Authors: Violette Paradis
(The Billionaire Next Door #1)
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This is a
work of fiction. Names, places, and characters are a product of the author’s
imagination, and any resemblance to actual events, places, or people is
gripped tightly onto six leashes as six excited, rampaging dogs pulled me through
the park. Out of breath and struggling to keep on my feet, I ran after them.
weren’t my dogs. Dog-sitting was only a part-time job I took on after the big
business, Powers Corp, moved into my beloved city of Jacksonville, cutting most of the local jobs.
still had my job. During the day I was a veterinarian, which was enough for me,
but Victoria, my mother, was one of the unlucky ones. After the market space
for her vegetable stand was bought out by Powers Corp, Victoria set up a dog-walking business for
extra cash, and so here I was.
mind it - of course I loved the dogs, but between my two jobs, I barely had any
time to go out.
At least I
got to see animals every day.
down the sidewalk with Rufus, Sally, Nana,
, I noticed a runner heading straight
GUYS!” I yelled out, holding steady onto their leashes, but the running,
barking dogs were too excited and the force of all of them pulling was too
strong for me to stop.
to let go of the leashes and risk losing one of them, I held on tight for the
run of my life.
- a tall, well-built man in a white t-shirt and loose running shorts -
approached closer and closer as the dogs pulled me towards him.
“GET OUT OF
THE WAY!” I yelled.
But as the
runner stepped out of my way, Bill, the large Dalmatian, stepped into the
runner’s path, tangling his legs in the long leash. The man tripped and went
flying onto the grass.
stopped in his tracks, giving me a chance to play a tug-of-war with the other
dogs, getting them to stop too.
goodness! Are you okay?” Wrapping all the leashes in one hand, I crouched down
and put my hand out onto the man’s arm. The tight, white t-shirt did the man
justice. His firm muscles flexed under the material. I couldn’t help but admire
his toned physique as I helped him up.
rubbed his head. “I’m alright.” He was barely out of breath from his run.
Actually, the only evidence that he had actually
for a run was his
perfectly disheveled dirty blond hair and flushed pink cheeks. “Just a bit
winded.” He smiled, flashing his dark shimmering eyes up at me.
skipped a beat. I hadn’t been looked like that by a man in a long time. And why
would I have? With my two jobs, it was impossible to date.
fuck this up, Sophia.
know, I’ve been looking for ways to spruce up my run. Maybe being pulled by
three hundred pounds of dog would do the trick.” The man smiled as he pet the
Dalmatian behind the ears.
was good with dogs!
This was one trait in a man that made my heart melt, and I could tell by the
way the man pet Bill behind the ears that he was a natural. Bill licked the
nervously. “Sorry about that. It’s hard keeping them all in control.” I tugged
on the leashes, making sure the dogs didn’t get distracted by a nearby
worry about it.” He flashed his bright, white smile again. “Help me up.”
my shaky hand in his, feeling his soft but strong palms and helping him to his
feet. All the while he was looking deep into my eyes. My heart fluttered in my
As he got
up, I caught a whiff of his musky scent, which had an aphrodisiacal effect on
me. The man smelled incredibly delicious, and I couldn’t help but inhale deeper
and deeper in an effort to commit the scent to memory.
hand still in his, he looked at me with his dark, glittering eyes.
noise pulled us both out of the moment.
looked at a piece of equipment strapped to his wrist.
“I have to
keep running.” He flashed me a dangerous, tight-lipped smile and continued
running down the pathway. “I’ll see you around!”
the man run away, still feeling the rush of adrenaline pounding through my
body. Readjusting my grip on the leashes, I continued towards the gated dog
watched the dogs play, the handsome man dominated my thoughts. I could no
longer smell his delicious aroma and was only left with its memory.
who he was. This was a fairly close community - at least until the corporations
and buildings went up. More often than not, if there was someone else in the
park, I knew who they were.
played and I watched, waiting until they looked tired. Finally, I called them
in and grabbed their leashes. Exiting the gated area, I closed the gate, and as
I did so, Bill’s leash slipped from my hand as he took off after a squirrel.
reached to secure Bill’s leash, Sally’s leash slipped away too. Sally was a
bloodhound who had a tendency to follow smells. Sally darted across the park as
Bill jumped up a tree, barking at a squirrel.
As I took a
step, I felt something squishy under my foot. I winced, knowing what it might
be. Peeking down, I hoped I was wrong.
left me a gift that was now all over my shoe.
sad-eyed bulldog looked up at me apathetically.
foot onto the grass, I whistled at Bill, who returned to me immediately. I took
a few steps towards where I thought Sally was, but stopped when someone touched
me on the shoulder.
around to see the owner of the deep voice. It was a cop.
be picking up your dog’s excrement today?”
“Umm - yes,
but first I’m going to get my other dog who ran off. She’s a bloodhound. Have
you seen her?”
you don’t intend on cleaning this up, then I’ll have to write you a ticket.”
intend to clean this up, I’m just going to find my dog first before
she runs even further. You see, she-”
officer started writing on a pad of paper. “That’ll be $100 for not picking up
your dog’s excrement, and $50 for lying to a police officer.”
I’m not lying!” I said this while still rubbing my filthy shoe on the grass.
me?” A third voice startled both of us as a man appeared behind the policeman.
We both turned to look at him.
locked once again, but only for a moment as I noticed what he had in his arms.
eyes looked up from under her droopy brow. She looked more excited than a
bloodhound usually looked.
excited too if that guy was holding me in his arms…
put Sally on the ground and handed me her leash. Our hands touched for the slightest
moment as I felt his soft skin once again. Our eyes met again.
He was sexy
so much,” I said. Sally shuffled towards me, sniffing my feet.
“Is there a
problem here officer?” The runner asked.
taking his eyes off me in an effort to intimidate me, the policeman spoke. “She
refuses to pick up her dog’s waste.”
don’t.” I looked up at the runner, hoping he would see the sincerity in my
eyes. “As I was explaining to the officer, I was going to find my dog first and
clean this up. But now that my dog is here, I’ll gladly do it now.”
I said this with a clenched jaw.
policeman nodded. “Go ahead.”
at the two men I flashed my eyes down to the leftover pile of crap on the
officer, you don’t have to give her this ticket.”
officer turned towards the runner, but once the policeman saw his face, he
hesitated to say anything else. “You’re right.” The officer faced me again. “I won’t
ticket you, but I expect you to pick up your dog’s waste from now on. Have a
turned and left.
going to anyway!”
called out. I let out an exasperated sigh.
“What an asshole.”
at the runner. “Thanks - for helping get that jerk off my case.”
problem. It’s an abuse of power with those kinds of guys, I see it happen all
the time.” He smiled his dazzling smile at me again. It was even more beautiful
and mesmerizing than it was the first time. I felt a lust for him pool in my
grabbed my hand in his large hand and shook it.
meet you.” I smiled. “Now if you don’t mind, I have to clean up some dog shit.”
hand in a bag, I crouched down and did the task, throwing it out in the trash.
My cheeks reddened at this embarrassing situation, but it had to be done.
I looked up
at Jason, who was laughing at me.
his funny. “Nothing - it’s just, it’s funny.”
smiled that heart-melting smile again.
fuck, he was cute!
If I hadn’t
just had dog shit in my hand, I would have felt like he was hitting on me. I
would have asked him out, even! But as it was, with his golden, toned muscles
and light mist of perspiration, he looked like a Greek God and I looked like a
woman who took care of six dogs all day.
of the older dogs, began to howl and the others followed suit. The dogs barked
and wailed, making it impossible for Jason and me to speak.
in closer to me, so that his lips were next to my ear. “Listen,” he said,
pulling off a band which secured his smart phone to his bicep. “I think you
should call me sometime - when you’re not so… preoccupied.” He looked at the
dogs before pulling off the case of his phone and sliding out a card which he
then handed to me.
of a man carries business cards during a run?
voice inside me yelled:
a man who picks up women at the dog park!
Like, for dog-walking services?”
He laughed and
I felt his hot breath on my skin. My cheeks flamed and my delicate hairs stood
up on end.
dinner. Perhaps this weekend.” Now his dazzling eyes were inches from mine,
looking deep at me.
“Like… on a
date?” Hearing my words out loud sent a pang of embarrassment through me.
on a date.” He smiled. As soon as he spoke my embarrassment disappeared. He
wasn’t laughing at me, he was enamored with me.
He thought I was cute.
mesmerizing dark eyes and cute smirk held my gaze. I smiled back, overwhelmed
that such an attractive man wanted to go out with me.
pulled back, strapping his phone back to him arm, but keeping his eyes on me.
“I’ll talk to you then.”
smiled one last time before running back towards the path.
deeply to take in Jason’s invigorating scent before it disappeared, I admired
his toned physique as he ran away.
finally disappeared in the distance, I looked down at the card.
beat wildly in my chest, rattling against my ribs.
pounding of my heart drummed loud in my ears.
Powers. Jason Powers. CEO Powers Corporations.
I looked at
the card until the words no longer had any meaning. My thoughts kicked into
overdrive, trying to turn the situation into a positive, but the longer I
walked, the angrier I became.
no way that young, handsome man could be the man who destroyed this community
and took all our jobs.
It was impossible.
the card in my hand and held it in my sweaty fist as I walked home. The dogs
howled and barked the whole way.