69 Million Things I Hate About You(3)

By: Kira Archer

He gave her a look that would freeze a polar bear’s balls, and she nodded. Thankfully, she had no life. She’d rather be making money than sitting at home with Ben & Jerry’s.

“Good,” he said. “You’ll need to change her info to yours for anything else conference related. Also…” He stopped and grimaced a little. “Make sure Marie’s benefits remain in place until she finds new employment, and put a reference letter on file for her. In fact, one of the firms I met with last week is looking for someone. Send them a recommendation. Also, authorize a severance package. And double the usual amount.”

He gathered up the rest of his stuff and headed for the door. He paused just before he walked out. “And send her a wedding gift.”

Kiersten’s jaw dropped again, and this time Mr. Harrington—Cole—did give her a smile. “What? I’m not always a dick.”

“Not always, but often,” Mr. Larson, Cole’s partner, said from the doorway where he’d apparently been waiting. He smiled and winked at Kiersten. Cole brushed by him, muttered, “Don’t even think about it,” and kept on going. Mr. Larson shrugged and followed him out, leaving Kiersten standing there staring after them, shell-shocked, her mind still trying to process what had just happened.

She’d been thrown into the deep end, no doubt about it. On the bright side, her salary would nearly double. Then again, she knew she’d be earning every penny of it. Cole Harrington was the dream of practically every woman in the world. Young, gorgeous, richer than God, and in many opinions more powerful. He’d developed one of the most popular dating apps around, almost before he was old enough to date himself, owned entire islands, gave generously to charities, and loved puppies and children. Everybody loved him—except the people who worked for him directly.

The phone in her hand buzzed a notification before she could even finish the thought.

“And so it begins,” she muttered.

Chapter Two

“So, new assistant, huh?” Brooks Larson, Cole’s longtime friend and business partner, sat across the table, nursing the dregs of a glass of wine while looking at him with that gleam in his eye he always got when he had an ulterior motive.

“Yes. And?”

Brooks shrugged. “Nothing. You just go through them pretty fast, especially for a guy who refuses to sleep with his secretary like any other self-respecting CEO.”

Cole sighed and pushed away his half-eaten dinner, focusing his attention back on the files on his tablet. Brooks had been his best friend and business partner for the better part of a decade, but the man had no filter. “This isn’t 1950, Brooks. She’s my executive assistant, not a secretary. And she’s there to work, not get hit on by a sleazy boss. Mixing business and pleasure is a good way to fail at both. Besides, I need my assistants focused on work, not me, or shit would never get done.”

“I thought you were their business.”

“My business is their business. My personal life is off-limits.”

Brooks shrugged. “If you say so. Though I’m not sure how you get anything done with the revolving door you’ve got going on. What did you do to piss off Marie?”

“I needed her to work the weekend.”

“And she quit over that? I thought that was part of the job description.”

“It is. She had plans.”

“What kind of plans?”

Cole took a sip of his water and went back to staring at his tablet, not wanting to answer. But he knew Brooks wouldn’t leave it alone. “Her wedding.”

Brooks stared at him like he’d grown two heads. “You expected her to cancel her own wedding so she could work?”

Cole grimaced. It sounded so much worse coming out of Brooks’s mouth. “She knew I needed her at the conference. It was nonnegotiable. Why the woman would book her wedding the same weekend is beyond me.”

“Did it ever occur to you she may have had the wedding booked long before the conference was set up? Women plan those things years in advance.”

Cole sighed again and scrolled through the file on his tablet. “I didn’t give it that much thought. At some point, she would have realized they were the same weekend and she should have changed her plans. Her job was to make my life easier. I paid her very well to be at my beck and call. It was not my job to accommodate her.”