Home > Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(6)

Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(6)
Author: Jessica Clare

“Yes, but you make an incredible cookie. All the customers love your recipes.”

She snorted. “Did you not hear me say the part about being late and lazy?”

“Yes, but you work hard.”

“On my books, yes. Not on slinging coffee.”

He chuckled. “You shouldn’t tell me that. I’m your boss.”

“You’re my friend,” she emphasized, feeling like an ass when his smile faded a little. Floor, swallow me up right now. “Actually, I wanted to tell you that I might be scarce for a few weeks,” she found herself telling him. That crazy assignment Kat had mentioned was looking better and better. A month away from Cooper might be just the thing to cool his jets and refuel her pocketbook. “I just got handed another contract and it’s an on-location one.”

“Oh?” He looked crestfallen. “I’ll miss seeing you around.”

“Yeah, well.” She shrugged a little, feeling like she wanted to flee. “I’m sorry. Debbie always wants more shifts. Can you give her mine?”

“Hey,” he said, reaching out and squeezing her upper arm as if to comfort her. “Don’t stress. You do what needs to be done. You know I’ll always be here for you.”

Gretchen nodded. “Thanks, Cooper. You’re a good friend. I really do mean that.”

“I know you do.” Was that a hint of sadness in his voice?

Now she felt even worse. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt Cooper. Okay, actually, that wasn’t true. The last thing she wanted to do was date Cooper. The second to last thing she wanted to do was hurt his feelings. “I appreciate it, Cooper. Sorry to run out on you.”

“Not a problem,” he said cheerfully.

They stared at each other for a long, uncomfortable moment, and then the bell on the counter dinged, saving them from further awkwardness.

“I’m going to head out,” Gretchen said, pulling off her apron. “See you around, Coop.”

He nodded, taking a client’s order, as if nothing was wrong and they hadn’t just gotten all weird with each other.

But she felt his eyes on her back as she left the coffee shop.

As soon as she was out the door, Gretchen pulled out her phone and dialed her agent.

“Kat Geary.”

“It’s me. Is that weird-ass job at the Buchanan place still available?”

“You’re not seriously thinking about taking it, are you?”

“I sure am.” The more she thought about it, the more this seemed like a good idea. It was a little unorthodox, sure. But the thought of spending time away from Astronaut Bill and his ladylove was more appealing by the moment. And speaking of uncomfortable love interests . . . getting away from Cooper for a few weeks would do a lot to ease the discomfort she was currently feeling. The money was just a very nice, very pleasant bonus on top of things. “I could use a distraction and this project sounds like the perfect one. When do I get to start?”

“As soon as we get a handshake on it. Gretchen, are you sure? It means living on the premises.”

“Yeah, but I’ve seen the outside of the house. It’s huge.”

“What if it’s filled with coffins and decapitated doll heads inside?”

“Jeez, Kat. You been trolling through the horror fiction section lately? It’s a mansion. I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s probably so big that I won’t see anyone ever. It’ll just be me and some dusty library. No big.”

Kat sighed gustily into the phone. “Well, as your friend, I think you’re crazy. As your agent, I just want to say thanks for the commission.”

“You’re welcome. I think. Now, can you call my Astronaut Bill editor and tell her I need an extension?”

Chapter 3

Gretchen stared up at the Buchanan Mansion from the window of the cab as it pulled up the driveway. “Holy doughnuts. This place is insane. I can’t believe I’m going to be living here for the next month.”

“I can’t believe it, either.” At her side, her sister Audrey’s voice sounded prim and disapproving. “The money is good, but I still think you’re crazy for taking this job.”

Gretchen was pretty sure that made two of them. “It’s a pretty lucrative job, Audrey. And you didn’t have to come.”

Her sister gave a derisive snort. “Oh, yes I did. You haven’t met Buchanan. I have. He’s surly and unpleasant and that house is a mausoleum. It’s bad enough that you’re taking a job that forces you to live in someone else’s home. I don’t care if he’s Mr. Hawkings’s best friend—I’m not letting you shack up without checking out the place first. That’s so they know you have someone looking out for you. I don’t want to have you disappear for a month and then we’re calling the news and insisting that someone digs up the gardens looking for you.”

Gretchen rolled her eyes. “I’ll probably never see the man.”

Audrey just gave her a prim look. “Don’t argue with me. You know I’m the responsible one in this family.”

And because she couldn’t really refute that, Gretchen just grinned.

The car moved slowly down the winding drive and, as it did, they passed intricately clipped flowering bushes in fantastical shapes. Spirals, moons, and stars adorned the colorful fall gardens. “I don’t think they’d bury me in the backyard, Audrey. Did you see the landscaping? It probably costs more than we both make in a month.”

“If you need money,” Audrey began for the millionth time that day.

“It’s not just the money,” Gretchen said. “It’s an adventure. Haven’t you ever wanted to have an adventure?”

“Not if it involves living with a stranger, no.”

Spoilsport. It wasn’t as if she and the owner were going to get in their jammies and have pillow fights and cuddle up in the same bed or something. “Look at the size of this place. Odds are that I never see him.”

Buchanan Manor was as big as a shopping mall. Seriously. She tried counting windows at the front of the building, but there was too many. Pointed gabled roofs in a dark green decorated the roof, and the building itself was a pale shade. There were windows everywhere, looking out on the spectacular lawns. If she counted up, it looked like the building was four floors. Good God, how many rooms did one billionaire need? He could fit an entire school into this building.

The taxi pulled up to the cobblestone driveway and Audrey paid the cab driver as Gretchen got out of the car, Igor’s cat-carrier tucked under her arm. The cat meowed angrily, and she made a shushing noise even as she continued to stare up at the mansion.

She was wearing jeans and a sweater and felt hideously, conspicuously underdressed. And here this was one of her better outfits. Since she didn’t leave the house much, she normally spent her time in yoga pants. But this house made her think anything less than starchy collars and tweed jackets were underdressed. Gretchen swallowed hard as her suitcases were set down on the driveway. “This is uncomfortable.”

Audrey shouldered her small weekend bag and gave Gretchen an odd look. “Where’s all your bravery?”

“I didn’t realize I was going to be living at frickin’ Hogwarts! I—”

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