Wanted: Billionaire's Wife
He hired a recruiter to match him with a wife.
But the woman he wants is off-limits.
CEO Luke Dallas will save his business deal—even if that means marriage! And he hires executive recruiter Danica Novak to be his unconventional matchmaker. The only problem? Beautiful, captivating Danica is distracting him from his goal. He knows they have chemistry, but Danica won’t settle for anything less than love. Will that be the deal breaker?
Release date: May 1, 2019
Print pages: 224
Content advisory: serious football injury (mentioned, not depicted on page). Emotionally abusive parents. Hot but not overly scorching.
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Wanted: Billionaire's Wife
Danica Novak wanted a hot shower, cool bedsheets and at least ten hours of uninterrupted sleep after her early morning cross-country flight. Instead, she got a claim form for lost luggage, a taxi driver who hit every possible red light between the airport in San Francisco and her office building in Palo Alto, and yet another phone squabble with her parents’ health insurance company about her brother’s medical bills. This was the third person she’d talked to since her plane landed, and it wasn’t yet 11:00 a.m. in California.
“The treatment isn’t covered?” She braced her cell phone between her right shoulder and ear while using her hands to dig through her tote bag for any loose bills with which to pay the fare. Her credit card was useless, as she had discovered when she tried to buy food on the plane. Her sudden trip to Rhode Island at last-minute airfare prices had eaten up what remained of her cushion. “You can’t negotiate to bring the costs down? At all?”
The driver stared at her through the rearview mirror, his fingers tapping an impatient rhythm on the steering wheel. When her eyes met his in the mirror, he flicked the meter back on. Danica smiled at him through gritted teeth and held up her index finger in the universal plea for just one more minute, while mustering the strength to keep her voice pitched at a pleasant conversational level.
She learned as a teenager, while helping her father apply for the license for his dry-cleaning business, that getting angry with faceless bureaucracies rarely resulted in a positive outcome. “Yes, I understand you’ve been told the treatment is classified as elective. Can I talk to a manager about this? Hello?”
She stared at the phone. The call had dropped—or she had been hung up on.
A staccato beep from the car’s horn ripped her attention back to the driver. “Lady, I gotta go.”
“One second, please?” She put the phone down to better sift through the contents of her bag. The emergency twenty she always carried had to be somewhere—aha! She added it to the other bills and thrust the fare at the driver, scrambling out of the car as fast as the vinyl seat would let her. The taxi took off, the late Monday-morning sunshine bouncing off its fenders.
She stretched her neck, the bunched muscles in her shoulders protesting when she turned her head from side to side, and opened the glass door to the office building. It seemed a century ago when she last passed through the entrance, racing out in the middle of the day to pack for an emergency visit home. She was still reeling from the shock of seeing her brother, Matt, a perpetual motion machine since birth, so still in his hospital bed.
Matt had been a surprise baby, arriving eight years after Danica to the entire family’s delight. Now a high school senior, he’d attracted attention from universities for his athletic ability. Until two weeks ago, when a freak three-way collision during a football game caused a massive concussion, a fractured femur and spinal shock.
Now out of danger, his prognosis was good for a full recovery, but his doctors worried he wasn’t responding as well as he could to conventional treatment. The experimental spinal therapy the insurance company was currently denying might speed up his return to health, but they wouldn’t know unless a way was found to pay for it. And she’d find one. She’d told her parents she would take care of it, and she hadn’t let them down yet.
Once inside, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Only four companies shared the office building, and the lobby was empty most times of day. She welcomed the quiet, letting it wash over her. Family leave was officially over. Time to switch back to worker bee. The Rinaldi Executive Search presentation to Ruby Hawk Technologies was in two days, and it needed to be perfect. Her promised promotion from Johanna Rinaldi’s assistant to search consultant depended on it.
She grabbed a free copy of the Silicon Valley Weekly off the lobby’s reception desk, hoping to catch up on the latest tech-industry news while she headed down the corridor to the Rinaldi offices. The tabloid newspaper was accessible online, but the print version was easier to read while walking. As if the universe had decided she needed a reminder of just how crucial the next few days would be, a color photo of Luke Dallas, the thirty-three-year-old CEO and founder of Ruby Hawk Technologies, stared out at her from the front page.
Like most people in the Valley, Danica followed the meteoric rise of Ruby Hawk Technologies with awe. But the man behind the company held a special fascination for her. She long thought Luke Dallas looked as if he should be brooding on a windswept English moor rather than writing code in a glass-and-steel California office. His strong, chiseled features were a perfect match for the rumors of his hard-nosed tactics. In a town that tolerated eccentric if driven geniuses, he stood out for his demanding demeanor.
A shiver traced her spine as her gaze met his in the photo, the blue of his eyes stunning even in newsprint. She would soon be sitting across the table from that stare. A month ago, Danica discovered Ruby Hawk had terminated their contract with their search agency. She knew Johanna and Luke had gone to business school together, and she’d used that information to land a meeting to pitch Ruby Hawk their services. He was scheduled to sit in that meeting.
Surely, he couldn’t be that arresting in real life. It must be a trick of the photographer’s, maybe the light—
Her peripheral vision screamed out a warning just in time. She barely avoided colliding with a very broad, very muscular male chest. She swallowed her gasp of appreciation for the obviously fine physique under the tailored button-down shirt, threw the man a quick smile of apology and returned to perusing the article while she rummaged in her bag for her office key.
It took a second before the man’s face fully registered. She looked up from the newspaper and stared at him. Then she glanced down at the photo. Then back at the man. Her mouth went dry as her heartbeat thudded in her ears.
Luke Dallas stood in front of the closed door of Rinaldi Executive Search. In the flesh. All six feet, four inches of him, from his wavy dark hair to his rather impressively sized loafers.
She’d been wrong. He was indeed that arresting—and more—in person. A two-dimensional image was incapable of capturing the aura of danger in his stance, coiled tension threatening to spring into action at the slightest provocation. The photo revealed the handsome symmetry of his features, but couldn’t impart the sheer sensuality and command. This was a man who got what he wanted and didn’t care how. Pinned by the force of his gaze, she shivered as his expression darkened. The air grew heavy, thickening with the ominous atmosphere of two weather fronts about to collide into a supercell.
She was in the direct path of the storm.
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