Read The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants Online

Authors: Maya Rodale

Tags: #Fiction, #Contemporary romance

The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants (4 page)

BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
2.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

I could not find words to talk or to explain what had just happened to me so I just nodded numbly at Duke and padded down the hall to the master bathroom.

“Why did you walk here in the storm, Jane?” Duke asked, following behind me.

I stood in the middle of his grey marble bathroom suite.

“Do you have a toothbrush?”

Eyeing me curiously, he handed me one of the heads to his electric toothbrush. Then, taking note of how demented I was, he added toothpaste and handed it to me. Finally, I started to get the taste of Sam out of my mouth.

With one hand, I brushed my teeth. With the other, I turned on the shower, waiting until the water was scalding and then stepped in. I did not undress. My clothes were already wet, so what did a little more water matter?

Duke’s eyes darkened as he watched me act like a lunatic. Arriving unannounced in a hurricane. Stepping into a shower fully clothed. With a toothbrush in hand.

“What happened Jane?”

I could hear it in his voice:
Tell me, Jane. Don’t lie to me, Jane. Whatever this is, I will fix it, Jane.

All I could say was: “Sam.”

Sam was what had happened to me. Sam was why the top button of my jeans was still undone. I heaved at the thought.

“Did he hurt you, Jane?” His tone of voice was nervous, cautious and thick with tightly coiled rage.

“I got him to stop before . . .” I couldn’t say it. Before he raped me. Before it became more than “just” assault. Or whatever. It was awful and it was wrong. I felt violated and defiled and this hot water wasn’t enough.

“FUCKING HELL, JANE,” Duke swore because I didn’t have to say much for him to understand. Eyes dark. Mouth firm. Jaw clenched. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.”

He was drunk and god forbid—driving. But at this point, I doubted he would make it out of the city. The bridges and tunnels were closed. We were trapped on this island together. Me and my insane, psycho ex-boyfriend.

I shuddered. In the hot water, I shuddered.

“It fucking does matter,” Duke said, slamming his fist against the marble wall. I knew he wasn’t mad at me but the intensity of his anger was too much for me now. I closed my eyes.

Duke questioned me anyway. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know. You won’t find him and . . . just let it go tonight.”

“Jane . . .” he reached out to touch me. I flinched.

I had opened my eyes for that, so I saw the agonies in his eyes when I didn’t respond to his touch.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“OK.”

“Let’s call the cops.”

“No.”

“No?”

“What can they do? There were no witnesses. It’s his word against mine, and I doubt they’ll believe me. If they do, I doubt they’ll even find him.”

“Jane, what he did was wrong. Whatever he did to you, it was wrong.”

“How will the cops and pressing charges make it right?” I asked. Duke didn’t have an answer for that. “I just want to forget it ever happened.”

“Let’s talk about this in the morning,” Duke said, his voice strained and weary.

The hot water came down over my head. It wasn’t enough. I started to peel off my cardigan. I needed to clean every inch of my skin. But did I want to be so exposed? I was aware of Duke’s darkened gaze on me.

He was my guy. I didn’t have to be scared.

But you thought Sam was your guy . . .

Duke stepped into the shower with me. Fully clothed. He clasped my hands lightly in his and gazed into my eyes.

“You are safe now, Jane. Let’s take care of you.”

I didn’t respond, other than to nod. Just let the water rain down on my head.

“Do you want to go to the police?”

“No. Not now.” I didn’t dare say
maybe not ever.
It was one bad night—wasn’t it? Did Sam deserve jail for a one-time drunken lapse in judgment? I didn’t know. Did I want to wreck his life? Or had he been the one to wreck his own life? I didn’t know. Why did I feel so guilty, so responsible?

“We won’t go to the police tonight,” Duke said.

Tonight.
Maybe tomorrow. But there was that hurricane . . . The police had bigger issues tonight.

Duke and I both stood in the shower, fully clothed, soaking wet. Then, as if understanding, he handed me the bar of soap. When I had lathered up and rinsed and repeated a few times, he helped me wash my hair. I brushed my teeth until he took the toothbrush away.

For a minute he disappeared and returned with a pair of navy blue pajama pants of his and a grey T-shirt that said “Instagram,” both of which were too large, as I discovered when Duke left me alone to change.

It was still
me
looking at myself in the mirror. I looked the same, but everything felt different. I had been hurt and attacked by someone I had loved and trusted. There was a chanting chorus of
what if
questions echoing in my head. What if I hadn’t hit him? What if I hadn’t run? I closed my eyes, tried to ignore the thoughts. I left the room.

Duke was in the living room. Pacing.

“Can you tell me what happened? I’m going crazy imagining the worst, Jane.”

I told him about the drinks. The awkward texts. The emails. I told him how I tried to be a friend—the curse of a good girl. I told him about what happened next. I could tell Duke was ready to go out into the hurricane, find Sam, and beat him until there was no breath left in his body. I wouldn’t have stopped him—except I didn’t want to be alone right now. If I was alone, I would think. I would go over and over and over and over in my mind all the moments where I played my cards wrong and ended up screwed.

“What if this was one of those books of yours?” Duke asked. “What would the good guy do?”

“If I were a girl in Regency England and I had been assaulted or raped, what would have happened? The same thing as so many girls in third world countries today. I would have been forced into marriage with my attacker because of some sick and twisted notion of honor.”

I paused, imagining the horror of that fate. No matter what, I would avoid that. A blessing.

“What would the hero have done if this happened to his girl?” Duke asked softly. Because of course there was a hero, and his girl had been wronged.

“You would meet him in a remote corner of Central Park at dawn with pistols at fifty paces.”

“Or I could hack into his email and social accounts and ruin his life forever with a few posts mentioning his lack of concern for a woman. I could make it so he never worked again, never got a girlfriend again . . .” Duke paced around his living room, muttering about all the ways he could destroy Sam’s online reputation and thus his prospects in real life. He’d maybe never get a job again. Any prospective date would Google him and see that he got drunk and attacked a woman—and hopefully know better than to go out with him.

I knew he could do it, too. With just a few lines of code he could ruin another man’s life. I could just say the word and Duke would do it.

“Or just hold me,” I said. I wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted, but then Duke’s arms lightly enclosed around me and I tensed. Then, with a deep exhalation, I softened. I breathed him in and the familiar scent soothed me as it always did.

“Let’s just go to bed tonight.”

Hand and hand we strolled down the hall to his bedroom. There was a large king bed flanked by bedside tables. One wall was nothing but floor to ceiling windows. Outside, the hurricane raged. Raindrops splattered against the terrace where we had once made love.

“You’re safe here, Jane.” His voice was soothing. I was tired—but still ready to fight. I noticed a suitcase open on the bed that he quickly removed.

“Going somewhere?”

“San Francisco, remember? Doesn’t matter, my flight was canceled along with every other flight out of Manhattan. There’s no way to leave the island. Not that I would leave you now, anyway. So I’m here, Jane.”

Duke said all these lovely words while gazing into my eyes. I knew he wanted to reassure me. But I also sensed that he needed reassurance that I was okay. Or that he hadn’t failed me by letting this happen.

By now I was tired—bone tired, soul tired. There were questions plaguing me: Had I asked for it by meeting him? Had I drunk too much? Did I belittle him by paying the bill?
Was it my fault?

Why did I think it was my fault? He had assaulted me. If I had extended the same friendly thinking toward, say, Roxanna, she never would have hurt me like that. It wasn’t my fault.

But it felt like I was.

Duke tucked me into his bed and climbed in beside me. I closed my eyes, shutting out the thoughts and the questions. The raindrops and wind provided a soothing sound, along with Duke’s steady breathing beside me. Something bad happened, but I was inside, safe and warm. I drifted off to sleep.

I
WOKE UP
in the middle of the night, seized with an idea for a story. My own throwaway line from earlier in the evening had worked its way into my dreams:
If I were a girl in Regency England and had been assaulted or raped, what would have happened? The same thing as so many girls in third world countries today. I would have been forced into marriage with my attacker because of some sick and twisted notion of honor.

That is, if anyone knew.

But what if this awful thing had happened to a Regency girl and she
hadn’t
been discovered? What if she had to keep this secret? Given that a woman had to be a virgin on her wedding night, it would prevent her from marrying—or feeling like she could. And if a woman did not marry? Then she was a failure. A spinster. No man would want her—right? Or so she would believe. It was stupid, but true.

Suddenly, I knew Prudence’s story.

“Prudence, I’m sorry,” I whispered.

But I’ll give you an unimaginably wonderful happily-ever-after.

I slipped out of bed, taking care not to disturb Duke, and I tiptoed through the bedroom, and walked down the hall and into the large living/dining/kitchen area, where I found Duke’s laptop. I opened up a Google Doc so I could access this later from my own computer and started to write.

The words came easily. Too easily.

Are you there God? ’Tis I, Prudence.

Her voice wavered. Her knees buckled and she sank to the ground, her back sliding down against the wall.

God didn’t answer, which was just as well. Prudence didn’t have the words to describe this thing that had just happened to her . . .

I wrote and wrote and wrote while the storm raged outside. My brain wanted to shut down every time Duke asked me a question about what Sam had done. I couldn’t even imagine trying to make sense of what had happened, and why, and how I would ever feel alright again. But as Prudence, I could explore all those knotty feelings. As Prudence, I could examine what would keep happening to me if I let this trauma close its cold bony fingers around my heart.

The hours passed. I had written pages upon pages of a new novel. They were messy, confused, full of fragments and in dire need of revision. But the words were on the page and that was all that mattered.

Everyone once in a while, I was interrupted by a notification from Duke’s Twitter. People were up late reading and tweeting articles about his ex-girlfriend’s tell-all book.

I ignored them all. Then I gave in, clicked the link and started reading.

Their relationship began over late nights at the office . . .

I cringed, knowing how many late nights Duke still spent at the office.

. . . and carried over to business trips and more. They fought constantly and, according to the book, “had the most fantastic make-up sex.”

I immediately clicked away the browser window. I did not need to see anymore. In fact, I quit Tweetdeck and email and all the other distracting Internet things until I was just left with the Google Doc of my novel. I tried to focus on Prudence’s story, but still, I wondered . . . how well do we really know those who we love? Sam was not the man I had known and loved. What did I still have to discover about Duke? What didn’t Prudence know about her hero?

Earlier tonight I had felt helpless. Weak. Silenced.

Now, with my fingers waltzing across the keyboard, giving voice to the dark, twisty, scary feelings, I began to feel stronger. As the story took shape and as I controlled every thought, every breath of my characters, I felt powerful. There was no feeling more empowering than capturing a bad thing in words and beginning to shape it into a beautiful love story.

At some point, the power went out.

There was a soft sound as all the appliances shut off. Little lights vanished—the clock on the Microwave, the red power light on the flat screen TV, the soft glow of a charged appliance. The streetlights darkened.

It never really gets dark in Manhattan. Even when you turn the lights off and close the curtains, there is still light from the streets, neighboring apartments, and bright neon signs. You can still see in the dark. Tonight was different. The city was dark, and quiet, except for the rain and occasional wail of a siren.

I kept writing until the laptop battery died.

 

Chapter Five

W
HEN
I
AWOKE
the next morning, it was still raining. The power was still out. Sam had still hurt me—I hadn’t forgotten or imagined it. There was an ache in my muscles and bones and bruises on my arms and breasts. Someone I loved had hurt me. That hadn’t changed.

I closed my eyes, foolishly hoping that would make it all go away when I opened them again. But the memories were still sharp and fresh: the taste of beer, the stubble scratching my skin, his weight bearing down on me, the hard brick wall at my back. Thank God he stopped before it went further.

But what if he hadn’t stopped?

I’d be wrecked.

Rolling over to my side, I noticed Duke wasn’t in bed. I got up, found his Stanford sweatshirt, put it on and went out to the kitchen.

“So I got up early to make coffee with the idea that I would bring it to you in bed,” Duke said. “But the power is out.”

BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
2.04Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
Her Chance Encounters by Caine,Ruby
Marrying Up by Jackie Rose
Coming Up Daffy by Sandra Sookoo
Injustice for All by J. A. Jance
The Last Gun by Tom Diaz
Glory (Book 1) by McManamon, Michael
Dark Wrath by Anwar, Celeste
War Trash by Ha Jin
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas