Read The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants Online

Authors: Maya Rodale

Tags: #Fiction, #Contemporary romance

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BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
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If I had gotten the life I had always planned, I would have missed
this
: Duke pulling me into an embrace. His mouth crashing down on mine for the kind of deep, passionate kiss that left no doubt as to how he felt about me or what we would be doing tonight.

Later I would think about this kiss and remember it as the one sparkling moment where everything was just
right
and my biggest problem was which party to attend. It was the moment before my past reared its ugly head, making happily-ever-after seem unlikely. It was the moment before the storm hit, leaving unfathomable destruction in its wake. It was the moment before I got an idea for a new story—but at a price I didn’t want to pay.

 

Chapter Two

A few nights later

258 West 15th Street, Jane and Roxanna’s apartment

A
FTER A LONG
day working at the New York Public Library, I came home to write for a few hours before heading over to Duke’s apartment. I wanted to see him before his flight to San Francisco—if it was still on. A hurricane was expected to hit the city and already tons of flights had been canceled.

It should be noted that “by writing for a few hours” I meant staring at the bright white screen of a Word document devoid of any actual words other than
Untitled Wallflower Novel #3.

I added
by Jane Sparks.

Then I deleted it and replaced it with
By Maya Rodale.
That was the pseudonym I published under.

I drummed my fingers lightly on the keyboard, which only served to draw my attention to the fourth finger of my left hand, which only served to remind me that I had lost my fake engagement ring for my fake engagement with Duke.

I stood up and checked my jewelry box—I could have sworn I’d left it there! I looked under the bed, in pockets of various handbags and in my desk drawers. It was gone, and with it—all my good luck.

No ring. No idea of what to write.

I had more bad luck, too: The dry cleaner had lost my favorite cashmere sweater-set. The train line I took to work was under construction so my commute was more hectic. We had a new neighbor who loved to blare club music really loudly, really late. I had forgotten my mom’s birthday. My book sales were leveling off. Ok, tapering down.

It seemed I was on a losing streak.

Duke, on the other hand, was on a winning streak of epic proportions. Soon he wouldn’t be the Bad Boy Billionaire who had foolishly lost a billion dollars thanks to some bad decisions and bust of his first two companies. He wouldn’t be the guy who was a startup failure—twice. It seemed the third time was a charm—this company was a success and built to last.

Third times a charm. Untitled Wallflower Novel #3.

I decided to check Facebook. Perhaps that would provide some inspiration.

Sam Chase:
Wondering what it’s all about.

2 Likes 1 Comment 0 Shares

Milford High School:
Just a few more days until the big anniversary celebrations!!! Make sure you RSVP ASAP!!!!

53 Likes 14 Comments 1 Share

Kate Abbott:
Love life sucks but work life is fantastic!

Miranda Sparks:
Thank you for the lovely birthday wishes!

22 likes 8 Comments 0 Shares

Sam Chase:
Losing Streak.

0 Likes 0 Comments 0 Shares

When my Facebook newsfeed became a deluge of wedding and baby pictures, I shut the browser window and checked Twitter instead.

@NYCGOV
: Hurricane #Geoffrey expected in New York City TONIGHT. Check out these storm prep tips. http://on.nyc.gov/1aGWYqz

@RoxannaLane
: Congrats to my friend @Jane_Sparks for her book hanging out in the top 100 historical romances on Amazon.

@Jezebel
: Is Maryville, Missouri the Next Steubenville? http://bit.ly/1aGWT6g

@LizaPalmer
: 11 Pieces of Advice From Amazing Women http://bit.ly/1aCeptH #amwriting #writingtips #pubtip

@Accuweather:
Get ready, New York City! Hurricane #Geoffrey is expected to be category 4 hurricane.

@KatharineAshe:
Stilettos: the 21st-century equivalent of the whalebone corset.

@DukeAusten:
Only one week until Project-TK’s IPO.

@RTBooks:
New Review: The Wicked Wallflower! http://bit.ly/1alkm9T

@LadyMissPenny:
Just lounging in my statement necklace. instagram.com/p/jZoJL9R8rW/

@NYTimes:
Scientists agree global warming is to blame for super storm #Geoffrey.

@Jane_Sparks:
Writers block is The Worst. THE WORST!

@Gawker:
Just want you wanted to read during #Geoffrey: a tell-all book about @DukeAusten by his ex-girlfriend.

Of course I clicked that link. I mean, really. I didn’t expect to read anything new. After all, I knew the man. Intimately. But how could I not read it?!

Secrets of the Bad Boy Billionaire: The Duke Austen Nobody Knows

One of Duke Austen’s many ex-girlfriends, Felicity Prescott, is writing a tell-all book about the Bad Boy Billionaire. Prescott reportedly dated Austen while they both worked at the now defunct startup, Friendly. Her book details why that oh-so-promising startup totally went bust, starting with Duke’s wild behavior and their tortured relationship.

My reading was interrupted by the arrival of a text message from Sam.

Sam Chase:
I’m in town. Need to talk. Can we meet for a drink?

I hesitated. Sam had been weird lately—lots of confusing text messages, Facebook posts and long emails philosophizing about life choices and a man’s role in the modern world. Or something like that. I’d just been too busy to figure out what he was talking about to compose an appropriate reply. That, and I just didn’t really want to deal with it. I cared about him deeply, but I wasn’t too keen to be his therapist. Or his drinking buddy on a night like this.

But I had loved this man deeply for a long time. We’d been high school sweethearts and I thought he would be my husband and the father of my children. It was his idea for us to break up. Though it hurt like hell for a while, I was now
glad.
My life was so much more amazing because of it.

So even though he was acting weird, I had loved him and he seemed to be in a rough patch. We could still be friends, right?

Besides, it’s not like I would get much writing done anyway.

Another text message interrupted me, this one from Roxanna.

Roxanna Lane:
Working late. Might swing by with you know who. Don’t be there? XOXOXO!

Well that settled that. I was going out. After one drink, I’d head over to Duke’s place. I doubted that his flight would be taking off after all and it’d be nice and romantic to ride out the storm together.

One glance at Twitter told me this had better be a quick drink.

@NYCGOV:
Batten down the hatches! Subway is closing at midnight. Bridges and Tunnels will be closed at 10pm. #Geoffrey

I texted Sam back.

Jane Sparks
: Let’s meet in 20 minutes and make it quick—storm’s a-coming!

Sam Chase:
I’m at that bar we met at before. Our place in the city.

I decided a quick outfit change was in order. I looked through my closet for the perfect outfit that said “FRIEND ZONE!” I settled on boyfriend jeans, black patent ballet flats and my second favorite sweater set, a charcoal grey cashmere shell and cardigan.

Since I would be heading over to Duke’s afterward, I quickly tossed some things into a bag: a change of undies and some toiletries along with the usual phone, wallet and keys. I grabbed my bag and trench coat and dashed out, down the four flights of stairs to the front hall and then down the very steep front stoop. From there, I headed downtown. Hopefully, I wouldn’t encounter the storm tonight.

But I did, oh I did.

 

Chapter Three

Employees Only, Hudson Street

S
AM AND
I had met up here once before. It had been the night of a party celebrating Project-TK’s $150 million dollars of investment funding. I remembered it as the night things with Duke went from make believe to real.

Sam and I didn’t have many places in the city that were “ours.” Not like we did back home anyway, where every spot in town held some memory: the high school where we met, the bleachers at the stadium where we’d made out (and a bit more); Fiorello’s, the “fancy” special occasion restaurant; Armetta’s, the pizza parlor for casual Friday night dates, the movie theater where Sam had worked as an usher one summer and the library where I had worked until I was fired.

That was another reason I had to leave Milford. Too many places triggered too many memories and that made it impossible to move on. New York City was a blank slate where I could reinvent myself.

When I arrived at the bar, it seemed no one took the storm warning seriously. The place was packed. I saw Sam in a red plaid shirt, hunched over the bar and nursing a pint of beer.

“Hey there,” I said, resting my hand on his shoulder. He startled.

“Jane. Hey.” He smiled faintly. I smiled too, hoping that it hid my shock at how bad he looked. The red plaid shirt looked and smelled like it spent the night on the floor after a pub crawl. Dark stubble covered his jaw, which was a big change from the clean shaven man I had kissed nearly every night for twelve years.

It seemed the pint in his hand wasn’t his first.

I ordered my standard glass of chardonnay and sat on the barstool next to him.
One drink. Be a friend.

“So what brings you into the city?” I asked, kicking off what I hoped would be a bright, friendly conversation. “Especially with the storm coming.”

One drink. As a friend. Then I would go. I wanted to be nice. And I didn’t want to upset him anymore.

“Just wanted to leave Milford for the day. I had to get out.”

“What did you do today?”

“Walked around, mostly.” Sam shrugged. OK, so he wasn’t in the mood to be conversational. But then why did he ask me to meet him? I concealed my annoyance with a sip of wine. I could be at home, writing. Or I could be at Duke’s, having orgasms.

“Is everything ok?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said. And then, “No. The gig at NYU fell through.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said, reaching out to touch his arm lightly. It was habit. He was tense beneath my touch. “What happened?”

Sam lifted his head and looked at me instead of the half empty pint in his hand. He asked, “Are you really sorry?”

“Of course,” I said cheerily. “You were really excited about the position. It would have been a great move for your career.”

His eyes searched mine. What was wrong with what I had said? What was going on with him? Had I done something wrong?

Okay, so I wasn’t totally sorry. I’d been a bit dismayed at the possibility that Sam would be living in my neighborhood. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure this town was big enough for both of us.

“But what about us?” Sam asked softly.

I took a sip of my drink, biting back the words “There is no us anymore.”

One drink. Be a friend. He’s obviously hurting.

“What about us?” I echoed. Then, I tried to keep my voice gentle as I added, “We broke up, Sam. You broke up with me. And I’m with Duke now.”

“So it’s not just a fling? Or a fake relationship?”

It was a fair question, but I was annoyed all the same. After publishing a romance novel where the hero and heroine embark on a sham engagement—which happened to be based on my own sham engagement—everyone doubted that Duke and I were a real couple.

“I don’t have a
pretend
boyfriend,” I said, trying to laugh it off.

Sam downed the rest of the beer—almost half a pint—and set the empty glass down on the bar. He motioned to the bartender for another.

“We just have so much history, Jane,” Sam lamented. “Doesn’t it seem like a shame to throw away so much of our past?”

Sam put his hand on my knee.

Once upon a time that was the sort of casual, affectionate gesture between a boyfriend and girlfriend. Once upon a time it was a sweet, innocent gesture. Tonight it felt invasive.

Tonight I realized I didn’t want Sam to touch me anymore. This alone was a revelation, because I had spent so much of my life loving him. I thought he was The One. I had picked out the names of our unborn children. Until a few weeks ago, I still harbored fantasies of getting back together.

But tonight I knew we were over. The question was, did he?

His hand was still on my leg. I shifted my position. He took his hand away. I felt relief.

“What about the history, Jane?” Sam asked.

“We can still be friends,” I said. Right? Ex’s were friends all the time. But next time I hung out with my
friend
Sam, I’d make sure Duke was with me. Or Roxanna. Or anyone who would make this less awkward.

“Yeah,” Sam said bitterly. He obviously didn’t believe me.

I took a big sip of my wine. The sooner this glass was empty, the sooner I could politely make my excuses and leave.

“What about UC Berkeley? Have you heard from them?” I asked, trying to change the subject.

“No.”

“Oh, well perhaps you’ll hear soon . . .”

“They said no.” He took another long swallow of his pint.

“Oh.”

“Everyone has said
no
to me Jane.” He glanced nervously at me. The sadness in his brown eyes kind of broke my heart.

“You just need one yes,” I said, trying to be encouraging. “You’ll get it.”

“How are your books doing?” Sam asked.

“Really well,” I said. Then I thought maybe I should have downplayed my success for him now. But then I thought:
fuck that.
It was Roxanna’s influence that I was thinking in swear words, and her influence that I was no longer putting the men in my life before myself. It was also thanks to her influence that I was dating a great guy, published and basically being more successful and
happy
than I’d ever imagined.

BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
4.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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