Billionaire's Pet (Wicked Domination)By: Christa Wick
Standing on the alley side of a wrought iron gate in Chicago's financial district, Katelyn Willow stared down a long reflecting pool of polished obsidian. Flowers colored from ice pink to deep violet, their leaves a lush green, covered the water's surface. A spring breeze randomly plucked blossoms from the lone magnolia tree, its pink and white petals slowly sinking in the air to delicately litter the dark cobblestone courtyard. Beautiful and tranquil, the private garden of billionaire Griffin Montgomery contrasted as sharply with Katelyn as it did with the surrounding glass and steel buildings that looked down on the scene.
Dirt speckled her white blouse. The dark brown hair she had so carefully crafted that morning into lustrous waves cascading down to her shoulders was pulled back in a loose pony tail. A fresh bruise and scrapes curved along her jaw from where her face had met concrete three hours earlier. Silk nylons shredded by the same concrete hid at the bottom of the inside pocket of her leather satchel.
Not at all how or where Katelyn had envisioned arriving for her job interview, she just hoped the sour blonde at the security desk didn't call the cops and have her yanked from the alley before Montgomery's limo arrived.
She glanced at her watch, the glass cracked over the spot where the minute hand showed ten to six. From her research, she knew Montgomery was more or less a creature of habit. The local paparazzi had picked up on his use of the garden exit, camping out with their oversized lenses until he bought the whole alley from the city and had the photographers thrown in jail for trespassing.
Shifting her weight to her right leg, she winced and shifted it back. She looked down at her ankle, the flesh where the open-toed suede pump hugged the back of her foot swollen and so lumpy she almost welcomed the idea of a ride in the back of a cop car. The walk to the nearest rail station and then her apartment would be pure hell.
Metal flashed at the far end of the reflecting pool. She looked toward it, expecting to see a security guard exiting the building with his hand on his gun. Montgomery strolled out, his gaze hooking hers immediately. His eyes narrowed like a predator's as he walked the length of the pool. Reaching its edge, he rested his briefcase on it and approached the gate.
His hand disappeared into his pants pocket, an electronic lock disengaging a second later with a metallic click. The gate slowly rolled open and he stepped through. Folding his thick arms across his impressive chest, he stared at her.
Katelyn's face remained impassive as his gaze traveled over her body. She had studied pictures of the women photographed in public with Montgomery. Not because she wanted to tack his last name onto hers, but for purposes of tailoring a business look to styles he likely found aesthetic. She'd settled on the pumps, the color a red spice, a black skirt that narrowed down to a hemline just below her knees and a crisp white top with a tabbed collar and faux-pearl buttons. The look reflected back in the mirror that morning had worked.
Right then, with the impeccably dressed Griffin Montgomery scowling at her -- it didn't work at all.
Reaching the red pumps, his gaze lingered before slow crawling up the bare flesh of her legs and jumping to her face. "My four o'clock?"
Katelyn nodded. The unexpected heat in his expression unsettled her.
His eyes seemed to trace the bruise along her jaw and then his mouth flattened. "Hit by a bus?"
God, did she really look that bad?
Starting to smooth one of the pleats on her skirt, she stopped, squared her shoulders back and smiled instead. "Attempted mugging."
Reaching into her satchel, she began pulling her resume out, but he raised a hand to stop her.
"You should have called. I filled the position an hour ago."
She let go of the paper and dug deeper into the bag, coming up with the remains of her cell phone, its electronic guts spilling out of the hard plastic shell.
"Pity, I probably would have hired you." His gaze dropped again, circling her hips before seizing on her lower legs. "Still a runner, Katelyn?"
She tensed. Eight plus years had passed since she made the Olympic team as a middle-distance runner and then dropped out of the games and off the face of the earth. With the time lapse, it was a rare day anyone recognized her. Still, she should have expected it. Her resume had been filed two weeks ago, plenty of time for Montgomery's HR people to run a preliminary background check.
"Couple of times a week." She dropped the broken phone back into her satchel and snapped it shut. Hearing the sound of an engine, she glanced to her right and confirmed Montgomery's limo had just entered the alley. Knowing she had precious few seconds left to make her pitch, she looked at Montgomery and upped the wattage on her smile. "Are there any other positions available?"