Dirty BusinessBy: Ellie Danes
A Billionaire Romance
The Ironwood Billionaire Series
Billionaire Jace Cooper lives in the Ironwood, the prestigious Manhattan skyscraper
which is home to the wealthiest people in the world. He could have it all, but when crosses paths the gorgeous Marie Benton money and business aren’t the only things on his mind.
Marie Benton has worked for everything she has and has been fortunate enough to learn business from the best and brightest. She doesn’t have time for the games of the arrogant and wealthy. When she meets the newly minted billionaire, Jace Cooper, she’s caught off guard by the fact he’s everything he shouldn’t be.
But when the two get together it puts everything in Jace’s life in jeopardy, including his company. Will he risk it all for a chance at love or will the family he has cherished for so long destroy him?
Dirty Business is a stand-alone billionaire romance novella with a HEA, no cheating and lots of twists and turns and is also part of the Ironwood Billionaire Series
I stared at the computer monitor, feeling like I was gazing right through it, as if it weren't even there. The numbers and symbols splayed across the spreadsheet, melting into indecipherable hieroglyphs. I felt like I was floating up out of my office chair, out over New York, which stretched out across the horizon visible through my floor-to-ceiling window, shrouded in a misty fog on this cold fall day. And as I floated, I drifted, pulled by some unseen current over the water, out toward the endless blue of the Atlantic.
And holding my hand was a handsome man. A no-nonsense handsome guy who couldn’t care less about business or numbers—all he cared about was me.
Somewhere beyond the clouds, a distant voice called my name, but I couldn't quite hear it, as if it had just been an echo coming from the ground below, so far below that skyscrapers looked like dollhouses and people like ants, and—
I snapped out of the daydream, yanked back to reality by the harsh voice.
“Uh yeah, Mack?” I asked, looking up.
Mack was in his fifties, and while some guys that age could still look good if they took care of themselves, Mack hadn't taken care of himself. Ever. He had a shiny bald pate, with close-cropped salt-and-pepper hair (far more pepper than salt) that still clung tenaciously to the sides of his round head.
He was unattractive and kinda creepy, but he had a great nose for investments. He had helped my father make a lot of money over the years.
“Your father wants to see you,” he grunted. “Something about the Meyer file, I think.”
He just kept standing in the door, staring at me.
“Is there anything else?” I asked.
He opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something, but then promptly closed it and shook his head. He turned and shuffled off.
Suddenly, the message alert tone sounded on my phone. I got it out and saw that it was a Quickchat notification from my younger sister.
“Oh Alice, what is it now?” I muttered under my breath. My sister was a lot younger than me—she was still in her teens—and she seemed to spend all her time on this new Quickchat app which was taking the country by storm. The big appeal was that you could talk about something in the short ten or fifteen second video, and just from what you said, clickable links would appear on your screen.
With a sigh, I opened her Quickchat message.
“Marie,” she said in her short video, “you won't believe Shiny K's new Instagram photos! She's trying to break the internet again! Check 'em out! Soooo crazy, yo!”
A link popped onto the screen, obviously to the new photos. I had no interest in clicking on it. Man, my sister really needed to find more productive ways to occupy her free time.
I put my phone away and stood up, relieved to have a break from work for a while, because today things had just felt really mind-numbing. I had hardly gotten anything done, and it was already eleven in the morning.
I walked briskly out of my office, heels clicking on the slick tiled floor, and walked to the end of the corridor where my father's office was. There was the familiar sign on the door reading “Fred Benton, CEO.” I had to walk past this door every time I headed to the bathroom, and was thus reminded multiple times a day that my father was head of the company I worked for. Hell, every time I printed something with our letterhead—Benton Inc—I was reminded of this fact.
I had initially been grateful that my father had arranged a position for me in his investment company right after I had finished grad school. I had hoped to have gained some valuable experience and insight into the world of investing, which had always been my passion—and I had, in a sense, but it hadn't been the stepping stone I had hoped it would be.
No, instead I had been stuck here, dealing with old people's conservative, safe investments into established industries and companies.
I sighed, feeling like I was stuck in a rut, and knocked on the door.
“Come on in.”
While we had been in New York for most of my life, my father was a Texan, born and raised. Despite his decades of living in New York, he still retained his Texan accent.
“Hi, Dad,” I said as I walked in.
He smiled warmly at me. Even though we disagreed on business strategies, I loved him, and he loved me dearly. However, in here, business came first.
“Have a seat, Marie,” he said, pointing at the chair in front of his desk.
“What's up?” I asked as I sat down.
He stared at me for a while. It was unsettling, almost like looking into a mirror, because he and I had the same brown eyes. The facial structure was of course very different—I had inherited my mother's slender, petite build and bone structure, while my father was broad-shouldered and heavyset—but I had gotten his large brown eyes and strong eyebrows.
“You aren't happy here, Marie, are you?”
The directness of his question shocked me—he was usually very diplomatic, and talked around issues before getting to them, but today he was cutting straight to the chase.
“Well, no, Dad, I'm not. And you know why.”
He nodded sagely, still smiling. “You and I, we see things quite differently when it comes to investing. I'm from the old school, and you—you're a young, driven risk-taker, ain't you?”
“I just want to try to venture into something a little less safe. You know this.”
“I do, and I've been thinking about it. You've been here for two years now, and you've worked hard. You've done well, even though the cases I've assigned you haven't been ones you would consider exciting, risky, or even interesting.”
“Well Dad—” I began, but he held up a hand to silence me.
“I ain't done yet, Marie,” he said, his tone stern but gentle. “Hear me out, will ya?”
“I knew that you weren't interested in those cases I was assigning you,” he said. “But do you know why I did it?”
“You wanted to see if I could handle responsibility? If I could work hard and put in the hours and effort required to handle a prudent investment, even if it really wasn't in the field I was interested in?”
The corners of his mouth curled up into a broad, proud smile.
“That's it,” he said. “I'm sorry that you've been doing something that you're not interested in all this time, and I'm sorry if you've felt that I was holding you back. You know that wasn't my intention.”
“But you do understand the value of the experience I've given you? You know why I did what I did, don't you?”
I thought about this for a bit. He had given me valuable experience, that much was true. I had certainly learned a lot about the world of investing while working with him, even if it wasn't the side of the investment world I really wanted to be in.
“You know what I enjoy doing most, besides working,” he continued.
I nodded. “Playing guitar.”
My father was a very accomplished musician. Whenever he wasn't working, he was playing guitar, and as busy as he was, he nonetheless managed to squeeze in some guitar time every day.
“That's it, Marie. You know how much I love my music. And I've told you how old I was when I first picked up a guitar, haven't I?”
“You have, Dad. You were in seventh grade, and your dad gave you a guitar for your thirteenth birthday.”
He smiled. “Best damn gift I ever got. Wait, no, second best. The best gifts were your mother's hand in marriage, and then the gifts of you and your sister.”
I had to smile.
He glanced across his office at an electric guitar mounted in a glass case. “You know who played that, don't you, Marie?”
Of course, I did. I had heard the story a few hundred times. “You know I do, Dad. Stevie Ray Vaughan.”
“One of the greatest, Marie. And you know what makes a great guitar player?”
“Uh . . . practice?”
He nodded, still smiling. “It ain't glamorous, it ain't exciting, it ain't fun. But if you don't sit in that basement, playing your chords and scales over and over and over again for hours on end, you'll never be great. Do you get what I'm saying?”
I did. My two years here had been my practice. This had been my hours of strumming chords and picking scales in a basement. But why was he bringing this up now? I was halfway through a case. And while progress, admittedly, had been slow, there was at least progress being made.