Book ‘The Russian Billionaire’ by Georgia Le Carre

Read excerpt from 'The Russian Billionaire' by Georgia Le Carre
A Romantic Suspense Novel
Raine. I was working two jobs, mom was working three, and we still couldn't make ends meet. No matter how hard we tried we just couldn't catch up with my sister's medical bills. Right before my eyes, my mother was becoming a shadow of herself. And now Madison needed another costly medical intervention. Every time I'd read about the Wall Street fat cats, bankers, and billionaires getting richer and richer with government bailouts while half our wages went on taxes, it made me more and more resentful and bitter about the system we lived in...
Publisher: Georgia Le Carre (May 12, 2021)  Paperback: 304 pages  ISBN-10: 1913990184  ISBN-13: 978-1913990183  Dimensions: 5 x 0.76 x 8 inches

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Book excerpt

KONSTANTIN

My cell phone vibrates gently on my office desk. I glance at it. Stephan Priory. As I reach for the phone the girl under the desk stops sucking my cock and stares at me with her thickly lashed baby blue eyes.

“Don’t stop,” I instruct, as I hit the accept option.

Obediently, she continues bobbing her head up and down, her voluptuous red lips making wet sounds. She’s very good at this. Years of experience, no doubt.

“Stephan,” I say crisply into the phone, as I watch her big red mouth swallow my cock. I have a thing for girls with naturally big lips.

“Good evening, Mr. Tsamov. Sorry to disturb you, but I just wanted to give you a heads up on a… um, ” he clears his throat, “developing situation. I’m afraid we’re going to have a slight PR problem when the Anton scandal breaks next month.”

My voice is cold and forbidding. “Why? What does that fool have to do with me?”

“Well, you know what the… er… political climate is in Washington these days if you’re a Russian billionaire. Pure paranoia and guilt by association.”

“I met him once at a party,” I growl, irritated.

“I know, I know, but unfortunately, there’s a photo circulating online of you and him at that party.”

I rake my fingers through the girl’s long silky hair, and she moans softly. “So?”

“The problem is I’ve been informed by my contact at the Washington Post that they’re planning to run with a center page spread story of the situation, and they’re going to use that photo, but crop it to seem as if you are entertaining him alone on your yacht.”

The girl starts to bob faster, as I watch my glistening cock slide in and out of her mouth. I weigh my options. Take the trouble to kill

the story. Nah, those self-righteous pricks at the Washington Post can go and fuck themselves. “Let them run their lies. I have survived worse. Anything else?”

“Yeah.” He clears his throat. “I’m afraid there’ll be pics of you and Putin looking very chummy too.”

“For fucks sake,” I explode.

The girl stops and looks at me questioningly.

“Carry on,” I rasp at her.

“Sorry?” Stephan asks.

“I’m not talking to you,” I mutter.

“Oh!” He pauses, then continues. “We need to do something about this. The Hansom Cross contract is up for grabs in two months, and they won’t want to be tarnished by this mess. At least not if it’s going to be portrayed the way the Washington Post is planning to print it.”

I close my eyes and luxuriate in the hot, wet mouth of the girl. “You obviously have a suggestion.”

“Yes, yes, as a matter of fact I do,” he says eagerly.” We should mount our own PR offensive before they run their grubby story. A distraction is the answer. You should do something big and flashy. Something that gets you in the media and makes you get noticed for all the right reasons.”

“Mmnun…”

“I’m thinking about the Huntingdon Children’s Hospital Charity dinner gala. You’re attending it on the 25th of this month. One of the things they’ll be auctioning off is dinner dates. I suggest you blow half a million on one of the girls at the auction. A bit of philanthropy never did any harm, especially if it’s also sexy enough to make it into lots of the newspapers, maybe even the evening news on some TV stations. I can almost see the headlines. Billionaire Russian throws a half a million on dinner date for children’s charity.”

“Who are these girls?” I ask, watching her cheeks hollow, as my glistening dick flows out of her red mouth.

“I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I think they’re agency girls.”

“Prostitutes?”

“Of course not,” Stephan cries, alarmed as only an Englishman can be.

The girl feels my dick grow larger and starts sucking harder.

“The women at these events are usually society ladies, or aspiring actresses and girls wanting to earn a bit of extra money. In this case, I believe the hospital is using an agency. They’ll all be really good looking though. Just pick the girl you think will bore you the least. It’ll only be a couple hours of your time, but the resulting publicity will be worth it.”

“Fine,” I reply, cut the line, tossing my phone back on the desk and give my full attention back to the girl under the desk.

RAINE

“Oh, Raine, I’m so sorry to hear that. That’s terrible. What are you going to do?” Lois, my best friend asks, her forehead creased in a deep frown.

I drop my head in my hands. “I don’t know. I feel so damn helpless. Ever since Dad died, things have just been going from bad to worse. Mom’s working three jobs, I’m working two, and still there’s nothing ever left to put aside for Maddy. If we don’t get her the treatment soon… something bad is going to happen.”

“Look, I have some money put aside. Take it for her.”

“You have a $120,000 put aside?” I joke, but it comes out sounding miserable. My heart is filled with a great bitterness, which keeps me angry and confused inside. More and more I see the world as an unfair place where undeserving fat cats in suits are given government handouts of trillions that they then immediately use to gamble on the stock markets, while ordinary, hard working people like Mom and me are taxed so heavily we can hardly even survive.

“God,” Lois breathes. “$120,000.”

“And that’s just for the operation,” I mutter.

“There’s got to be something we can do.”

I lift my head and look at her. “There is. I’m thinking of working in a strip club.”

Her eyes bulge with shock. “What?”

“I know I’m not beautiful in the classic sense of the word, my mouth is too big, but a lot of guys tell me I have a sexy body and that’s the important thing in those dark places, isn’t it?”

“You’re kidding, right?” Lois erupts incredulously.

“Drastic situations call for drastic measures. Anyway, it’ll be just for a while. Just until we have saved up enough for Maddy’s operation and paid off our old debts.”

“No, that is a crazy idea. Do you know how dangerous those strip clubs are? That’s where serial killers pick off their prey. And there’s drugs there, and the men who—”

“Lois,” someone calls from inside the kitchen.

“Coming,” Lois shouts over her shoulder, then turns back to me. “I’ve got to go, but don’t do anything stupid. We have to talk about this. Let me see if I can get a loan from the bank or something. We’ll find a way out of this problem, okay?”

I sigh. There is no bank in the world who is going to give Lois the kind of money I need. I force a smile. “Okay, let’s talk about this another time. I should go home now, anyway. I’ve got a ton of washing and ironing to do.”

Lois’s boss pops her head around the back door where Lois and I are standing. “Lois,” she says, then stops when she sees me.

“Hey, it’s Raine, right?”

I nod. “Yeah.”

She jerks her head towards the interior of the Lake club. “Go on in, Lois. I want a word with Raine.”

Lois widens her eyes at me, then scampers through the kitchen door and disappears around a shelf full of pans.

“What are you doing tonight?” her boss asks me.

I grimace. “It’s my night off, so I’m going home to get on with some housework.”

She glances at her watch, “Hmmm… You’ve done bar work before, haven’t you?”

I nod. “Yeah.”

“Good. I think one of my bartenders is going to let me down. Want to work a shift for me? I’ll give you twenty dollars an hour since it’s such short notice. It’ll be about five hours of work. Cash in hand.”

Cash in hand What’s there to even think about? I nod quickly. “Yeah, twenty an hour would be fine.”

“Come in then. Let’s see if we can find you a white shirt and vest. You can keep the skirt you have on.”

Ten minutes later, I’m standing behind the bar, in a crisp white shirt and a maroon vest, watching the great and good come pouring into the party.

“Two martinis, one dry, one dirty, please,” a man calls from one end of the bar.

“Coming up,” I say and get to work.

An hour passes quickly. Then the guests sit down to dinner and a lull settles around the bar. A woman in a black dress comes to sit at one of the barstools. She must be in her mid-forties. Her hair is colored bright red and she is wearing very fashionable white rimmed glasses. She smiles at me. She orders a frozen margarita with some slices of lemon on the side.

“Why’s a girl like you looking so sad?” she asks as I place her drink in front of her.

“I’m not sad,” I deny immediately.

“Honey, I know sadness when I see it.”

“I’m not sad,” I repeat, with a tense smile. A man comes to the bar and orders a beet I put his beer on a paper coaster in front of him and turn back to the redhead.

“Fine, you’re not sad, but let me guess. You have money problems?”

“Who doesn’t?” I say lightly.

“I can help you earn some serious money, up to $50,000 and more if it goes well,” she drawls, as she picks up one of the thin slices of lemon and licks it like a cat.

RAINE

I keep my face expressionless. “Doing what?”

“There is a gala dinner with a charity auction for the Huntington Hospital on the 25th of this month. One fun part of the auction is for the single male guests. There will be five very rich bachelors that night so there will be five girls up for auction. The men will be bidding for the privilege of buying dinner for the girl of their choice. It’s all in good fun, and both the girls and the boys are at

the end of the day helping to raise a lot of money for charity.” She pauses to take a delicate sip of her drink. “You can be one of those five girls.”

I stare at her suspiciously, incredulously. “$50,000 for going on a dinner date?”

“The fifty grand is actually for showing up and taking part. However, if your highest bidder turns out to be the Russian billionaire, Konstantin Tsarnov, who is one of the five bachelor guests, then your ability to earn money grows exponentially.”

My jaw drops. Is this woman serious? She sounds like a total fantasist, but she doesn’t look like one. She looks very polished and her eyes glitter with intelligence and cunning. Tempted and curious, I decide to play along for a bit.

“Why? What happens if he picks me?”

“Konstantin Tsarnov has something that doesn’t belong to him. He stole it from his competitor, who is my client, and my client wants his property back. So, your job will be to persuade him into taking you to his house. Once there you will simply follow the map you will be given, find the thing and exchange it for a… replacement. You don’t even have to sleep with him. Invent a believable excuse and leave.”

I blink. “I think you want James Bond for this job, not me.”

She smiles. “James Bond wouldn’t work. The mark likes girls.” Her gaze drops to my mouth before coming back up to my eyes. “Girls who look like you. The job is actually much easier than you think. By the time he realizes, if he ever does, the original and you will be long gone.”

I touch my mouth self-consciously. “What makes you think he will pick me?”

“To be honest I don’t know if he will pick you.”

“I see. What happens if he picks one of the other girls then?”

She smiles confidently. “All the other girls have the same deal as you, so it doesn’t matter which girl he picks. As far as you’re concerned, you’ll have dinner at a fancy restaurant with the man who picks you and as soon as you text to tell us it’s done, your money will be released from escrow and sent directly into your bank account, making you $50,000 richer.”

“What is this thing I am supposed to steal?”

“You wouldn’t be stealing,” she says quickly. “You would be returning something to its rightful owner. It’s a tiny painting of a little boy on a beach. Five inches by six inches, it’s small enough to put into your purse, and if you’re wondering, its value is purely sentimental. As soon as he chooses you for his dinner companion another $150,000 will be put into escrow. Once you hand the painting over to us, the money will be released to you and you will never hear from us again.”

I take a deep breath. Somehow I know she is telling the truth and to be really, really honest I am tempted. She makes it sound like such easy money and we are so desperate for some, but another part of me tells me there is more, much more, that she is not telling me about this job. Five girls at $50,000 each plus another $150,000 makes it $400,000 for a painting that has no value beyond sentimental. I’m not buying it. Something doesn’t feel right. I’m not stupid enough to imagine all this money being thrown around is normal. Hell, I can even end up in prison if I get caught. Even the thought of it sends a shiver through my body.

She considers me expressionlessly. “So, what do you say?”

“Thanks for the offer, but no. If your boss wants his property back, he should really find a less underhand way of getting it back.”

The woman smiles pleasantly as she pushes her calling card towards me. “Call me if you change your mind before the 25th of this month. I have a strong feeling he will go for you and you can solve our little problem and all your big problems in one fell swoop. I might even be open to negotiating the final price.”

Then she stands and leaves.

I pick up the luxuriously thick card.

Catherine Moriarty

There is nothing else on that side of the card. I turn it over and there is a phone number. Definitely fishy. The trash is just to the left of me. I should throw it away right now, but something makes me hesitate. Then, I shake my head at my own stupidity and toss it into the trash. How the hell could I even entertain such a dangerous idea? A deal with the devil is not for me.

Lois’s boss is approaching so I get on with cleaning some glasses.

The hours pass quickly and by the time I put the key into the door of our apartment, it’s late. I take my shoes off and tip toe into the house. Tonight is the only night my mom doesn’t have to work late so I do not want to disturb her if she has fallen asleep in front of the TV. She is not asleep on the sofa. As I pass the bathroom I hear sobbing. Fear grips my heart.

“Mom,” I call.

Immediately, the sobbing stops. I turn the door handle and go into the bathroom. My mom is slumped on the floor in the dark.

“Don’t switch on the light,” she whispers brokenly.

I sit on the floor next to her and take her hand in mine. Her hand is like ice. “What’s wrong, Mom?” I ask. My heart is thumping with fear.

“The doctor called. They’re going to have to bring her surgery forward. She’s not doing so good, Raine. She’s struggling. My baby is struggling to live.”

“We’ll figure it out, Mom.”

“No, we won’t. I didn’t tell you, but I lost my shifts at the grocery store last week. They’re cutting back. Not that it matters. Those shifts hardly paid for our weekly food bill.”

“Mom, I think I’ve got a way to pay for Maddy’s operation,” I whisper in the dark.