Title: Penthouse Player
Author: Tara Leigh
Release Date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, SWERVE
Series: Billionaire Bosses #1
Abandoned by her mother and spurned by her father, Reina St. James is tired of being treated like a dirty little secret. It wasn’t easy making her way into the high-risk, high-reward Wall Street world ruled by financial kings and trust fund tyrants. But now that she’s got a
stiletto-clad toe into one of the swankiest firms in Manhattan, Reina is determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face hiding an ugly past.
For Tristan Xavier Bettencourt IV, escaping the shadow cast by generations of family fortune has been difficult, and success hasn’t come without sacrifice. Tristan has always put business before pleasure… Until Reina’s curved lips prove an invitation he can’t resist.
Walking away from their explosive night together won’t be easy, even if the heat between them might consume both of their careers. Will Reina and Tristan risk everything by betting on each other?
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PENTHOUSE PLAYER Excerpts
Copyright © 2017 Tara Leigh
My eyes skipped over a blonde in a red dress, and then quickly returned. I hadn’t realized I’d started walking towards her until a waiter nearly spilled my drink. She was gorgeous. And when she tipped her head back to laugh at something the man beside her said, I decided that word was entirely inadequate. Stunning was much more apt. Exquisitely stunning, actually. Her creamy skin was flawless. And she was tall. I looked down, or at least she appeared tall with the five-inch stilettos on her feet. When her open-mouthed laugh faded into a generous smile, her wide eyes met mine. If she’d been an investment, she would have been labeled high risk, high reward, with a warning—Don’t buy if you can’t afford to lose.
Her lips closed around the edge of the glass in her hands, our stare unbroken. Her eyes were the bright shade of freshly cut, well-tended grass. And after she took a sip, white wine by the looks of it, she didn’t look away. Her open appraisal was a lure, and I took the bait. She could have been a model on a billboard in Times Square, or in the GQ magazine I subscribed to but never had the time to read. I know I should’ve turned away. This girl was clearly trouble with capital T, something I needed as much as a hole in my head.
After doing well with the first fifty million I’d been able to raise, I was just about to open my fund up to new investors. I didn’t have any official commitments yet, but I had no doubt my fund was about to grow to at least $500 million. I had a lot to consider, and a ton of work to do. This was the most important time in my career and I couldn’t afford to fuck it up by becoming a lovesick fool over some girl, exquisitely stunning or not.
I stopped in my tracks, maybe ten feet away, although I couldn’t tear my eyes from her face. She was young. Maybe too young? But then she smiled again. And not just any smile. This one wasn’t polite, or friendly, or casual in any way. No, her smile was so bright it heated the drink in my hands and blinded me from seeing anyone else in the room. Her curved lips were an invitation I couldn’t resist. Even though I knew I should.
“Obviously, something needs to happen between us. Soon. Preferably tonight, actually.”
Endorphins ping-ponged through my body like the ball in an old-fashioned arcade game. I’d tried to deny the chemistry between us, then suggested we ignore it. But to hell with that. It just wasn’t possible. I found my voice. “Someplace with a bed, or a couch.” I shrugged. “At least a rug, maybe a table.”
Tristan chuckled, attempting to finger-comb his hair into place. “Last time I checked, my apartment had all four.”
“Good. We can’t be seen in public together. At least not outside of the office.”
“About that. Bettencourt has more than one hedge fund you can work on. I’ll set you up with another portfolio manager or have you assigned to marketing or research, whatever you want.”
I shook my head. That wasn’t what I wanted at all. “No. Please don’t. Your strategy is the one I feel most closely aligned with. I applied to Bettencourt, hoping I’d have the opportunity to work on the Millennial Fund. This doesn’t have to be an either/or situation.” Taking a breath, I debated whether or not I should even verbalize the thoughts racing through my mind. Spit it out, already. I forced words through my mouth in a rush. “Let’s just have sex tonight and get it out of our system. Then we can pretend it never happened and focus on work.”
An aristocratic eyebrow arched upwards. “You think that’s all going to take? One fuck and we won’t ever need to do it again?”
I grinned at Tristan’s outraged expression. He even wore indignation well. “Okay, fine. Maybe we’ll have to do it more than once. But I just started here, and I intend to come out on the other side of this internship with a job offer. And I want it because I’ve proved myself on the Bettencourt trading floor, not in you bedroom. No one can know about us.”
Tristan scowled. “Is there someone else? Maybe not a boyfriend, just a friends-with-benefits kind of thing? You seem pretty eager to keep us in the dark.”
It’s what I know. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
Tristan tucked in his shirt, adjusted his sleeves. Skepticism darkened his eyes. “Casual sex, no strings attached. That’s what you want?”
“I’m not exactly the next Mrs. Bettencourt, Tristan. I highly doubt your socialite stepmother would approve of me.”
“Why?” Tristan seemed less than eager to take my words at face value. “Because you want to do more with your life than plan overpriced parties with bad food and watered-down drinks?”
I looked down, a blush coloring my cheeks. If he knew that even my own mother wouldn’t be seen in public with me, he would feel differently. “Something like that.”
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About Tara Leigh:
Tara Leigh attended Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia Business School in New York, and worked on Wall Street and Main Street before “retiring” to become a wife and mother. When the people in her head became just as real as the people in her life, she decided to put their stories on paper. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children and fur-baby, Pixie.
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