Read The Billionaire's Demands (A Boardrooms and Billionaires Series Book) (Entangled Indulgence) Online
Authors: Addison Fox
Tags: #lifeless women and he’s anxious to get to know her better.When circumstances conspire to throw them together, #Booth takes a chance.Little does he know it’s going to be the biggest gamble of his life....because now his heart’s on the line., #has had his eye on Camryn for months. The woman is a breath of fresh air in a sea of stale, #heir to the Harrison media conglomerate and billionaire businessman in his own right, #which is why her attraction to her sister’s new brother-in-law is tossing a monkey wrench into all her well-laid plans.Booth Harrison, #Divided loyalties. Family secrets. They were perfect for each other. CFO Camryn McBride likes her life as neat and orderly as her financial spreadsheets. She avoids messy entanglements
The Billionaire’s Demands
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Frances Karkosak. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
2614 South Timberline Road
Fort Collins, CO 80525
Visit our website at www.entangledpublishing.com.
Edited by Rima Jean and Laura Anne Gilman
Cover design by Heidi Stryker
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-62266-189-3
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition February 2014
I can only thank the seventh-grade scheduling gods for putting us together.
From Top Gun to meeting AMH at the Fashion Bug to everything else in between and since, you’ve been there for all the things that truly matter.
Clearly, the scheduling gods knew what they were doing.
Nine Years Ago
“You’ll never make it pay out.”
Camryn McBride stared at her father across the conference room table and fought to control her anger, annoyance, and disappointment. Andrew McBride had shot back a dismissive answer on every single aspect of her and her sisters’ proposal from the moment they’d begun their presentation a half hour ago.
Just like always, inside
outside a boardroom.
She felt the calming hand of her older sister, Keira, on her leg underneath the table and she marshaled her arguments. Again.
“If you look at the spreadsheet I’ve prepared, you’ll see we’ve run the numbers on the
Home and Family
event several different ways. Not only will we turn a profit that will go straight to McBride Media’s bottom line, but even if we up-sell a mere five percent of our attendees into subscriptions and two percent of our advertisers into ad pages, we’ll turn a one hundred percent profit over the last year.”
“Can’t be done. We’ve done that show for years. No one comes. No one cares.”
Her younger sister, Mayson, piped up. “But they
care. With a few tweaks and a modest investment in a few up-and-coming chefs, we can turn a profit. I’ve already got two signed up.”
Andrew’s eyes narrowed and Camryn didn’t miss the light stammer that hovered under his words—a light stammer he attempted to cover with bluster. “By offering them promo articles in
. We’re not in the business of giving publicity to freeloaders. They’re not even buying ads in our magazines.”
Keira chose that moment to speak up, her steady tone a true match for their father’s. “You know, Dad, last time I checked, that was a sign of quality journalism.”
“Bah. We write frivolous fluff for women to enjoy at the end of a long day. Celebrity pieces, how to keep your husband happy, and ways to stop your kids from being pushy brats. That’s what we’re in business to do.”
Camryn chafed at her father’s ready dismissal of the business they’d all been born and raised to. But whereas she and her sisters had the hope of keeping it going, their father had clearly become jaded long ago. They didn’t write fluff. Or more specifically, they didn’t
to. Their readers were a hell of a lot brighter than their father wanted to give them credit for and she knew it.
Mayson and Keira knew it, too.
“But we can be so much more.” Camryn knew
could be so much more as well. She’d spent far too long accepting unfairness in her world, from her father’s dismissive attitude. Her road back to herself would start with restoring the family magazine empire and having purpose once again.
When her father’s gaze remained skeptical, his mouth set in those hard, unyielding lines, she pushed on. “Do you understand the inherent power of this company? We publish twelve magazines a month, along with corresponding websites, on a variety of topics that matter to people. Women
men. We have their ear. If we only did something with all those media properties instead of running thinly veiled articles about the marital benefits of blow jobs or why little Susie won’t listen when you stare at your freaking BlackBerry all night.”
Camryn heard the collective gasps of her sisters, but she couldn’t stop. This was personal. She and her sisters had finally realized what they had in their family legacy—a magazine empire built by their grandfather after World War II and summarily strangled to the point it was on life support by their father—and they knew what the company could be.
She’d be damned if she let it slip through her fingers.
“Look,” she said. “Publish what you want. You do already. All we’re asking is that you give us the
Home and Family
trade show and let us prove to you what we can do with it. It’s an easy proposition. If it’s as big a dog as you say it is, we’ll fail miserably and you can shutter it like you planned. But if it turns a profit…”
Camryn let the words hang there as she looked at each of her sisters, before she turned back to their father.
“Yes?” Her father’s eyes narrowed in irritation, but even he couldn’t fully hide the spark of intrigue that flared underneath.
“If it turns a profit you give us
Home and Family
Andrew’s eyebrows shot up. “The magazine?”
“All of it.” Keira leaned forward, picking up on Camryn’s nuance quickly. She pointed at the spreadsheets, projections, and charts they’d laid out on the center of the conference room table. “The magazine. The website. The staff. If we turn a profit, you give us everything under the
Home and Family
brand to run.”
Camryn wasn’t sure if it was the wall of solidarity that stared at Andrew McBride across the conference room table, or if they’d finally worn him down after several rounds of requests to launch new magazines. Whatever the reason, she saw the moment the tide shifted in their direction. The moment he decided it was easier to give his children what they wanted than to continue ignoring them.
Their father stood and walked toward the door. He didn’t even bother to take his copy of the presentation they’d prepared for him. At the door, he turned to face them. “You can have the trade show on one condition.”
“Yes?” They all stood, but it was Keira who spoke as their effective leader.
“When you miss each and every projection on those spreadsheets of yours, I get to sell off the company as I planned.”
New York City, Present Day
“This was an apocalyptically bad idea. You do know that, right?” Camryn McBride watched her older sister, Keira, rush around the opulent kitchen of her penthouse apartment, snagging a seat on a high-backed barstool to settle in for the show.
Keira blew her bangs out of her face in a huff as she transferred hot puff pastries from a cookie sheet to a serving tray. “It was supposed to be a nice, ordinary family outreach.”
“If either you or Nathan had a nice, ordinary family, that goal might have made sense.” Camryn snatched one of the tarts. “Since Dad is probably bringing his latest bimbette, and Nathan’s father is incapable of normal human relationships, I’m really trying to understand what your goal for the evening might be.”
“Fine. I admit it. I was suckered in by that article we wrote in
Home and Family
last month, ‘Happy In-Laws, Happy Couples.’ And it made me realize that Nathan and I have been married for over six months and we still haven’t had a family get-together.” Keira exhaled another heavy breath. “And would you get over here and help me? I still need to finish the crudités.”
The grin Camryn had tried to hold back wouldn’t stay hidden. “I was wondering when you’d drop the ‘I can do it all’ attitude and ask for help.”
“That I am.” Camryn reached for an empty glass on the bar and poured some chardonnay for her sister. “But I did work the kitchen of that hotel in Boston during my summers in college so I’d say I’m well-suited to help.”
“How’d I forget about that?” Keira frowned as she repositioned several small mushroom tartlets.
“I’ve worked every day to put it out of my mind. The mess and disorder were my personal torture.” Camryn handed over the glass of wine she’d poured to Keira. “What I really want to know is why you felt you needed a magazine article to help your marriage?”
“It’s not that.” Her sister dropped the empty baking sheet into the sink and took a sip of her wine. “I just feel that Nathan and I need to cultivate a broader relationship with our families. Before…you know.”
A scream worked its way up Camryn’s throat and she fought to keep her voice low. “You’re pregnant!”
“No.” Keira deliberately waved the glass of wine in her hand. “No, I’m not. But we’re talking about it. And I’d like our child to know his or her grandparents. And that’s awfully hard if
don’t even know them.”
Camryn knew Keira had a point. While they and their younger sister, Mayson, were thick as thieves, their father had set a poor example of support and familial leadership. He’d been inattentive most of their lives, but he’d become increasingly absent in the last decade. Ever since they lost their mother to breast cancer.
“I told you the good stuff was in here.” Nathan’s voice intruded on the moment as he barreled through the swinging door of the kitchen. Keira’s husband still wore his suit, but the lack of a jacket and the rolled sleeves of his dress shirt indicated a powerful man who’d relaxed for the day.
Where Camryn’s gaze landed, however, was on the man who followed Nathan into the room.
Nathan’s half brother and the heir to the Harrison media empire also wore his suit, and damn him if the black wool wasn’t immaculately pressed, even though it was nearly seven at night. The white shirt beneath his lapels was still a crisp white and his red tie drew the eye with subtle grace and power.
Booth Harrison was temptation in a double-breasted suit, one she’d diligently tried to ignore for nearly a year now, and she wasn’t interested in traveling that road. The last year had seen both of her sisters married, and Mayson with a baby on the way. Camryn was happy for them, but she had no interest in following suit. Her life was neat and ordered, and love was messy. All that chaos and disorder didn’t fit in her life. Even if Booth did look at her with a delicious hunger that made every feminine wile she possessed sit up and take notice.
His blue gaze was dark with that hunger as a wry smile quirked his lips. “Is everything okay in here?”
Camryn leaned toward him, the pull of that magnetic gaze drawing her in. “You mean aside from the fact that my sister’s probably about ten seconds away from wishing a plague of locusts on all of Manhattan?”
Booth never broke the contact, but his smile spread into an infectious grin. “That seems awfully harsh just to prevent one dinner party from happening.”
“You know the McBride girls. We don’t do anything halfway.” The flirtatious words were out before she could stop them and she mentally cursed herself for the weakness.
Get a freakin’ grip, Cam.
Before Booth could respond, Keira’s laughter broke the moment as she swatted at her husband. “Nathan! We’ve got company coming.”
Camryn refocused on arranging broccoli and carrots in neat rows and
the tempting curve of Booth Harrison’s lips as they both avoided staring at their lovesick siblings.
“I told you the good stuff was in here.” Nathan leaned in and placed a smacking kiss on his wife’s lips, as if proving his point.
“Newlyweds.” Booth’s tone was dark but the tease in his eyes was unmistakable. He poured himself a glass of wine before holding up the bottle. “Can I refill yours, Camryn?”
“I’m not sure there’s enough alcohol.” She couldn’t hide the answering smile. “But we can try.”
The heavy peal of the lobby buzzer had Keira and Nathan pulling apart to go and greet their guests and, within moments, Camryn was alone with Booth.
“Speaking of trying, there are a few other things I can think of that fit the bill.”
Camryn looked up from the celery she’d switched to, surprised to see him standing close beside her. “Oh? Like what?”
“Let’s go get a drink after dinner and I’ll tell you.”
The offer was tempting and the large, sexy man next to her made it even more so, but Camryn held back. Booth had given more than a few hints in the last several months that he was interested. She was interested, too, but their circumstances prohibited a fling. Add on their family connections and it was just…messy.
“I have an early meeting tomorrow.”
“So do I. And besides”—he took a sip of his wine, his eyes unreadable before he set the glass back on the counter—“don’t you always have an early meeting?”
“I didn’t take you for an in-bed-at-nine sort of gal.”
“So what’s wrong with the drink?”
She held up her glass, the move intended to be a joke but the tone that left her lips rang flat to her ears. “What would you call this?”
The word was out and Booth couldn’t hold back the burst of satisfaction that settled in his chest at her widened eyes and the slight O of her mouth.
Served her right.
The damn woman had had him crawling the walls for months. Her prim features and black power suits drove him crazy with the overwhelming desire to muss her up. Her sharp mind and quick wit had him intrigued and thinking of her so often it was maddening.
The only reason he’d held back was Nathan. Although his half brother didn’t usually inform his dating decisions, going after Nathan’s new sister-in-law had the risk of being…complicated.
“If by foreplay you mean watching our siblings host a train wreck, then you and I have vastly different interpretations of the word.”
He moved up into her space, his gaze dropping to the pulse point evident at her throat.
, he thought with some satisfaction.
The lady doth protest too much.
“Oh, I don’t know. You’re a beautiful, interesting woman.” He reached forward and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear, intrigued even further when she remained stock-still. “I think we can put our creativity to good use and come up with some mutually enjoyable outcome to the evening.”
“A fling will be messy with our family connections.” Hearty laughter echoed outside the kitchen and she glanced toward the door as if the noise punctuated her point. “And clearly we’ve got a lot of connection.”
“I thought I was talking about a date.”
She took another step back and he could practically see her crawl inside herself. The bright, vivid smile and warm gaze faded as she took a few steps away from him. “A date or a whole lot more can’t happen. Not with the family we now share thanks to your brother and my sister.”
Her absolute unwillingness to consider it—especially since he’d seen the very real interest in her gaze—had him rethinking his tactics. “So you simply walk away?”
“It’s clean. Easy. And we avoid a mess that would include awkward family moments.” She waited a beat before smiling broadly. “Sort of like this one.”
Whether it was the taunt or something more, Booth didn’t know, but he couldn’t resist pushing a bit harder on all the neat, pristine order that surrounded her like a shield. “Sometimes it’s fun to get messy.”
Her dark-brown eyes were serious as they held his. “And sometimes all you’re left with is a mess.”
Sometimes all you’re left with is a mess.
Camryn’s words were still rattling around his mind a few hours later as Keira handed mugs of coffee around the table and Nathan cut slices of cheesecake. The view had Booth smiling to himself in the midst of his roiling thoughts. Who’d have thought his brother could be so damned domestic? And, if Nathan’s broad grin was any indication, he was strangely happy about it. Things didn’t look
between the newlyweds. In fact, if he wasn’t careful, Booth knew he might start wishing he were in the same boat.
He shook off that thought to refocus on the conversation. His father and stepmother had remained polite and quiet throughout dinner, but West Harrison’s stoic facade was beginning to show cracks after four bourbons.
“Gotta keep the advertisers happy.” West pounded a fist on the table, rattling his small plate of cheesecake. “Ad dollars keep the media business running.”
“West, I understand, but the product has to be editorially superior.” Keira’s voice was respectful, but no one at the table missed the thread of steel that wove through her words. “That’s why we’ve remained diligently focused at McBride Media on creating strong products advertisers line up to be a part of.”
“My girl knows what she’s talking about, West.” Keira’s father spoke up, his words layered equally thick with alcohol.
“That’s quite a change, McBride. I thought all you ever wanted was to sell the company off. Now you’ve let your daughters get a hold of it instead.”
Despite the liquor, Andrew McBride was quick on the rebound. “And the three of them have done a damn fine job with it.”
West wasn’t deterred by Andrew’s show of support. “Beefing up a bunch of fluffy magazines.”
Booth laid a hand on his father’s arm. “Dad. McBride Media has won several major journalism awards in the last few years. They’ve beaten us out of several, as I recall.”
“Awards, bah,” West grumbled. “I’m talking about business. Nathan would never have gone after the company if it wasn’t in such dire straits.”
“I went after a healthy company and when I saw the light I decided to invest in it instead of take it over.” Nathan’s sharp voice cut off any further discussion. “However, I can’t argue with my father’s well-made point about advertisers. They do make the world go round.”
As softballs went, Nathan’s was awfully soft, but Booth knew it was more than that. In years past, Nathan would have no sooner defended West than look at him. Marriage had changed his brother. For the better, as far as Booth could tell. Nathan was still as fierce as ever, but he’d lost the “win at all costs” attitude. That attitude had made him a wealthy man, but he’d paid a personal price. Booth was glad to see his brother come out the other side.
“Speaking of fluff…” West’s gaze grew sharp once more as his focus shifted to Camryn. “What’s this I hear about you looking to buy out the last, lingering properties at Morrison Magazines?”
“The company’s been on life support for the last few years and they’ve finally indicated a willingness to sell their flagship title,
.” Camryn set down her coffee cup. “I’ve had my eye on them for a while.”
“Company should have shut its doors a long time ago.” West said. “What do you want with an old, tired title?”
A warm grin flashed across her face. “Let’s just say I think the magazine’s got great bones. And it complements our current portfolio perfectly.”
“Camryn’s been a great champion of expansion wherever we can. It’s been a dynamic growth strategy.” Nathan snagged the conversational torch and once more, Booth couldn’t deny how much his brother had changed for the better. Their father was a difficult man and in the past Nathan wouldn’t have held back his disdain or frustration at West’s insistence in dominating a conversation. Whether it was their strained business relationship or Nathan’s position as West’s illegitimate son, Booth had never fully understood, but it was good to see a different side to his brother.
The table grew quiet once more and Booth glanced surreptitiously at his watch, amused when his gaze snagged on Camryn doing the same. He’d already declined both dessert and coffee, prepared to make his departure, when Camryn beat him to the punch.
“I’m afraid I’ve got an early meeting in the morning.” She added a small yawn to the comment.
Booth lifted his eyebrows as their gazes caught once more, but couldn’t resist using the moment to his advantage. “I do as well. Why don’t we share a cab?”
They made a hasty departure and it was only after the two of them were settled in a cab fifteen minutes later that Camryn rounded on him. “Smooth move, Booth.”
“I’m full of them, but in this case, it was a matter of self-preservation. Keira and Nathan’s little dinner experiment had run its course and leaving was the only way to put an end to it. Everyone was following on our heels with their own excuses as we left.”