Home > Going Down Easy (Billionaire Bad Boys #1)

Going Down Easy (Billionaire Bad Boys #1)
Author: Carly Phillips

Chapter One

Even with the anxiety over her first day of work at her new job looming, Lexie Parker still took the time to count out the brightly colored pills and filled the plastic holder, labeled by individual days and divided by a.m. and p.m. doses. She separated each medication and double-checked the dose on the list provided to her by her sister’s doctor. In a separate pill holder, she included a daily dose of antianxiety medication, also doctor-prescribed and approved.

She clicked each holder shut tight, then left the plastic containers next to the cookie jar in the kitchen for her sister, along with ten dollars for coffee and breakfast downstairs at the market on the corner. Any extra change would probably be hoarded for shopping, but she’d accepted that particular vice. As long as she could keep Kendall on her meds, Lexie could breathe more easily. Her sister might not appreciate the effort, but Lexie knew, if not for her, the psych ward was waiting. Again.

Her sister’s dog, Waffles, a small terrier mix she’d adopted during one of her manic phases, jumped up and down, begging for a treat.

“No. You just had breakfast, you piggy,” Lexie said, bending to pat the tan fluffy dog on the head. “You’re on a diet.” Her sister tended to overfeed him, when she remembered to feed him at all.

Lexie ticked off her list of morning chores, satisfied she’d remembered everything before sparing a glance at the second bedroom in her apartment—paid for with her father’s money. His way of showing gratitude for her sacrifice. She’d lost her last job because she’d been too busy looking after Kendall during her last depressive episode. The one that had landed her in Shady Oaks.

Lexie hated accepting her parents’ money, but she’d been unemployed and out of options, and they’d leased this apartment for them a few months ago. After her sister’s doctor had agreed to release her following a two-week stay in the psych ward, as long as she lived with someone who could keep an eye on her. Though her parents had a huge home on Long Island, Lexie had taken the burden off of them and agreed to the new living arrangement.

After all, Kendall was her twin. And her father had his hands full with her mother, who suffered from severe depression. Yes, her family had fantastic genes. Lexie always feared she was one bad mood away from falling prey to the same demons that consumed her mother and sister.

Lexie rushed into her room to get ready for her first day at her new job. The position wasn’t glamorous. She’d been hired on as a personal assistant to a software mogul whose company her father was investing in. Her employment was a favor, since she didn’t have a glowing letter of recommendation from her last job.

Her dreams of working in a PR agency in Manhattan had disappeared when she transferred to a local college not long after her sister had returned home following her first breakdown. Lexie had taken classes and finished her degree but wasn’t able to build a career that lasted. Life was always busy, and her twin’s periods of stability weren’t long enough.

Despite her busy morning routine, Lexie couldn’t afford to be late. She’d read the online write-ups on Kaden Barnes, software billionaire whose company was giving Snapchat a run for the money. Kaden was the financial guru behind the business, and if his partners were to be believed, he couldn’t keep a personal assistant because he was too difficult to work for.

She wasn’t worried … much. The one thing Lexie was good at was keeping other people organized and ignoring frustrating personalities. She was sure she could deal with the stuffy billionaire with a stick up his ass.

She dressed in her best skirt and blouse, chose a pair of heels she could walk in without too much pain, picked up her purse, and started for the door.

“Lexie!” Kendall called, yanking her door open and rushing into the room. “I had the best idea for a job. What if I board dogs?” she asked, scooping Waffles into her arms. “You want playmates, don’t you?” she asked, nuzzling the pup’s fur.

Drawing a deep breath, Lexie turned. “We aren’t allowed more than one pet in this building, so I’m afraid you’ll have to keep thinking. I have to get to work, so we’ll talk later. Your meds are on the counter and so is money for lunch.”

“God dammit, you’re not my mother. I’m twenty-eight years old! I don’t need a babysitter,” she exploded. She bent and placed the dog on the floor, then glared at Lexie.

No, the meds hadn’t calibrated correctly yet, she thought, trying her best to maintain her composure. When Kendall was level-headed, she appreciated Lexie’s efforts at helping.

Ignoring her outburst, otherwise she’d end up engaged in a full-on war of words, which was what her sister wanted, she waved good-bye. “See you later!” she said and rushed out the door.

Unfortunately, when she reached the ground level and exit and opened the door to the street, rain sprinkled down just as the bus she planned on taking pulled up to the corner.

There was no time to run back upstairs for an umbrella, so she braved the rain and hoped she didn’t look like a drowned rat by the time she arrived at her new job.

* * *

Kaden Barnes walked out of yet another unproductive settlement meeting, his business partners, Derek West and Lucas Monroe, by his side. He exited into an early-morning drizzle. From the wet look of the ground, the skies had opened up while they were indoors, and his foot hit a puddle before he climbed into the waiting Town Car.

Fucking swell. This day was just fantastic already, and it was barely nine a.m. Julian Dane, their former friend, was suing them for a piece of their company and a huge chunk of money. Today’s plan had been to set the meeting early, intending to catch him at a weak moment, when he wouldn’t be as focused and ready to talk terms. The bastard trying to steal a piece of their empire had a problem with partying and a bigger issue with drugs. As they all knew from experience, mornings were rough on him.

Unfortunately, all the power plays in the world didn’t matter. According to their attorney, because Julian had been there during the initial design phase, they’d have to come up with some kind of settlement if they wanted this mess to go away. In Kade’s book, any acknowledgment of Julian’s supposed hand in the creation of the Blink app was a loss. And Kade didn’t like to lose.

He remained silent on the ride downtown to their Soho offices while Derek and Lucas talked about potential offers Julian might accept. Kade was still brewing on that. The man had a cocaine problem. Money would probably be the most welcome solution. Lord knew he hadn’t been interested in rehab when offered, and no way in hell would they give him a stake in the company.

“You could have shaved for this meeting,” Derek said as they exited the car a little while later.

Lucas slammed the door behind them and laughed. The asshole.

Kade shrugged. “I wore a suit. You can’t have everything.”

They’d agreed to dress like the adults they were, not the tee-shirt-wearing juveniles they preferred to be, in order to let Julian know he wouldn’t be walking all over them. They were taking his lawsuit seriously—because if it dragged out and ended up in court, their company valuation would be impacted. They couldn’t afford to let that happen, and Julian knew it. Which meant he had the upper hand.

Still stewing over that fact, Kade followed the others into the elevator. He hit the button for the top floor, heading up to the area above the workspace they shared with employees. The offices were housed in a newly renovated garage.

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