Authors: Leah Holt
A BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE
Copyright © 2016 Leah Holt
All rights reserved. BARE SKIN: A BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely
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ne night, that's all it was supposed to be. An evening to celebrate the next chapter of my life, the turning leaf of all my hard work.
I could wish for it, I could pray for it. But I knew it took more than that, it took determination, and a backbone.
Both of which I had, both of which I knew were buried and eager to shine. It was just finding my voice, taking control; not standing down and accepting an answer of 'No.'
I was going to fight for it. I had to, there was no other option. This was it, this was my time.
It's now or never, Lo.
Every day I spent countless hours with my face plastered in blank space. Paint turning strands of hair into clumps of sticky knots, and tinting my skin more colors than the rainbow had to offer.
Because my entire world revolved around my art. The one and only thing that brought me peace, and let the pain of my life disappear into strokes on the canvas.
“Willow, let's go, the cab is here.” Beth barked from the doorway. Her cayenne colored hair was pinned back, sides slick and shiny from layers of hairspray.
The bright yellow dress wrapped her body like a ray of morning sunlight, all while leaving very little to the imagination. Her chest was plumped up so high it almost touched her chin, the second skin faded out right at the crease of her ass cheeks.
Just how she liked it.
Attention, and getting every last ounce she could; doused her self esteem, and purged her veins on a daily basis.
It didn't matter where we went, or what we were doing. If it was going to involve any other set of eyes besides her own, then she flaunted herself like a peacock during mating season.
Beth was my best friend, raised in the same small town as me, but we lived completely different lives. I'm honestly surprised we'd stayed friends for so long. No one else stayed by my side, but she did.
She was a wild fire, fed by alcohol, dancing, and men. Beth never thought anything through, always acting first.
I loved that about her, but I can't lie... I've always worried it would get her into trouble.
My role was to be her ground, her role was to put excitement into my life. She was the spark and I was the fuse.
I'd never been that much of a free spirit. I tended to think twelve steps ahead, and my brain ran through every damn scenario that could ever happen.
Even if the possibility of something happening held the same remote chance as a blizzard in the desert.
But it was always there, eating away at my insides, making the decisions for me. That inner voice, the small scream that would hold my attention and make me run the other way.
Maybe I should've gone into the insurance business?
My keen sense of danger, and faltering need for excitement would've played well in that business.
We were complete polar opposites, but complimented each other in the same breath.
Without her in my life, I probably would have shriveled up, turned eighty well before my time, and ended life living in a small apartment filled with cats.
Don't get me wrong, I love animals. But I never want to find myself having conversations with my cats and throwing them birthday parties.
God no. Not that.
Grimacing at the thought, my nose scrunched tight, head shaking the disturbing image from my head. “I'm coming, I'm coming.” I said, holding a slight edge to my voice. “You know, the club isn't going anywhere.” Popping my feet into black heels, I grabbed my white clutch off the table.
“No, it's not, but the guys might. And I don't know about you, but this vagina,” she said, circling her hand in front of her waist. “Is in desperate need of some attention.”
“My God, Beth. Seriously?” Giggling, I tightened the ponytail high on my head and shifted my A-line skirt.
“Yes, I'm serious. Girl, you know Keith and I broke up four months ago, I don't want to dry out. There's no room for dust in that area, I'm too young for that.”
“You're sick, you sound like a horny dude.”
“No, I sound like a woman who wants to stay active.” Before I could even retort to her comment, Beth's mouth twitched. The telltale sign she had more on her mind. “Are you really wearing that?” Cocking her head, she eyed my body.
“Yeah, why?” Holding my arms out, I looked myself over. A soft blue button-up shirt covered my torso, the black skirt hugged my hips and flared out just above my knees.
What's wrong with this?
No, I wasn't exactly letting anything hang out, and maybe I did look better fit to be sitting at a meeting or behind a desk. But I was never a flashy person. I would choose yoga pants and a tank top over any piece of fabric that could barely pass as underwear.
“Because it looks like you pulled it from your grandmother's closet. Come here, at least let me sexy you up some. We want to pull guys to us, not have them ask us to watch their table because we look like responsible elders.” Her hands flew up mid sentence, fingers popping buttons on my shirt.
Before I could even react, my breast were half out, skirt tugged up above my bellybutton, and she was trying to tear a slit high up on one thigh.
Really? Tits and ass... She always defers to tits and ass.
Like we need the wandering eyes of womanizing men.
“You need more skin, Lo. I don't know why you feel the need to cover your body up this way. You should wear it proudly, it's killer, and it'll get you some cock.”
She totally has the mind of a dude. Who thinks like that?
Glancing in the large mirror on the wall of my small studio apartment, I let out a heavy breath. “Did you fix me? Am I no longer boy repellent?”
Tilting her head, her lips curled to one side. “It's better, let's go.” Throwing the door open, Beth walked with the strides of a super model.
Which fit her perfectly, because that's what she was.
Tall, slender, and appearing like she stepped right off the runway no matter where she went. If she was going to the store, she would still fix spikes to her heels, and layer her body in designer clothing.
Her hair was always pristine, not a single strand was ever out of place, like she spent every morning in the salon. While I on the other hand, just enjoyed bumming around in sweatpants and bedhead.
And if I felt the urge to dazzle myself up for a field trip to the grocery store, I would grudgingly throw on jeans.
Modeling fit Beth like a glove, she could binge on the camera lens, and feed her addiction of the eyes with every flash of the bulb.
As for me, I barely broke five feet, had curves that my Aunt Claudette always pointed out as being
'great for baby making,'
and a less than full chest.
But I was never out to be eye candy.
Then again, I never really made the effort to be. Plain, that was the best word to describe me. I was plain and unexciting.
Exactly the thing that happened when you're raised by your grandmother, and had a wardrobe that was best left in the seventies.
I know they say trends come back, but not my grandmother's. That one stayed right there, and I was the loving recipient of the time warp.
It wasn't flattering, and I never turned any heads. Unless it was for a good old fashioned point and laugh from the boys I grew up with.
Not exactly the type of attention a young girl wanted, but it was what it was.
Slipping into the taxi, Filamore City was sparkling like a tree at Christmas. Lights were flashing in all directions, people swarmed the sidewalks like schools of fish.
And instead of feeling excited and adventurous, I felt uncomfortable and anxious.
I missed the silence and serenity of my home up state. The woods surrounding the house were soothing, the air was crisp and clean; unlike the badly filtered smog that tried to pass itself off as oxygen around here.
Painting on the back deck of my grandmother's house was a world away from being cramped in my four-hundred square foot studio apartment.
But moving was what I needed. I needed the change, the culture shock, a place to really showcase what I loved to do.
I could do that here, getting away was the only option.
Tonight is for stepping outside my comfort zone. Run with it, Willow.
“So, Lo,” Beth said, dancing her fingers across her knees. “Tonight's our last night of full fledged girl time. We need to make it count.”
Make it count? What is she getting at?
“Isn't that what we're doing?” Squinting my eyes, my brows shot up with concern.
Beth was a whirlwind of ideas and plans, some good, some bad. But none of them were ever one-hundred percent safe.
Life with no boundaries... Must be nice.
“Not yet. We're on our way to the club, but that isn't where our night is going to end. We're going to get drunk, get laid, and you...” Holding her finger out, she tapped my chest. “You are going to remember this night forever.”
“Beth, there's never a dull moment with you.
I remember them all.”
“Look, you've been here for a month already. And every damn day you're locked away in that apartment. I'm leaving in two days for Paris, and next week is your big meeting with Mr. Investor.” Flashing finger quotation marks, Beth rocked her head playfully. “We're making tonight a celebration for us.”
I didn't want to think about being alone here in this large city. Beth had received a huge contract through Flash Modeling, and was going to be traveling around Europe for six months.
That not only made me sad, but the butterflies I had kept locked away, suddenly wanted to throw themselves out of my mouth like a swarm of locusts.
Swallowing hard, my lips pursed. “This sucks, Beth. I'm going to be lost without you.”
“Shit, Lo, it's not like I'm leaving forever. You'll be fine, trust me. Your gallery is going to take off, and when I get back you'll probably be a millionaire.”
Pulling a smile from thin air, I nodded. “Yeah, I'm trying to be optimistic. But a millionaire... I don't think so.” Shaking my head, the ponytail bounced across my shoulders.
Squeezing my hand, she let out a light squeal. “Here we are.”
Looking out the window, a large sign was buzzing in hot pink. The word 'SKIN' was lit up so brightly, I had to squint just to see the letters.
The line to get in crawled across the sidewalk, disappearing around the corner. And my heart fell into my gut, tiny tornadoes came roaring to life, tearing my stomach apart.
Ugh, that's so many people.
“Holy shit, I don't want to stand in that.” A shiver scaled my spine, strangling my lungs.
Veering her stare, Beth eyed me under crinkled brows. “Lo, we're not standing in that.” Pushing my shoulder, she shoved me out the door onto the street. “We are
Baby. No line for us.” Flipping her hair over her shoulder, she adjusted her dress, and let her long legs lead the way.
I felt so out of place. A small town girl, under-dressed, and absolutely not ready for this type of setting.