Closer:A Billionaire Romance Novel(4)

By: Aria Hawthorne

“One point for short girls then.”

He muted his smile and held out his hand, insisting that she take a seat. Closing her eyes and cringing like he was scratching his nails across his mahogany desk, she sank into the chair, barely able to fathom the fact that her ass was being supported by something that cost more than her entire college tuition.

He rested his cane against the edge of his desk and reclined in his black executive chair. “So tell me…why is a smart Northwestern graduate, who knows the worth of a Mies van der Rohe chair, seeking an office job through a temp agency?”

“Because Northwestern didn’t do their job training me to do anything else.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

She shrugged and fell silent. He was fishing for something and she didn’t feel like making it easy for him. Crossing her legs, she tested him, wondering if he would shift his gaze away from her face. She had been told by the temp agency to wear pantyhose and a skirt. Her experiment failed. He didn’t flinch.

“And you haven’t walked out of the room—yet,” he continued. “Perhaps because the temp agency told you that this was a special interview for a significantly higher wage than usual. Which means you need the money. More than usual. Why?”

She shrugged. Now, she definitely didn’t feel like making it easy for him. “Doesn’t everybody need money?”

He threw his weight back into his chair. “Okay, I’ll guess.”

Inez rolled her eyes—big time. She wanted him to see it, but he ignored her.

“By the way you disrespected your own alma mater, you seem to realize it’s a cut below true Ivy League schools.”

He paused and waited. Inez suddenly wondered if he had fallen asleep.

“And…?” she pressed him, seriously annoyed.

“And your silence confirms that I’m right, which tells me you don’t need money to pay off student loans since you most likely received a full scholarship to attend Northwestern, despite the fact that you actually preferred to attend Harvard or Yale.”

“Princeton,” she corrected him.

He nodded. “Of course. Harvard is…

“For nerds,” she inserted.

“Too traditional,” he overrode her. “And Yale is…”

“For trust fund babies.”

He smiled slowly, as if he had recorded the exchange in his mind and now was replaying it for entertainment. At least she was amusing someone.

“You failed to list your college major on your résumé,” he added. “Which means it’s something unemployable like drama or dance.”

She smirked at the thought of herself in a ballet tutu. “Art history.”

“Ah, yes…your knowledge of Mies van der Rohe and the fact that you visited a somewhat obscure architectural exhibit at the Art Institute. I should have gotten that one. An oversight on my part.”

“Next time, Billions,” she sassed back.

It just came out. She couldn’t help it. She didn’t want the job—whatever the hell it was—so at this point, she was free to insult him as much as she thought she could get away with.

“And so, you don’t need tuition money because Northwestern gave you a free ride to study whatever you wanted, so where does that leave us?” He tapped his fingers along the sleek surface of his desk. “Credit card debt? However, you sound far too exacting to have frivolously gotten into credit card debt. Wedding?”

She snorted, then covered her nose and tried hard to compose herself.

“Ahhh, I see,” he replied. “No boyfriend.”

He registered her silence with a smug smile.

“Maybe I just need a job, like everyone else.”

“I’m sure that’s true.” He smiled, like he finally had figured her out.

“You’re kinda into acting like Hercule Poirot, aren’t you? You’ve even got the same quirky accent.”

“Poirot was Belgian. I’m Dutch.”

“Ah, I assumed German.”

He huffed, like she had finally succeeded in insulting him. “Hercule Poirot—that’s another unusually obscure reference for a young woman of your age. Agatha Christie isn’t something most girls read widely anymore.”

“Maybe I’m older than you think.” Inez shifted in her seat. He hadn’t moved his gaze from her face since she sat down in his two hundred thousand dollar Barcelona chair.

“You’re twenty-seven. Perhaps twenty-eight,” he replied.

“You’re good,” she conceded.

He nodded and continued with his interrogation. “What are your table manners like?”

“I generally try to eat with my hands as much as possible.”