Home > Running Hot (Tech Billionaires #4)

Running Hot (Tech Billionaires #4)
Author: Ainsley St Claire

Chapter 1






“Do we have any other options?” I look down at Raven Stewart, my legal associate, and she shakes her head.

“Elena was all over Chirp last night, and the stock has bottomed out,” she says. “The US Attorney’s office wants her bad for stock manipulation.”

“Who’s assigned to the case?” I ask for the third time, hoping the answer has changed.

“Miguel Garcia.”

“The man I beat out in law school for Order of the Coif. Great. Going over his head is going to have him gunning for my clients.” I stare up at my I love me wall—an array of accomplishments that indicate I’ve worked hard and am good at my job, but mean nothing when you have to go see your arch enemy and grovel. “Call Walker Clifton’s office and find out where he’s going for lunch today. I’ll stop by and sell a bit of my soul to him.”

Raven slides a piece of paper across the desk. “He’s at the Union Club.”

“Fuck. Really?”

Raven Stewart is one of the best associates I’ve ever had. She is a master chess player and always thinking four steps ahead.

“Is he there now?”

She looks at her watch and nods.

“Call me a rideshare. I’ll be back in twenty minutes.”

I sling my coat over my shoulders and grab my couture bag. Elena is going to pay for this.

When I step out of the car onto the sidewalk a few minutes later, I look up at the concrete building and its giant columns. It’s close to city hall, and the architecture looks the same, but there’s one major distinction: no women are allowed inside the hallowed halls of this all-men’s private gathering place called the Union Club.

The man I’m about to ask for a favor may very well end up president of the United States one day, but today he’s the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, and his minion wants to screw one of my clients for having a heated moment on Chirp last night with a senior member of her team.

I open the door, and the dark, wood-paneled walls and low lighting scream debauchery. It always smells like Pledge to me, but that would be too mundane a product for the employees to use at such a highly regarded club.

The man behind the podium looks down at me in his tailored suit. “How may I help you?” He asks in such a monotone and distasteful way that I feel like gum stuck on the bottom of his shoe.

I paint a smile on my face. “I’d like to see Walker Clifton, please.”

“We don’t allow women on our premises.”

I bet if I was a hooker, they’d allow me, but I’m not going to argue that with this guy who’s only doing his job—despite the fact that he’s condescending as hell.

“Can you let him know Marci Peterson would like a moment of his time?” I hand him a copy of my engraved business card. It at least indicates that I’m of moderate importance and most likely not a woman threatening to sue Walker for paternity.

He lifts the card and hands it to a large gentleman with an earpiece who takes it and disappears.

A group of men enter behind me, and I step aside. Walker will make me wait. He always does. This is the little power game he plays. I pull my cell phone from my pocket and lean against the wall, my legs crossed at the ankles. I play a few rounds of Candy Crush.

I’d love to take these hideous shoes off. Stilettos are the brainchild of a man. I wish comfortable shoes were in style.

Groups of men continue to come through the entry, and the man at the front knows them all by name. It’s impressive as he clicks on his computer and checks them in. Most of them assess me as they walk by. I’m not interested in any man who belongs to an all-men’s club. It’s too sexist for me.

They’re probably all missionary-type guys anyway—boring.

“Well, well, well, look who’s darkened our doorstep.”

I stand up and slip my phone into my coat pocket. “Good to see you, Walker. Do you have a moment?”

He looks me up and down, and I’d swear his eyes become hooded, but I know better. These days he likes his women so thin they look like they’d break in half. I’ve got child-bearing hips, breasts that are more than a handful and have pointed down since I was twelve, not to mention wild, curly, blond hair that has a mind of its own.

“Of course.” He looks over his shoulder. “Geoffrey, may we step into the parlor for a few moments?”

“Of course, sir.”

Walker opens his arms, and I step three paces into a room I hadn’t noticed. “Thank you.”

The space smells like old cigar smoke, and two leather chairs are turned toward a billiard table. Walker points to the seating.

“No, thank you. I only want to ask a favor.” I push my hands into my pockets and bite the inside of my cheek. I hate this man and our long, sordid history, but I need to control myself.

“You are always asking for favors,” he says slowly.

I shrug. “Your little minions are always gunning for my clients, who we both know are your future donors.”

“What do you need?”

“Assistant US Attorney Miguel Garcia to step back from Elena Tuskan.”

“Her stockholders are furious with her.” Walker knows precisely why I’m here.

“That’s the only reason they’re selling off this morning,” I explain. “She’s the major stockholder and can take the financial hit.”

Walker steps toward me, and I don’t realize I’m backing up until the billiard table hits my thighs. “Why are you the only one who seems to get favors from me?” He’s so close his breath warms my neck.

It takes me a moment to collect myself. “Because I did you a favor and put your dick in my mouth.” I wince internally. That’s a bit of a low blow. If I’m honest, he broke my heart, and the favors are all payback.

Walker smiles. “That’s true. Why are Elena and her head of manufacturing fighting on Chirp?”

“Because he broke up with her, and her feelings are hurt.” I glance down at his long fingers and remember what he’s done to me with them. I clear my throat. “She’ll take a hit financially, but she’s stressed. Everything will be back to normal in a few days.”

“And if they aren’t?”

“Then she’ll be without money, and no one will fund her again since she’s too emotional.”

Walker takes a few steps around the table and picks up one of the balls. “You know, you’ll owe me—again.”

I nod and purse my lips, waiting for the day I’m the one he calls to cover his ass when he fucks up.

He rolls the ball around in his hand and sends it across the table. “I will call in that favor one of these days.”

“I’d expect nothing less.”

He stares at me, and if it was anyone else, I’d swear he was thinking about my lips on his dick again. But he made it clear when we were fifteen that there would never be a repeat, and he always keeps his word.

“I’ll talk to Mr. Garcia.”

“Thank you.” I turn to leave, and as I cross the room, he follows, reaching around me to open the door.

“One of these days I’m going to make you pay up,” he reminds me.

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