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Home > Blackmailing the Billionaire (Billionaire Bachelors #5)

Blackmailing the Billionaire (Billionaire Bachelors #5)
Author: Melody Anne

Prologue

“It’s been a good couple of years,” Joseph said to his brother as they shared a glass of bourbon while sitting next to a warm fire.

“I agree with you there, Brother. I adore my grandkids and can’t believe how much closer the kids have become since we moved back to Seattle,” George said as he relaxed in the comfortable lounge chair.

“I can’t believe how sneaky your boy, Max is. He’s been able to avoid every match we’ve sent his way. I haven’t wanted to give up before, but I don’t see what else we can do,” Joseph said grumpily.

“Ah, it’s nice to hear you admitting defeat, Joseph, but I have a few tricks up my own sleeve,” George said with a twinkle in his eye.

“What do you have planned?”

Before George could say anything further Max stepped into the room and looked at both men suspiciously. They looked at him and then back down with guilty expressions.

“Did I hear the two of you scheming, again?” Max asked.

“We’re just enjoying a good glass of bourbon, would you care to join us?” George asked his son, recovering quickly.

“I don’t have time, there’s a problem at the research facility and I have to head out tonight,” Max told his father and uncle.

“I heard there were some bad storms up that way; don’t you think you should wait?” George questioned his son.

“You know that I can’t wait, Dad,” Max said. He was always the first one to rush in, even at the risk of his own life.

“I know, but you also know that I can’t help but worry about you.”

“I’ll call as soon as we land. I should be home in time for Christmas,” Max said. Max was glad they’d made the move to Seattle. It was good to spend time with his cousins, and he hadn’t been with his siblings so much in years. He wouldn’t admit to his father that he’d made the right decision in forcing them all to relocate, but he was glad it had happened. Joseph and George watched as Max left the room, both of them worried about him.

“Well, I guess I’ll have to think of something else because he won’t be here to ‘accidentally’ bump into the newest match I’d planned for him to meet tonight,” George said with disappointment.

“I think that boy has built in radar for our meddling,” Joseph said with a laugh. “But we’re stubborn and have nothing but time on our hands.” George agreed. They enjoyed the rest of their evening, leaving the scheming for another day.

Chapter One

Cassandra, or Cassie as everyone called her, hung up the phone and had to fight not to curse out loud. As it was, if her mother could hear the words in her head she’d threaten to wash her mouth out with soap. She’d been trying to get ahold of Max Anderson for two weeks straight and the infuriating man refused to answer a call from her, or give her the courtesy of a return phone call.

She narrowed her eyes as she glared at the magazine picture of him she had in her locker as motivation. If he thought she was some whimpering girl who so easily took ‘no’ for an answer, he certainly had another thing coming.

Cassie was trying desperately to get a job with The Seattle Times, and if she could land this interview with the infamous Max Anderson, she’d be a shoe-in for the position. She was aware he hated doing interviews, and she couldn’t remember the last time he’d been an active participant in a story.

Articles were written on him and his family all the time, but he never sat down with reporters and answered questions. If she could convince him to spend one day with her, just letting her tag along with him, then she’d be able to land a job for the paper easily. He was turning out to be as allusive as she’d heard.

“Is anyone back there? I’ve been standing here for several minutes now,” Cassie heard a customer calling. She let out another sigh and walked to the front of the coffee house, where she worked. She hated her job.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting. How can I help you?” Cassie asked the lady. She was excellent at customer service but that didn’t mean she wanted to do it her entire life. She went to college for a reason, and it wasn’t to serve overpriced coffee to strangers all day long.

“I’m in a bit of hurry and don’t appreciate the wait. I’ll take a non-fat mocha latté, extra hot,” the woman said while she dug in her purse for money. Cassie started the woman’s drink as the door chimed her next customer’s arrival.

She supposed it was better to be busy for a while. Hopefully, she’d get some good tips so she wouldn’t end up homeless before she landed her dream job. The rest of the afternoon kept her plenty busy, preventing her from dwelling on her wanted interview.

“Do I have any messages?” Max asked as he walked into his office. He was rarely home, causing built up piles of work when he stepped inside the doors. His job consisted of mostly travel, keeping an eye on the company’s vast holdings throughout the world. He preferred travel to sitting behind a desk like his siblings and cousins. He didn’t understand how they handled the staleness of an office eight to twelve hours a day.

“Of course you have messages, Max,” Cynthia said with a smile. Cynthia was like a mother to him. He’d lost his mom several years ago, but Cynthia had been around since he was a boy, first working in a different division of the company. When executive assistant had come open for him, he’d sought her out, and she’d been working for him for ten years. He knew he couldn’t do his job without her. He also knew she’d continue to give him grief until the day he died. She was one of the few people he’d take it from.

“Well, am I going to get the messages?”

“Not if you’re going to talk to me in that tone of voice,” she huffed. He had to fight back the laughter from spilling out. She was truly one in a million.

“I’m sorry, Cynthia. You know I get a bit moody when I’m stuck in one place for too long. I’ve been in town for about a month now and am starting to feel restless. I think Dad has something up his sleeve because he’s been finding a lot of reasons to keep me nearby. He should know by now whatever he has planned isn’t going to work.”

“You’re just being paranoid, Max. I’ll forgive you this time. Here are your messages. I took care of the items you don’t need to bother with. You have a couple of company functions next week, and Mr. Cadwell wants a meeting this afternoon if you can fit it in.”

Max was barely able to stop the groan from escaping. He hated company functions. That meant he’d have to dress up in a tux and pretend to like a bunch of people he could care less about. He was pleased about Cadwell, though. He liked the old guy. They were in the process of partnering with him on a business deal. Normally, his brother, Trenton, would handle a new business partnership, but Cadwell owned a research facility in Cordova Alaska, a special place to Max, and he’d wanted to handle the transaction.

“Of course I’m free for Cadwell. Clear a couple hours this afternoon if you need to,” Max said as he started toward his office. The room was huge, but he still felt closed in when he stepped through the doors. He needed to take the boat out for a day of fishing and get some fresh air.

“I almost forgot to mention, Cassandra McIntyre called several more times and would like to speak with you,” Cynthia said as she trailed behind him.

Max looked at her quizzically for a moment and then placed the name. The woman had been trying to call him for the past couple of weeks. She was some reporter trying to dig up new information on him or his family. He had zero desire to be interviewed. He knew media could be helpful in his world but there were plenty of other members in his family more than willing to smile prettily for the cameras and play nice with the reporters.

“She’ll eventually get the hint that I don’t do interviews. Hopefully, sooner rather than later,” Max said, forgetting about the woman as soon as he was done with the conversation. He didn’t have time to deal with aggressive reporters.

He walked into his office and went through some much needed paperwork. He was done sitting at his desk after about an hour. He could feel the restlessness start to kick in, and decided it was a good time to go for a run. He quickly changed into his sweats and walked past Cynthia, who just smiled. She knew him well and would’ve been surprised if he stayed there much longer.

He made his way to his vehicle and headed toward his favorite park in Seattle. He pulled around a corner and looked down for only a second to adjust the volume on his news station. Suddenly, there was a loud thump, causing him to slam on his brakes. He didn’t move for a moment, too horrified of what the sound meant. He threw the car in park and jumped out the door.

“Cassandra, can you hear me? Can you open your eyes? Come on, Cassandra, that’s good, just a little bit more.”

Cassie could hear a softly spoken voice calling to her but she didn’t want to open her eyes. There was pounding in her temples and she was just so tired. If felt like weights were holding her eyelids down, but with great effort she was able to finally crack them a bit.

“She’s starting to wake up but she’s not fully alert. It’s not an easy process. She may not remember anything about the accident, which is normal in these circumstances. She may not even know who she is. Our minds tend to retreat, to protect us, when something traumatic happens.”

Cassie couldn’t understand what the woman was talking about. Why would she not know who she was? She tried to get past the fog in her head, tried to fully wake up. She lay there, wondering why she was in bed in the middle of the afternoon. The last thing she could remember was walking, and then things got a bit fuzzy. She was just so fatigued - it was hard to focus.

“Have you had any luck notifying her family?” This was a new voice, an incredibly deep, masculine voice, which seemed to purr. She was becoming more motivated to open her eyes, curious to see if the face matched the voice. She felt her head shake slightly as she tried to clear out the cobwebs.

“We’ve notified the authorities and they’ve assured us their working on it. Unfortunately, at this time, they haven’t found any information. They’re overworked and understaffed and I don’t think this is at the top of their priority list. It would be far less frightening for her if there was a familiar face when she finally comes to, though. One of the problems is that she didn’t have a lot of information on her, and with the bruising, it’s hard to see if she is indeed Cassandra McIntyre.”

“Her identification says her name. Isn’t that good enough?”

He sounded unhappy, like he was scolding the woman. She didn’t seem to get upset when she spoke again, though.

“We’ll get it all worked out. The police will give a proper id if she is unable to remember who she is.”

“You’re more optimistic than I am. I have a lot to get done and the sooner this is taken care of, the faster I can wash my hands of the entire mess.” Whoever the man was, he didn’t sound happy about being in the room with her. She wished she could figure out where she was. She almost smiled at his frustrated tone, then feeling relieved, unconsciousness slowly overtook her.

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