69 Million Things I Hate About You

By: Kira Archer

(Winning the Billionaire)

Chapter One

Kiersten Abbott jogged on her tiptoes after her boss, Marie, trying to keep her heels from clacking too loudly on the marble tile while still managing to keep up.

Moving at high speed through the office, laden down with coffee cups, coats, bags, briefcases, file folders, laptops, and any other number of items had become second nature to Kiersten. She handed off two of the three coffee cups to her besties who worked in the same office, Izzy and Cassie, who each mouthed “thank you” and quickly went back to looking busy. Marie wasn’t technically their boss, but she was the first assistant to Cole Harrington, president and founder of Harrington Enterprises, the biggest think tank and development firm in Manhattan, which made her a sort of supervisor over Izzy, Cassie, and the rest of the assistants in the office. Kiersten was second assistant, which made her Marie’s go-to girl. All the work, none of the credit—that went to Marie.

“Keep up,” Marie said over her shoulder.

Kiersten jumped, almost spilling the remaining coffee in her hand, and hightailed it to catch up to Marie, who was marching straight for the dragon’s lair.

Kiersten made it two feet inside before the sight of Mr. Harrington froze her. The man was on his treadmill, in a pair of loose sweatpants that fit low on his hips, and nothing else. And from the looks of him, he’d been on the thing a while. A few beads of sweat ran in rivulets down the hard-planed muscles of his chest and abs. And whatever the hell those amazing V muscles were called pointed in stark relief to what one tabloid had called “the treasure every woman in Manhattan wanted.” Kiersten had scoffed when she’d read that. Seeing everything up close and personal had her rethinking her skepticism.

When one errant drop slipped beneath the band of his sweatpants, Kiersten nearly lost her grip on the coffee. Lucky little sweat drop.

Marie handed Mr. Harrington a towel and followed him to the bathroom hidden behind a cleverly disguised wooden panel in the wall. She stood outside the door, grimacing at the sound of the shower turning on. After a minute or two, she finally spoke, raising her voice to be heard over the running water.

“Mr. Harrington, I’ll be out of touch this weekend, but Kiersten will be on call for you and—”

The water cut off and his voice floated through the door. “The conference is this weekend, and I’m the keynote speaker,” he said. “I need you there. It’ll be much easier to reschedule your thing than it would be to change the conference at this late date.”

“My thing?” Marie took a deep breath, her fists clenched at her sides. Oh shit. She was going nuclear.

Mr. Harrington came out of the bathroom, buttoning a fresh shirt. “Yes. Your thing. Whatever it is, cancel it. Change it. Move it. I don’t care.”

“My thing, as you call it, is my wedding,” Marie shouted. “I’ve told you about it repeatedly. I’ve spent over a year planning it. It can’t be rescheduled.”

Kiersten’s jaw dropped. No one yelled at Mr. Harrington. Hell, no one even questioned him.

“If you can’t fulfill your job obligations—”

Marie flung her hands up. “Don’t bother firing me. I quit!” She tossed a ring of keys and a phone onto his desk and marched out, pausing only long enough to grab her coat and purse from her own desk. “Oh my God, that felt good.” She glanced at Kiersten and snorted. “Good luck.” And then she breezed out, with a spring in her step and a smile on her face.

Kiersten stood rooted to the spot. She risked a glance back at Mr. Harrington, who was slipping into his suit jacket and coming her way.

“Oh shit,” she whispered under her breath.

He finally pinned his gaze on her, looking her up and down, and she prayed he hadn’t heard her. Those eyes of his were startling. She’d never gotten a close enough look to really see the color, and the steel gray with a darker ring of almost black surrounding them was unexpectedly mesmerizing. He took his coat and coffee from her.

“Who are you?”

“Kiersten, sir.” Her voice was barely audible, and she cleared her throat. “Your second assistant.”