Tech Titans Series Book 1
by Marcella Swann
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Damian Black: He’s gorgeous and knows it.
A titan of the tech industry and not yet 30.
Models and starlets are his for the taking.
And so very good at being bad.
I tell myself I don’t want him even though I do, in the worst way.
But I’ve got a secret that could ruin everything.<p></p>
Gigi Stevens: She’s brainy and beautiful and has a tongue as sharp as an ice pick.
I’m the face of a multi-billion-dollar tech company and I’ve got a rep.
I’m used to shallow and superficial but that’s not her.
That’s not her at all.
And it throws me.
Is something real worth the risk?
There’s only one way to find out.
It’s a dangerous dance: Will she tame the Bad Boy or will she be the one who’s conquered?
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Gigi Stevens had never seen a party so over-the-top gonzo.
Palm trees, jungle vines swinging from the ceiling, and animatronic dinosaurs so large and lifelike they could be used in the next Jurassic Park film. If the DJ’s steady assault of concussive beats weren’t enough to elevate Gigi’s heart rate, then the sight of velociraptors and a roaming T-Rex most certainly were.
Granted, since moving to San Francisco she’d attended only a few of the tech industry’s notorious gatherings, thrown by nouveau riche code nerds who’d hit it big with apps or games or search engines, socially awkward guys who might chronologically be pushing thirty, but who were emotionally still
scouring the pages of D&D monster manuals in their parents’ basements.
Tonight’s party was different, however. And the party was different because the man throwing the party was different.
Damian Black, she thought. Or should I call you by your full name, the one given to you by the tabloids? Damian Black, the Bad Boy Playboy of Silicon Valley.
Gigi whirled in the direction of the shout. Speaking of full names, she thought.
Judy Mixson was making her way through the throng, holding champagne flutes high in each hand, trying not to spill their golden contents. When she finally reached Gigi, she handed her a flute and said, loudly, over the music, “A bit of the bubbly, my dear.”
“Oh God, thank you,” said Gigi. “I need it.” She leaned her head back and downed the champagne in one gulp.
“Easy there, girl! The night is young and so are you.”
“I wish I wasn’t,” Gigi said. “It’s one reason why nobody here will take me seriously.” She peered thoughtfully into her empty flute. “Young, fresh out of college—”
“An Ivy League college,” Judy interjected.
“Yeah, but it was Brown, and for some damn reason everyone keeps forgetting it’s an Ivy League school. They know Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and that’s it.”
“Look here, Georgina: you’re the smartest person in this room and you know it. In the last half-hour, you’ve forgotten more about coding and techy stuff than everyone else in here will learn over the next ten years. And look at you, girl, you’re totally—”
“Don’t say ‘hot.’ You know I’m not even remotely.”
“Actually, I was going to say—”
“And don’t say ‘cute.’ You know how much I hate hearing that.”
Judy made an amusingly frustrated face. “But you are hot. You are cute. Just look at you in your smart little blazer and black jeans.”
“You’re not helping.”
“And those glasses! That beautiful brown hair!”
“I’m praying the Lord takes me right now,” Gigi said.
Judy laughed and sipped her champagne.
In fact, Gigi was brilliant and beautiful, and not wholly unaware of it. She wore her blessings with grace but not always with ease. Beautiful women, she knew, were seen not as equals, but as possessions, and smart women were threats to the established order. TrekTek, one of the more promising Silicon Valley startups, had taken remarkably little time in bringing her on board its research and development department, but Gigi sensed that she’d already plateaued at age 23 and could expect little more than a career of lateral promotions. She was a young, beautiful woman in an industry run by men with egos as big as California and as fragile as Christmas ornaments.
“By the way,” Gigi said, “you know you’re the only one who gets to use my actual name, right? Don’t go giving people ideas. I don’t want it to become a trend. I only allow you to do it because it’s a best friend privilege.”
Judy gave a look of melodramatic mock seriousness. “The dreadful secret of your first name will remain safe with me, Georgina.”
Gigi scanned the crowded floor of Club Terra, thick with sweaty partygoers dancing herky-jerky and not always to the beat. In the distance, over Judy’s shoulder, Gigi could see a T-Rex flashing in and out of view, the strobe effect of the DJ’s lighting setup rendering the dinosaur’s movements every bit as herkyjerky as the revelers.
“Dinosaurs, for God’s sake. You ever been to a party that had dinosaurs?” Gigi asked.
Judy thought for a moment. “Down in Bakersfield, I attended a party with a dinosaur.”
“Yeah,” Judy said. “His name was Sidney Applebaum.”
“Seriously, the guy was like 70 years old and had just married a girl our age.”
“Ew,” Gigi said, wrinkling her nose.
“You know what he gave her as a wedding gift?”
“An antique organ.”
Gigi laughed out loud. “Oh, Judy, that’s terrible.”
There was a loud metallic bang, like someone throwing a giant switch in a fuse box, and suddenly, without warning, the room was thrust into total darkness. No lights, no music, no nothing. A beat of silence, then people started screaming.
Then, just as suddenly, a single bright spotlight illuminated the DJ’s table onstage.
But instead of the DJ whose name Gigi never cared to learn, the figure now lit by the spotlight’s glare was someone whose name she knew quite well.
The crowd’s terrified screaming quickly morphed into wild cheering and clapping, and Gigi felt her face go warm. For God’s sake, get a grip, she told herself. You know what he’s about. You know he’s no good.
“Holy shit,” Judy said. “Just look at him, girl. It’s gotta be a mirage. He’s too damn good-looking to be real.”
“Oh, there’s no doubt he’s gorgeous,” Gigi nearly shouted over the cheers. “And there’s definitely no doubt in his mind.”
“Be nice,” Judy said.
Damian raised his hands. “Greetings, Silicon Valley degenerates!”
The crowd laughed.
“I want to welcome you all here for this celebration of, well, me.”
More laughter, and from the crowd a female voice shouted, “You rock, Damian!”
He raised his hands higher to quell the cheering and said, grinning, “No need to point out the obvious, love.”
Everyone, that is, except Gigi. She leaned toward Judy and said, “I just rolled my eyes so hard they fell out of my butt.”
Judy gave her a nudge. “You gotta get in the spirit of things. The guy’s not even 30 yet and already a friggin’ billionaire. Of course he’s a little full of himself. You gotta loosen up, girl.”
Gigi stared through the crowd at the sleek, glowing figure onstage. “According to the tabloids, he’s loose enough for both of us.”
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Secondly, I suffer from writer’s disease: all words and no marketing. The one thing I have done on the effective marketing side is spend the time and effort to build a mailing list of romance fans. It’s been a slow process but we’ve grown to be a tight little community. I share books I like and on occasion my toils and troubles and they give me all sorts of ideas and kind words. It’s fun. Some of them even read an early draft of my debut novella, My Dream Job, and gave me helpful suggestions. One subscriber even emailed me line-by-line copy edits. Another subscriber was in a car accident and had her husband read her the story in the hospital.
Suffice it to say I’ve grown close to these wonderful people. My novella, Hard Drive, goes on sale August 14 on Amazon and it’ll have to find its way in the teeming thicket that is the Amazon platform. Of all the things I hope for the book (and there are more than a few), one is that it finds an audience even amid the torrent of books. Another is that those people who have been with me from the start—those folks with whom I’ve grown so close—love the book as much I did writing it.
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