Story Excerpt
Billionaire Obsession

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"I found him!" Sergei Zhukov shouted as he ran into my office without knocking. Good thing I hadn't been in a meeting or on the phone. "I found Benjamin Hart, Mr. Burke."

My heart lurched up into my throat. I had to swallow hard before I could ask the question I'd been waiting to ask for three months. "You found Benji?"

"Yes, sir. His name just popped up in the State Health Insurance Agency's database from some coffee house over on the east side."

I grabbed the papers Sergei held out to me and quickly scanned them before sucking in a painful breath when I saw the address listed for the coffee shop. "He's still here in the city?"

I would have thought Benji had moved across the country with as bad as he had wanted to forget me after we broke up. He'd certainly moved out of his little apartment fast enough after I left. I knew. I'd gone back to see him and found the place rented to someone else.

I'd had the world's most perfect man there for the taking and I'd tossed him away because I was too scared of what others would think of me if I'd come out as gay. I'd told Benji it wasn't working out and simply walked away, despite Benji's pleas for us to work it out.

I'd been a coward, but this might be my one chance to redeem myself.

In the last three months, ever since I learned one of my best friends was gay when he claimed his executive assistant and married him, I'd learned that who I slept with was no one's business except the person in my bed. What others thought about me being gay wasn't my problem.

Being without Benji was, and I was determined to get him back.

I just wasn't sure how I was going to do that.

"Bring everything you've found on Benji and then call the car around, Sergei."

"Yes, sir." Sergei was out the door a moment later.

I stared down at the photo of Benji for a moment, rubbing my thumb along the edge. The last time I'd seen him had been nine months ago. It felt like forever. Maybe it was. Maybe I didn't have a chance in hell of reclaiming the man who had changed my world, but I had to try.

I picked up my phone and dialed one of my best friends. "Knox, I know we have a board meeting in an hour, but I need you to reschedule it. I found Benji."

"You found him?" Colton Knox asked.

Knox was the Chief Executive Officer of Silver Spoons Inc. Our mutual friend, Decker Crosby was the Chief Risk Officer. I was the Chief Financial Officer. We'd met in college and become best friends almost from day one.

Together, the three of us had built Silver Spoons Inc. up from an idea and turned it into a billion dollar corporation. We hadn't used a dime of our family's money. Just our own sweat and tears and a trust in each other that was closer than brothers.

I trusted no one more.

"He's still here in the city."

"Go then," Knox said. "We can have this meeting later. This is more important, Burke. Go get your guy."

I knew he'd understand. Both Knox and Crosby knew how desperately I wanted to find Benji. I'd been looking for him for over three months. Until today, there hadn't been a single sign of him.

I hung up on Knox without saying goodbye, but I knew he'd understand. He'd been a basket case when Newton, who was now his husband, turned his proposal down the first time. He'd been drunk for a week before me and Crosby pulled him out of it and kicked him the ass to get him to go claim Newt. Luckily for Knox, Newt had a forgiving nature.

Except for when it came to Knox, apparently.

We'd lost more than one account due to Knox publicly declaring that he was gay and marrying another man. Newt had refused to do business with anyone who turned their noses down at him or Knox because they were gay. He'd been able to pull in twice as many accounts that didn't have an issue with it. We now had contacts in the business world we never dreamed of tapping into before now.

As CFO, I could honestly say business was booming.

I grabbed my suit jacket and pulled it on, then patted my pocket to make sure the ring I'd picked out for him was still there. I smiled when I felt it. Clutching the papers Sergei had handed me, walked out of my office.

"Hold my calls and cancel all of my appointments for the rest of the day, Nina," I directed my secretary as I walked past her desk. "I'm not sure exactly when I will be back in the office."

"Of course, Mr. Burke. Is there anything I can help you with?"


I walked with a determined clip toward the express elevator that would take me directly down to the parking garage. Express or not, it seemed to take forever to reach my destination. I knew Sergei would be waiting for me there, along with my driver.

Sergei used to be part of Knox's security detail along with his brothers Ivan and Yuri. Sergei had gone to work for me as my personal bodyguard and Yuri went to work for Crosby as his personal bodyguard. Ivan still worked for Knox.

Over the last three months, ever since Newt had been shot—twice—trying to protect Knox, we had restructured our security. We'd placed the three Zhukov brothers in charge of our security, including the hiring, training, and assignments of those working under them. It seemed to be working out pretty well.

No one had shot Newt in months.

When the elevator doors slid open in the parking garage, Sergei was waiting for me with the door of my bulletproof SUV open. After he handed me the file in his hand, I climbed right in. Sergei climbed in after me, shut the door, and then rapped his knuckles on the partisan between us and the driver.

"Coffee shop, Mr. Burke?" Sergei asked as the car got underway.

I nodded as I flipped the file open and started reading as Sergei lowered the partisan and gave the driver directions to the coffee house. There wasn't much there. Hardly anything really. "The records you found didn't give a home address?"

Sergei shook his head. "The coffee house was listed as his place of residence."

"And it's his place of employment?"

"Yes, sir."

I frowned as I thought about that. Benji had been a chef at a fancy French restaurant when I met him a little over a year ago. What in the hell was he doing working at a coffee shop? What happened the chef job?

He loved cooking and he was very good at it. I had spent hours watching him create dishes and desserts. I'd even gained a couple of pounds before my cowardice forced me away. It made no sense for him to be working as a barista.

The questions about what was going on with Benji were mounting.