It’s not profitable being Sydney’s most hated man, and construction boss Damien Courtney has to improve his image. Taking part in a charity auction might help with that… but being won by a pink-haired sex store owner isn’t what he had in mind.
Geena Dennis puts her whole future at risk when she wins straight-edged Damien in an auction she’s not even supposed to be at. It’s an impulsive move, but she needs him to help save her sex store, The Gee Spot. The absolute last thing she needs is to fall for him.
How To Boss A Billionaire is part of the Rich List contemporary romance series and has an HEA with no cliffhangers. If you like red hot sex scenes, electric chemistry, airtight writing, and laugh-out-loud humor, then you’ll love this bright new voice in the romance genre.
“Ms Hunter expertly weaved a tale of love, laughter, heartbreak and healing. I had not read any of her work previously, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a brilliant, sweet and sexy romance, and an exciting new author for me.”
“Absolutely loved this story!! Geena is smart, tell it like it is kind of heroine and exactly what Damien doesn’t need.”
“Oh my did I love this book! Geena and Damien what a perfect couple!! This book was laugh out loud funny at times and will bring you to tears at other times.”
“This story is captivating. It dragged me in and wouldn’t let me put it down.”
Ally’s Saucy Scavenger Hunt
Collect the following (no cheating!):
1. A photo of a team member French kissing a bartender.
2. A shot glass with a bar logo on it.
3. A photo of a bouncer’s left nipple.
4. A photo of a team member French kissing a DJ (or for double points, a celebrity or public figure).
5. A photo of the team dancing on top of a bar.
6. A stranger’s tie with 3 different colored lipstick kisses on it (he must be wearing it while kisses are applied).
7. A pair of men’s boxer briefs with 3 different colored lipstick kisses (he must be wearing them while kisses are applied).
8. A cocktail menu that includes Sex On The Beach, and a Screaming Orgasm.
* * *
Geena pulled her damp, drink-splashed copy of the scavenger hunt list from her purse and sighed. It was late and the three teams had met up to compare their scores. But because they’d ordered shots in each bar trying to get number 2, they were all having problems adding up the points. That was, everyone but Geena.
Her sister Ally slurped her chocolate martini and stuck an elbow in Geena’s ribs. “You wanna see me get a guy’s briefs?” Ally slurred, tossing the cheap bride’s veil she was wearing back from her face. “I’m thinking ‘bout a fair swap. My panties for his.” She winked at a guy at the next table who turned bright red. The other women at their table cracked up with laughter.
One of Ally’s friends slapped her on the back. “You okay, Geena? You’re way too quiet. Aren’t you usually dancing on tables by now?”
Crap. Geena had to loosen up. She forced a smile. “I was going to offer my panties, then remembered that I’m not wearing any.” When she turned and winked at the guy, the women laughed harder.
That was more like the Geena they were used to. She was the one who’d come up with the scavenger hunt for Ally’s bachelorette party and organized her sister’s friends into three teams. But this morning she’d opened an awful letter about how much tax she owed. Geena had felt sick ever since, and her stomach was too clenched to throw back cocktails. She’d ordered wine at each bar instead, but every time she took a sip it burned down her throat.
What had possessed her to buy a sex store in the first place? Sure, Geena had picked up the run-down business for a song, but rent in Sydney’s bustling King’s Cross wasn’t cheap. She’d been so sure she could make it a success when she’d renamed it The Gee Spot and given it a makeover to turn it into a classy, sophisticated adult store that would appeal to both men and women.
Things had gone pretty well at first, but she hadn’t thought about the big shift towards online shopping. Not only were fewer people coming into her store, but she couldn’t work out why the money she was earning didn’t cover her bills. Paperwork wasn’t her strong suit and the nasty tax letter was the last straw. If she couldn’t fix things quickly, she was going to lose everything she’d worked so hard for.
Geena tried to shake the black thoughts out of her head and tune in as Ally called the members of the bride’s team together for a secret huddle.
“Number 4.” Ally jabbed her finger at the sheet and missed. “That’s the one we need to get. The other team’ll settle for a hot guy. If we get a celeb, we can win.”
“We’ve got to go to Max’s party,” insisted one of their team members.
“That’s cheating.” Ally looked over her shoulder to make sure neither of the other teams could hear. But Lacey’s team was too busy pressing kisses against a surprised-looking man’s tie, and the others were cheering them on.
“The bride’s team has to win,” insisted Ally’s friend. “It’s like a tradition.”
“We’re too drunk, they won’t let us in. It’s a fancy party.” Ally tossed her veil over her shoulder. “Can’t embarrass Max by all showing up uninvited.”
“Geena can go on her own.” Ally’s friend waved her drink at her. “She isn’t as drunk as us and surely Max can get her in.”
Geena raised her eyebrows at Ally. “In where?”
“A charity thing. Lots of celebs there, and it’s not too far. You could quickly snap a photo with someone famous, then come back.”
“Number 4 on the list,” clarified the other team member.
“I’ll call Max and tell him you’re coming.” Ally fumbled with her purse and pulled her cell phone out, spilling what was left of her drink in the process.
“Will they let me in?” Geena asked. With her bright pink hair, she didn’t exactly look like someone who’d be invited to a stuck-up celebrity party. Not that she cared if she shocked anyone. In fact, it might even cheer her up.
“If I arrange it with Max, they can’t say no. He’s really helping them out.” Ally tried to sip her drink and looked puzzled by her empty glass. “It’s at The Diner’s Room. Know where that is?”
Geena nodded. She felt terrible for having lost her enthusiasm for her own sister’s bachelorette party, and this was something she could do to make it up to Ally.
Besides, if they managed to get all the items on the list and win the game, Geena would be able to go home. And right now, what she wanted most was to bury her head in a pillow and scream with frustration.
Ally’s friend let out an excited squeal. “We’re going to win! Let’s get number 3. Did you see the bouncer? He’s super hot.”
Geena left them to it and went outside to hail a taxi. She settled back in the seat and closed her eyes, doing some mental calculations. The five thousand she had in the bank would pay most of her tax bill, but if she used it for that, she wouldn’t be able to pay her rent or Billy’s wages.
She reached up to take hold of her grandmother’s locket, weighing the big, gold pendant in one hand. As much as she’d hate to let it go, selling the locket could give her a few extra weeks. In the meantime, she’d have to come up with a fresh idea to save herself. What was that saying she’d heard — something about it being crazy to keep doing things the same but hoping for different results? Well, she’d just have to shake things up and change what she was doing. Somehow. All she needed was a miracle, and was that really too much to ask for?
The Diner’s Room was a large, swanky five-star restaurant overlooking Sydney’s Harbor Bridge. The kind of place Geena couldn’t imagine ever wanting to eat in. She liked places with character that served tasty food and lots of it. What was the point of spending mega-bucks for a tiny mouthful arranged in the middle of a huge white plate?
She slicked on a fresh coat of lipstick before getting out of the cab. A security guard was at the door of the restaurant, holding a clipboard. No sign of Max. Had he told the security guard she was coming?
Deadpan, the guard watched her approach, showing no sign of surprise at the way she looked. Points to him. Geena couldn’t imagine any of the party’s other guests had worn a second-hand, peacock-blue cocktail dress from the 1950s, or had shocking pink hair.
“May I see your ticket, ma’am?” asked the doorman.
“I’m with Max Oberon. He’s expecting me.”
She had to give him credit, the only sign of disbelief he gave was a slight twitch of his left eye as he looked down at his clipboard. “Your name please?”
The door behind him opened and Max flashed her his famous movie-star smile. “Geena, there you are.” Then to the doorman, “She’s with me. I’ve cleared it with the guys upstairs.”
He escorted her inside and led her into a large room filled with elegant dining tables. Men and women dressed in tuxes and gowns murmured polite conversation over glasses of expensive French champagne. Geena wrinkled her nose. This place wasn’t her scene at all.
“How’s the bachelorette party going?” asked Max.
“We’re having fun.” At least everyone else had been, and she couldn’t exactly tell Max she was letting her money problems ruin it. Her tax bill would probably be small change for him. Maybe she could ask Max and Ally for the money she needed?
She swallowed. The thought made her feel even sicker. What would be worse, losing her store or having to admit to her family that she’d got herself into financial trouble and needed bailing out? Close call. Both options made her want to throw up.
Besides, she wasn’t about to ruin her sister’s wedding by making her worry about a problem Geena could fix herself. All she needed was to work out how.
“You can have my seat over there.” Max pointed at one of the tables, but she couldn’t make out which one he meant. “I have to do my duty, but it shouldn’t take long. I’ll catch up with you afterwards.”
“Max, I need a photo with—”
Too late. Someone had already caught his arm. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he flung over his shoulder at Geena as he was led away.
Geena looked around. She couldn’t see an empty seat, and the lights were dimming. A spotlight picked out the stage where a bald MC had stepped up to the podium and was looking at his notes. The spotlight shone on his shiny head as he cleared his throat into the microphone.
Near the entrance was a bar, and she crossed to it and sat on one of the stools.
“What can I get you?” The bartender put a cocktail napkin onto the bar in front of her.
“Nothing, thanks.” She swiveled her stool towards the stage as the bald MC spoke into the microphone.
“Good evening again, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “We’ve already heard plenty tonight about what a wonderful cause we’re all here to support, so I won’t do more than remind you that over one hundred thousand children nationwide need your help.” He paused to check his notes again. “And now for the most popular part of the evening, the Charity Auction. This is where our brave volunteer celebrities step up to the auction block and you get to tell them how much you think they’re worth. The winning bidder will enjoy a special lunch with the man or woman they’ve purchased, right here at The Diner’s Room. We’re very lucky to have the absolute cream of the crop on our auction block tonight. So get out your checkbooks, cash in your retirement plans, and get ready to bag yourself a celebrity!”
Geena blinked. They were auctioning off celebrities? What kind of event was this?
“Our first volunteer on the auction block needs no introduction. Highly acclaimed and award-winning star of Mastery, Lawrence In Damascus, and the upcoming blockbuster, Chosen To Rule, we’re very lucky to have Max Oberon here tonight.”
The large dining hall rang with applause. Some of the women leaned forward and nudged each other as Max stepped onto the stage. Looking distinctly uncomfortable, he gave the crowd a wave. Geena stifled her first real smile of the day. Max and Ally spent most of their time away on location for various shoots, but she’d gotten to know him fairly well and she liked him a lot. Why was it always so enjoyable watching your friends squirm?
“Unfortunately, Max is getting married in a couple of weeks.” A few women in the audience groaned, and the auctioneer nodded sympathetically. “I know, it’s a tragedy. Still, if you win lunch with him, there may be time to change his mind. Am I right, ladies?”
Geena grimaced and saw an almost identical expression cross Max’s face before he managed to hide it.
“Now, who wants to start the bidding?”
The words were barely out of his mouth before a woman raised her hand. “One thousand dollars.”
Geena’s jaw dropped. A thousand bucks for lunch with Max? Did the woman think he was going to turn up naked?
“Two thousand,” countered another woman, and Geena snapped her head around in shock.
“Two and a half.”
The bidding climbed to nine thousand, and the hammer finally fell on a bid of nine thousand three hundred dollars. Geena craned her neck to see the successful bidder congratulating herself with a braying laugh that made her enormous diamond earrings swing and sparkle.
“Crazy,” muttered Geena. How much money did these people have, anyway?
“You’re certain you wouldn’t like a drink?” asked the bartender. “They’re on the house.”
“Have you got something that’s easy on the stomach?”
“A very smooth bourbon. If I add a little ginger ale, you won’t even feel it slip down.”
She sniffed the glass he poured and tried a sip, but her stomach still had a bad case of the taxation cramps. She grimaced and passed it back to him. “Too strong. Sorry.”
When she turned back to the stage, Max’s obvious relief as he was allowed to escape made her smile. Geena was already planning how she was going to tease him for being so expensive.
The MC consulted his notes again. “Our next volunteer was a surprise entry to the auction. His presence goes to prove that although he might have had some bad press, Damien Courtney’s a nice guy at heart.”
Someone in the audience gave a loud, fake cough, as though they wanted to heckle but were holding themselves back. A wave of murmuring went around the front tables. Geena straightened so she could see better. Who was Damien Courtney that he caused this kind of reaction?
A man stepped onto the stage, his gaze scanning the tables where people still shifted in their seats and whispered to each other. Though he stood in a relaxed pose, he seemed as light on his feet as a boxer or martial artist. His dark features were flawless, his jaw dangerously square. Geena’s pulse sped up as he scanned the room with eyes that were far too challenging for an event like this. She was near the back of the room so he probably couldn’t see her. But as his gaze passed over her, she felt it like an electric charge. Damien Courtney didn’t just occupy a place on the stage, he owned it. As though the spotlight had narrowed so he was highlighted while everyone else went dark.
Geena caught her breath. What was wrong with her? The man was so not her type. He was clean shaven and wore his black hair razored short on the sides. Judging by the flawless way it hugged his impressive physique, his suit was expensive, but far too conservative. And his plain tie was just as safe and boring. Not a peep of a tattoo, or even an ear piercing. Yeah, he was as straight-edged as Justin, and she sure as hell wouldn’t make the mistake of being attracted to someone like that again.
The MC looked a little flustered at the unmistakably hostile reaction from the front tables, only muted by the polite atmosphere of the evening. “Of course, Damien is no stranger to controversy. The lucky winner of this auction can be assured, lunch with him will be anything but dull.”
More murmuring. What could he have done to upset so many people?
The MC rushed on with his introduction. “Courtney Construction has recently been valued at over a billion dollars. Yes, ladies, I did say a billion. Damien started with nothing and built his fabulously successful business from the ground up. So what will you bid to have lunch with the man with the Midas Touch?”
Geena froze. He’d built a billion-dollar business from nothing? Maybe he’d have some ideas about how she could turn her store around. He’d have to have a good feel for how to make a profit, right?
Perhaps if she got a chance to talk to him, he could help her improve her business skills so she never got herself into this kind of mess again.
“Do I see a starting bid?”
A woman with platinum-white hair raised her hand. “Eight hundred dollars.”
“One thousand,” came at once from the other side of the room. Seemed that whatever he’d done, the businessman was still in demand as a lunch date.
Geena gulped. She didn’t want lunch, but once she had his attention, perhaps she could interest Damien Courtney in a different kind of deal. A crazy idea was forming in her mind, nutty enough that it flicked even her insanity scale into the red. But she was desperate and if she did nothing, she’d go bankrupt. This was better than doing nothing. Wasn’t it?
She sat frozen, her stomach churning and her heart pounding as the bidding rose. It stopped at four thousand dollars.
“Any more bids?” asked the auctioneer.
The platinum-haired woman spoke up. “Five thousand dollars.”
A murmur ran around the room and Geena shifted nervously on her stool. Five thousand dollars? No, it was far too much.
“Going once,” said the MC.
Last chance. Do I go for it? Or will I be throwing the last of my money away?
Geena closed her eyes for a moment, sucked in a deep breath, then stuck up one trembling hand. “Five thousand… and ten dollars.”
The platinum-haired woman laughed. “Five thousand five hundred dollars,” she called.
Geena swallowed. “Five thousand five hundred and ten dollars.” She caught the woman’s eye, clasped her hands together in a gesture of prayer and mouthed, ‘Please’.
The woman frowned. She hesitated a moment, then waved her hand at the MC to indicate she was out of the race.
The MC pointed his gavel at Geena. The spotlight swung over to focus on her, and she blinked in the sudden bright light.
“Sold, for five thousand five hundred and ten dollars to the woman with pink hair sitting at the bar,” he announced.
Geena turned away from the light, her head swimming. She didn’t feel jubilant at winning, but like she might throw up. She’d done plenty of impulsive things in her life but never anything like this. This wasn’t even remotely close to skinny dipping in a public fountain or painting her body green for St Patrick’s Day. This was all her money gone in a split second of total craziness. And she still had to convince Damien Courtney that her idea was a good one, or she’d just thrown it away for nothing.
Oh shit. Billy’s wages were due on Friday. Her stomach heaved and she swallowed down bile. Could she still scrape together enough money to pay him? Would she have to let her only employee go? She groaned, fighting a sudden urge to jump up and run for the door. What the hell had she been thinking?
The bartender gave her a nod. “Well done,” he said. “Although I’m not sure I would have paid to have lunch with the man who tore down the Kingston Boarding House.”
She felt the blood drain from her face and clutched at the edge of the bar for support. Damien Courtney was that guy? Geena had protested against him, even thrown herself in front of the man’s bulldozer. If she’d realized who he was, there was no way she’d have bid.
Her gaze flicked to the door, but it was further away than she’d remembered, and she was wearing heels she couldn’t run in.
There’s nothing I can do about it now. And I don’t have to like the selfish jerk, I just have to convince him to save my store.
The barman was waiting for her to reply, but she had to clear her throat twice to make any sound come out. “May I have that bourbon now?” she croaked.