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       Always Mine (The Barrington Billionaires, Book 1), p.1

           Ruth Cardello
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Always Mine (The Barrington Billionaires, Book 1)

  Always Mine

  The Barrington Billionaires

  Book One

  Ruth Cardello

  Author Contact


  email: [email protected]

  Facebook: Author Ruth Cardello

  Twitter: RuthieCardello

  When it comes to getting what he wants, Asher Barrington is a hammer who is known for crushing his opponents. From the moment Emily walks into his office and challenges him, winning takes on a whole new meaning.

  The only thing standing between Emily Harris and her goal to open a museum for the blind is an arrogant, sexy as hell billionaire, who thinks sleeping with her will not complicate the situation.

  He won’t change. She won’t back down.

  But together they sizzle.

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  Kobo Edition

  An original work of Ruth Cardello, 2015.

  All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, places, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.


  This book is dedicated to Jan, aka JS Scott. My writing journey has brought many wonderful people into my life; I love that you are one of them. You are one of the most giving people I have ever met, especially when people accidentally dine and dash. I hope just as much love comes back to you as you send out into the world. Your next drink is on me. Unless I have somewhere to go and forget to pay. . .then I’ll catch the next one after that.

  A Note to My Readers

  Hate to say goodbye to your favorite characters? So do I, that’s why the gang from the Legacy Collection and the Andrade series are back in the Barrington Billionaires. You’ll love watching Dominic Corisi step in with his usual flair to save the day.

  In this book, you will be introduced to Brice Henderson, Asher’s business partner. Pick up the first book in Jeannette Winters’ new series, ONE WHITE LIE. Not only do I love her writing, I love her. She is my sister, after all.

  You’ll also meet, James West, the son a business competitor. My billionaire world extends into a yet another series, this one by Danielle Stewart. Book one: FIERCE LOVE.

  Three authors, three series, all able to be read independently, but intertwined as only a family could weave them. I write about large families and the love that brings them back together. Who better to partner with for a new billionaire world than my sister and my niece? While we may not be billionaires, we certainly understand the challenges of a large family and, more importantly, the real blessing that being part of one is.

  Table of Contents


  Title Page

  About the Book



  A Note to My Readers

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Chapter Twenty-Two


  Other Books by Ruth

  Author Biography

  Excerpt from Maid for the Billionaire

  Excerpt from Come Away with Me: Book 1 of the Andrades

  Excerpt from The Billionaire’s Secret, by Jeannette Winters

  Chapter One


  Asher Barrington pushed a small package off to one side of his Boston office desk and stood. Distant relatives had recently become persistently, tediously interested in opening a dialogue. The package was their latest attempt and would hit the trash unopened. Asher had little time and even less patience for “family” who had done nothing when his parents had needed their support.

  His mother’s side, the Stanfields, and the Andrade family his Aunt Patrice had married into, were both extremely wealthy. Either of them could have come to the aid of his father and stopped him from losing his career, but they hadn’t. Why? Because no one respects a weak man.

  Asher had been old enough to be shamed by his father’s scandal. When his classmates had heartlessly taunted him, Asher had discovered how very different he was from his father. He hadn’t retreated from confrontation. He’d gone after those who’d found enjoyment in his pain and had taken them down with whatever means was at his disposal. He’d been smart enough to keep the evidence of his retaliation off the radar of the school and his parents. Except for the time he’d taken on a bully. He’d made sure that fight was both public and final. No one had laughed at him after that day, and that win helped shape the man he’d become.

  He’d taken his trust fund from his grandfather and built a financial empire with it. Regardless of how successful he became, he had yet to hear his father say he was proud of him. When they did speak of his business his father would only caution him to soften his approach, tread more carefully, risk less. That wasn’t how Asher operated nor was it how he wanted to. He had goals for himself and his company, and if that meant crushing his opposition, it was nothing more than the way of the world. Eat or be eaten. Expand or perish. Asher’s father had been a great man, but he should have fought harder for what he had. Asher was determined to not make the same mistake.

  Nothing and no one stood between him and a goal. When Asher had first started his biochemical company and then expanded it by undercutting the prices of the competition, his father had said, “Be careful. When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

  Asher had given up trying to explain how the world worked to his father. His parents were perfectly happy in their middle-class home, driving their ten-year-old cars. They certainly weren’t poor, but they considered themselves better off for not having fought his mother’s family for anything other than their children’s trust funds. How a man who had once been one of the most influential US senators and a woman who’d been born into the top of the privileged one percent could be satisfied with obscurity was a constant mystery Asher had given up trying to solve. One of Asher’s brothers, Lance, believed their mother had been afraid of her father as well as her sister. Both were dead now so that was another topic that held little interest for Asher. Had his mother ever appealed to him for help, Asher would have dealt with both of them for her. He feared no one.

  There was a light knock on the door and Ryan Corson, Asher’s personal assistant, entered. He was a reliable, unflappable, problem solver and that had made him an indispensible member of Asher’s team. He was paid well above his job description because he had proven himself in a variety of ethically complex situations. Asher didn’t need a conscience; he needed a team that would follow his orders without hesitation, so those were the people he’d surrounded himself with.

; “Mr. Corisi is quickly becoming impatient,” Ryan said. “Shall I send him in?”

  Asher sat on the edge of his desk and checked his watch. “Tell him I’m on a conference call for five more minutes.”

  Ryan grimaced. “He may not wait.”

  “He will. He’s curious.”

  “I’ll tell him, but I’m guessing not too many people make Mr. Corisi wait for anything.”

  “Exactly,” Asher said with a flash of teeth. Dominic was known for losing his temper easily. “Always play to your opponent’s weaknesses.”

  Ryan gave Asher a curious look. “Is he our competition? He’s in an entirely different industry.”

  Asher pushed off the desk. “Every person who is not on my team is against it. Remember that. Dominic is getting impatient. Good. Keep your opponent off balance and it’s easier to get information from them.”

  Ryan neither agreed nor disagreed. He retreated to his office and to the likely unpleasant task of informing one of the most powerful people in the country that he needed to cool his heels for a few more minutes.

  Asher slowly checked the messages on his phone, straightened the already straight papers on his desk, and finally opened the door of his office. “Dominic, thank you for coming.”

  Dominic turned and gave him a dark look Asher pretended not to see. Dominic growled, “When you said it was a matter that couldn’t be spoken about on the phone, you piqued my interest.” Although Dominic didn’t mention it, his irritation at being kept waiting was obvious. “This had better be important.”

  Asher smiled smoothly, deliberately ignoring that as well. “Come in. Ryan, hold my calls.” He waited until he knew Dominic was paying attention and added, “Unless it’s Freethy. Then put him through.” He heard Dominic’s impatient huff and hid his satisfaction at how easy it was to use a man’s pride against him. After closing his office door, he said, “Have a seat, Dominic.”

  Dominic folded his arms across his chest and kept standing. “I don’t have time for whatever game you’re playing, Asher. What do you want to discuss?”

  Asher rocked back on his heels and pocketed his hands in his trousers. “I need the name of your contact in Trundaie.”

  Dominic studied him for a long moment, then said, “I don’t deal with unstable governments anymore.”

  Asher smiled knowingly. “I understand. You have a family to think about now.”

  “I do.”

  “How is your wife? And your daughter—Judy, isn’t it?”

  Dominic relaxed his stance. “Both are well. Judy just started kindergarten.”

  “Wow, that happened fast.”

  “It did. It feels like only yesterday I was learning to change a diaper. In a blink of an eye, she’s reading to me at bedtime instead of the other way around.”

  Asher leaned back against his desk. “Tell me, how long do I have to pretend to give a shit about your family before you cough up your old contact in Trundaie?”

  Dominic’s eyes narrowed, then he barked out a laugh. “You remind me of myself, Asher, and that’s not a compliment.”

  Asher picked up a folder, took out a photo of an outbuilding that had been destroyed, and threw it on the table near Dominic. “I’m having issues with the rebels in Trundaie. We both know they don’t care why I’m there. This is extortion, plain and simple. I know they went against you when you were there, and you paid someone in the military to get them to back off. All I need is a name, and I’ll handle the rest.”

  Dominic shook his head. “I told you, I’ve distanced myself from those contacts. Trundaie’s instability has increased since I was last there. I understand the temptation of fast money that can be made in places no one else will go, but don’t underestimate the price you pay for making those kinds of enemies.”

  With a sarcastic chuckle, Asher straightened. “How does it feel to be a lion on a leash? We’ve worked the same international circuit for too long for me to believe you don’t still have your hand in it. The contract we have with Trundaie will open up the whole Asia continent to using our product. They pride themselves on their low prices, and using our synthetic material instead of oil will cut their production prices in half. We don’t have to stay in Trundaie. The government will purchase our facility once we’ve proven to them that it can be lucrative. Once we have them, the Western markets will cave because they’ll have no other choice. They’ll need either a facility or product from us. Maybe you can’t play in the big sandbox anymore, Dominic, but don’t begrudge me the pleasure. All I need is a name.”

  Dominic shook his head, but said, “I’ll make a call.”

  Asher crossed the room and held out his hand. “I’ll send you a postcard from Trundaie.”

  Dominic shook his hand. He didn’t look the least bit bothered by Asher’s baiting. “You’re wrong about one thing, Asher. I don’t miss my old life. It was exciting, but it was empty. Life is about more than that.”

  Asher walked him to the door. “I’ll take your word for that. Thanks for coming by.”

  Dominic nodded and added, “Coming by was never in question. Some of your family has become like my own.”

  “If you mean the Andrades, you can have them,” Asher said.

  Dominic gave him an odd look but didn’t say more before leaving.

  After he was gone, Asher called his business partner, Brice Henderson. He didn’t waste time with pleasantries. “I need you to move the deadline up.”

  “The compound needs an additional round of testing.”

  Brice was a genius, but he didn’t understand the complexities of the volatile international market. “The sooner we have the facility up and running, the sooner we can hand it off to the government and get the hell out of there. Get me the product ahead of schedule.”

  “Nothing will happen if I can’t get this compound right.”

  “‘Nothing’ is not an option. We’re delivering something to them. We have too much riding on this not to. Do whatever it takes.”

  “Asher, unlike your Neanderthal negotiations, science cannot be rushed.”

  “Things are heating up in Trundaie. We need the standing government to back us, but they won’t do that until we show them how profitable it will be for them. We need to get our facility up and running . . . now.”

  “It’ll be ready by the date we agreed to.”

  Asher hung up the phone and retuned to his seat behind his desk. Arguing with Brice would be a waste of time. He rubbed a hand roughly over his face and typed in the password on his computer. His cell phone beeped, announcing a text. It was an encrypted message from Dominic. A name. Perfect.

  The phone on his desk buzzed. “Mr. Barrington, there is a Ms. Emily Harris here to see you. She said she has an appointment, but it’s not on my calendar.”

  “I don’t know the name. Tell her I’m in a meeting, and she’ll have to come back, but don’t schedule her.”

  Ryan lowered his voice. “I tried that, Mr. Barrington, but she said your mother made the appointment.”

  “Shit.” He vaguely remembered agreeing to speak to someone. It was probably one of his mother’s friends, older than sin, possibly senile, and most likely there to ask for a donation to some charity his mother thought he should care about. The quicker he met with her, the sooner she’d be out of his hair. “Send her in.”

  Emily Harris crossed and uncrossed her legs nervously, then tucked a defiant curl back behind her ear. She looked down at her French manicure and took a deep, calming breath. The life expectancy of acrylic nails on her was less than a day. She’d purchased a beige dress suit for the trip, but it was her only business attire, so she hoped Mr. Barrington could be persuaded to change his mind in one meeting.

  Emily wasn’t normally a confrontational person. She was a self-professed people pleaser. To her, there was nothing wrong with wanting those around her to be happy. Both her grandfather and her mother had done everything they could to give her a good life. She was grateful, and that gratitude was the fuel that f
ed her determination to take her fight directly to the CEO of B&H Advanced Engineering. If anyone had told her six months ago she’d be in Boston taking on one of the nation’s richest men, she wouldn’t have believed herself capable.

  But here I am. It’s amazing how motivating a dose of desperation can be.

  When B&H first began their attempts to purchase properties in her town, she hadn’t worried. Her land was nearly dead center on the proposed plans for demolition and development, but she’d been confident her neighbors would never sell. One by one, though, they’d accepted offers and moved away.

  At first, Emily had tried to reason with the company representatives who relentlessly offered to buy her land. When that didn’t work, she stopped answering their phone calls. Their unopened letters were piled on her kitchen table. She hoped if she blocked all communication with them they would see how serious she was.

  Their response had been a summons to court. It wasn’t until she’d taken the letter to a lawyer and been advised to sell that she understood how dire her situation was.

  “I won’t sell,” she’d told the lawyer.

  “You won’t have a choice,” he’d answered sadly, removing his glasses and placing them on his desk. “I could cite countless similar cases where the plaintiff lost or took a payout in arbitration. Why put yourself through that? Make them an offer you can live with and move. You don’t have the resources to win against a company like B&H.”

  “I won’t sell,” she growled before she gathered her papers and left the office of the only lawyer within fifty miles of her home.

  I won’t.

  It didn’t help her confidence when she heard Mr. Barrington’s secretary admit he’d tried to get rid of her and failed.

  After weeks of trying to contact Mr. Barrington and being given the runaround, Emily wasn’t going anywhere until she was given a chance to speak to him in person. I don’t care how long I have to sit here. I didn’t come this far to give up now.

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