Billionaire CEO's Fake Virgin Fiancée

By: Brittney Brooke

Chapter One

Mara

In a New York Minute



Eyeshadow.

Nah. Trying too hard.

Mascara.

Yes. You don’t want to look twelve.

Perfume.

Which one? Only got two. Both off the discount shelf at Walgreens. Ugh. Sophisticated, not.

“Lacey!” I call out as I lean over the bathroom sink, peering at my reflection in the mirror. “Can I use some of your Chanel? Please?”

“Knock yourself out, kiddo,” Lacey replies.

I take the bottle from my roommate Lacey’s shelf and hold it in my palm, suddenly second-guessing my choice. Wait. Is this too “old” for me? I’m twenty-two; don’t want to come off smelling like some Haute Couture wannabe on my first day. I’m just a dumb intern, not some corporate suit’s executive assistant. You’re running out of time, Mara. Pick one for God’s sake.

I hurriedly press the atomizer button, and a cloud of No. 5 mist hits my throat. Gak! I forgot to close my mouth. Not the way I want to start off—using “eau de toilette” for mouthwash a la Scarlett O’Hara.

“You okay in there?” Lacey yells.

“Yeah,” I say, clucking my tongue in distaste and replacing the perfume bottle on the shelf. I take one last look to appraise my appearance. Not altogether bad, but my college student beer budget is showing in the short, cotton knit cardigan I’ve tossed overtop a plain white collared blouse and a navy skirt. Too bad I gave up high heels in my junior year; some matching pumps would at least kick my sorry professional image up a notch. All the footwear my closet holds right now is ballet flats, flip-flops, and sneakers.

I smooth down my brunette locks that have somehow gone frizzy in the muggy heat of the bathroom and heave a sigh. Familiar blue irises rimmed with dark gray stare back at me from the mirror. You’re just a lowly intern, they seem to say. I’ll likely be drowning in an oversized lab coat in the first hour; no one will see me, or my makeup, or what I’m wearing, nor will they care. And with no payday on the horizon, GeoRock Incorporated will just have to take me as I am. Whether it’s clad in flats, heels or otherwise, my foot is in the door of an international mining corporation. I’m lucky to have this opportunity, pay or no pay, and I’m really, really hoping it will lead to a permanent position. It will launch what I hope will be my career as a renowned female geologist into the stratosphere. Talk about getting a break! I can’t afford to screw up this one.

I turn and walk into the living room of the tiny apartment Lacey and I share on the Lower East Side—the closest we could get to downtown that we could afford—to see her lounging in her big, wicker armchair reading the morning newspaper.

“You ready for your big day?” she asks, allowing me a glance over the top of a sheet of newsprint.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” I say, spreading my arms wide. “What do you think?”

Lacey turns her full attention on me, assessing me up and down. “You’re internship on a stick, Mara Snow. There’ll be no mistaking you for GeoRock’s media relations maven, that’s for sure.”

I drop my arms to my sides. “Thanks, I think. Was that supposed to be a compliment? Because I could really use one, Lace. I’m nervous as shit.”

“Oh, don’t be,” she says, waving a hand dismissively. “You look great. Everyone gets first day jitters. I know it’s your first official gig as a geologist, but that giant brain of yours earned you top honors in your graduating class. You’ll ‘rock’ their world, Mar.” Lacey throws me a gaping grin, pleased with her corny pun.

I roll my eyes and let out a groan. “Thanks, Miss Open Mike. A little early in the day for your stand-up act, isn’t it? Save it for the stage.”

“I don’t have a show until Thursday, you know that,” Lacey says. “But if I had an education like yours, I sure as hell wouldn’t be walking the boards in a comedy club like I do now, I’ll tell you that much. I’d be soaking up the luscious landscape of young, hot suits in a big office on Wall Street.”

Lacey and I are about as opposite as two best friends can be. I studied rock formations and tectonic plates and earned my B.Sc. in Geology; Lacey took drama in high school and spent her summers performing in theater festivals. I’m a brunette, and she’s platinum blonde. We’re Mutt and Jeff, Jekyll and Hyde. Okay, maybe more like Beavis and Butthead.

“And you’d be miserable,” I say. “You’d never be happy working behind a desk—you know you wouldn’t. You’re too free a spirit.”

“Who said anything about being behind a desk? I’d be on top of it with the first corporate hottie I could grab out of the hallway. Hell, this free spirit would totally get locked down if I could work for this guy,” she says, folding her newspaper into a square and handing it over for me to see. “Your mysterious CEO has come out of hiding. And look at him! Hot as fuck, despite being out of the public eye for the last seven years.” Lacey sighs. “Mining magnate and bashful billionaire, Bastian Kingsley.” She gives a wolf whistle. “Single, too. Didn’t his wife die on him, or something? What a catch he’d be. He must be forty by now, and mysterious recluse or not, I’d sure as hell go there.”

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