The Billionaire's Secret

By: Julie Farrell

Except he still lived in her hometown, of course. So if she ever wanted to see her parents and sister again, she’d have to see him…

The Quinlan Brothers building was impressive – but it made Astrid feel small and insignificant. It had forty floors, and it was made of glass and steel. The interior was lavish, with marble floors and carved pillars. There was even a corporate coffee shop in the foyer. Astrid knew there were several other companies within the building, but she’d heard a rumor that Adam and Dylan actually owned this entire place, which meant they were making millions in rent alone. No wonder they had the money to frivolously invest in risky projects.

Gripping her laptop case, she rode the express elevator to the top floor where the directors suites were based, then she strode into the reception area and smiled tightly at the receptionist, who gestured for her to go straight into the huge boardroom. She was fifteen minutes late, so she held her head high and tried to act casual as she strolled into the glass room – which overlooked the stunning New York skyline. This room was bigger than Astrid’s apartment, and the furnishings were certainly more expensive. Adam, Dylan, and Graves were standing at the head of the massive board-table, dressed in their designer suits, casually chatting and laughing. If only they weren’t all so bloody good-looking and charming, she might stand a chance of feeling less intimidated.

They fell silent as she walked in. Graves gazed directly into her eyes and fear spiraled up her spine. Surely he wouldn’t try to assault her here…

But really who knew? She’d recently discovered that he’d been arrested last year on charges of paying an assassin to murder his accountant, for refusing to commit fraud on his behalf. All charges had been dropped, but she wouldn’t put it past him. His aura was nasty – and it emanated from him now, smothering the confident air she was trying to fake.

“Morning, Ms. Lawrence,” Dylan said, smiling politely. “We were beginning to wonder whether you’d changed your mind about coming today.”

She dropped her laptop case on the board-table. “Good morning, gentlemen. My apologies for being late. Shall we begin?”

The three men swaggered to their seats and she suddenly felt as if she was in a room with three hyenas. She forced herself to relax. She could handle them.


“So, how are you getting on with discrediting my company?” Graves asked.

Astrid steeled herself. He had a horrible habit of trying to humiliate her in front of Adam and Dylan like a school bully. She wasn’t going to let him. “It’s not my intention to discredit anyone undeservedly,” she said, holding Graves’ eye contact. “I’m here to protect the welfare of the people of this country, and I will do that to the letter.”

“I’ve no doubt,” Graves said.

“You’re almost ready to file your report,” Adam said. “What will you be telling the department?”

“I’ll be telling them that I believe this technology is unsafe. And there’s been a cover-up of an accident at the plant. I believe Mr. Graves hasn’t been truthful with the American government or with your company, Mr. Quinlan. I would strongly suggest that you don’t invest in this technology. By all means pay for an independent second opinion, but I think if you invest in Mr. Graves’ company you’ll not only lose a lot of money – because we’ll be shutting him down – but you’ll also lose your reputations as wise and powerful businessmen.”

Adam threw her that cocky grin of his, which derailed her for a moment. For some reasons, he reminded her of Jake… It was probably just because he was so prominent in her mind and she wished he’d left his number. But he’d made it clear he wasn’t interested, so she needed to forget him…

“On what grounds, Ms. Lawrence?” Adam asked, dragging her back to her job.

Astrid sat tall and focused on Adam and Dylan. “I want you both to know that Mr. Graves followed me home in his car last night and assaulted me in the street.”

Graves guffawed. “What bullshit!”

Adam and Dylan gazed at her with concern about this revelation.

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