The Billionaire Game 2By: Lila Monroe
Asher ran his fingers reverentially along the blue silk of my brassiere, stroking the finely woven violet lace with a look of concentration on his face so deep that it approached wonder. I blushed with pleasure and delight at his appreciation, feeling my breaths come harder and faster and my heart speed up as he squeezed the ample cup, his lips parting slightly in a wicked grin that told me he liked what he felt.
Oh, he liked it a lot.
“This is exceptional workmanship,” he said, placing the brassiere back on the shelf. “You’ve really outdone yourself.”
“Thanks,” I said, trying to sound offhand and not like I’d been up half the night going over the stock to make sure it would meet with his approval.
We were back in my workshop, trying to re-establish our sense of the space after a week of being banned while contractors put in the floor—beautiful reclaimed hardwood planks with a clear finish over the light oak to let the natural distress show through. It was gorgeous. Even Asher had to admit it had been the right decision.
I’d vetoed his choice of black marble, reminding him that I wasn’t going for that flashy-trashy boudoir look of glossy black and hot pink and lipstick red. Instead, I envisioned a clean, fresh space with lots of natural light and neutral colors to allow my handmade lingerie to draw the eye. Think wildflowers in crystal vases, a big mason jar server of mimosas for customers, and plush, elegant furniture in the dressing rooms with just a touch of industrial steel thrown in for balance.
He’d reluctantly agreed with my design ideas, but there was no way I would have let him tell me how to decorate the lingerie store I’d been dreaming about for the past million years or so. And after realizing how uncompromising I was going to be, Asher gave in pretty quickly to my demands, putting up just the littlest bit of fight for show.
Getting the workshop both up to code and visually on-point had been an exhilarating challenge, and I could only wish it had been the only one. For some reason, Asher was really cracking the whip on the business timeline.
I’d told him again and again that as long as we were done in time to get into the fall fashion shows I’d be happy, but he’d just laugh and shake his head and utter some platitude about it how it was impossible to be too early. Tell that to someone who didn’t get sent home for showing up a week early to a Josh Groban concert, I’d told him, but he’d just laughed again, and hey, he was the billionaire, so I decided to leave it up to him.
And so I was little loopy from lack of sleep that morning as we went over the samples I’d brought and tried to decide what to use on our opening day in three months.
In addition to the latest all-nighter, I’d been working like a madwoman organizing my ideas into separate themed lines with names ranging from Sweetie Pie to Synful, ordering materials from every source I knew was reliable and a few that I didn’t, sewing and pricing them, and interviewing and hiring seamstresses—that last one had almost given me an aneurism after she’d admitted that she “didn’t, like, actually know sewing or whatever, but I’m just so into fashion, you know?” And then once I found an applicant who actually had something resembling qualifications, I still had to train them on the standards I expected for my lingerie.
You’d think all this would have made a dent in my to-do list, but nope, it was still a mountain that would have given Sir Edmund Hillary pause.
“How are you coming along with that mission statement?” Asher asked offhandedly. “I need it to show around at the banks today, and since you’re not busy at the moment, if you wouldn’t mind running me up five hundred words or so…”
“Bite me,” I said eloquently.
“With pleasure,” he replied with a smirk.
I just rolled my eyes and jotted down yet another note to myself on the back of my hand. Don’t get me wrong—I was beyond grateful that Asher had appeared like a knight in shining armor to save my dream of a lingerie store with his investment, but that didn’t make his incessant flirting any less irritating. He just couldn’t help turning on the playboy routine the second he saw a skirt.
It was maybe a little more irritating because I wouldn’t have minded him taking me up on my offer.
Focus, Kate! Don’t look at those luscious biceps stretching the sleeves of his shirt tight, or the way those slacks cling to his ass, or those full pouty lips that—
That are speaking. Right now. Oops. Pay attention!
Asher was ticking off a list of details on his long, elegant fingers. “We still need to get this space completely renovated and set-dressed, finalize the last hirings of additional people to produce your designs, finalize your launch collection, register trademarks, and establish the company on paper.” He frowned. “I feel like I’m forgetting something. Oh yes! Contact the press.”