Authors: Joely Sue Burkhart
THE ZOMBIE BILLIONAIRE’S
A Zombie Category Romance
Joely Sue Burkhart
Joely Sue Burkhart
Copyright © 2012 Joely Sue Burkhart
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, scanned, or distributed in print or electronic form without the
express, written permission of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places
and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance
to any organization, event, or person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Adult Reading Material
Billionaire’s Virgin Witch
A Zombie Category Romance
Because even zombies deserve a happily
gorgeous and powerful, renowned world-wide restaurateur Yiorgos Michelopoulos
has it all. Except for the Midwestern ma-and-pa diner that somehow keeps
winning the coveted fifth star over his own top-notch restaurants. The stubborn
owner refuses to sell and beats him year after year. Infuriated, Yiorgos
accepts the man’s risky bet, never knowing the secret to
Until it’s too late.
he slips on the ring he won along with the diner, Yiorgos activates a curse
that spreads decay through his body like a cancer. Only someone of Remy’s
blood can stop his zombie transformation, but the man died soon after losing
his restaurant. Luckily, he did have one lone daughter. The plump, frumpy kitchen
witch ought to be easy pickings for a playboy like Yiorgos Michelopoulos. But
one taste of her Death By Chocolate cake might just be the death of
by the loss of her father, the family signet ring and their restaurant, Clare
Remy’s only hope for supporting her mother is to earn a teaching spot at the
Wizard Council’s Academy. Without the family signet ring, she must retain her
virginity or lose her power entirely.
makes the gorgeous Greek a very dangerous man.
For my Beloved Sister,
our favorite restaurant,
Mythos, which inspired Remy’s,
and all those who
endured the tornado that devastated
May 22, 2011
In loving memory for everyone
Who lost their lives that day.
My eternal thanks to:
Diana Castle for always holding me accountable.
Sharon Muha for finding my typos.
Michelopoulos strode into the steamy kitchen of his most recently acquired
restaurant and everyone began disappearing. Wait staff scurried out the
swinging doors, presumably to attend to
guests, but since the
dining room was empty—and had been every night for months—they had no cause for
sous-chef backed away, finding a hiding place in the large refrigerator.
Yiorgos hoped the man froze to death.
only employees brave enough to remain in his presence were Paul, the acclaimed
executive chef he’d sent here two weeks ago to turn things around, and Dmitri,
the manager of the restaurant and one of his closest friends. Dmitri had
left his prestigious job at a premiere New York hotel and moved his wife and
kids to Missouri in order to help him.
its remote location,
was proving to be the most formidable
nightmare they’d ever faced.
saying a word to either of them, Yiorgos picked up a spoon and sampled the
sauce bubbling on the grimy stove—which had been immaculate this morning when
the staff had arrived. The rich béchamel curdled on his tongue like
he threw the spoon into the stainless steel sink. “Disgusting.”
know.” Paul moaned, wringing his hands in his stained apron. “I
don’t understand it, Mr. Michelopoulos. I cook my most treasured dishes
and everything turns out bad, very bad. This whole place is cursed.”
Yiorgos twisted the signet ring digging into the pinky finger on his right
The restaurant isn’t the only thing cursed.
only he hadn’t put the ring on his finger. He’d forgotten the damned
thing even existed after winning it from Emile Remy nearly two years ago, along
with his restaurant he’d stubbornly refused to sell. Yiorgos had
possessed everything he could possibly want, including the five-star status he
and Remy had battled over for years. When his luxury hotel casino in
Kansas City had won again last year, he’d put the ring on for spite, to
celebrate his ultimate victory.
had triggered a curse the likes of which he’d never known possible.
have to shut it down.”
words made him whirl around, his face twisted with a snarl. “I’ve never
closed a restaurant in my entire life, let alone this…this…”
Yiorgos waved his hand at the small kitchen. On the surface,
wasn’t worth his time and effort. Even at full capacity, the dining room
would barely seat one hundred guests. At the height of its success, the
restaurant had been lucky to pull in a few grand a night. A drop in the
bucket to a man with enough money to buy every restaurant in this entire
one-horse Midwestern town.
for nearly a decade,
had claimed exclusive five-star status,
despite Yiorgos’s efforts to wrest the prize for his own hotel’s
restaurant. Only after he’d put on this accursed ring had Yiorgos learned
the secret to Remy’s seemingly impossible success.
owned hundreds of hotels and restaurants across the globe, yet he couldn’t keep
one lousy ma-and-pa diner open. Fury made him grate his teeth.
Barely holding his curses in check, he stalked into the manager’s office.
followed him and quietly shut the door. “How are you holding up?”
the privacy of the small office, Yiorgos allowed his shoulders to slump.
Weary of hiding and worrying and plotting to save his life and this pitiful
restaurant, he ran a hand through his hair. “Nothing’s fallen off yet, if
that’s what you mean.”
friend winced, which made a small twinge of regret tighten his chest.
that bad?” Dmitri asked in a choked voice.
turning completely around, Yiorgos slipped the signet ring off his pinky.
He looked back over his shoulder, allowing Dmitri to see the decay eating away
his face. It might only be an illusion, a spell the late Emile Remy had
managed to throw upon him before the man lost everything, but without the ring,
he would soon look like a walking corpse. “Zombie or mummy?”
Dmitri answered automatically, well used to his word games. “Dear
God. What are you going to do?”
the ring back on, Yiorgos allowed a small smile to curve his lips, but neither
his face nor his resolved softened. “The Wizard Council claims only
someone of Remy’s blood can lift the curse. Since he’s dead, the only
person left of use to me is his daughter.”
Council.” Dmitri let out an uneasy laugh. “I never knew such a
thing existed. If you hadn’t shown me what happens when you take the ring
off, then I never would have believed you. Do you think Remy’s daughter
can help you?”
will.” Yiorgos promised in the silky menace voice he used for the hardest
negotiations. “Regardless of what I must do to learn the witch’s secrets,
she can and will help me.”
the simmering lentil soup, Clare Remy tried to ignore her mother’s constant
harping. The familiar warm tingle in her fingertips promised her magic
was working, despite whatever Selma had to say about her cooking.
still something missing.” Although that didn’t keep her from eating the
whole bowl Clare had ladled out for her. “It’s not as good as what your
father used to make.”
smiled sadly down at the rich soup that had always been his favorite.
be busting at the seams with pride if he were still alive. Instead of
cooking at home, she’d be sweating in
bustling kitchen, exhausted
but elated by their customers’ glowing praise. Instead, her only customer
was her mother who couldn’t ever be pleased.
this rate you’re never going to pass your trials next month,” Selma continued,
her voice sharpening with every word. “You won’t be accepted into the
Wizard Council’s teaching program. Whatever will we do then?”
could only sigh. She understood the worry, because the daily stress of
carrying the entire family’s success on her shoulders was getting to her,
too. “We’ll get by like we’ve been doing the past two years.” She
fought for an even tone of voice. “We’ll have jobs like normal
people. The house is paid for. If I can’t cook for some reason,
not normal people!” Selma tossed the bowl into the sink with a
clatter. “We’re wizards, descended from generations of extremely powerful
wizards. We can’t be reduced to menial labor!”
preferred to think of herself as a witch, a kitchen witch to be exact.
Wizardry sounded so…Arthurian. As though she ought to be slaying dragons
and stirring up storm clouds instead of cooking supper in her modest
ladled out a bowl for herself and began slicing off a nice thick piece of
cut yourself,” Selma said automatically, for the millionth time if Clare was
didn’t even try to explain yet again that it’d be impossible for a kitchen
witch to cut herself with her own knife. It would be like burning a cake
or bread dough that failed to rise. Her magic wouldn’t allow such cooking
disasters. Too bad her magic didn’t cover general clumsiness and
awkwardness too. Or how about fantastic hair and a killer sense of
style? Maybe all those gorgeous runway models were witches too, wielding
a type of magic she hadn’t heard of yet.
sip of her soup smoothed away all those silly thoughts. She’d take
plumpness, clumsiness, and a supreme lack of fashion in order to cook like
only we had your father’s ring. Then we wouldn’t have to trust you to
stay a virgin.”
winced. Oh, boy, had she heard this lecture a thousand times. Never
mind that she was far from a teenager anymore in need of sex education.
Since her cousin had lost her virginity—and her magic—just last month, her
mother’s lectures had redoubled.
mother’s healing talent had disappeared as soon as she married. Since
Selma wasn’t the head of her family, she had no magic left at all, and now her
husband was gone too. The loss of her special ability had always
didn’t often marry each other for that very reason. Someone always had to
give up their power, unless they were both heads of their own families.
With families dwindling day by day… Naturally, she worried that her
daughter would suffer the same magic-less fate.
as a twenty-seven-year-old virgin, Clare already felt like a dried up—extremely
tinkling sound announced a magical visitor requesting entry to the Remy home.
in.” At Clare’s invitation, her mentor, Helga Kettlewich, popped into the
Clare thought of herself as curvaceous, the other witch’s full-figured shape
loudly and proudly proclaimed her love of fine dining. Although Clare
often bemoaned her apparently frumpy taste in clothing, she could only be
thankful that at least she wasn’t completely colorblind like her teacher.
blazing orange shirt, green polka dot—extremely short for her matronly
figure—skirt and blood-red tights completed Helga’s ensemble. With
springy gray curls popping up all over her head, she looked like a kooky
Halloween-costumed witch, not the supreme head of the North American Wizard
Council and quite possibly the most powerful witch in the world both in and out
of the kitchen.
immediately leapt to her feet, but Helga waved her back to her chair.
sorry, dear. I didn’t mean to interrupt your lunch. May I have a
of course,” Selma gushed, running about the kitchen to fetch a bowl for their
guest as though she had prepared the food
her lip, Clare didn’t say anything and instead, sat down to continue
eating. Her mother had little interaction with the Wizard Council and
would relish having a part, no matter how small, in the magical world.
Even serving another witch’s brew.
sat beside her and said in a low voice, “I have an important message for you.”
open cupboards looking for their best bowls, Selma didn’t hear or notice the
paper Helga slipped to her.
unfolded the thick parchment and a pit of hell yawned wide and terrifying
beneath her feet.
devil himself. The man who’d stolen her father’s restaurant and their
family power in one fell swoop, leaving him to die of a broken, mundane heart.
makes my stupid fantasies about the man all the more unforgivable.
dropped the letter onto the table as if a hot pan had scorched her bare
urgent,” Helga whispered. “Or I wouldn’t have interrupted your practice
for the trials.”
Clare picked up the paper and scanned the words he’d slashed on the page in a
bold, heavy hand. Each word ramped up the furious heat boiling inside her
until she nearly screeched as shrilly as a boiling kettle. The audacity
of the man! He actually expected, no,
, her to come to her
own family restaurant that he’d stolen from her poor father.
herself to remain calm, she folded the paper and slipped it into her apron
pocket without replying. She picked up her spoon and tried to eat, but
the lentil soup tasted like ashes.
an opportunity to regain the Remy ring.” Helga reminded her in a soft
whisper. “I saw it on his hand when he came to my office.”
ring!” Selma dropped the delicate china bowl in front of Helga.
Only the kitchen witch’s deft hand kept the bowl from dumping its contents in
her lap. “What? You must tell me!”
nothing.” Clare pushed her soup away, her stomach in knots. Her
head thundered, her blood pressure likely through the roof. Why would he
contact her now? What could he possibly want with her?
already taken everything from me that I care about.
Michelopoulos requests Clare’s assistance at
managed to make his summons sound much more polite than his actual note.
“Evidently he’s worried that the restaurant won’t be able to retain its
five-star competition when the inspector arrives.”
yes, but the ring,” Selma insisted. “Does he still have it? Will he
give it back?”
doesn’t promise anything in his note, I’m afraid, but I did see it.”
sat down heavily in the chair opposite them, as though she had no strength
remaining in her legs. “I never thought we’d have a chance to get it
back. You have to go, Clare.”