About the Book
Most Eligible Bastard
Author: Annika Martin
Released: November 7, 2017
Genre: contemporary romance
Henry Locke has just learned the billion-dollar corporation he built up was left his mother’s dog, Smuckers, instead of him, with Vicky as the dog’s spokesperson.
He thinks Vicky’s a scammer, of course!
She stands there clutching my mother’s stupid dog. “I was only trying to be a nice neighbor,” the scammer says. “Help her out with Smuckers. I didn’t know she’d leave things to him—”
“It’s just us, jelly bean, so you can stop with the pretense.” She starts to protest but I roll right over her. “The good news is that I’m prepared to hand over a cashier’s check this afternoon to get clear of all this. You’ll sign over ownership of the corporation on behalf of the dog. You can probably get more cash out eventually, but it would take years, and I think we both know the risks.”
She peers at me uncertainly.
I grab a pencil and flip over a sheet of paper. You always write the big numbers for people to see. You always add the extra zeroes, too. The zeros have power. I write it out: $4,500,000.00.
She stares at the number, as though stunned. It’s a lowball, yes.
She turns to me. “Four point five million?” she says incredulously.
I wait. Where is the counteroffer?
The dog licks her chin.
I tighten my jaw. Is it so low to her she’s not even bothering? Was she thinking in terms of billions? Is this an organized con after all?
I step up the pressure. “Here’s the thing, Ms. Nelson,” I say. “It’s the four point five million, plus we don’t use our very considerable resources to destroy your life and ensure that you end up in prison for scamming a vulnerable old woman with your dog whisperer thing.”
Her eyes shine. They’re the warm brown of a beer bottle, fringed with dark lashes. I wish I could read her thoughts, her emotions—I can see she’s having them. I tend to be good at reading women.
Why can’t I read her?
“I don’t know if you’re working with people,” I say, “but they can’t protect you. You will be the one to go down, and you will go down very hard. Very painfully.” I lean in. “I’ll make sure of it.”
She watches me with growing disbelief. So innocent, so shocked.
I smile. “What, did they get you from central casting? Don’t bother staying in character on my account.”
The dewy skin on her throat goes pink as she straightens her spine. “I’m not acting.” It’s a good delivery. Vulnerable and fierce at the same time. Raw, even.
She frowns back down at the number.
I watch her, curious. Well, I don’t need her to make sense; I need her away from the company I love. The company I’d sell my soul to protect.
“Everyone has a price,” I say. “Especially you.”
He face flares red. “I told you I’m not a scammer.”
I step in closer, full-on intimidation. My skin tightens with the nearness of her. “Take the money,” I growl, “or I will f**king bury you.”
Something new comes over her face. It’s as if a switch flipped deep in her soul. She glows with energy. No—it’s more than that—it’s pure, white-hot loathing. She’s incandescent.
And so f**king alive. The sense of her prickles over my skin.
“The offer goes poof in two minutes.” I lower my voice. “You don’t want to feel our power turned against you.”
She swallows. “Well here’s the thing, Henry Locke.” Her voice shakes, but she holds her ground, stands right up to me. “It’s not up to me.”
My blood goes cold. So she’s working with a team, after all. I try not to react, but this is bad. A good team could hack apart the company. Make billions selling off the pieces.
“Who’s it up to, then?” She could be working with a team of shady lawyers. Boiler room con artists. Maybe even the mob. “Who?” I demand.
“Who do you think?” She glows at me again, bright with loathing.
I brace myself.
She smiles, widening her eyes. “It’s up to Smuckers, of course! Have you not been paying attention?”
I watch incredulously as she repositions the dog in her arms so that he faces us, eyes and nose like three raisins in a white cotton-candy cloud.
“What do you prefer, Smuckers? Would you like Henry Locke to write us a check for four point five million dollars? Or would you prefer to take your place alongside him as a member and major shareholder on the board of Locke Worldwide?”
I swallow, mystified. Is she f**king with us?
“Smuckers, concentrate,” she says, with a sly glimpse my way. “Do you want some money now? Or to vote as a member of the board?”
My blood races. I don’t know what to think—not about any of it. All I know is that she’s on fire. Fierce as an electrical storm, dark clouds flashing bright.
Smuckers wags his little poof of a tail. “That’s right, boy! That’s right! You decide!”
“Oh, come off it,” I say.
Her lip quivers. Is she scared? Or enjoying this way too much? She turns to me. “You mind?” She turns back to Smuckers. “What do you think, Smuckers? Think hard, because they won’t offer again. It’s an ultimatum. Do you know what that is?”
I fold my arms.
She tilts her head, as if she’s listening with intense curiosity. “Really? That’s your answer? Are you sure? I know, he’s a bit of a bastard.”
He’s a powerful billionaire CEO who built the family business into an empire. The money doesn’t matter to him, but the company is his life. And then his eccentric mother wills it all to her tiny dog.
I’m Vicky, the dog whisperer. (Not really, but that’s what my elderly neighbor always says.) When she dies, she surprises everybody by leaving a corporation worth billions to her dog, Smuckers. With me as his spokesperson.
Suddenly I go from running my Etsy store to sitting in an elegant Wall Street boardroom with Smuckers in my lap. And my neighbor’s son, Henry Locke, aka New York’s most eligible bachelor, glaring across the table at me.
Rumor has it Henry’s a business genius who’s as talented in the bedroom as he is in the boardroom. Sure, he’s gorgeous. Sex-in-a-seven-thousand dollar suit. But…
He’s arrogant and infuriating.
He refuses to listen to me when I insist I didn’t con his mother.
He thinks he can bully me, buy me off, control me, even seduce me.
Henry may have the women of Manhattan eating out of the palm of his hand, but I’m so over entitled rich guys who think they own the world.
No way will his wicked smile be charming ME out of my panties.
His wicked…devastating…impossible-to-resist smile.
Oh well, who needs panties anyway?
About the Author:
Annika Martin loves fun, dirty stories, hot heroes, and wild, dramatic everything. She enjoys hanging out in Minneapolis coffee shops with her writer husband, and also likes birdwatching at her birdfeeder alongside her two stunningly photogenic cats. She’s heavy into running, 90’s music, saving the planet, taking long baths, and consuming chocolate suckers. She’s worked a surprisingly large number of waitressing jobs, and has also worked in a plastics factory and the advertising trenches. A NYT bestselling author, she has also written as RITA award-winning author Carolyn Crane.