Charmed by the Billionaire by Jessica Lemmon



Chapter One





Cris


Working for Benjamin Owen is agony. Pure agony.

Not in the my-boss-is-an-A-hole way, which would be easier, but in the my-boss-is-my-best-friend way, which is much worse. Especially when said boss doesn’t acknowledge me beyond my role as his friend and life assistant.

Pardon me, life assistant coach.

He’s been vocal about the title adjustment, most notably to his brothers, who likely have observed me shadowing Benji’s every footfall like a devoted Labradoodle.

He strolls into his kitchen where I’m waiting on the one-cup coffee maker to finish sputtering java into my travel mug. “Can I treat you to lunch, coach?”

I wrinkle my nose. I don’t like that nickname.

There’s nothing alluring or feminine or even personal about it. Not that I expect him to address me as “honey” or “gorgeous.” That would be unprofessional. But it would be alluring and feminine and personal. If he would bother to notice that I am, in fact, a woman.

Sigh.

“You’re looking at my lunch.” I elevate my mug of coffee, and his mouth pulls down at the corners.

I’ve yet to give you a full picture of Benjamin “Benji” Owen. I’ll do that now.

The basic stats: he’s thirty-three years old, having turned thirty-three on October thirteenth. He’s six-feet, one-inch tall if you don’t count his hair, which is fantastic. It’s thick, ink-black, and tousled into a want-to-run-your-fingers-through-it style on top but short in the back with groomed, neat sideburns that aren’t too long or too short. Eyebrows: dark, arched, and expressive. Eyes: brown but not dull cardboard brown. Caramel brown, golden when the sun hits them right, and almost always smiling even when his mouth isn’t. Lashes: enviably long with a bit of curl at the tips. Nose: straight, narrow but not pointy. Mouth… Cue full-body shivers.

Give me a second to pull myself together.

Mouth: straight white teeth thanks to braces when he was a teenager, full lips almost always parked in an appreciative, happy grin or a smirk hinting that an appreciative, happy grin is about to emerge.

Clothes: divine. I’ve never known a man who dresses as impeccably as Benji, and I’ve been around several well-dressed men in my line of work, mostly the Owens. Sure, his brothers dress well, but Archer and Nate do it in a rote way. Benji’s outfits are carefully selected. His shoes are Salvatore Ferragamos, which cost between one and two grand per pair. His shirts are usually button-down, most often a checked pattern, and his trousers encase long, strong legs.

He’s slim but not “skinny,” boasting a body I’ve admired when he wears a lot less. Like when he’s swimming in his pool, his powerful arms slicing through the water, his torso leaving ripples in his wake. When he’s in shorts it’s hard not to notice the sharp definition of his calf muscles. They could whittle a chunk of wood into a replica of Aphrodite. An army of ab muscles marches down to a V marked by delineating lines at his hipbones. And—brace yourself—there’s a tattoo on his flank between his ribs. The words “carpe diem” are etched there in careful cursive—his own handwriting.

Hey, I tried to warn you. He’s damn near perfect from head to toe with but one glaring flaw.

“You can’t have coffee for lunch, coach.” His grin is mischievous and friendly. Sexy as hell. He doesn’t mean for it to be. He oozes sex appeal from every pore as if he was crafted in a test tube to fulfill a woman’s desires. Billionaire? Check. Well-dressed, well-spoken? Check, check. Painfully attractive and potent? Check aaand check. Clueless? Big fat checkity-check.

Other than being able to give a general description of my person (in case of my kidnapping, for example), he doesn’t see me. At least not the way I see him.

“Oh, but I can,” I argue, my smile a plastic version of itself. I’ve learned how to manage my attraction to my boss-slash-best friend over the years I’ve known him (ten of them), and over the year-plus I’ve worked for him. My tactic is simple, and judging by Benji’s non-reaction to me each time we interact, it’s working. Our friendship is solid, our working relationship steady. We are nailing it.

Even though I’d rather be nailing him. Ha.

“Anyway,” I say, trying to sound breezy while my hormones crowd into a panting mass that would give boy-band fangirls a run for their money. “I have errands, so I’m on my way out the door.”