Authors: Aaliyah Andrews
© 2015 by Aaliyah Andrews
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
: Part 3 begins on Chapter 14.
Billionaire Lucas Moore needs a bride. Tia Daniels, a hard working girl trying to get ahead, isn’t exactly in the mindset to be anyone’s wife.
She’s used to the grind. Lucas is a playboy, focused solely on mind numbing sex and submission.
Two different worlds are about to collide when Tia gets a ticket to the billionaire’s game.
Refined, upper class women have been picked by Lucas’s father in order to rein him in and secure an heir for their company.
Sassy and curvy, Tia doesn't exactly fit the mold chosen by the game’s creators. But after Lucas and her butt heads, he doesn’t want to let her go. “Give me five minutes, if after five minutes, you still want to leave, I’ll let you go,” Lucas tells Tia as she’s about to storm out the door.
Little does she know, her life is about to shift radically. Five minutes could never be enough. She just might be Lucas Moore’s for a lifetime.
harles Woodrow Moore
, my father and one of the most powerful men in the world, welcomed me to sit. He was spending a lot of time in his California office. Business was slow. There was only one reason for him to be there—to visit me—which worried me greatly.
He sat in a wooden monstrosity, a chair with no leather to speak of. It was like something he'd knocked together with bits of wood lying about. The man could afford a million-dollar chair if he wished. As he sat upon that uncomfortable throne with his withered hair and wisps of gray left, his pale blue eyes similar to mine, he looked ready to keel over. He held on only through sheer willpower.
Southern coastline spread out behind him on a cloudless day. There would be no meetings, only running through mindless business papers...along with tackling the problems with his only heir. We were far from the traffic and smog of the city. Far from anything, really. There was only us and our problems.
“Lucas, how are you?”
I chewed my bottom lip and looked away. The idea of my father trying to be friendly left a sour taste in my mouth. It was downright creepy.
“You can skip the pleasantries, Dad. What do you need me for?”
care about you, Lucas. You seem to think I don't sometimes.”
I leaned forward, pressing my thumbs together. “I know. I'm sorry. That wasn't fair. What did you need me for? I have to admit, I'm curious.”
“You're not going to make it easy on me,” he said gruffly, standing up from his desk. He looked thinner since the last time I saw him. He still paced with the energy of an eighteen year old.
“I only do this because I care about you.”
“Nothing good can come after that sentence,” I groaned. I leaned back in my seat, placed my arms flat against the leather arms, and prepared to be annoyed.
My father's blood began to boil. His pallor skin turned a slight shade of pink. This was what I was used to. Disappointment. Frustration. Pain.
He tried to hold back, but seeing him straining so hard only made it worse. “I don't think you're going to like this, but oh well. You’re how old, now? Thirty-three years old? Isn't that right?”
I nodded. I waited.
“I've been waiting a long time for you to come around, but it seems like it'll never happen. I thought maybe this was a phase, but I'm beginning to think that you really don't care.” He paused. He leveled with me. “You don't care about this company, do you?”
“I care,” I protested.
“Show me you care,” he said, exasperated. He crouched against the table as if my words were physically weakening him.
“What do you need?”
“What I've been asking from you for years. Take an active role in the business. Find a woman. Settle down. Have children. Then we can begin to talk about the transferring of the company when I'm gone. I won't be here forever.”
“Neither will I.”
He groaned and sat back down, not before working his fingers into his temples. He turned to a picture on his desk, the one of my brother, Brice, who had been dead for five years. For once in this awkward meeting, I was ashamed.
I couldn't look at Brice, smiling at me, seemingly so carefree, when I knew the truth. The burden had been too much for him.
Why couldn't I carry it? For my father? For Brice, in his memory? I couldn't even try.
“Your brother is gone.” he said grimly, like I didn't know that already. “Which means if you can't show me that this business is important to you, I'm going to have to hand over everything to one of your cousins. And I really don't want to do that.”
Our business meant everything to my dad. Just like it meant everything to his dad, Larry Woodrow Moore, who created the LWM Company and turned it into one of the richest oil producers and refiners in the world. To see his younger son throw it all away, after the older broke under the pressure, was a nightmare come true.
I didn't want to see the company transferred over to one of my uppity cousins, either.
“What do you need?” I asked him.
“I thought you might need some help, so I've arranged time off for you. You'll be out for as long as this takes.”
I tapped the armrest impatiently. “As long as
“I've arranged a group of eligible women to meet you. You’ll be getting to know them. In the end, one will become your wife. You will have a child with her. Maybe even children. Your attendance to company functions will be required as well.”
I ran my fingers through my hair, but didn’t get to the end before I snagged a fistful, squeezing, building pressure hitting insurmountable limits. “You’re not serious, are you?” When he didn’t respond, I seethed, “This is like some twisted reality show. You’re not going to have cameras following me around, are you?”
“No, just Brent. I'll be stopping by sometimes as well. If I see that you're not taking this seriously, I will revoke all rights to the company from you.”
My right eye twitched. I let go of my hair, patting it back down, but my hands were still balled tight. It was only because of my father's pained expression that I remained in control. He didn't want to do this. He thought he had no choice. Catching my brother's eyes again, they seemed to share my pain.
I was ready to throw my hands up and say, “Fuck it,” but my father told me something that froze all rage inside me.
“It's time to make your brother proud,” he said.
I threw my hands up in defeat. I rose from the seat, far too comfortable for my current inner turmoil.
“I need to leave before I say something I might regret,” I said, turning my back and walking toward the door.
“This is happening, whether you like it or not. Disappoint me, and you disappoint all of us. A lot of people in this company are counting on you. I will take away your claim, not because I want to, but because I have to. Your current position will also be revoked.”
Everything gone. My life pulled out from under me. What did it matter, wife and kids, responsibility, caring about the company? I wanted none of those things. I wanted to go someplace comfortable, someplace where I knew I could let out all of my frustrations.
“Thanks, I’ll see you,” was all I said as I left.
It was time to hit the club. Maybe for the last time.
It was a nice vacation, the hotel room paid for by the bride and groom, but it was over. What was I returning to? Certainly not the married couple’s fairy tale romance. I tried to people-watch in the stuffy Bahama airport, the sound of fans whirring and the chatter of passengers helping me lose my jealous edge.
I waited on one of the tiny seats, definitely not made for a woman with my buxom bottom. The plane would begin boarding in twenty minutes. Not fast enough. The trip had been fantastic, perhaps too fantastic. It only lasted two days, for Amanda’s wedding, which seemed to go by in a flash. It was the type of trip that could have a girl wondering what was missing from everyday life.
Someone caught my eye as he dragged his suitcase through the crowded lines. He looked for somewhere to sit. I almost didn't recognize him. He was wearing a business suit with square toed dress shoes. He had a professional air about him like he was on the job.
“I see you managed to leave with both shoes on,” I told him once I recognized him.
He had been staying at the same resort. On Amanda’s wedding day, I snuck to the beach to take in the beautiful sight. When I did, I ran right into the man across from me lumbering up the sands.
He rocked drunkenly. His whole rotund body was oiled in sunscreen, but he'd already been burned. As he crested the hill, he lost one of his sandals and kept going. I chased after him with his fallen sandal.
“Thank you, miss. You saved my life today.”
He gave me a gracious bow.
“I doubt it's that serious, but you're welcome,” I called after him as he hobbled through the garden that led back to the resort.
Now he sat across from me, still slightly burned on his bald head, but not looking nearly as relaxed or carefree as our last meeting.
“Oh dear, I wish I could say that I forgot about being a drunken mess, but unfortunately that memory remains. Thank you again for helping me back there,” he said with a gracious bow of his head.
“You're welcome.” I didn't want to rag on him too much, even though I could.
“Needless to say, it was a good vacation. How about you?”
“Wish I didn't have to leave.”
He nodded. He seemed to understand. I expected him to relax in his seat, but his hands clasped and pointed at me. His eyebrows perked in curiosity. What was he studying me for?
“Oh, me too. You should try to do it as much as possible. I have a feeling they're going to do a study in a few years that finds we all need more vacation time. And we’ll all stand back and say, who would’ve guessed?”
“I wish. If only I was that lucky.”
He nodded politely and sat back.
We waited for our aisles to be called. We both sat up, realizing that we were seated close by. How strange. He probably thought that I was stalking. I ducked a little, avoiding his gaze as we approached the line.
A business man, hair slicked back, sunglasses still on, with two leather suitcases, strolled right past us. He tried to slip his way into the front of the line.
My reaction was immediately to scrunch up my nose and get on my toes to make my displeasure known. Could it be some misunderstanding? Maybe he needed to talk to someone?
No. That wasn’t it. I wished I could've held back, but as soon as I saw him jump the line and I saw who he was, there was no hope of that. This man had a huge, red sign that said, “I'm a rich asshole,” on his back.
No one said anything. That pissed me off even more.
“Did you cut the line?” I yelled to the front. My sunburned friend gave me a curious sideways glance.
He acted like he didn't hear me.
“Does anyone know this guy? Why do you think you can just cut the line? You think you're more important than us?”
“I'm busy,” he said, turning toward me, adjusting his flashy glasses and giving me a wry smirk.
“Busy? We're all going on the same plane.”
“I'm first class. My driver was late, so I'm going to the front.”
“Oh, hell no, you're not. That's not how it works. You need to wait your turn. We're all going to the same place.”
He shrugged again and muttered, “Crazy,” which I suppose would be an apt term if I didn't calm down. Thank God he stopped there. When I saw my drunken acquaintance’s concerned look, I snapped my attention away.
“Ass,” I muttered. A woman in front of me whispered, “Thank you,” under her breath.
The rest of the flight was unremarkable—exactly how you wanted a flight to be. We landed in San Diego International Airport. Despite my yearnings to stay in that peaceful island paradise, it was comforting to be back home.
On the connecting ramp, my acquaintance caught up to me. He was out of breath. Beads of sweat already marred his brow.
“My name is Brent, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you,” I said with a curt nod. “My name is Tia.”
We came to the end of the ramp. Other passengers flowed past us. Not many people were interested in talking to me. No one should be interested enough to make them late for baggage claim. Why Brent?
“This might sound strange, but my company is having a special event, and I think you would be a perfect fit for it,” Brent said.
Alarms sounded. Just what kind of event was Brent talking about, here? His brows strained as if it was too bright, but I knew he was simply trying to formulate the words as clearly as possible. I didn’t do strange, complicated, special events.
“It sounds strange. I know that. My employer has an opportunity that I think you might be interested in.” He fished into his pockets. He held out a business card. I took it. It was thick and heavy, cool like metal in my palm.
LWM Company. The name meant nothing to me.
“I don't know what any of this means.”
“My name and number are on the front. This Friday, you need to show up. Trust me, it'll be worth it.”
“What kind of company is this?”
“Oil. Rich oil. But the opportunity is based on the inner workings of the company. Please, you need to come. Can I get your number?”
“How about I call you?” I eyed him suspiciously, but I still tucked the business card into my carry on. That business card seemed legitimate. Very legitimate.
“I’ll be waiting. Nice meeting you, Tia.” He took off with another polite smile. He already felt bad that he was keeping me, I could tell, which made me think that this would truly be a great opportunity, or he was the best con man ever.
I was back home. Back to the grind. But at least I had something interesting to look forward to now.