“What is this?” I asked, looking down at the little yellow slip. The words Credit Suisse were emblazoned across the top, and an extremely long number was stamped across the center in a raised font I could feel with my fingertips.

“A swiss bank account with your name on it. I’ve already made the first deposit. Feel free to check the account if you must. It’s yours, but you won’t need it for the duration of our arrangement. I’ll have my assistant provide you with a company credit card that you may use for general purposes over the next few weeks.”


My hand shook almost imperceptibly as I held the little piece of paper. Seven and a half million dollars… More money than I’d ever dreamed of having in my entire life. It was in my hands.

“Before you think about taking that money and running before our arrangement is complete…”

“I’m not running, Cole,” I replied, casting him a glare. “I won’t touch the account until we’re finished here. You hired me to do a job, you’re going to pay me to do the job, and I’m going to do that job.”

“Until a higher bidder comes along?” he jabbed. “Your last employer might still be waiting on your little USB stick.”



“Something tells me you’re the only billionaire looking for a fifteen million dollar wife,” I said, letting myself relax just a bit. “Besides, this isn’t just about me.”

“You’re still interested in my employees getting their fair share?”

“Of course. I’m one of them. You think I’m going to turn down an extra million?”

Now it was Cole’s turn to smirk.

“Lets get back to business…you should probably count on us having these lunches every few days from now on, with the exception of tomorrow.”

“Is that so?” I wondered, glad to be off the topic of my personal life and quality of close friends. “What makes tomorrow different?”

His eyebrow rose. “It’s Friday.”

“What, you take half-days on Fridays?”

“Usually, but no. Tomorrow’s the quarterly party.”

“Oh.” With the excitement of the week, I’d completely forgotten about that. “Right. Yeah, that makes sense.”

“Speaking of, I have some preparations to make,” Cole suddenly spoke, rising up and tossing his napkin over his plate. I quickly rose with him, doing the same with my own.

“Make sure that you attend this party,” he added, guiding me back towards his office.

“I don’t have a policy of avoiding lavish parties thrown on the company dime,” I grinned mischievously. “Of course I’ll be there.”

“Good,” he answered, his hand sliding across my shoulder. I felt a small twinge of surprising pleasure at his touch, as his palm clasped the bare skin.

“Oh, and Key?” Cole whispered into my ear.

“Yeah?” My breath caught slightly in my throat.

“Wear something nice.”

Chapter 9

Kiona

The Next Day

It was almost impossible to get any work done – not only was it a typical, lazy Friday at the office, but it was the day of the Quarterly Party. Still, Larry called the marketing department into an early huddle, eager to keep productivity at a reasonable level.

“Now look, guys and gals, I know we’re all excited about this little throw-down tonight,” he chuckled as he glanced between all of us. “But that doesn’t mean we’re not here to do good work. Lauren, Alexis, talk to me about Grainesbury.”

Our immediate supervisor turned from marketer to marketer in our little group, discussing the various major clients and projects we were working on. Within a few minutes, we had a firm grasp of what everyone was doing, and what was specifically expected from us today.

He dismissed us at the end, but not before directly calling me into his office.

“You’ve been doing some excellent work here, Kiona,” Larry told me as he stepped behind his two displays. “I just wanted you to know that I’m happy to have you onboard, and that this isn’t going unnoticed – least of all not by me. And you really saved my hide back there with the conference room.”

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