Genre: Contemporary Romance
Title: The Bastard Billionaire
Author: Jessica Lemmon
Series: Billionaire Bad Boys #3
Available Formats: eBook | Paperback | Audiobook
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Beauty and the Beastly Billionaire . . .
Eli Crane is one tough bastard. After an explosion left him injured and honorably discharged from the Marines, all he wants is to be left alone. Yet his brothers insist he take a greater role in the family business. They’ve hired him ten personal assistants-and Eli sent each one packing as fast as possible. But when beautiful number eleven walks through the door, Eli will do anything to make her stay.
Isabella Sawyer’s employment agency can’t afford to lose Eli Crane’s business. Her plan: to personally take on the role of his PA, and secure her reputation with the wealthy elite in Chicago. But this beauty and her hot billionaire bad boy soon find themselves mixing business with pleasure in the most delicious ways. And passionate, stubborn Isabella won’t rest until she tames this wicked beast . . .
The Bastard Billionaire
Copyright 2017 Jessica Lemmon
Heels clicking, then muting when she stepped onto the rug, Isa made her way into the bowels of Eli’s sanctuary, her heart hammering. She wasn’t typically the nervous type, but the dim light inside the warehouse and somber rain pecking the windows gave the space an eerie quality. As she paced closer to the room where the voice had come from, she heard the distinct crackle of a fire.
In the air there was a different kind of crackle entirely, a low buzz of premonition in her bones.
She’d owned her confidence on the phone with Reese, but now that the air in Eli’s home was pressing down on her, she was less sure of her promise to reform the middle Crane brother. Standing in Eli’s hallway felt more like hovering at the mouth of a cave where a hibernating grizzly bear hid. And she was unarmed.
But you are armed, she reminded herself. She hadn’t been lying when she’d told Reese she could handle this situation. As a woman who had walked away from her family’s money, expectations, and the man they’d chosen for her, Isabella Sawyer was nothing if not capable of overcoming challenge.
She was a woman who’d branched out on her own and had taken control of her life, without her family’s blessing. One surly ex-military solider with a chip on his shoulder wasn’t going to scare her away.
Squaring her shoulders, she stepped around the wall to find no door separating her from Eli’s office space. The dark-haired man in question jotted notes on a paper, his head down, a lamp on his desk lighting his way. In the dim glow, she made out the edge of a beard and a trail of tattoos decorating one arm. Squinting didn’t help her discern the inky images.
Without looking up, he spoke again. “You can leave.”
Bite me, Crane.
She was tempted to say it aloud, but she wasn’t positive he wouldn’t bite her. In his case, his bite could be worse than his bark, and his bark was downright intimidating. It wouldn’t be the first time Isa had stood up to a man who believed he held the cards, but she was playing a long game. Best not to push too hard just yet.
She stepped into his office and introduced herself. Or, well, the version of herself she wanted him to know.
“Hello, Mr. Crane. My name is Isabella. Sable Concierge sent me to serve as your personal helper. I’ve already been brought up to date by your brother about Crane Hotel’s latest—”
“Isabella.” He tossed the pen onto his desk. Lifted his head and met her eyes.
Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, the remainder of her speech glued to it. Dark hair ruffled like he’d repeatedly pushed his fingers through it, an equally dark, thick beard lining a strong jaw, Eli Crane commanded attention. Deep blue eyes narrowed as he tracked down to her stilettos and up her professional—and, yes, a little tight at the thighs—dress she’d worn for this appointment. There was nothing overtly sexual about the dress, but no matter what she wore, her curves tested the limits of the seams. She was a woman and refused to hide her femininity—or mute it—especially for this man.
He shifted at the desk, pushing one palm into the wood, and his tattoos flexed, his muscles shifting temptingly.
Lord have mercy.
The crackle in the air this time wasn’t a buzz of warning but of something else. Something heavy and weighted.
The kind you feel for a man when you know that you shouldn’t. The kind packaged to be tempting, but when you get close, learn that the enticing beauty is laced with deadly poison.
The feeling was so strong, the pull so palpable, Isa struggled not to advance a step.
“No,” he said.
“No what?” She tightened her grip on her Kate Spade tote, wedging her heels to the floor.
“No to Isabella. Too ornamental.” His lip curled with what appeared to be disgust and she tamped down the temptation to be offended. This was his game. She wasn’t going to play. “Can’t you go by something else?”
“Most people call me Isa.”
He hummed. The rough and tumble sound snagged her chest and her heartbeat kicked up a few notches.
This was awful. Just awful. Attraction to the wrong man had happened to her twice in her life. Once with her second boyfriend to whom she’d bequeathed her virginity, and once with the man her parents had picked for her, who had turned out to be king of the jackasses. Twice she’d lived to regret following her hormones. She’d make no such mistake a third time. Especially with her business on the line.
“As I was saying, Mr. Crane.”
“Elijah,” she corrected, forcing a smile.
“No…” His eyebrows lowered and he cocked his head in thought. “Go back to Mr. Crane.”
He was pushing her. She was supposed to react. Lash out. Start arguing. This was his pattern. A few more pokes and he’d expect her to turn and run out crying or shouting how she’d never return.
Too bad, buddy.
“Very well.” She straightened her shoulders and tried again. “Mr. Crane. So, your brother tells me—”
“What if I call you Izzie?”
“Nah, that’s no good. Oh.” He snapped his fingers. “Bella.”
“Absolutely not,” she clipped, letting her control waver. Her ex had called her Bella and she’d hated it.
“No, you’re right.” Eli’s mouth pulled into a frown. “That’s worse. I don’t like any of the short names for Isabella. What if I call you…” He snaked a gaze over her dress, which was professional and a respectable length. Somehow, though, his trickling assessment made her feel as if she wore next to nothing. “Bettie Page?”
He leaned back in his chair, his shirt molding to a very fit chest. “You sure you’re from Sable Concierge? Not a call girl service?”
“Mr. Crane.” Her voice held an authority demanding respect. Enough was enough. She refused to let him bully her, whether the air snapped with wayward attraction or not. Whether he thought she was a lowly PA or not. She was not his plaything. And her choice of dress, no matter how evocative this male chauvinist found it, was nothing to be ashamed of. “I will not allow…”
He pushed to standing, up, up until he loomed, and then he took one heavy step toward her, then another. He favored the leg with the prosthesis, clad in a shoe to match his other one, the metal-colored leg peeking out from a tear in his jeans.
“I changed my mind, Bettie.” He tilted his head to one side, a rogue gleam in his eyes as he stared her down. “You can call me Eli.”
About the Author
A former job-hopper, Jessica Lemmon resides in Ohio with her husband and rescue dog. She holds a degree in graphic design currently gathering dust in an impressive frame. When she’s not writing super-sexy heroes, she can be found cooking, drawing, drinking coffee (okay, wine), and eating potato chips. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want.