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 (5 page)

BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
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“I know.”

We both turned to stare at the machine.

“I need coffee before I can figure out how to make coffee without the machine,” Duke muttered, pushing his fingers through his hair and mussing it up.

“There must be a way. People have made coffee for hundreds of years without electricity,” I said, staring blankly at the machine. “We’ll have to improvise. And while we’re at it, we might as well cook up everything in your fridge. That is, if your stove still works.”

“It’s gas, so as long as we have matches it should.” Duke ambled off to find some. I rolled the waistband of the pants he’d given me to wear; they were giant and falling down.

Then I opened the refrigerator and my heart sank.

There was
plenty
of beer. One carton of organic milk, three quarters full, fortunately not expired. There were also delivery leftovers that I was not yet desperate enough to try—who knows how long they’d been in there? I smiled when I saw a bottle of the wine I liked. Fortunately, the Britta filter was full—but it was all the water we had for the foreseeable future.

In the cabinets, I found a few boxes of cereal. In the freezer there were a few frozen meals.

“Why don’t you have more food?” I called out to Duke. “We’re going to starve.”

“We’ll just order some take out,” he said with a shrug. In Duke’s world, food only came from restaurants or Seamless.com.

“With what cell service? And power?” I asked.

“There’s got to be some service,” he grumbled as he walked around the apartment with his iPhone out, searching for a few bars.

“Shouldn’t you turn that off to conserve the battery?”

Duke looked up at me, with a wounded expression as if I suggested we drown kittens for fun.

“Turn it off?” he gasped. Well, someone had to be the voice of reason. I smiled faintly and rolled my eyes. He kept walking around the apartment with it, looking for service before finally conceding that we were totally cut off from contacting the rest of the world.

Just like Prudence and her hero, Castleton.

Dejected, he joined me next to the coffeemaker. We stared at it. If wishes and will power were enough we’d have a freshly brewed pot.

“If only you could come up with an idea of how to make the coffee,” I said.

“What did people do in days of yore in your books?” he asked.

“They asked the servants,” I answered.

Yes, I wrote historical romance novels. But most readers, like me, were more interested in the emotional turmoil of the characters—and let’s be real, the sex—than the details of housekeeping and coffee-making. In the end, we poured boiling water over the grinds, making two strong and steaming hot cups of coffee with milk.

We curled up on the couch with our mugs, under a blanket, huddling together for warmth. We stared out the window at the rain.

“It doesn’t look so bad,” I said. Being in possession of an active imagination, I had assumed the worst of a Category 4 storm. I had pictured glass windows of Fifth Avenue shops shattering, tree trunks snapping and falling into buildings, or flooding that sent cars floating down Broadway and into the Prada store. This looked like any other rainstorm.

“Before we lost power last night, I checked Twitter,” Duke said. “Because the storm hit at high tide, there’s a lot of flooding in lower Manhattan and in the subways.”

“How long do you think this will last?”

Duke went to check his iPhone for the answer and he swore when seeing the blank black screen. We had no connection to the outside world. We had no new information. It was just us. Unplugged.

“The last report I saw said rain until this evening.”

“I wonder how long the power will be out,” I said, glancing longingly at the computer. I wanted to know how much of manuscript I had lost. And I wanted to keep writing.

“I’m sure it won’t be too long,” Duke said. Neither of us believed him.

“What should we do until then?”

“I have an idea,” he murmured.

His idea was kissing.

His mouth brushed over mine and instead of opening up to him, I found myself pressing my lips into a closed line and turning away. I
wanted
to kiss Duke. There was so much longing inside of me, bottled up and wanting release. But even Duke’s sweet, loving kiss reminded me of the night before. I remembered the taste of stale beer and fear, Sam’s stubble abrasive against my cheeks, my heart pounding so hard I felt like I was choking.

Duke then reminded me why I loved him. When I was scared and uncertain, he laced his fingers through mine and just held my hand.

Later that day

T
HE HOURS PASSED.
The rain kept falling. The power did not return.

Duke picked up his Kindle and I tried reading the few paper books he had—all of which were about business, sales or web development. Not exactly riveting stuff. My mind kept straying to the novel I had started last night. My heroine, Prudence, had suffered horribly. It was something she’d been able to push to the dark corners of her mind until a looming school anniversary party would force her to recognize what had happened to her and how she couldn’t move on.

Rather than stay in London, this wallflower ran away. She found herself stranded at a country inn during an epic rainstorm.

Her hero was there with her. John Roark, Lord Castleton, had a secret past. Perhaps not unlike my own hero—I hadn’t forgotten about that tell-all book about Duke. Oh, how I wished I had stayed at home and read the rest of that awful article or even bought the book and took it to bed.

Speaking of books, Duke was very happily reading his. I desperately wanted to be writing mine. I glanced over at his laptop with the dead battery.

“I think I’m going to have to write the old fashioned way. Do you have pen and paper?”

We both glanced around his sleek, modern apartment. There was no clutter and no paper lying around. He didn’t have a lot of stuff.

“Oh my God, you don’t even have paper,” I muttered. It made sense; he read everything on his phone or Kindle, probably never printed anything at home. Even his light bulbs and TV were controlled by apps on his phone.

“I’m sure I do somewhere,” he said. A few minutes later, after looking through closets and drawers, he returned with a Moleskine notebook emblazoned with the logo of some startup or VC firm I didn’t recognize.

“I got this at a conference,” he said. “I’m sure there is a pen around here somewhere.”

Sheepishly he glanced around his apartment, which probably held as many pens as the Regency-era inn where my characters were stranded.

“I always carry one in my bag,” I said. I found my handbag near the elevator. Amongst all the crap I carried around, I found one blessed pen.

As Duke reclined on the couch with his Kindle, I sat beside him and wrote the old-fashioned way. By hand, with pen, on paper.

My characters were eating lunch. A freshly made lunch, the likes of wish I would have killed for right about now.

“Would you care for some wine?” Roark asked.

“No thank you,” Prudence replied politely. She was always polite.

“Just a sip?”

“My friend Olivia’s mother says it makes a Lady forget herself,” she said.

“Is that such a bad thing?” Sometimes he wanted to forget himself. Wine helped. Whiskey reliably got the job done, too.

“Yes, it is a bad thing. At least for ladies,” Miss Merryweather informed him. Then she pointedly took a sip of water.

“And what does wine do to gentlemen?”

“It makes them more foolish and at a higher volume,” she answered primly.

He laughed. “Spot on.”

“Sometimes, it makes them beasts,” she added. There was something in the darkness of her voice that brought an end to his smile and laughter. He pushed his wine glass to the side.

“How was your day, darling?” John asked, changing the subject.

Her lips quirked up in a faint smile. “Uneventful.”

He thought about mentioning the encounter on the stairs this morning. Her panicked reaction raised questions in his mind. Not wanting to send her running again, he didn’t ask.

“How was your day?” she asked.

“Wet.” He explained about taking care of the animals in the stable, and his two horses, named Snow and White.

“How imaginative of you,” Miss Merryweather said dryly. “Why did you name them that?”

“I didn’t. I won them in a game of cards,” John explained. He’d managed an invitation to a bachelors- only house party at Lord Collin’s country seat where they drank excessively, dined exquisitely and when they weren’t winning and losing fortunes over cards, they were availing themselves to the prostitutes who’d been invited. Well, the others did. John kept his drinking to a minimum and his eyes on his cards. That’s why he left that party with two prize-winning stallions and three hundred pounds richer.

“A gambler, are you?” Miss Merryweather asked with the disapproving look of a temperance-minded matron, which oddly made him grin.

“You could say that,” he answered. The extent of his gambling was possibly unparalleled. His was also not something he was prepared to let known.

“You’re one of those,” she said. “I should have known.”

“What do you mean?”

“There are the lords who tend to their estates,” she explained. “And then the ones who gamble them away.”

And then there were the ones, like him who—John didn’t even finish that thought on the off chance that Miss Merryweather had mind reading capabilities. He didn’t fit into her either/or view of Lords, but wasn’t about to enlighten her.

So just grinned and asked, “Can’t a rogue have it all?”

I
GLANCED OVER
at Duke—his head, hair tousled, was bowed over his Kindle. He reclined on the couch in his fabulous penthouse apartment, a girl by his side. He was unimaginably successful on his own terms. That rogue certainly did have it all . . .

He glanced up, caught me staring and gave me that smile of his that had a way of making me feel

“Hey girl,” he drawled. I had to laugh. Just gazing at him made me happy. There was something wonderful about being alone with him during this storm. I felt connected to him. And yet, I couldn’t shake questions about that tell-all book . . .

“What is it?” Duke asked.

“Nothing,” I replied, shaking my head.

“Aw, c’mon Jane,” he teased. “I can see when your imagination is at work. You’re thinking about something.”

“I was just wondering how well I knew you.” It was as much about that new book about him, as it was about Prudence’s mysterious hero.

“Is this research for your book?” He eyed the notebook open on my lap, full of probably illegible cursive.

“Maybe.”

“And does this have anything to do with Felicity’s book?” Gawd. Her name on his lips made me cringe. That somehow made her real and not just someone the tabloids invented.

“Maybe,” I said. He moved over to sit next to me, gaze into my eyes and hold my hand.

“Here’s what you need to know, Jane,” he said. “I was a fuck-up until I met you. Yeah, I accomplished a lot but what does that matter if you throw it all away and don’t enjoy it? All I want now is to just be with you.”

A
LITTLE WHILE
later we took a break to heat up on the frozen food that was currently thawing in the uncooled freezer. We fried up Applegate Farms chicken nuggets on the stove and tried to heat frozen pizzas from Amy’s over the burners. It was not ideal. I missed the microwave. And the oven. And come to think of it . . . I missed electricity and hot running water, too.

We sat down to lunch. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

“How is the book going?” Duke asked.

“Good. The hero and heroine are trapped at a small country inn during a torrential rainstorm.”

“Have you ever considered drawing on your real life for inspiration?” Duke asked dryly. I gave a little laugh. My “inspired by real life” stories had gotten us into trouble before. But sometimes, you just can’t make this stuff up.

“The heroine was . . . attacked,” I added softly. “That makes her not the typical, innocent romance heroine. But I had to write about what happened to me.”

“Did Sam . . .?” Duke asked, his voice low.

“No. But I think he would have. He unbuttoned my jeans,” I said my voice cracking as I remembered. I didn’t want to remember. “His hands . . .” I couldn’t even say it. “Then I kneed him in the balls, hit him in the nose and ran.”

It was the vague and distant look in Sam’s eyes that struck me as I recalled that night. Sam hadn’t been Sam. That had been terrifying.

“That’s my girl,” Duke said softly, smiling slightly. But there was tension in his jaw and sadness in his eyes. I could see that it was burning him up inside that he hadn’t been there to protect me. But he was stifling that because this wasn’t about him. It was about me. “I wish I had been there for you. I could have stopped it. Hell, it never would have happened.”

“I know. Me too,” I said in a small voice. “I thought I could trust him.”

It wasn’t just the violence of what Sam had done. It wasn’t just the pain and the fear. The betrayal of it all cut the deepest. Someone I had once loved and trusted with my safety and happiness had violated my body and violated my trust.

“It makes it hard for her to be alone with the hero,” I said, my voice faltering slightly. I used my characters as a way to talk about
me.
Perhaps I should be in therapy for that. “She wants to. But she’s not quite ready.”

“Are you OK now, here with me?” Duke asked. The concern in his eyes was reassuring.

“Yeah,” I replied softly. “I feel safe with you.”

“Good. You should feel safe,” he said firmly, holding my hand and gazing into my eyes. “I’ll never hurt you Jane. I couldn’t.”

I knew he wouldn’t. What Sam had done to me wasn’t about insatiable, uncontrollable passion. I knew he stopped lusting after me a while ago—years before we broke up, even. What he had done to me was just about power. He must be feeling so helpless—alone, living with his parents, his career prospects dim, and all the rejection of Kate and the jobs he’d applied for. By overpowering me, he could feel like a man again. Or whatever.

BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
8.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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