Title: Eligible Billionaires
Author: Maggie Marr
Series: Eligible Billionaires, #1-9
Publication date: December 27th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance
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Excerpt from A Christmas Billionaire (Eligible Billionaires Book Three)
Once upon a time, Nick North had believed in love. He’d believed in Christmas. He might, if asked, have told you he even believed in happily ever after. But the Nick North who wanted to believe in a future that contained a wife and children and a happily-ever-after was gone. Killed by a dream that had died. His heart had frozen solid on a Christmas Eve night long ago.
People who knew Nick, with his tall, muscular body and his eyes the cold gray of a cloudy winter sky, might even be able to pinpoint the moment that carefree young man who had been unencumbered by heartbreak had died, though the people who knew the details wouldn’t have dared discuss such a topic in front of Nick. If anyone ever missed the old Nick, the warm and jovial man he’d been before that frozen Christmas Eve, before the night that turned his heart to ice, they never uttered the words of their distress in front of him.
Some people, those who didn’t know about Nick’s heartbreak, determined that his final semester of B-school had changed him. The work, his studies, his drive to succeed, his dogged determination to make billions of dollars and fulfill his family’s desires, killed the carefree Nick North. Nick became a hard-carved, heartless, cold-blooded capitalist. A man who saw only black and red, dollars and zeroes, profits and losses. A man who could quickly assess any business and whittle it down to its essence, squeeze out every penny, and just as easily toss the business aside, workers be damned. According to Nick North, there was no human side to business, there was nothing personal, there was simply business.
Other people knew the truth of what had happened that long-ago December night. Those people—Nick’s inner circle, his mother, his now-deceased father, his sister, a couple of B-school classmates—realized the sad details of what had happened to Nick and his heart on Christmas Eve. An event that had turned a warmhearted, loving young man on the cusp of a bright and brilliant future into a cold-hearted son of a bitch.
Nick avoided those who had known him before, those who understood his heartbreak, his change, his loss. Once his father passed, Nick purposely avoided his mother. His mother and his sister never spoke of Nick’s heartbreak. His B-school classmates who knew of his loss were scattered to the wind, tossed about on foreign corporate shores.
And the woman? The woman who shattered his heart and dashed his hopes for a happily-ever-after? She was gone, and Nick hoped to never see her again. To see her those emerald eyes and that amber hair would drop him to his knees. He’d loved beyond what he’d thought himself capable of, and she’d left him, abandoned him, turned her back on his love. Gone was his future and his plans. His heart had split wide, and the cold, frigid air of a Chicago Christmas had seeped into the still-beating inner chambers and frozen him from the inside out.
Nick North would never love again.
With a frozen heart he focused on business. The coldness, the calculations, the dollars, the pursuit of profit engaged his brain. The hard, cold world he created with his own bare hands. Building after building after building, added to the immense portfolio of North Industries. Nick stood atop North Tower, hands grasped to hips, the Chicago skyline lay before him a slain beast at his feet. North Tower was the newest skyscraper to decorate Chicago’s skyline. Taller than Willis Tower, prettier than Trump, and soon to be better known than Hancock. This floor was reserved for him and his life and his work. Wind blasted the building and created a tiny sway beneath his feet. A blast of arctic cold could cause any one of the skyscrapers that graced the Chicago skyline to sway six, seven, as much as ten inches at a time.
Let the cold wind blow.
Nick preferred the frigid to the warm. The ice to the puddle. The gray to the sun. Cold was Nick’s dominion.
The phone on his desk rang and he pressed the Bluetooth in his ear. “Is it done?”
The long pause and the sigh from Frederick indicated that the one thing Nick wanted accomplished was still unfinished.
“No, sir, it is not.”
His jaw muscle tensed. Were Frederick not his most brilliant and trusted advisor, and a man Nick had been lucky to have in his life since he began North Industries, the heat building in his chest would rage forth. His frozen heart had not tamped down the heated fury that could warm his belly in a second.
“Who the hell is this woman?”
“Sir, she’s an activist who came to visit her grandmother for the holidays. When she discovered your plan to demolish Winter Pines and replace it with the Shopping Extravaganza, she went into action. And that, sir, is when the proverbial shit hit the fan.”
“It’s been a week, Frederick. You should have assessed her weaknesses and her desires so that we might capitalize on those.”
Beyond the wall of windows thick gray clouds with bruised, purple bellies rolled in from the west. Sleet sliced from the sky toward Michigan Avenue, where the ants of humanity scurried below.
“Are you slipping, Frederick?”
He turned toward his desk, which was sleek and hard and made of steel. “Yes, slipping.” His fingers curled around the black leather back of his chair. “Or do you have a soft spot for these people? Perhaps this woman whom you’ve failed to properly assess?”
“No, sir,” Frederick said in his even, measured tone. So impudent that Nick could hear a smile in Frederick’s voice. “Not slipping, sir, merely trying to hold this deal together until Christmas.”
“Christmas?” He might pierce the leather back of his seat with his fingertips. “You’re treading water until Christmas? My timeline dictates that we break ground this week. My intentions are to have that entire geriatric home demo’d by Christmas Eve. I want a hole where Winter Pines is by Christmas Day. Have I not been clear, Frederick?”
Frederick was as smooth as ice and as old as a glacier. Few emotions ran through the man and that included fear, which was the primary reason he’d been in Nick’s employ for so long. Aside from Nick’s mother and sister, and of course the woman—the one woman whose name Nick refused to think or to say—every other person on the planet seemed to tremble in trepidation at Nick’s approach. He did not court the fear, he didn’t want the fear, nor did he need his employees and business associates to fear him, although it did help maintain the cold, frosty perimeter that surrounded him at all times. Distance, absence of warmth, created a safe distance from human contact, feelings and even the remote possibility of love.
“This woman has shut us down for nearly five days,” Nick said. “I convinced the mayor, the city council, and the zoning board of that little suburban outpost to approve this construction. We hired local architects. We commissioned environmental and economic reports. I even offered buyouts to the residents of Winter Pines and paid for their moves. All was on track until this woman. How are this woman and her grandmother still there? How is she keeping my demolition team from starting?”
“She has chained herself to the front door of the central building, sir. As of this morning. Yesterday it was a sit-in, but the local police threatened to move them. Today she’s returned with chains and padlocks.”
Nick closed his eyes. He tilted his head back, and a giant blast of air exited his lips. What kind of woman chained herself between a glass door and a wrecking ball? A twinge tightened his right shoulder. He’d known such a woman, what seemed like a lifetime ago.
“I’ll be there within the hour.”
“Excellent, sir,” Frederick said.
Again Nick heard the smile in Frederick’s voice. What in the hell? Why was Frederick so excited to see Nick on-site when it was so obvious he was completely pissed off?
“I think your coming to Lake Grove and seeing what is taking place at Winter Pines is an excellent idea.”
“You understand I’m not happy about this, don’t you, Frederick?”
“Yes, sir. Looking forward to your arrival.” Frederick hung up.
Odd. Frederick hung up … Nick always hung up first when he finished a call with Frederick. It wasn’t that Frederick was any less responsive than he’d always been, but there was something in Frederick’s voice. Something unfamiliar, something unusual, something—
A chill slid down Nick’s spine and goose bumps prickled across his skin. This wasn’t right. He strode through his office and out the door. He’d be in Lake Grove soon, and he’d fix this damned mess himself.
Praise for Can’t Buy Me Love:
“Marr delivers a great story, the thrill of romance, and sexy love scenes in this often delightful novel.”
—Romantic Times Book Review
“Maggie Marr does it again! Can’t Buy Me Love is an entertaining hot and heavy high stakes Hollywood love story that’ll keep you turning the page! ”
—Jenny Gardiner, #1 Kindle Best Selling Author, Sleeping With Ward Cleaver
“Sharp, sexy prose and a fast-paced plot make Maggie Marr’s Can’t Buy Me Love a very entertaining and steamy read! Romance readers will love this book! ”
—Jane Porter, Best Selling Author, Flirting With Forty
“Readers will delight in Meg and Cole’s sexy, romantic and charming love story and will find themselves touched by the kind of passion and vulnerability it takes to bring these two ambitious people together for a lifetime.”
—Marilyn Brant Author, A Summer in Europe
About the Author
Maggie Marr is the author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction. She writes smart, sexy, women and the men they love. She got her start in Hollywood pushing the mail cart at ICM, but quickly rose through the ranks to become a motion picture literary agent. As well as writing, she maintains a boutique legal practice dedicated to the needs of creatives & entrepreneurs. She is the current President of Los Angeles Romance Authors (LARA) and legal adviser to the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). Maggie loves all things pop culture and when she isn’t taking care of her clients or writing she can be found reading, chasing kids, or exercising her rescue pup.