Authors: Ciara Cole
Billionaire’s Black Runaway Wife
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All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2015 Ciara Cole. No part of this story can be redistributed without author’s prior permission.
*This story is part 1 of a spin-off series to “Billionaire’s Black Surrogate. If you have not read this series yet,
click this link
Table of Contents
That night in particular, Emily wasn’t really looking for anything. A friend had suggested a night at this trendy new club to wash down Emily’s breakup sorrows. It had sounded like a good idea. Some loud music, a few good shots, and maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t hurt so much to smile and laugh as if nothing was wrong.
What Emily had never banked on was running into the one man she’d never dreamed of seeing again.
A tall, broad-shouldered figure suddenly came to stand next to her, ordering himself a drink. Emily sent him a casual look when she thought his voice sounded vaguely familiar, only to do a double-take and then burst out with his name.
?” she gasped in disbelief. “Chace Hammond?”
He’d always been sinfully good looking, but after 10 years, he looked like a sex god on earth. His profile held chiseled, confident lines and when he turned puzzled gray eyes to hers, the impact of that direct gaze was electric. Emily gasped.
Chace seemed confused for only a moment and then recognition dawned. The music and the crowd around them faded to the distant background when Chace suddenly gave a blinding grin.
“I almost can’t believe my eyes. Emily Cortes. It’s been a long while, hasn’t it?”
Thrown by his warm reaction, Emily’s surprise was counteracted by the sudden hug Chace enveloped her in. She could remember a charming and even outgoing Chace, but had never dreamed he’d be this demonstrative or happy to see her again.
Emily was indeed thrown and for a few seconds lost herself in the heady scent that was all man: sexy and powerful.
Chace was one of the very few men who ever made her feel “tiny,” thanks to his athletic 6’3” frame. He drew back and seemed to release her with reluctance. Only then could Emily retrieve her senses and finally the sounds and sights of the club materialized.
“Um…ten years, if I’m not mistaken,” Emily said in reply to his initial question. To avoid that piercing gaze, she snatched her drink and downed it nervously, hoping he wouldn’t notice her reaction to him. Dear God, she was just through a messy breakup! Besides, she and Chace had history – all of the wrong kind. She had no call for feeling all flustered and excitable just because a big handsome man gave her a hug.
“And I can see each and every one of those years has been good to you,” Chace murmured. Emily stole a look at him to catch him appraising her with frank interest. When Chace poured on the charm there was no resisting him, as she remembered. But she wasn’t the nineteen-year-old gullible Emily anymore.
Squaring her shoulders, she faced him with a more composed smile. “Always the flatterer, Chace Hammond. I see that much hasn’t changed. And you aren’t looking bad at all, either. You always did like to keep in shape.”
“You sure know how to sweet-talk a man,” he teased, though he looked pleased at her compliment.
What am I doing
, thought Emily. I should be running in the opposite direction. Chace Hammond had been bad news then and he was the same thing now.
He definitely looked it in his black shirt unbuttoned at the throat beneath a gray suit. There was that dark designer stubble that hadn’t been on the twenty-two-year-old Chace Hammond she remembered. He smelled of money, class, and unattainability. Nothing spelled “out of her league” more than a man who looked like a walking Ralph Lauren ad.
“It was nice seeing you again,” she said lightly, edging off her stool and grabbing her clutch. Suddenly the club felt too stifling. “But I think I’d better go.”
“You came alone?”
Emily was busy staring at his handsome face, so she almost overlooked the fact that he had his hand over hers, making her pause.
“I’m here with friends actually,” Emily said, looking around. “But I seem to have lost them in this crowd. I can just call and tell them I’m leaving.”
Chace’s hold on her wrist tightened fractionally and she looked down at where they made contact. He had the most beautiful hands, big and strong yet fine, with square polished tips. She registered his touch for the first time and a strange bolt of enticement crept up her arm. She snatched her arm away self-consciously.
“I really have to go,” she said, staring deep into those fathomless gray eyes. The beat of her heart seemed to thump right along with the zesty beat of the club sound.
“You say it’s nice to see me again and then the first thing you want to do is leave? Wow, Emily. Now you’re hurting my feelings.” A playful smile curved the corner of his lips.
“You don’t seem the type to be hurt so easily,” Emily retorted, her own smile tightly in place. “Besides the club is full of willing women who’ll happily play along with your games.”
Emily wanted to take the words back the moment she said them, but it was too late, of course. She knew she must sound bitter, but couldn’t hold back. The past was still fresh in her memory and seeing him again doubly reminded her of her current situation. Dumped again. Why was it so easy for those she cared about to walk away?
Maybe it was time she started picking the courage to walk away herself.
So no matter how tempted she was to stay around Chace’s stimulating presence, Emily had to pick the will to turn away. Meeting him again had been unexpected, but making anything more out of it would be a mistake. He was probably married or at the very least, attached. Men like Chace always had a few supermodels as “sure thing” women whenever they so much as snapped their fingers.
If Emily had any pride, she’d be striding off with her head held high.
She could tell by his arched brow that Chace was surprised at her attack, but he merely gave a slight smile. “I guess that puts paid to my view that we’d put the past behind us. That’s what’s got you running for cover, isn’t it? It’s not like I’m asking for much, Emily. I just wanted to buy you a drink, maybe talk about how things have been with you since we last saw each other.”
“And I’m telling you that’s unnecessary, since we won’t be seeing each other again,” Emily said sweetly. Wow, this was indeed a satisfying feeling. Giving a man like Chace Hammond the brush-off…who would have thought she’d ever get the chance? Most women would crawl over flaming coals to have a moment of his time.
Emily felt like she’d won a small triumph for womankind as she chose that moment to stroll away with a careless sway of her hips.
It was no use feeling a twinge of guilt. Chace Hammond and all men like him needed to be put in their place every once in a while. Just because they looked like God’s gift didn’t mean Emily had to fall all over men like him.
He reminded her way too much of her ex, anyway. Both had an irresistible outward appearance and a charming personality concealing a deceptive heart underneath.
Things were definitely better this way. Just as she’d said – they’d never cross paths again, so what was the point? From the look of his clothes, watch, and overall bearing, he was in the major league, definitely way out of her reach.
Emily wasn’t ready to get hurt by him again.
When she got outside the club, she heaved a deep sigh. She should feel relief, so what was the emptiness taking hold in her heart? She thought of Chace’s pleased smile at seeing her again and his warm embrace. He’d genuinely looked happy they’d bumped into each other. Considering Emily never really frequented these trendy, high-tone spots, it was no wonder they hadn’t come in contact before now. Her idea of a good time involved a good book or outdoor adventure sports like hiking. She was no party girl and had felt out of place in there, anyway.
Still, it was cowardly to act that way
, thought Emily. She groaned out loud when she remembered her words and the look on Chace’s face. It was very possible he wasn’t used to rejection. But what had he expected? Rainbows and bouquets after what had happened 10 years ago?
I really thought I’d moved on, but clearly I haven’t
My heart lurched with happiness when I first saw him again, then it plummeted to my toes. That’s exactly how he always made me feel. With Chace I’d felt my happiest and my saddest moments
only with him.
Emily shook off her brooding thoughts, distracted by the crowd still outside the upscale club trying to get in. She felt guiltier than ever. Her pals had gone through so much effort to get them in tonight and she’d scampered out just after five minutes of bumping into a long-ago ex.
Fishing for her phone Emily made to call them and let them know she’d left, when she heard her name from behind her.
Looking over her shoulder, she saw Chace walking towards her. His dark, blue-black hair was mussed, possibly from running his fingers through it. He looked no less lethal out in the open, his lean, sexy frame fitting so well in his clothes it had to be a crime.
Emily’s untrained hormones skipped all over the place at his reappearance. She’d been single a couple of weeks, but that was no excuse for the way her secret folds pulsated at the sight of Chace’s smile.
“I was hoping I’d still catch up with you,” he said and reached her side.
“What do you want, Chace?” Emily breathed. He was staring deep into her eyes.
“I don’t know,” he said with equal softness. “All that made sense was how it gutted me to see you walking away. Out of my grasp – again. I’m not sure I can let go so easily this time.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” Emily said, hiding her trembling beneath a huff.
“I’m saying that I…” Chace began, but never got to finish. Suddenly there was the sound of rushing feet as a woman holding a camera was dashing forward in their direction.
“Chace! Chace Hammond! Is this your new girlfriend? Are things really over with you and Veronica Fry?”
,” swore Chace, looking over his shoulder and scowling. Emily was so shocked she let him grab her arm and begin to quickly haul her away. They turned the corner and moved fast on the stone ground, Emily barely keeping up with her high heels.
Chace was tugging her hurriedly along with him, and Emily barely had the chance to whip her head round and see the woman still trailing after them.
“That damned reporter never gives up does she,” Chace was muttering to himself, and Emily turned to him again in confusion. What on earth was going on?
Chace had stopped in front of a vintage silver Mercedes and was unlocking the doors. Emily hesitated for a split second, but then she noticed the reporter bearing on them. OK, this wasn’t the time to be indecisive.
She jumped into the front passenger seat just as Chace was getting into gear. Moments later, they were speeding off just as the woman reached them. Looking over her shoulder she saw the woman taking several shots with her camera. Heaving a deep breath, Emily sat forward again, combing back her hair with her fingers.
Emily turned to Chace and saw his grim look of satisfaction. “First time I was able to shake her off so easily. Damn that woman,” he said gruffly.
Everything had passed like a blur ever since Emily had let Chace haul her after him to his car. Now she could only manage to say the next thing that came to her head.
“Pardon me for asking, but…are you by any chance famous?”
His grim look faded slightly, and he seemed to almost smile. “It’s been ten years and a lot has happened. But I am surprised you haven’t heard of me.”
Emily shrugged. “I guess I’m the least informed person I know. I have no interest in politics, celebrities, or what goes for entertainment TV these days. Are you some kind of reality star now?”