Rise of the Billionaire
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Henry picked up a cordless phone and said, “Ted, can you come to GWP’s office? There’s someone here who’d like to meet you.”
“Give me the phone,” Jeremy instructed. He wedged it between his ear and his shoulder and started typing again. “Ted? You don’t know me, but I want to show you something.” His fingers flew as he navigated the university’s system with ease. “I just locked you out of the system, Ted. By the time you get here, I could have everyone else locked out too, and have uploaded the data to Cypress’s Viber before wiping this one clean. You need a better firewall.”
Jeremy hung up. Jeisa and Henry stared at him—open-mouthed. As if he were doing something routine, he said casually, “He said he’d be right down.”
I bet he will, Jeisa thought. Hopefully not with the police.
Ted arrived within minutes and he wasn’t alone, but his entourage looked more like a star-struck geek squad than security.
An androgynously dressed woman with short, spiked blonde hair and retro square black glasses stepped forward, offered her hand in greeting. “I’ve read about you on some blogs about who to watch in software design,” she said. “Is it true that you worked side by side with the Waltons?”
Jeremy stood and shook her hand. His wide smile revealed his own hero worship of the older couple. “I did, and they were everything you’d imagine they would be. The shit they are working on right now is so far beyond what anyone else thinks is possible, it’s mind-blowing.”
The woman practically melted at his feet in open adoration.
Oh, please, Jeisa thought.
The woman continued to gush. “I’m sure they felt the same about working with you. Your avatar is a legend in the Lindar gaming community as well as in cyberspace in general. The way you used it as a signature stamp whenever you blocked Sliver was genius. When he tried to shut down Rycom and you closed him out just for the fun of it, you became an icon. He must hate you, but the rest of us loved watching you beat him. You’re practically an online superhero.”
Oh, for cripes’ sake. What is she going to do next, whip open her shirt and ask him to sign her Superwoman lingerie?
Of course, Jeremy was eating it up, and Jeisa wanted to kick him in the leg. But she refrained—barely. Thankfully, Ted redirected the conversation to the issue at hand. “About the server . . .”
Jeremy was instantly serious. “If I can gain control this quickly, you’re vulnerable to many people.”
Ted shook his head in sad agreement. “I’ve been warning them about that for years, but we don’t have the funding to update it. When it comes to creating, the sponsors are willing to write big checks. I can’t convince them that protecting the infrastructure is just as vital.”
Jeremy returned to the seat behind the computer he’d used as an access point and motioned for the small group of men and women to gather behind him. He said, “I’ll add some block codes that you can change and encrypt after I’m gone and at least you know you’ll block anyone from gaining remote access to your system. I can also build in the equivalent to roadblocks so if anyone did break your code, they would only gain access to a limited area before encountering another encryption. That would at least buy you time to stop them.”
Ted sought the agreement of a tall, thin man in the back and then nodded. “Do it.”
There was a beauty to the ease with which Jeremy closed out the distraction of his audience and performed the complex task. Jeisa had always known that Jeremy was intelligent, but here he was, surrounded by some of the greatest minds in the country, and they were in awe of him.
He wrote down a few codes on a piece of scrap paper he found beside the computer and handed them to Ted. “These will allow you to update the others. Change them as soon as I’m gone. I made them so tight that I shouldn’t be able to break them if you do it right.”
The man in the back walked forward, then gave him a wide smile. “If you ever need a job, you can have Ted’s.”
Ted didn’t seem bothered by the threat. He countered with, “If you decided to come work here, Jeremy, I’m sure they’d also offer you his job.”
The tall man’s smile dimmed. He seemed about to say something more, but the woman who’d been gushing over Jeremy chimed in, “Or you could start your own university. I’d transfer for you.”
Jeisa rolled her eyes. I may throw up.
Jeremy stood and walked over to put his arm around Jeisa. “I have more on my plate than I can handle already, but I appreciate the offer.”
Jeisa looked up at him, not quite sure if he was referring to the employment or the blatant flirtatious offer from the blonde woman.
More than he can handle?
He’d better be referring to me and only me.
He winked at her and Jeisa relaxed, leaned into his embrace, and for a moment forgot they weren’t alone. He’d asked her for a week so he could sort out his feelings. One week was beginning to feel like forever. She raised herself up on her tiptoes and kissed him with all the pent-up emotion coursing through her. He lost himself in the kiss, seemingly as oblivious to those around them as she was.
One of the men said, “He is the luckiest bastard on the planet,” and the mood was broken.
“I’d say she is,” the adoring post-grad student countered with a sigh.
Another man veered off on a tangent. “I don’t believe in luck. It implies a randomness that is disproved as patterns of behavior eradicate unknowns.”
Excited by the impromptu debate, another man added, “Unknowns can never be fully eradicated, so some randomness will always exist, and therefore so will luck.”
Jeremy ended the kiss with a chuckle and whispered in Jeisa’s ear, “I think we should go before they decide to keep us for observation.” He pulled back, still holding Jeisa’s hand in his, and said, “Thank you for the tour and for letting me play a bit with your server.” He handed the tall man his card. “Call me if you have issues.”
They made a hasty escape, hand in hand, not slowing until they reached the outer door, where the driver met them. They fell into the limo, laughing against each other.
Jeisa said, “I thought they were going to ask you for your autograph.”
Jeremy sat back, satisfied, and held her to his chest, admitting, “It was fun to be the cool guy for once.”
Jeisa traced his chin with her forefinger. “Is that what you want, Jeremy?”
He took her hand in his, holding it to her chest. “I used to think it was all I wanted.”
Jeisa held her breath. “And what about now?”
Jeremy’s mouth closed on hers and instant heat flooded her. When they touched, the questions that plagued her were washed away by the urgency of her desire. He slid her sideways onto his lap, settling her on the evidence of his need for her. “Now I want you.”
His words shot through her, erasing the last of her coherent thoughts and replacing them with a need so intense she followed her impulse and sank to the floor between his feet. On her knees, she pushed his legs apart and kissed him while unbuckling his belt. Her hands greedily sought and freed his erection.
She sat back on her heels and met his eyes, loving how they burned for her. She felt herself pulsing and moistening with excitement, and suddenly she understood how pleasing someone else could be just as exciting as being pleased.
She leaned down, took him into her mouth, and lavished him with the same amount of attention he had shown her earlier. She licked him, cupped him, welcomed him deeply into her mouth. When he was moaning with pleasure, she stood, dropped her panties to the floor, sheathed him in the condom she’d felt in his pocket earlier, turned around and lowered herself onto him. In this half-seated position, she found the ecstasy of control. His hands slid up her dress and cupped her bare ass. She sat back and his hands came around to her front and cupped her breasts as she raised and lowered herself again and again onto him. She swung her head wildly to one side, baring her neck to him and loving how he plundered it with his hot tongue.
When she thought it couldn’t get better, he eased her forward and put a hand on her back to steady her. They joined together again and again in a rhythm they created.
Withdrawing from her for just long enough to change his position, he turned her so she could brace herself on the bar on the opposite wall of the limo. Steadying himself by placing one hand next to hers, he held her still with his other and thrust inside of her again—sending a flood of heat through her. Bent over as they were, his breath was hot on her back as the intensity of his thrusts increased and sent her over the edge into a sobbing state of bliss.
He paused, then slowly began to move again, deeper and more powerfully than before. She’d barely recovered, and the sensation was almost too much to bear. She looked up and caught his eyes, hot with desire, in the mirror in front of her and couldn’t look away. This time he was in control, rolling his hips and reaching the spot that sent shivers of pleasure through her.
God, let the airport be further away than I remember. I don’t want to stop.
I don’t want this to ever end.
He reached around her and sought her clit with those talented fingers of his. He claimed her nub with his fingers, rubbing with an ever-increasing speed as he took her from behind. She gasped for air, cried out his name, and they came together with one final, shuddering thrust.
The limo came to a gentle stop at the entrance of the airport. She and Jeremy quickly replaced their discarded clothing and disposed of the evidence of their coupling. Jeisa smoothed her hair, hoping she didn’t look as wantonly wild as she felt.
Neither moved even as they saw the jet through the window—a reminder that even life’s most amazing days come to an end. Tucked into his side, Jeisa peered up at Jeremy and said, “Thank you.”
Jeremy kissed her forehead. “I think you already thanked me.”
She playfully slapped his thigh. “I mean it. This was wonderful.”
Jeremy raised her chin with his hand and said, “It’ll only get better, I promise you.”
The very savvy limo driver parked in front of the jet but made no move to interrupt them.
Jeisa laid her head on Jeremy’s shoulder and tried to simply savor their closeness, but her mind raced on mercilessly. Hold onto a little piece of your heart, she warned herself, but she knew it was too late for that.
He has to love me—he just has to.
Back on the jet after takeoff, Jeremy hugged Jeisa to his side on the main area couch. Although liftoff had only taken moments, the physical pain of sitting separately in their own chairs had made it feel like an eternity and he’d taken her eagerly back into his arms as soon as it was safe. The intensity of their connection was more than a little unsettling.
He worked up his courage by mentally rehearsing what he was going to say.
Jeisa, I should have said this before, but I had to make sure I didn’t really love Alethea.
No, don’t mention her.
Jeisa, I’m an idiot because I love you.
I mean, I’ve been an idiot—I do love you.