9781460390009

Harlequin
June 7, 2015


The Billionaire’s Intern

#1

(Addison Treffen's Book)

For Logan Black, Jaiven Rodriguez and Zair al Ruyi, New York is spread out before them like the Garden of Eden…and no one knows the sweet taste of forbidden fruit better than America's most ruthless billionaires!

Jaded, cynical, with a darkness that threatens to consume them whole, they think they've seen it all. But temptation has something new in store for each of them…

When Addison Treffen finds herself working for Logan Black—the notorious billionaire who literally came back from the dead—she thinks it's a safe haven from the shocking scandal surrounding her family. Little did she know that she's about to get very personal with her billionaire boss!

Collect all three novels in The Forbidden Series:

THE BILLIONAIRE'S INTERN by USA TODAY bestselling author Maisey Yates
THE BILLIONAIRE'S FANTASY by USA TODAY bestselling author Kate Hewitt
THE BILLIONAIRE'S INNOCENT by USA TODAY bestselling author Caitlin Crews

Also In this Series:

Also In this Series:

Excerpt

Chapter One

 

 

Well, really, things just couldn’t get much worse. Addison sat in her older brother’s office, numbness wrapping itself around her like a heavy blanket.

She was officially banned from her sorority, not that she cared much since school was awful just at the moment, as was her sorority. But still, leaving of her own accord would’ve hurt a lot less.

They hadn’t exactly said the words ‘banned’ but the sorority’s president had made it abundantly clear that Addison’s presence was a ‘distraction’. And that links to ‘prostitution’ and ‘snipers’ were not exactly fitting with the relaxing environment of sisterhood and education they were so striving for.

Well, obviously. But nobody seemed worried about whether or not Addison felt she had sisterhood, or a relaxing environment for education.

She had nothing.

Her father had been killed in front of her only days after she’d discovered he was he was running a prostitution ring, behind the façade of a law office that championed for the downtrodden.

She’d lost not only her father, but the memory of him and any bit of safety and security she’d ever felt in her name, or in her family home.

Her sorority might be disturbed by associations with snipers’ bullets piercing the windows of the wealthy and elite at midnight, and with associations to sex rings and scandal, but she could guarantee it was a lot worse for her.

Added to that, her boyfriend, Eddie was suddenly and conveniently on vacation in Bermuda, and while he sent his regrets, he could not interrupt his vacation. Which she had a sinking feeling meant that her rather distant boyfriend was putting more distance between them now, thanks to the scandal.

Her schooling was on temporary hiatus, and she was finishing what she could online because campus was impossible for her to navigate. What with male students asking if she sold her favors, wink wink nudge nudge, since her father had obviously dealt in sex, and with most female students now avoiding her so they didn’t get her contaminants on them.

Truly, people were terrible.

Her father had been shot and killed in front of her, she’d had to go to his funeral. A funeral she, her brother and her mother had had to put on as though they still cared because even given what he’d done, none of them could quite bring themselves to leave Jason’s body in an unmarked grave.

Though, the marker on his grave was bland enough.

Jason Treffen, 1955-2014.

No beloved father, beloved husband, beloved boss. He wasn’t beloved by a single person by the time that bullet passed through him. And it was his own fault. As more and more details emerged, it became harder to remember him as the man she’d always believed he was. Instead, her old, beautiful memories were twisting. Making it hard to see anything other than the monster.

And just as well.

Even in death, he hurt others. He was gone, and they were all left to deal with the fallout. They were all coping in the best way they could.

For Austin, it meant hoping his legacy as a true advocate for women never fell under the shadow of what their father was. It meant working harder, with even greater integrity than he had to begin with.

For her future sister-in-law Katy, it meant living with the crushing death of her sister, trying to move on and make Sarah’s life matter, through the foundation she was establishing.

For Addison’s mother it seemed to mean blocking out the world and shoe shopping.             Addison had no idea what it meant for her.

Which was why she was sitting in her brother’s office when she should have been in class.

“Are you okay?” Austin asked, studying her from his position behind his desk.

She smiled, knowing that Austin would see through it, no matter how convincing it might appear. “Wonderful, aren’t you?”

“I think I’m doing better than you are. But then, I have someone I’m sharing all this with.”
“Yes, I know. You’re in love, Austin. It’s impossible to miss.”

His lips curved up into a smile. “Yeah, I am.”

“I’m pleased for you.”

He lifted his hand and threw a bag of Skittles down onto the desk in front of her. “Sugar,” he said. “Your favorite variety. Eat.”

Austin had always brought her candy. He was so much older it had been hard for them to relate to each other in some ways, but he’d always brought her treats when they spent time together. And as a result, she had a slight Skittles habit she couldn’t kick. All thanks to her older brother. They wouldn’t taste half as good if they didn’t come with memories of better days.

She took the bag and tore the corner off, pouring some of the candy into her hand, and rattling it around in her palm before rolling them onto the table and slowly sorting them into color coded piles. “What’s going on? You’re being really nice to me.”
“You’ve been through hell the past couple weeks. And it pisses me off. Because I worked damn hard to bring that bastard down and try and to make sure you and mom didn’t suffer needlessly.” He paused and looked out the window. “I tried, Addison. I tried to make things right. For Sarah. For Katy, for every woman he hurt. And the last thing I wanted to do was hurt anyone. Especially mom. Especially you.”
“I’m fine, Austin,” she said, sliding the red group of skittles from the table, into her hand, the strong fruit flavors exploding on her tongue before fizzling into sour sugar.

“I’m not sure I would be fine if I saw what you did.”

A sharp, shocking flash of that night assaulted her mind’s eye, and with it, the familiar, ice cold fear. But there was no point in heaping guilt on Austin. No point in betraying just how horrific it had been.

No point in telling him every night she woke up drenched in sweat and shivering, feeling like demons were reaching for her in the dark.
“It was awful,” she said, putting the candy down. “I won’t lie. But I was smart enough not to go and investigate closely. I went in the bathroom and called 911. I was scared, but…I didn’t see much.”

Not that it stopped the unending terror. But her older brother carried too much on his shoulders already. And if there was one thing Jason Treffen had passed on to her, it was the ability to appear cool while the world burned to ash around you.

“That’s…good.”
She shrugged, pouring more candy into onto the table, pushing the green in with the green, the purple in with the purple, wondering if she was overplaying the casual attitude.

Wondering if Austin would even notice something was wrong.

Austin was a caring older brother, but he was more than ten years older than her. And he’d moved out when she’d been a kid. He was always nice, but in general he’d seemed like an adult to her ever since she could remember. One thing he’d always been was a bearer of candy. Oh yes, and protective. Very protective.

And no, she wasn’t…okay. But she just had to deal with what had happened. And talking about it over Skittles and coffee wasn’t going to help that happen.

“And school?”

“Well…I’ve been politely ejected from my sorority…”

His dark brows snapped together. “That’s bullshit, I’ll write a letter.”
“I left of my own accord. No one forced me to go. It was just heavily suggested. And who’s going to stay where they aren’t wanted?.” That question was punctuated by her eating another grouping of Skittles.

“And your boyfriend?” Austin asked, applying a level of disdain to the title that Addison almost found funny. Almost.

“In Bermuda, of all places, likely blinding beach goers with his exposed WASPy kneecaps and trudging around wearing sandals and tube socks, as rich boys are wont to do on holiday.”

“That was why he didn’t come to the funeral. I assume that’s why his dad didn’t come either. Or maybe that was them desperately trying not to get scandal all over them. What’s he doing about school?”

Addison sighed heavily. “I don’t know, Austin. Are you genuinely concerned for his education?”

“Questioning why the hell he’s not with you when you need him.”
Addison lifted a shoulder, proud of herself for not flinching when a shaft of pain hit her chest. “Probably because I’m a liability for him too. I understand.”

“Why are you with him?”

“Because,” she said. “He’s suitable.” Just like Columbia was a suitable university, and her sorority was a suitable house for a Treffen. Just like everything in her life was suitable down to the ground, for a man who was now six feet beneath it.

“So what are you going to do?” Austin asked.

“About Edward Howell III?” she asked, invoking her boyfriend’s full name.

“About school. About where you sleep.”

“I don’t know. We have places I can stay so I’m not really concerned about that. There’s the house upstate, the penthouse, if I really wanted to I could go to Bermuda to Mom and Dad’s beach house.”
“Finishing your degree?”

“I will,” she said, crossing her ankles and leaning back in her chair.

Though, right now she wondered what the point of it all would be. She’d pursued Columbia to make Jason proud. And she’d chosen hospitality because she knew it was a field that would benefit a future society wife. Considering how things had turned out she wondered if any of it mattered.

“But right now?”

“I’m on sabbatical. Because the entire student body is convinced that I am a prostitute because dad….well, you know.” She tipped the Skittles bag over and poured a sizable amount onto the table.

Austin tented his fingers, leveling his dark eyes on her. She had a feeling he was about to try and solve all her problems. He had that look about him. It was very Austiny. “I have a solution for you.” As she’d suspected. “Or rather, I have a way for you to spend your time.”

“Please tell me it has nothing to do with planning your wedding. I love you, I love Katy, but…pay someone to do that. You’re rich. There is no reason to subject friends and family to this.”
“I know. But I can’t because my wife-to-be is a party planner and binders with colored tabs make her…well, let’s just say the whole thing works out well for me.”

She blinked. “Thank you for over-sharing.”
“I could have gone further.”

“Well, don’t. Ever. I’m pleased for your happiness…but I’m your sister and no, I don’t need to hear about all that.”

“I’ll spare you the details,” he said, still looking too smug for her liking. “But back to my plan, which has nothing to do with you looking at flower arrangements.”

“I’m listening.”

“You know Logan Black, I assume?”

“Everyone knows Logan Black, Austin. He was the only headline in the world two years ago. He got more press than dad and that’s saying something. He came back from the dead, after all.”

“Fair point,” Austin said. “I assume, since you’re aware of his circumstances, you’re also aware that he’s now the acting CEO of Black Properties.”

“I’m aware of that, yes. I do own a TV. Also, I make it a point to stay abreast of things that affect high society. Lest I appear gauche at luncheons,” she said, her tone dry.
“Logan and I knew each other in college. He’s…a friend. Or rather…I think he’s a friend. What passes for a friend to Logan isn’t the same as friendship for most people. At least not these days.”

“What does this have to do with me?”

“Because I got you an internship with him.”
“What?”

“Unpaid drudge work with the man at the top of your industry. You’re welcome.”

She blinked. “You’re assuming I actually want to work in that industry.”

“Actually, I’m assuming that you’d like to escape the press.”

The media had been in a frenzy ever since the story had broken about Jason. And now the press was camped outside their house upstate, the event of a death intense enough for them to break their moratorium on leaving the city, and outside of Austin’s office building. They were also roaming around the Manhattan penthouse her mother owned.

“And you honestly think taking an internship with Black will help me avoid the press?”

“If there’s one thing Black knows, it’s how to stay out of the spotlight when he wants to. No one has to know you’re there. And if the press does find out you’re there, it won’t seem at all unusual given your field of study.”

Addison leaned back in her chair. “You’ve thought a lot about this haven’t you?”

“Handy thing about guilt, it can really tap into your problem-solving skills.” Austin stood and started to pace the length of the room. “Logan Black is not someone I would typically want you around, given his reputation. But he seems to have calmed down some. Since his resurrection.”

Austin wasn’t wrong. About the chance to hide out from the press, or about Logan Black. Considering his story Logan should’ve been a media darling. But the man had a knack for staying out of the spotlight when he wanted to. He had changed a lot in the past four years. Two of which he’d spent presumed dead.

And when he’d come back, the playboy had transformed into something else entirely. A ruthless businessman who, by all accounts, was difficult, demanding, unpredictable. And reclusive.

And Austin had set her up to work with him. For free.

Her month really was getting better and better.

But considering her situation, she didn’t have a better option.

She was tired of being hounded by the press, and she needed to keep busy. Otherwise, she would end up curled into a sugar-coated ball of misery. Reliving that night over, and over. The night that everything had gone to hell. The night her father had most certainly gone to hell.

“He’s…” Addison started, not really sure how to broach the topic of Logan. Or how to express her concerns. Going from living with one male psychopath to another wasn’t exactly what she wanted.

Not that Logan was a confirmed psychopath but…

She started again. “He’s not the same.”

“He’s not,” Austin said. “But he’s not going to hurt you either. Actually, I would have trusted him with you a whole lot less before than I do now. I mean, at least he’s not going around seducing everything in a skirt.”

“I prefer to wear pantsuits in the office. And you’re assuming I’m seduceable.”

Austin’s expression turned fierce. “No, I’m assuming nothing about you. But what I do know is that I’m slightly wary of men who treat women like they exist for nothing more than sex. I don’t want you exposed to anything like that.”
“You mean you don’t want me to be exposed to anything like that again. You forget I lived with our father for almost all of my life, and he was certainly one of those men. Wasn’t he?” A small part of her hoped that Austin would say no. A small part of her was still hoping to wake up and find this was all a terrible mistake.

“He was,” Austin said, his tone grave. “But Logan isn’t. Not now. And that’s all I mean.”

Addison cleared her throat. “Great. That’s…I mean this is great, Austin. Thank you.”
“And he’ll provide lodging.”
She arched her brow, a strange jolt of foreboding settling in her stomach. “Will he?”

“Yes. He was quite adamant about that. It has to do with his work schedule, and you will be fulfilling the role of personal assistant. But, I think will be especially good since you don’t have the Sorority house, and since the press seem to be permanently camped outside of Treffen residences.”

“Probably suits you too. Related to you being in love, you don’t want me in your penthouse…being in your way.” Austin was entirely head over heels for his fiancée, in ways Addison could not imagine ever being for anyone. But while she didn’t relate to exactly what he was feeling, she logically understood that he would rather be alone with Katy than sharing his space with her.

The corner of his mouth lifted. “Well, that too. Without going into emotionally scarring details.”
“You’re too kind, Austin.”
“Hey, a chance to stay in a luxury hotel and live in style, while taking a break from school? That’s not bad.”
“And who’s going to pay for my ‘living in style’?”

“Me. And then dad’s big effing insurance payout.”
She made a face. “I don’t really like taking money from him. Money from what he did.”
“Like it or not…” Austin said, turning his chair to face the city skyline, “our entire life was financed by him.”
She stared straight ahead, her vision blurring. “What a legacy.”

“Yeah. So let’s make it a better one.”

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