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 (6 page)

BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
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I understood it, rationally. That didn’t excuse him. Or justify it. Or make me ache any less. Why should I bear his burdens?

But Duke . . . he’d been down, he’d been up and he’d been walking the razor’s edge of complete disaster or unfathomable success. And he did it all with a bone deep confidence and certainty in himself. He didn’t need to bring anyone down to raise himself up.
That
is what made him so damn sexy.

I gave that confidence to Prudence’s hero. It wasn’t his wealth or title that attracted her. It was his certainty, his kindness and his consideration of her. That, and his sparkling blue eyes that were a lot like Duke’s.

After lunch, Duke went back to reading and I went back to writing. We were never far from each other and Duke was generous, as always, with small, gentle caresses and other little signs of affection.

I kept writing until my hand started to cramp and I had to pause to shake it out. How did people write so much in days of yore?

Then Duke’s Kindle battery died.

With nothing much else to do, we stood in front of the floor to ceiling windows and looked out at the rain.

“Do you think the rain is easing up?” I asked hopefully.

“Hard to tell,” he said. But really, the answer was no. This storm wasn’t going to end any time soon.

“It’ll be dark soon. I don’t suppose you have candles?”

“Of course not,” Duke said grimly. We both fell silent, presumably thinking about all the Storm Prep Tweets and articles that he’d ignored. It went without saying that my apartment was pretty well stocked with candles, matches, flashlights, food, bottled water, and fully charged appliances.

“What about a flashlight? That’s a gadget. Do you have one?”

“On my phone,” Duke said grimly.

I couldn’t help but smile. My billionaire tech entrepreneur was
so
out of his element.

“I’m sorry, Jane. I’ll go out. See if a store is open.” It was just the sort manly, heroic protective thing a guy would do. Offer to venture out into a category 4 storm to get a girl some chocolate. It was also ridiculous.

“Are you crazy? The city has shut down.” I pointed outside. “Look. Everything is shut. It’s pouring rain.”

“It’s New York City,” Duke said. “Someone is making money off this. Look—there are still taxis driving around.”

I looked and indeed, every once in a while a yellow cab slowly cruised through the desolate streets. It was comforting, that. No matter what happened, the city carried on. Maybe I could, too.

We had a long kiss goodbye, as if he were going off to war or something. My guy was venturing out into the unknown. If something went wrong, there’d be no way of knowing. Using the last of his phone battery, he used the flashlight function to light his way down the pitch-black stairwell. I didn’t envy his walk back up to the penthouse—hopefully with bags full of food and candles.

My phone still had a bit of battery since I had sensibly switched it onto airplane mode last night. I kept checking the time while Duke was out. First he was gone for a half hour. Then an hour. Then I started to panic. In addition to checking the time, I also watched my dwindling battery.

Then another hour passed.

I was alone. The apartment was getting darker and darker as the hours passed. Eventually the sun set, taking daylight with it, leaving me alone in the dark.

The rain kept falling.

Eventually, I decided a glass of wine was in order to soothe my nerves.
Where the hell was he?
In fact, I wanted wine to soothe my temper.
What was he thinking to go out in the damn storm?
In the dark, I made my way to the kitchen. On my way, I collided with someone.

I screamed. Bloody-murder-call-the-cops
screamed
.

I felt a man’s hard wet chest. I felt a man’s hands close around my arms . . . just like last night. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. I struggled to free myself and stumbled backwards.

“Jane! It’s me, Duke.”

His voice didn’t register. I tried to break away. I wanted those hands
off.
We stumbled together in the darkness, all tangled up until my back hit the wall.

“Jane it’s me. Duke. It’s ok.”

But it wasn’t. This felt all too familiar. The wall at my back, the man’s weight against me and arms blocking me in. His mouth, inches from mine. His hands, holding me up. I couldn’t tell what was real and what was my memory. I couldn’t
breathe.
My heart was pounding. I felt trapped, suffocated.

It could have been ten seconds or ten minutes, I don’t know, but I wrenched myself away.

“Jane it’s just me. I’m not going to hurt you.”

“I know,” I gasped. “Just . . . flashback.”

In the dim light I saw Duke’s jaw tense. Then he turned and slammed his fist into the wall. He didn’t even flinch, he was angry at the situation. I knew that. Seeing such a display of violence didn’t exact soothe my nerves or calm my racing heart.

“You scared me,” I said in between gulps of air. “When you came in. And when you grabbed me. And when you nearly punched a hole in the wall.”

“I’m sorry. I just hate that I wasn’t there to protect you and I hate I haven’t been able to give him the beating he deserves.”

“You might get the chance,” I said. “I’m pretty sure he’s somewhere in Manhattan.”

The truth of that made me shudder

“You’re safe here,” Duke said firmly. “You’re safe here with candles and tons of junk food and candy bars.”

“You found a store?”

“Yeah. I didn’t have much cash and of course credit cards and ATM machines aren’t working, so I had to promise some stock in Project-TK. Some bodega guy just got real lucky. And now we have tons of supplies and prepared for the storm.”

“Some good news,” I whispered.

“I told you, I have enough good luck to spare,” Duke said.

“Unless my bad luck rubs off on you.”

“Nah,” Duke said easily. “Come on, let’s open a bottle of wine and eat all this crap while you tell me what people in days of yore did to amuse themselves without TV and the Internet.”

We did just that—sipped lukewarm white wine and dined on potato chips, pretzels, and candy bars.

“In Regency times, people often played cards after dinner,” I said as I indulged in a bar of Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate.

“Strip poker?”

“No,” I said laughing and rolling my eyes. “They played whist. Or vignt-et-un which is basically the same as Blackjack.”

“Do you fancy a game of strip vignt-et-un?”

“You and the stripping! It’s too cold in here for that,” I said, shuddering for emphasis as a Regency heroine might have done. Without heat or even sunlight to warm the place up, the chill had seeped into my bones and I began to have a new appreciation for laments about drafty ancestral estates.

“I’ll warm you up,” Duke murmured, sliding his hand around my waist and pressing a kiss against my lips.

“Or they danced,” I whispered. “But we don’t have any music.”

“We don’t need music,” Duke whispered. He stood, and clasping my hand, pulled me to my feet.

With one hand around my waist and the other clasping mine, at his lead we began to dance. Neither of us knew the steps to a quadrille or a reel or any other days-of-yore dances. I tried to teach him how to waltz but in the end, we relied on instinct and somehow just knew how move together in the same rhythm, at the same time.

For some moments I wanted to rest my head against his chest, close my eyes and forget everything except the beat of his heart and our bodies moving in time together. But the moment was always ruined by the recollection of Sam . . .

I tried hard to breathe. I closed my eyes, hoping to shut out the memories of Sam’s assault . . . the way he grabbed me . . . holding my arms . . . holding me close . . . his body pressed against mine . . .

I wanted to enjoy this moment. But it was
hard.

Breathing. It was difficult at the moment.

But I didn’t want to lose my future to one dark chapter of my past. So I opened my eyes and gazed up at Duke. He looked at me with affection and lust, with kindness and promises. Perhaps even love. With all sorts of good things.

My heart was pounding. This could be the moment that I panicked, ran away and let walls go up between a really good man and me.

Or this could be the moment that I choose love instead of fear.

So Duke and I danced around his kitchen, banging into the countertops and tables because the candles didn’t provide much light.

I let him lead me down the hall to the bedroom, dancing all the while.

After crossing the threshold, we both paused. It was unspoken, but understood: I wasn’t sure I was ready to make love or let myself go enough to enjoy it.

“Don’t be nervous,” Duke said softly. “Don’t be scared.”

He looked so earnest. I believed him. I had so much faith in him that I could exhale the breath I’d been holding and even breath normally. But then I glanced up and noticed Duke was biting back words.

“What is it?”

“I will wait for you, Jane,” Duke said plainly. “As long as it takes.”

“But . . .” The protest was a rush of breath over my lips.
It could be forever
. I might
never
be ready. A wave of sadness hit me as I considered the prospect of never being able to make love with abandon again. What a bleak existence was ahead of me if I let Sam’s rough touch possess me forever.

I couldn’t.

In fact, what if I could take it back? My heart started to pound. What if I could reclaim me, for myself? It was a question I couldn’t answer. I couldn’t even think about it because what Duke said next took my breath away.

“I want to touch you, Jane. I want to erase all the bad memories and remind you of pleasure.” I was uncertain, scared and not so pure and not so innocent. I was a mess, but still, Duke stood there and promised me love.

Was I really going to live the rest of my life without a lover’s touch? Was I really going to let Sam have this power to take away my pleasure? I couldn’t. Just couldn’t. I knew that.

But that didn’t mean letting go was easy.

“But I don’t want to hurt you,” he continued. “Or scare you. I just want to touch you.”

Duke’s blue eyes smoldered at me. There was no denying it: He wanted me. He knew what had happened, and he was willing to wait for me to be ready. I wasn’t damaged in his eyes. To him, I was still desirable.

Would I ever find another man like him? Probably not.

Would I ever have another chance to try to reclaim myself? Of course—as long as I didn’t allow fear to hold me back. But why not start now? Why not seize this moment? I thought of excuses but dismissed them.

“How? How would you touch me?”

“I would start by pushing aside that strand of hair that’s been falling in your eyes all day,” he said softly. “And I’d let my fingertips graze your cheek as I did.”

That was gentle. That was safe.

“Like this?” I asked, as I enacted the movement he described. My hair was soft. How many times had I pushed my hair away from my face? Countless. And how many times had I noticed that the skin of my cheek was soft and sensitive and responsive to a light and gentle touch? Once. Now. The slight caress of my fingertips against it sent a little shiver down my spine.

“Yes,” he whispered. “Like that.”

“What else?”

“What do you want?”

I didn’t know what I wanted. I glanced around the room, looking out the windows at the darkness beyond. The faintest bit of moonlight illuminated the bed, the bedside tables, Duke’s suitcase on the floor, and a dresser with opened drawers. One was ajar, and a certain grey silk tie haphazardly spilled over the edge. I had bought him that tie . . . but I had been the one to wear it.

I trusted him, truly I did. But I couldn’t shake the thought of tying his hands. I reached over, picked up the tie, and asked for Duke’s permission with my eyes.

“If that’s what you want, Sweater Set,” he whispered. We knelt before each other on the bed as I wrapped the length of grey silk around his wrists and tied it tightly. Duke was a strong man, this wasn’t a real restraint. But it was something . . . Tonight I was only going to feel what I wanted to feel, and from my touch alone.

“Tell me how you want to touch me,” I whispered.

“I would drag my thumb across your lips, to rub away the bad memories.”

I did just that, imagining that I could wipe away the past, as I felt them tingle from the friction.

“What would you do next?”

Our gazes locked. I focused on his familiar features: the blue eyes and dark lashes, the strong line of his jaw and the dramatic slant of his cheekbones, his firm mouth that often curved into a smile that made me feel warm inside. In this moment, I felt undeniably connected to him, even though we weren’t even touching. Just kneeling opposite each other on his king-sized bed.

“I would run my fingers through your hair,” he said softly. “And cradle your head in my hands.”

I slid my fingers along my scalp, feeling that lovely sensation of fingers delicately running through soft strands of hair. I closed my eyes and imagined it was Duke’s touch. My lips parting, awaiting a kiss.

“I would kiss your neck first, just where it curves into your shoulder.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Imagine it, Jane.”

“Would you kiss me now?”

“No.” His voice was low and rough with desire. I felt the vibrations of it deep inside.

“No?”

“No. Next I’d want to kiss you all along the curve of your shoulder.”

Keeping the touch of my fingertips light, I dragged them back and forth along my shoulder, and down across my décolletage. Duke’s eyes darkened with desire. His hands moved as if he wanted to touch me, but they remained bound by that grey silk tie. I remained in control.

My skin, it had to be noted, was warm and soft and responsive to my touch. It felt the same as
before.

“I would want to touch you lower. Feel your breasts in my palms.”

I touched myself like that, cupping my breasts in my hands, feeling the soft cotton of his T-shirt between my palms and bare skin. But I really wanted to feel everything. And I wanted to test Duke’s control. So I stripped off the shirt and let it fall to the side.

BOOK: The Bad Boy Billionaire: What a Girl Wants
5.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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