Monday, November 16, 2015

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Promoted by the Billionaire

If you loved Six Ways from Sunday by Mercy Celeste and Homecoming by Keegan Kennedy, then you will not be able to put down this absolute treat!

Stories Included:
Flowers for Him by Marie Sexton and Rowan Speedwell
Billionaire Chandler Harrison’s third marriage is now history, and he’s left with his ex-wife’s parting barb, "You have no appreciation of beauty." Determined to prove her wrong, Chandler hires artist Neil Sweeney to add a mural to his office wall…

Vital To Him by SL Majors
Hot sex in the back of a limo? Billionaire Brenton Marston is stunned when his street-wise chauffeur welcomes him home in a way he never expected, and Brenton wonders who is really in the driver’s seat…

Fly to Him by J.P. Bowie
A young flight attendant gets a billionaire’s attention in a way that could have meant the end of his career, but instead could be the beginning of an unexpected romance.

Enough For Him by Em Woods
When software mogul Shannon Murphy is requested to appear at an international convention to accept an innovation award, he’s honoured. But when the invitation arrives and requires the attendance of his fictional partner, he needs a plan…

Surrendered To Him by Sara York
Storm rules the Bennett Empire with an iron fist, never taking time to allow emotions into his life, leaving him looking like the bad guy in the media over and over again. When a typhoon hits the island where one of his hotels is located, he sees it as a chance to repair his damaged reputation.

Designs For Him by Noelle Keaton
After months of unemployment, Jon Pritchard finds work with Cressen Furniture, the 'American Ikea', in a low-level job. A software program he creates in his free time attracts the interest of Warren Cressen, the interim CEO of Cressen Furniture, who quickly gives Jon a promotion.

Flowers for Him by Marie Sexton & Rowan Speedwell
The room that served as both my office and my boardroom was perfect in every way. White walls. White floor. A polished black teak desk against the wall, and a matching table in the middle. The fixtures were all black and silver, as were the chairs.

Streamlined. Practical. Functional. Just the way I liked it.

The only thing out of place was the artist I was paying to destroy it.

This is all Abby’s fault.

An uncharitable thought, but it was foremost in my mind as I showed him into the room. He was in his early thirties, younger than I by a good ten years. His ragged jeans and threadbare T-shirt were stained with paint, as were the brown plastic-rimmed glasses he wore. He needed a haircut. I made a mental note to be more specific next time I asked for an artist. No hippies. No freaks.

Too late now.

"This is the wall?" He pushed his hair out of his eyes and stepped back to survey the pristine expanse of eggshell white.

"Is it sufficient?"

"You bet." He turned in a slow circle to glance slowly around the room. "Wow. This is…" He waved his hand in circles as he searched for a word.


"I was going to say boring, but yeah. Clean, too."

Definitely Abby’s fault. Abby was ex-wife number three. "You’re uptight, Chandler, and you’re boring!" she’d said when she left me—and my substantial bank account—for an electrician. "You’ll never learn to relax."

"I can relax," I’d countered. "I have a pool. I have a Jacuzzi. I have a sauna. I have my own private masseuse! What else do I need?"

She’d laughed at me. "You need to learn to appreciate life. To look for beauty." She’d turned to gesture at the white walls of my office. "Look at this! This is exactly what I’m talking about."

Then she’d left, and I’d sat there, staring at the untainted white walls of my office, trying to sort through it.

Vital to Him by SL Majors
Robert straightened his cap and brushed a speck of dirt off his neatly pressed chauffeur’s jacket before pushing away from the gleaming black stretch limousine to greet his employer. Stairs were being pushed up to the small, expensive jet. It would be only a matter of a minute or so until the plane’s door opened and he finally saw Brenton again. How long had he been gone this time? Almost a week. To Robert, it could have been a month.

For Colorado in early autumn, the evening was mild. The sun was setting behind the Rockies to the west, painting the sky with vivid oranges and purples. Since he was focused on waiting for the door to open, he barely noticed anything.

After an interminable wait, Brenton emerged.

Robert’s breath constricted as the other man descended the metal steps. Brenton’s shoulders were slumped. Now that his father had been diagnosed with dementia and his mother wasn’t coping with her strong husband’s decline, Brenton seemed to carry the weight of the Marston family’s empire on his slender shoulders.

What Robert wouldn’t give for the opportunity to help his boss relieve some of his stress. But the mere hint of that would cross the boundary lines the Marstons kept between them and the hired help. "Welcome home, sir," Robert shouted above the roar of a departing plane. He sincerely meant the greeting. He couldn’t keep the grin off his face. For the last few days, he’d felt like a little kid anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. "How was your flight?" He moved in to claim the man’s expensive leather briefcase. Some designer label, he knew. But unless it had something to do with cars, logos meant little to him.

"Three time zones in five days," Brenton said.

"The car is cool. I’ve poured you a whisky."

"You’re a good man, Silles."

It was a fantasy to hear Brenton call him anything other than his surname. Robert opened the rear door. As Brenton slid inside, Robert caught a whiff of the man’s scent. He smelled of power, of success, of ambition, all laced with pheromones. It had musky undertones, and Robert knew it hadn’t come out of a bottle. Harnessing his thoughts, Robert placed the briefcase on the carpeted floor and then closed the door.

Fly to Him by J.P. Bowie
The sleek black limo transporting Logan Maguire, owner and CEO of GoldTech International Inc, pulled up alongside the equally sleek corporate jet Logan had recently purchased. This would be his first flight aboard the Bombardier XRS, and he hoped that the ultra-expensive flying machine would live up to its reputation for being the best and most luxurious private jet available. Rich as he was, the price tag had made him whistle through his teeth. Logan was a billionaire, and nowadays was living the ‘high life’, as his mother called his lavish lifestyle, but he could still remember a time when things hadn’t come quite so easily, and spending for spending’s sake was not something he encouraged himself to do.

Still, the jet was a thing of beauty, he mused while stepping out of the limo—both inside and out. The customisation of the interior had cost several million extra, but one thing that had instantly appealed to him was the cabin height. At six-two he invariably had to stoop inside a private plane, but the Bombardier gave him an additional inch of space. He chuckled as he remembered his mother’s exasperated sigh when he’d mentioned this perk.

"Logan," his mother, Linda Maguire, had semi-chastised him, "you only have to lower your head for a moment or two before you sit. Now you’re spending goodness knows how much extra so you can stand proud and tall."

"You’re right, Mom," he’d said, kissing her cheek. "I am an utter wastrel and spendthrift. But you raised me to appreciate the finer things in life, so it’s all your fault." They had laughed together after she’d slapped him on the arm. "You’ll love it when you take your first trip on it."

He had invited her to join him on this getaway, but she had told him he needed the time on his own—a real break—and when he’d thought about it, he had to agree. It would be terrific to have nothing to do, no one around he had to impress for the next few days. He needed this break. It had been a hectic year so far, and the weeks ahead promised no let-up in the number of business meetings, shareholder meetings, business dinners with potential clients, along with mandatory attendance at fundraisers and charity balls. All an essential part of his life now that he was rich and famous.

People magazine had included him in their Most Eligible Bachelor list the year before. He still flushed with embarrassment when that particular ‘honour’ was mentioned, but Linda had been delighted. Logan was certain his mother regarded it as his single most successful achievement. His position as one of the youngest software engineers to ever become a billionaire be damned!

Enough for Him by Em Woods
Shannon Murphy ran his thumb over the raised ivory print on the invitation one more time. It was hard to believe that the coding community was recognising his work. Each year more and more software programmers entered the job market, fresh out of college, vying for the money and awards. Some days it felt as if he’d become old, even at thirty-four.

Nevertheless, there was his name right next to the ‘is cordially invited’ and ‘Innovator of the Year’. Unlike the other conference invitations he received each month, the award made this one event he couldn’t excuse himself from or send a replacement speaker.

He traced the lettering again. If he were brutally honest with himself, he didn’t want to turn this down. His firm deserved this. The International Software Development Organisation had awarded him Innovator of the Year for his latest software that allowed medical personnel to input and access data from virtually anywhere. No more being tied to mainframes or wall sockets. His software was one hundred percent compatible with mobile devices, making it a hit with EMT services and doctors who practised in the field.

There was considerably more to it, of course. Numerous interviews with doctors, nurses, and technicians had taken months, then the software itself had taken over a year to code just the way he envisioned it. One nearby hospital had done the beta run, worked out the bugs with him. After that had come the training of his staff to roll out the software at all the local hospitals first, then nationwide when a doctor spotlighted it in a medical journal.

Shannon’s computer dinged, pulling him away from his thoughts. Probably another meeting. But when he jiggled the mouse to clear his screensaver, it wasn’t a meeting notice. It was an email from his friend and personal assistant, Noah Greene.

Dropped mail on your desk. Saw shiny envelope. Care to share?

Shannon grinned. Of course Noah would hone in on the invite. He loved the behind-the-scenes flurry of conferences and parties. It was what he was good at and was one of the reasons they made such a good team. Noah handled the people. Shannon handled the code.

Just for grins, he would let him stew on it for it a few before answering. Shannon dropped the heavy cream paper down to his desk, then cursed when he focused on the envelope. 'Shannon Murphy and guest'.

And guest?

Surrendered to Him by Sara York
Storm Bennett steepled his fingers in front of his chin, tapping the edge of his index finger on his mouth. "Are you telling me that we are losing money because of this one little bumble—this stupid little trivial manufacturing plant closing?"

"Storm, the public doesn’t see it as a little bumble, they want the issue corrected. The little manufacturing plant employs three thousand people. And those three thousand people have made a big deal out of it and want you to make it right." Michael, his longest-standing board member, sat two chairs away. A frown etched deep lines in his face, displaying his displeasure. Storm glanced at David, seeing lines across his brow too.

His shoulders tensed and he felt like a huge weight had settled in his stomach. Storm couldn’t stay at the table facing the two men. Not once in the ten years he’d been in charge of Bennett Enterprises had anything like this ever happened. He’d bought and sold so many different businesses, closing down factories, stores and hotels without a blip, and now this? Some stupid manufacturing plant in upstate New York was causing a huge problem.

"Storm, you’re being crucified on CNN, FOX, and MSNBC. Not only are the regular people on Twitter calling for a boycott of your company, the media has joined in. It’s all over the place. Hell, someone even set up a ‘I Hate Bennett’ Facebook page," David said.

Fuck, they were ruining everything for him. He was screwed. Delaying the plant closing would cost money, but a public skewering wasn’t good either.

"David," he addressed the Chairman of the Board, hoping the man could come up with something to save them from this mess. "What can we do?"

"The New York employees are stirring the pot, trying to make you look bad. It’s bad enough that the press is taking notice, talking about how you’ve grown into a monster."

"Hell, David, this is impossible."

"Well, we won’t accomplish anything tonight. It’s past midnight. We’ll attack this in the morning. I’ll see you at eight."

"Breakfast will be available at seven forty-five," Storm said offhandedly, remembering that Linda had informed him of her plans before she’d left for the day.

Designs for Him by Noelle Keaton

"Here you go! The third quarter updates."

Jon barely had a chance to look up before a mountain of manila folders were stacked in front of him. Though the clerk who deposited them on his desk smiled, Jon wanted to scream. The files represented at least two more days of drudgery. Oh, who was he kidding? Once he got through with those, there would just be some more data to input. The drudgery was unending here at Cressen Furniture.

"You are Jon Pritchard, right?"

He’d been so lost in his self-pity party, he’d forgotten the clerk was there.

"Yeah, that’s me. I need to sign?" Jon asked as he reached for the net tablet the clerk held. It was management’s way of keeping tabs on them, to make sure no one could deny receiving the data later on if the work didn’t get completed on time.

Looking at the wall clock, Jon saw he had at least three more hours before his shift ended. There was no way he could get through it without coffee. One of the perks of working at Cressen was coffee that gave such a buzz, it made Red Bull look like a mild fizz by comparison.

As he headed for the break room, Jon reminded himself for the umpteenth time to be grateful for this opportunity. Sure, the work bored him to tears and the pay stunk, but it was a job, something Jon hadn’t had for the last eighteen months. When he’d graduated from the University of Philadelphia with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in software engineering, he’d thought he’d be in great demand in the workplace and have his pick of jobs.

Unfortunately, though the economy had improved, employment still remained very competitive in the software and technology fields. Though he had applied for mid-level positions for which he was qualified, Jon had found himself up against applicants with doctorates and many more years of experience. As he waited for something—anything—to pop up in the software and technology fields, he worked a series of office temp jobs to cover his rent.

Author Bios:
SL Majors
SL Majors enjoys living on the edge. She pens stories to tantalize and arouse, maybe shock and, hopefully, to make you think.

From her earliest years exploring England and Wales (and finding out early what nettles are!), she's learnt that things aren't always as they seem. She hopes to capture that in her stories.

She encourages you to delight in life and the unexpected, embracing each experience. It's her greatest hope that at the end of her stories, you'll say, "What if?"

Sara York
Sara York lives in the southern United States with her family and dogs. Sara loves romance that takes you to distant worlds where you could be a princess or a warrior. She enjoys reading about far away places, but writing is her passion. Her favourite vacation would be to spend the day at the beach while reading or writing a good book.

Marie Sexton
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.

J.P. Bowie
J.P. Bowie was born and raised in Aberdeen, Scotland. He wrote his first (unpublished) novel – a science fiction tale of brawny men and brawnier women that made him a little suspect in the eyes of his family for a while.

Leaving home at age eighteen for the bright lights of London, he found himself in the midst of a “diverse and creative crowd” that eventually led him to the performing arts. For the next twelve years he sang, danced and acted his way around the theatres of London and the provinces, appearing in shows with many famous British singers, actors and comedians.

After immigrating to the US and living for many years in Las Vegas where he worked for that incomparable duo, Siegfried and Roy, J.P. found himself entranced by the fair city of San Diego where he currently lives with his partner, Phil.

Rowan Speedwell
An unrepentant biblioholic, Rowan Speedwell spends half her time pretending to be a law librarian, half her time pretending to be a database manager, half her time pretending to be a fifteenth-century Aragonese noblewoman, half her time… wait a minute… hmm. Well, one thing she doesn't pretend to be is good at math. She is good at pretending, though.

In her copious spare time (hah) she does needlework, calligraphy and illumination, and makes jewelry. She has a master's degree in history from the University of Chicago, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, and lives in a Chicago suburb with the obligatory Writer's Cat and way too many books.

Noelle Keaton
Noelle Keaton has bounced around the United States, including stays in California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, but she now resides in Florida. Although she works as a tax associate for a large corporation, her first love is writing. When she isn’t jotting down ideas for new stories, you can probably find her reading a book from an ever growing stack, debating politics and current events with friends, or experimenting with new recipes. Noelle’s vices include watching bad reality television and eating the white chocolate KitKats she keeps swearing she’s giving up.

Em Woods
All about little ol' me? Hmm. Okay, the normal stuff first. I currently live in the Midwest near Detroit, Michigan with my husband and two sons who are ten and seven years old. All three keep me on my toes. I work in the automotive industry making sure all the parts inside the car look pretty along with handling all the paperwork that goes along with that (you'd be amazed at how much there is!).

Not so normal stuff now. I am an eclectic soul, having lived in three out of the four corners of the United States. I can count as personal friends people from many walks of life (dare I say, some are family too?). I think this is what allows me to see past the things that make us different to the things that make us alike. Hence, I am a person who will accept anyone for what they are, almost to a fault sometimes.

I love angst (as you very well know if you've read one of my stories). I adore digging into an issue, touching on it and those people it effects, and then giving it a happily-ever-after. Research is probably one of my favorite parts of writing. Finding out new facts, meeting new people while I do that…asking them questions they would never expect.

SL Majors

Sara York

Marie Sexton

J.P. Bowie

Rowan Speedwell

Noelle Keaton

Em Woods

**Amazon US &UK are paperback only**

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