Filthy Rich Alpha - Virna DePaul

Chapter 1

“Go. Just go. At a party like this, you could meet the love of your life.”

Cara Michal didn’t bother rolling her eyes, mostly because her friend Iris was giving her advice over the phone and couldn’t see her do it.

“I work on Wall Street, Iris. This is a company party, filled with guys I work with. None of them are interested in love. Even if they were, I’m not.”

“Well, apparently you’re not interested in fun or sex, either. Jesus, Cara, just how long has it been since you’ve been on a date?”

Cara sighed. In the past six weeks, she hadn’t had time to do anything but eat, sleep, work, and visit her mother and brother. Dating hadn’t even been a thought on the horizon. Heck, Iris already knew that, because they’d barely seen each other, but thankfully, the huge project Cara had been working on was over and she could now get back to a standard seventy-five-hour work week instead of what had been closer to a hundred.

“It’s been awhile,” Cara admitted. “But I knew when I started the four-year analyst program at Dubois & Mellan, that’s what I was signing up for. That’s why they pay me the big bucks,” she added dryly. Earning a six-figure salary three years after graduating college wasn’t anything to scoff at, but the reality was that the money didn’t go very far, either. Not for a single woman living in Manhattan with the kind of bills Cara had to pay, anyway.

“By this time next year, that’ll all change. You’ll get your bonus for completing the program, dole it out to your family, and finally listen to me when I say you need to seriously rethink your chosen profession and do something you love,” Iris said, confidence in her tone.

“I love analyzing numbers,” Cara pointed out.

It was mostly a true statement, but there were other things she loved more. Things she might have tried out as a career if her life had turned out different. Years ago, when her family had to move out of their little Long Island house to Brooklyn, she’d told no one except her new friend Iris about the financial scandal that had disgraced her dad, Hank Finch, and plunged the family into poverty when he couldn’t find work, unfairly accused of fraud he hadn’t committed.

He’d been hoodwinked by the comptroller of the township’s pension fund, who’d looted the money and given it to another enterprising son of a bitch on Wall Street who in turn had made a fortune and then some until the Securities and Exchange Commission had caught up with him. Her father had died of a premature heart attack before that happened, and even after the comptroller and Carl Davies were indicted, the comptroller ended up dying in a car accident, and Davies plea-bargained his case down to a few years in a golf-course prison. Meanwhile, Cara’s mother had barely survived a nervous breakdown. Even worse, her brother, Glenn, had suffered his first psychotic break. The doctors who’d finally diagnosed him with schizophrenia indicated that the shock of their father’s death and loss of their home could have triggered an earlier onset of his illness.

Now Cara helped support not just her mother, but Glenn. Meds helped him, but only to a degree. He’d found a balance in his life by living in an assisted-living facility, but it was private and cost a small fortune.

“You know it’s not as easy as that,” Cara said quietly. “If the firm offers me a permanent position, I’ll have to take it.”

“Even though the work is killing you?”

“Overly dramatic, much?”

Iris sighed. “Dead horse. Moving on. You still haven’t answered my question. Have you gone on any dates in the last few weeks that I’m unaware of?”

“Nope. I had drinks with a colleague a couple of times, though we also talked shop so I could justify it.” Greg Johnson was like many of the junior stockbrokers that Cara knew. Tall and attractive. Young. A bit cocky. Rock-hard abs and biceps threatening to bust the seams of his designer clothing. A dazzling smile made more dazzling by teeth whitening. Summa cum laude at Yale. But boring. So. Very. Boring.

“You’re talking about that guy Greg from your office, right?”

“Yes. He actually asked me to be his date to the party tonight but I declined. I certainly don't want to give the impression that I’m his arm candy at an office function.”

“Plus the one time you actually had dinner with him you were bored to