An Heiress For His Empire

By: Lucy Monroe
CHAPTER ONE


MADISON ARCHER SET HER morning coffee down, hot liquid spilling over the rim, as she read her Google alerts with growing horror.





Madcap Madison Looking for New Master?





Archer Heiress into Heavy Kink





San Francisco Bad Boy Dumps Very Bad Girl





The articles made lurid claims about a lifestyle and relationship between Maddie and Perry Timwater. A completely nonexistent relationship.

The fact that Perry was the source caused the coffee to sour in Maddie’s stomach.

His supposed exposé of their fictitious relationship claimed she was a submissive with a serious pain fetish and need for multiple partners. She gritted her teeth on the urge to swear as she read it was her inability to remain faithful that forced Perry to end things between them.

Maddie wouldn’t mind ending Perry right that minute. Betrayal choked her.

How could he have done this?

He was her friend.

They’d met their freshman year at university. He’d made her laugh when she’d thought nothing could. Not after her epic fail trying to get Viktor Beck’s attention. She’d started university with a broken heart and Perry had helped her paste over the cracks with friendship.

She’d helped him pass his accountancy courses. He’d played platonic escort for her and she’d provided him entrée to Jeremy Archer’s world—an echelon above his own.

But never, not once, had their friendship ever taken a turn toward something heavier.

Pounding sounded on her front door. “Maddie! It’s me, don’t freak.” Then barely a second later, the double snick of locks sliding back was followed by the door swinging wide.

Holding a bag from their favorite bakery aloft, her black bob swirling around her pixie face, Romi Grayson kicked the door shut behind her. “I come bearing the panacea for all ills.”

“I’m not sure even chocolate and flaky pastry can make this situation better.” Maddie slumped against the back of her chair.

Eyes the same vibrant blue as Maddie’s glittered with anger. “So, Perry’s lost his mind, right?”

“You saw the articles?”

“Only after reporters woke me from a dead sleep demanding my opinion of my best friend’s darker sexual proclivities.” Romi’s mouth twisted wryly. “Proclivities I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t have even if you weren’t still a virgin.”

“You’ve got that right. I’ve never been able to trust one man enough to have sex, much less multiple partners.”

As ridiculous as that might seem at twenty-four, it wasn’t going to change anytime soon, either.

“If you ask me, it’s got less to do with trust and more to do with the fact you imprinted on Viktor Beck like a baby bird when you were a teenager and you’ve never gotten over him.”

“Romi!” Maddie was in no mood to hash out her unrequited feelings for her father’s dark-haired, dark-eyed, to-die-for-bodied golden boy.

“I’m just saying...”

“Nothing you haven’t said before.” Maddie’s stomach grew queasier by the second.

Along with the rest of the world, Vik would see the articles, but she couldn’t afford to think about that right now, or she really was going to lose it. “Father is going to kill me.”

This new scandal was bound to crack even the San Francisco tycoon’s icy demeanor. And not in the way Maddie had always craved.

He’d sent her away to boarding school months after her mother’s death and Maddie had courted media attention in the hopes of gaining his. It had worked for her mother, Helene Archer, née Madison, the original Madcap Madison, but Maddie had come to realize the strategy had backfired pretty spectacularly for her.

In the nine years since Helene’s death, Jeremy had developed a habit of thinking the worst of his daughter. When he wasn’t ignoring her existence all together.

“If he doesn’t die of a stress-related heart attack first.” Romi put a chocolate-filled croissant in front of Maddie.

“Don’t say that.”

The other woman grimaced. “Sorry. Stuff just comes out. You know what I’m like. Your dad is wound pretty tight, though.”

Maddie couldn’t argue that.

“I think this time, Perry’s diarrhea of the mouth has me beat anyway.” Romi chewed her pastry militantly. “What was he thinking?”

Morose, Maddie stared at her friend. “That he wanted the money the tabloid paid him for the story?”

She’d had no idea that turning down his latest request for a loan would result in her utter humiliation. How could she? Friends didn’t do that to each other.

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