob’s her driver.”

“She needs a babysitter? What kind of woman are you marrying?”

Backing the car out and heading for the ramp exit, Donovan snorted. “Don’t you dare tell her that on top of the other reason you’re in town or I’ll be in big trouble.” I probably wouldn’t be able to sit for a month. “She’s working on a stained glass project I commissioned back in July and she gets very involved in her work.”

“So involved she needs a driver. And you have a…what, butler? At home? I know you’re loaded, but do you really want to waste your money on a bunch of servants? In this day and age?”

“She doesn’t drive and she doesn’t cook.”

“What does she do?”

Donovan had to swallow, his hands gripping the wheel firmly. You have no idea, my friend. You couldn’t possibly imagine what she does for me. “She loves me. That’s all I need.”

 

 

Jackson accepted the beer from his friend but didn’t strip off his coat or loosen his tie like Donovan did. I’m not staying. Meet the fiancée he’s so excited to introduce to me, have a little dinner and make my escape.

He had to admit that Donovan’s house surprised him. It was just so…homey. Nice, yes, but not flashy.

As Donovan’s personal attorney, Jackson knew all about his friend’s many homes all across the globe. On paper he was worth billions. Yet he lived in this…home. That was the only possible word for it. Warmth and ease and comfort flowed about him, threatening to suck him down into sleep. Now that would be a rude way to introduce himself. I’m so happy to…snore.

Keeping himself ramped up on amphetamine until he could get back to Chicago, he was going to crash soon. Hard. Mixing beer into the equation would only quicken the slide toward unconsciousness. Yet he couldn’t remember the last time he’d just sat down and breathed. Let alone shared a drink with a friend.

Despite his refusal to make himself more comfortable, he was slowly unwinding. He could feel the loosening of muscles, his towering defenses slowly letting down their guard. He hadn’t even had more than a sip of beer yet, and he wanted to simply lay his head back, close his eyes, and let all the stress just bleed out of him. He’d probably sleep a week.

“So what’s going on at the firm that has you so stressed out you claim you can’t even stay for dinner?”

Jackson took another long pull from the beer. “Ellen’s making her bid for managing partner.”

“Your mother?”

He nodded with a proud smile. “The Montgomery of Larsen & Montgomery. Having her name on the door isn’t enough any longer.”

“What does that mean for you?”

“According to the other partners, it means I must want my name on the door too.”

“Is that what she offered you?”

Jackson shook his head. “Even if she offered, I’d refuse. I’ll win my name on the door myself.”

Donovan studied him, head cocked, dark eyes probing. “In college, I asked you why you called your mom by her first name. You shrugged and said she wasn’t the typical mom. So why do you have such a sense of loyalty for her?”

Jackson stared down at the bottle, refusing to let a single emotion crack his calm and cool facade. He loved his mother. Dearly. He’d chosen the Chicago firm so he could work with her. Because that’s the best way I’ll ever be able to see her.

He’d been raised mostly by his father, though Ellen had done her best to come to his school functions as often as possible. He’d grown up knowing that her career was important to her and she didn’t love him any less. But even in college, he’d felt her absence keenly. The only way I see her every day now is by working at the same firm, though some days I wonder if she ever remembers I’m her son.

“You turned down a position in one of Manhattan’s finest firms to go with hers.”

Jackson shrugged. “The money was as good and the cost of living in Chicago is better than New York.”

“Yeah, but the firm in Manhattan was smaller. You would have made partner quicker. How long did it take you at Larsen & Montgomery?”

“Ten years.” Jackson peeled at the label, avoiding his friend’s gaze. “She offered in eight but I refused. I felt it was important to really prove my worth first and I was the top billing associate every single year. I didn’t want anyone to say I was only partner because she was my mother. Not everyone will make equity partner, you know, especially at a firm with hundreds of lawyers on the books. I’m doing well, very well. I’ve got just about as much money as you now.”

Even if he never closed another case again, he’d continue to earn a very comfortable income. Where Donovan invested for friendship and sentimental reasons, like that ridiculous diner he’d bought a few years ago, Jackson invested for the future. For the day he wouldn’t have to be chained to his desk. Even if I have no idea what I’d actually do with myself.

“You might have waited, but that’s exactly what they bitch about in the copy rooms, right? You’ve only succeeded because of Mommy Dearest, even though you work harder than anyone else.”

Jackson’s mouth quirked. “Of course.”

“You knew it’d be a nightmare dealing with all the politics but that’s exactly what you went for anyway. Why?”

He drained the beer and set it aside. “Where’s that fiancée of yours?”

Donovan smiled faintly and popped another cap off for him. “On her way. Why?”

Shifting the question back to the other side came naturally for him. “Why are you asking me now? If you wanted to know why I signed with Ellen’s firm you should have asked me thirteen years ago.”

“I wasn’t worried about you thirteen years ago. You were the cream of the crop coming out of Harvard Law and had the tiger by the tail. Now I think that tiger is about ready to rip you apart and devour you whole.”

Jackson was saved from having to elaborate when the tardy fiancée finally showed up. Setting the beer aside, he stood and took a good look at the woman who’d won claim to Donovan’s heart so thoroughly he’d signed every single investment over to her upon his death. Fairly short—though only a few inches shorter than him—and curvy as hell, she gave Donovan a deep kiss and ran her fingers over his throat, touching the silver necklace barely visible in the neck of his shirt. His eyes flared with heat and his arm curled around her possessively, tugging her in and refusing to let her break the kiss.

Looking away, Jackson helped himself to another beer and waited for them to break the heated welcome. He didn’t dare watch their passion. That would get him into serious trouble. No more alcohol either, he told himself sternly. No food, no sleep, no pill, and the alcohol would kick his ass faster than Donovan would if he remembered what watching him kiss his woman would do to his best friend.

“Sorry, she makes me lose my head every time she steps into the room. Lilly, this is my old college buddy, Jackson Montgomery Warring. Jackson, my fiancée and the love of my life, Lilly Harrison.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Harrison.”

She snorted. “Please don’t call me that, or I’ll have to start calling him Mr. Douche Bag and he hasn’t even earned it yet tonight. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jackson.”

“Lilly.” He couldn’t help smiling back at her. “He’s a douche bag?”

“Quite often. I’m sure you know how easily he slips into stiff and arrogant territory. It’s my job to keep him loose and happy.”

Donovan’s eyes narrowed and he lowered his voice, though Jackson still heard him. “I thought you liked stiff.”

Her hand slipped down to squeeze his ass and Jackson nearly choked on his beer. “Don’t you know it, lover boy. Is dinner ready? I’m starving.”

Lover boy? Jackson didn’t even bother to try and hide the smirk as he followed them into the dining room. I can’t wait to call old Donnie lover boy the next time we’re in a business meeting.

No formal dinner party waited for them—just a well-set, heavily laden table. With a personal chef at Donovan’s beck and call, Jackson expected fine dining. Not fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and huge fluffy biscuits, but he forgot to complain as soon as he took the first bite.

“You really ought to take your coat and tie off,” Lilly said, picking up a buttery cob of corn. “If you get even a speck of butter on it, it’ll never come out, and since you’re Donovan’s snooty lawyer, I’m guessing that suit costs as much as his.”

“Or whipped cream for that matter,” Donovan added. “And no, Jackson’s suits cost even more than mine. He has a personal tailor. His suits are one of a kind.”

She whistled softly and attacked the corn like she hadn’t eaten in a week.

Jackson tried not to stare, but he’d never seen a woman eat like that.

“You ought to see her eat dessert.” Donovan laughed. “Tell her why you’re in town.”

Arching her brows, she looked at Jackson over the corn but continued to eat in tidy but extremely efficient rows across that cob without missing a single kernel.

“Donovan had some estate planning for me to complete.”

Finished with the corn, she set it aside and picked up a chicken leg that was almost big enough to wield like a club. “Let me guess, he had about a thousand trees killed?”

“Not at all. It only took a couple of sheets of paper to give you everything he has.”

Her voice was so soft that he barely heard it. “Excuse me?”

“No prenup. He gave you everything. Even if you change your mind and don’t marry his sorry ass.” Jackson laughed, but it sounded odd in the heavy silence. “I thought you’d be thrilled.”

“What woman wouldn’t be,” she replied, her voice curiously flat.

Jackson looked at her and then his friend. Donovan had flattened both hands on the table, entirely focused on her. He practically vibrated with expectation. If he’s waiting for her to throw herself into his arms with joy, he’s going to be waiting a very long time.

“Change it,” she said in that still, achingly soft voice. “Now.”

“No,” Donovan replied, just as softly, though his hands trembled. “What’s the count?”

What the hell? Is he actually scared of her? This curvy, sweet-faced woman with the gentle voice who practically melted in his arms?

“Don’t you dare make me embarrass you in front of your friend.”

“What’s the count?” Donovan repeated. “And I don’t care if he knows. If I cared, I wouldn’t have asked him to stay for dinner or told him to tell you why he’s here.”

“You don’t care if I know…what?” Jackson asked. “Should I leave?”

“Yes,” Lilly said at the same time as Donovan replied, “No.”

“If you tell me that one more time so help me God…”

“What?” Donovan taunted, calmly picking up his fork again. “What will you do?”

“If we didn’t have company, I’d bend you over the fucking table and beat you within an inch of your life.” Her voice lowered, each word rougher, meaner, until goose bumps broke out on Jackson’s arms. “Every motherfucking night. For a month. And I wouldn’t let you come once no matter how much you begged me to fuck you. How’s that for a challenge, Mr. Morgan? Is that what you wanted me to say in front of your college buddy?”

That voice. God. The power vibrated in every nerve of his body, thrumming his very bones. Jackson could only stare at her, letting her words sink into him. So that’s what Donovan’s up to. Somehow, I never knew, even though I’m not shocked either. How could I be when I want the same thing?

“Pretty much,” Donovan replied with a wry little smile at his friend. “So you see why I’m willing to give her everything I own?”

“Yeah.” Jackson had to clear his throat. Sweat trickled down his back and if his friend’s hands had been trembling before, that was nothing compared to the earthquake shaking his entire body. “Where do I get one?”

She slammed her chicken leg down on her plate, splashing gravy on the linen tablecloth. Slowly, she pushed to her feet. She might have been just a little over five feet tall, but damned if she didn’t loom. “Where do you get one…? Are you fucking for real?”

He worked all day everyday keeping his emotions buried. He couldn’t do his job if he let his emotions rule him. He had to stay cool, calm and fast on his feet. But more, he had to always push. Look for that weakness in his enemy and figure out how to exploit it, while knowing his own weaknesses and hiding them as thoroughly as possible.

Even from myself.

All of those denied emotions roiled inside him, threatening to explode. He pushed himself to his physical limits every single day, keeping his body on the edge of exhaustion with a little pharmaceutical help as needed. Not enough to seriously addict him. He was careful. He had to be.

If he was too exhausted to think, he would sleep instead of lying awake and thinking of all the things he wanted and couldn’t have. Never had. On top of all those repressed needs, the most violent emotion threatening to bubble free was rage.

Rage that Donovan found her first.

He couldn’t help but provoke her so she’d be as furious as him. “Evidently I’ve been fucking for fake all my life.” He used his most arrogant voice, designed to drive the opposing counsel mad. “Where did you find her, Donnie?”

“I hired a PI to track her down. She didn’t like that much and told me to go to hell the very first day.”

“Yeah, I could see that. Do you think said PI could track down one for me?”

“You keep saying one.” Her voice cracked with ice, making both men at the table flinch. “You mean a Mistress? A Dominatrix? Is that what you fucking want, Jackson Montgomery Warring?” She moved around the table toward him, and it was all he could do to remain in his seat. Not to flee—to move to meet her. Stand toe to toe with her. And see how quickly she could put him on the floor. “You want a woman like me, is that it?”

She planted her butt on the table beside him and dropped her hand onto his shoulder so hard he flinched again. He might have thought she was a soft, pretty woman, but she was showing him otherwise. Quickly.

“You think this is a game? So did he in the beginning. Now he wears my collar. Now he strips his clothes at my command, kneels at my feet and begs me to whip his ass until he can’t sit at his desk without moaning. Is that what you want too?” She walked her fingers down his chest and he shuddered, unable to control the instantaneous flood of lust that thundered through him. He didn’t care if she was his best friend’s fiancée. Already taken, claimed, ringed and promised. He couldn’t think with her energy humming all around him, breaking through his defenses.

“Sure. I’d be up for that.” He clamped a hand around her wrist and fought not to drag her palm down to his crotch. Most of the time, he forgot he even had a sexual organ. He was simply too tired to think about a physical need that he denied for weeks, months on end. “I’d take the collar and I’d sure kneel at your feet.” He tugged on her hand, trying to bring her closer. “I don’t know about the pain part but if it works for Donnie, I bet it’ll work for me too.”

“Then you’d best watch out, Jackson. My sexy beast won’t like it very much if I have to grab his friend’s cock to keep him under control. Will you, dear?”

“Hell no,” Donovan growled. In fact, he grabbed the back of Jackson’s chair and dragged him away from the table.

Away from Lilly.

“Keep your hands off her, Jack. She’s mine. Nobody touches my Mistress but me.”

Panting hard, Jackson tried to bring himself back under control. His head buzzed, his stomach cramped, and yeah, now he understood why the hell his friend’s hands had been shaking on the table. His entire body pulsated with the need that suddenly became more demanding than the need to breathe. He started to stand, but Donovan seized his shoulders and slammed him back down in the chair. “Stay.”

“It’d be better if she said it.”

Lilly laughed and hopped down off the table to return to her seat. “I don’t give orders to anyone but Donovan now. Sorry.”

He couldn’t help but watch her like a starving wolf, with Donovan glowering and threatening to beat his head in if he even thought about putting a finger on her. “What now? You woke the beast in me. It’s not going to be happy with retreating to its cage any time soon. You did this, Donnie. You made me come here. Now fix it.”

“Fix it?” Donovan finally returned to his chair too. “What the hell do you want me to do?”

“At least give me your PI’s number.”

“Boys.” She interrupted with just enough power threaded through her voice to get their attention. “Don’t you think the only Mistress in the room probably knows a few other Mistresses she might call upon in an emergency?”

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