Bastard In A Suit (Book One)

By: Ivy Carter

Chapter 1





Duke Kingston has fuck-me eyes.

I’ve seen those commanding eyes in pictures before—in magazines, on the covers of business and tech journals.

But there’s something different about this large photograph on the wall straight across from me. It’s intimate, intense, like he’s right in the room, watching.

Analyzing me from top to bottom and finding me conspicuously lacking.

Of course, soon he really will be in the room, observing and judging.

Sometime in the next few minutes, Duke Kingston is going to walk into this conference room and begin evaluating me…or, rather, us. Me and my partners.

My cheeks flush as I realize the direction my mind’s been wandering. I glance away from the giant picture of Duke Kingston and survey the boardroom. KINGSTON INDUSTRIES is engraved into a wooden table so enormous my partners look like figurines next to it.

“Hailey, sit,” Jake says. And then, as if leading by example, he sits confidently in one of the leather seats at the head of the gleaming table and folds his arms as if he belongs there.

But all he really looks like is a kid playing dress-up, a teenager pretending to be an adult.

Jake’s suit doesn’t even fit him properly.

We’re in way over our heads, I realize, and a wave of anxiety washes over me.

I wipe my sweaty palms along the sides of my too-tight skirt and exhale hard. “We should be practicing our pitch.” I stride toward Jake, heels clicking as I try to keep balance, and extend my hand as though to shake. “Mr. Kingston, thank you for seeing us.”

Jake leans further back in the chair and tucks his hands behind his head. A smirk plays on his lips. “Kneel before the king, baby.”

I blink. “Are you kidding me, right now?”

“Jake, knock it off,” our other partner, Forrest, says.

Jake glances at him. “Come on, dude. I was just pretending to be him. You know, Kingston—what everyone says about him and the ladies?” He gives another wolfish grin.

Forrest shakes his head at Jake’s antics, but laughs anyway.

I withdraw my hand. “You’re an ass,” I mutter. “Both of you are asses.”

But Jake’s right about the reputation the mogul has in regards to the opposite sex.

Business tycoon.

Billionaire.

Womanizer.

My thoughts go back to the oversized photograph and those dark, bedroom eyes. If the tabloids are to be believed, those eyes have seduced hundreds of women.

How can the three of us stand in front of an accomplished, intimidating figure like Duke Kingston and hope to wow him? How can we possibly think that he’ll want to invest in us when we’ve only just started, when we have no track records or history to prove our worth?

Maybe we’re too young, too inexperienced for this...

But no. I need to stop thinking so negatively.

Being young is an advantage. In our early twenties we have already developed groundbreaking technology that will impress even the mighty Duke Kingston—and I plan to sell him on it.

Today.

“Seriously, though,” Forrest says, clearing his throat. “I should take the lead on this. You know how he is around women.”

My face goes hot. “I know the product better than the two of you put together.”

“Back off Forrest,” Jake says. “Hailey’s got this.” He smirks a little. “She’s not his type anyway.”

Excuse me? The slight stings, but before I can respond, the boardroom door swings open.

Holy fuck.

He’s even hotter than the pictures suggest.

How is that possible? Pictures are airbrushed, right?

His suit is bespoke, tailored, clearly designed for his tall, muscular frame. His eyes are as dark, smoldering and intense as I could’ve imagined.

My tongue tangles into knots at the realization that his charisma is more powerful than anyone I’ve ever met.

And it’s not even close.

The thing about pictures is that they don’t tell you the whole story. You can’t feel a person’s essence, breathe in their scent, their aura. Duke’s is powerful, commanding. And sexy. Holy hell is he sexy.

He fills the room.

My breath audibly hitches and I’m grateful Forrest knows what to do here.

“Mr. Kingston, thank you for taking time to see—”

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