The Billionaire Duke

By: Gina Robinson

Chapter 1





Seattle, Washington

Riggins Feldhem

Beauty. Fashion. Stylish women who knew how to wear clothes. I loved them in every size and shape. I know. I sounded like a damn designer fashion commercial—fashion is my passion. But I founded Flashionista so every woman could look and feel her most beautiful. On a budget. While fashion and fulfilling dreams was satisfying, business was my passion.

How did I become so successful? Through hard work and determination. And a little bit of luck. Where did I come up with my business ideas, like Flashionista? Easy. From needs I saw in real life. Wasn't that where all good ideas came from?

Flashionista was my way of paying homage to my mom. A nod to the woman who'd sacrificed so much to make sure I had a decent life that she'd never had a dime to spare for herself. She'd been beautiful. Everyone who'd known her would tell you that. But after my father abandoned us, something inside her had withered. She never had time to think about herself or money for stylish things to make her feel beautiful again. If Flashionista had been around for her maybe things would have been different.

Necessity was not only the mother of invention, but of innovative new business models. I saw a hole in the market and stepped in to fill it with online fashion flash sales. Thanks to Mom's lack of money, I now had plenty. If she were still alive, she'd be proud of me.

Mom had taught me something else—beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Stylish, sexy clothes weren't just for the tall and gaunt. The pregnant mother-to-be with her beautiful, taut baby bump wanted to feel gorgeous, too. And the curvy woman who wasn't afraid to show off her assets. The new mom just getting her figure back. The tall, boy-figured girl who could wear full pleats or a peplum.

Give me a confident woman. A woman who knew she looked good in her skin was the ultimate turn-on.

It was my mission to make fashionable clothes, jewelry, and accessories affordable to every woman, man, and child. Beautifying America one flash sale at a time. That was me. If that sounded arrogant, I'm sorry. I laugh at myself and my "lofty" ideals all the time. I was just passionate about what I did.

I'd founded Flashionista with programming prodigy Justin Green. Together we'd built a thriving business.

Never one to miss an opportunity to plug my company, I had said all of this in my interview with Seattle's most popular magazine for their annual "most beautiful people" issue. Laying it on thick to make my point. Dressed properly, anyone could be attractive.

No one at the magazine had come right out and said it, but being interviewed implied I was in the running again for Seattle's hottest bachelor. I'd seized the opportunity to promote Flash, as we affectionately called the company.

As I sat in my office and stared at the cover of the advance copy that had been delivered a few minutes earlier by bicycle courier, I shook my head. Lazer Grayson's ugly mug stared back at me as he leaned against one of his vast collection of exotic cars.

I rolled my eyes. Lazer was such a damn showoff.

Lazer was both friend and nemesis. We had a friendly, ongoing, unspoken competition over just about everything. He only thought he was suave. He could bullshit his way into convincing others of his brilliance. That was his real genius.

We both belonged to the local billionaire's club, the Entrepreneurs, Inventors, and Engineers International Organization, EIEIO, which was a joke of an acronym on purpose. Yeah, like we were all just local farmers growing money on trees.

Lazer was also a mentor to my young business partner Justin. If Lazer ever got the chance, I was certain he would do his damnedest to entice Justin into one of his ventures. He was always poaching.

I didn't understand Justin's friendship with Lazer. Lazer had tried to steal Justin's new wife last year. On the heels of their wedding night. As I said, always poaching. I didn't have a wife. But if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't let another guy get away with hitting on her.

Justin's marriage had been strange. Sudden and unexpected. People had been skeptical it would last. But damn, trying to steal the bride while the honeymoon bed was still warm?

I'd made my views on Lazer known. The rest was Justin's business. That tech-geek-gamer acing me out of the top spot as Seattle's hottest bachelor was both amusing and irritating. Lazer would never let me hear the end of it.

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