Home > Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(5)

Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(5)
Author: Jessica Clare

“It’s the house. You heard the part about the letters not being able to leave the premises?”

“Yeah, but what’s the big deal? I’ll just drop in on some weekdays and take photos. I don’t mind going on location if the pay is right—which it is.”

“You’re going to be very on location. As in, if you take the job, they want you to live on site for the duration of the project. They don’t want you coming back and forth. The owner’s a bit of a recluse and doesn’t seem to like traffic much, so he’s insisting that the ghostwriter live on the premises with him.”

“Do what?”

“Live. On site. With the owner. He’s the one who doesn’t want them leaving the premises.”

“That’s a little . . .”

“Creepy? I know. That’s what I said and that’s why I think you should turn it down.”

She thought for a long minute. The money was nice and the house was intriguing, but the thought of living there with a stranger? That tipped things over from eccentric to downright bizarre. “Exactly how many letters are there, again?”

“Several hundred.” Kat gave her a curious look. “You’re not considering it, are you?”

“Not seriously,” she admitted. “Though it would be cool to visit the house and see what it’s like on the inside. And the money would be nice. But . . . ”

“Yeah, it’s that ‘but’ that makes me keep pausing. You want me to turn them down?”

Gretchen toyed with her fork, thinking of the expensive salad on her plate that she couldn’t pay for, at least not until a payment came in. “Not yet.”

Kat shrugged. “Suit yourself.”

She shoved a crouton around her plate. Three hundred grand could be several years of financial security, even in pricey New York City. “And they asked for me, huh?”

“Who knows. Maybe the recluse is a big fan of Astronaut Bill.”

Yeah, right. Or maybe she was the only idiot available who would actually consider the job. Gretchen sighed to herself and then nudged Kat’s fluffy wheat roll. “You going to eat that?”

***

“Never worry, Uranea. I’ll stop them with my trusty laser sword.” Astronaut Bill put his hand on the sheath at his waist.

Uranea gasped, her small hands flying to her mouth. Her bosoms quivered with distress. “Oh, please be safe, Astronaut Bill!”

“They won’t know what hit them,” Bill said grimly, dragging his immense blade from its sheath. Uranea gasped again, clearly impressed by the size of it. “Now I’ll send them on a one-way ticket back to the stars . . .”

Gretchen rolled her eyes at her own page and took a sip from a water bottle. Garbage. Pure and utter garbage. If Uranea walked into Cooper’s Cuppa and ordered a drink, Gretchen probably would have hauled across the counter to punch her in the face.

Hmm. She made a note to herself: have Uranea punched in face in next chapter.

Stupid Astronaut Bill. Stupid Uranea. She kept hoping for a black hole to suck them into another dimension and then she’d never have to write about them again, but nope. No such luck.

Gretchen checked the timer on the oven again. Ten minutes until the next batch of her cookies were done. She could get in a bit more writing. Bracing herself for a few more paragraphs of the hated duo, she began to type once more. The bell at the counter chimed, and she looked up from her tablet, where she’d been drafting the next scene between handling the store’s customers.

Cooper moved past her before she could get up, a bustle of white shirt and bright red apron. “I’ll get it, Gretch. You’re busy.”

She was . . . busy? She raised an eyebrow at his back. Here she was, slacking on the job at his business, and he was going to let her? He was either the nicest boss in the world, or . . . hell. Brontë had been right when she’d pointed it out to Gretchen the other day: Cooper was totally in love with her.

Well didn’t that just make things uncomfortable.

Cooper was an old friend, a college buddy. They’d both moved to New York at about the same time—him to start his coffee business, and her to pursue a career in journalism. It had seemed natural for them to stick together and remain friends, and when she was lean on money and between checks, Cooper let her work shifts at his cafe for some extra pay.

Except right now? He was being a little too understanding.

Brontë had tried telling her a few weeks ago that Cooper was in love with her. Gretchen had denied it. Cooper was just a friend. They were buddies. They hung out together and had each other’s backs. There was nothing more to it than that. But as time went on, she began to have doubts that maybe she wasn’t quite as aware of Cooper’s feelings as she thought. She gave him a wary look as he made lattes and handed them to the waiting customers. When the bar was deserted again, he turned and glanced back at her, his smile too broad for her liking.

“How’s the book coming?” he asked. “Still giving you trouble?”

There was one way to find out, she supposed, if Cooper was going to make things uncomfortable for her or not. “Oh, just struggling with a love scene,” she said idly. “You know how it goes.”

Cooper flushed bright red and his goofy smile got a little bigger and a little, well, goofier.

Hell.

She saved her file and exited out of the app. Maybe it was time to be spending a little less time at Cooper’s Cuppa. Usually she only showed up for a shift about once a week, just to pick up some extra money. But ever since her last roomie had moved out, she’d been coming in more or less every day. She needed the cash, and it was a good excuse to avoid writing more of Astronaut Bill and Uranea.

Clearly her coming in so often had backfired.

“Actually, I need to get this scene knocked out,” she told Cooper, forcing an apologetic note into her voice as she tucked her tablet under her arm. “If it’s okay with you, I’m going to head out early.”

“Of course,” Cooper said. “Oh, and I wanted to talk to you about something.”

The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. Oh, God. Cooper was a friend, but that was all he was. He was more like a little brother to her. A little brother with a cowlick in the back of his hair, barely an inch in height on her, and pit stains on light-colored shirts. Cooper was sweet, but definitely not her type. If he was going to ask her out, it was going to absolutely ruin any sort of easy friendship they had.

It already felt ruined, and that was depressing enough.

She tugged at the strings of her apron, turning her back to him so he wouldn’t see her wince. “Can it wait, Coop? I really do need to get going. The cookies will be ready in a few minutes, if you can pull them out.”

“Oh, sure. I was just going to let you know that I think you’ll like your next check.”

She turned to face him. “Why?”

He beamed at her. “I gave you a raise.”

“A raise? Why? I’m your worst employee.”

“Don’t say that. You’re my favorite employee.” The smile on his face grew a little softer.

The discomfort Gretchen was feeling grew. When had Cooper turned the corner from being a friend? Why hadn’t she paid attention before now? This made things so incredibly uncomfortable. “You shouldn’t give me a raise, Coop. Anyone else would have fired me at this point. I’m late, I’m lazy, and I work on other stuff when I’m tending the counter.”

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