Mad for the billionaire, p.1
Mad for the Billionaire, page 1
MAD FOR THE BILLIONAIRE
Published by DelSin Publishing, LLC 2013
Copyright © 2013 by Charlotte DeCorte
All rights reserved. No part of this book shall be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written permission from DelSin Publishing, LLC. DelSin Publishing, LLC and the author assume no liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
DelSin Publishing, LLC
Cover Credit: Ottó Kálmán
Cover Design: CGM Web Designs
Table of Contents
More by Charlotte
Present Day and Time
My legs shook. I placed my hands on the bathroom counter and leaned closer to my reflection. Flushed cheeks and fever-bright eyes suggested I was either sick or had just been fucked out of her mind.
It wasn’t an either/or but an actual both.
What was I thinking to start this up now? It was too soon after seeing Alexander again. I thought I had changed enough to be different or evolved to not be so vulnerable and attached to him. I thought I could handle it.
I was wrong. Already I couldn’t imagine going back to a life without him.
The bathroom door opened. Alexander walked in, dark gaze inscrutable, white shirt unbuttoned, and ice-blue tie unknotted and barely hanging on. His swollen lips were proof of how ravenous and desperate I’d been in kissing him. Red scratch marks scored his broad chest while a small bruise marred his gorgeous abdominals.
My mouth dried, making it difficult to swallow. I tightened my fingers on the granite counter, trying in vain to stop the animalistic lust threatening to once more make me a violent bitch in heat.
“Are you all right, Sophia? You ran out so quickly.”
Alexander’s husky voice sent tremors throughout my body. My half-smile belied the struggle I suffered to keep my traitorous hands to myself. “I’m fine, Alexander.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” I turned my attention away from him and focused on rearranging my clothes. My pale-pink bra did have a slight tear but would fortunately hold up long enough to get me out of the building.
Thank God it’s Friday and a three day weekend. Everyone’s probably gone home by now.
I didn’t relish the idea of having to do the “walk of shame”. Never, ever had I dated someone from work much less had sex with the same someone at my workplace. Just like that I tossed my ethics aside for him just as I always had. The instinct to run wiped out all my promises to him.
Nothing had changed. I was still the same unstable basket case when it came to him and that meant I absolutely could not stay here with Alexander. I had to get my head on straight, force some distance until I could get myself together. I needed time. Time to figure out how to start again with the only man I’ve ever loved.
I had to leave. Now.
My urgings surfaced too late. Alexander came over and deliberately stood behind me. He placed his large hands on my shoulders and squeezed.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
My arms fell to my sides, leaving my crimson dress shirt half-buttoned. I dared to look at our reflection. The history between us laid stagnant, still water contaminated by poison-sweet memories. His presence swarmed me, disturbing that murky, dark pool by bringing our shared dysfunctional past back to life.
Once upon a time I would’ve happily died for this man and turned myself inside out just so I could stay by his side just a little bit longer. Alexander was everything to me. The stars above never shined brighter than the ones in his sky-black gaze. Food was sweeter and life was better when by his side.
I was obsessed.
What a stupid, stupid girl I was to think I could once again be around Alexander and stay immune. To be stronger. I still wanted him as badly as ever. I’d give up my soul just like that to be with him forever.
Run. Run. Run.
Alexander towered over me as he had since we were kids. Dark hair tumbled over his smooth brow. I wanted to turn around so I could stand on tip-toe and brush it back. It was a beautiful habit between us. He tumbled, I surged. Denied, my fingers throbbed. They tapped against the cold stone, clacking their disappointment in rhythmic complaint.
It hurt to be this close to him again and still so far away.
“I’m not thinking of anything important. Just thinking.”
“Don’t lie.” Anger edged his tone. “I told you once you opened this door between us there would be no going back. I meant it, Sophia. I’m not going to let you run away from me or from us.”
My core clenched. I couldn’t help but respond to his words physically. “I know. I’m sorry. It’s just…” My voice trailed off. I didn’t have to say I already regretted my impulse. I know I disappointed him with my behavior.
I had to tell him the truth, especially when he looked at me like that. “We shouldn’t have done that, Alexander. Not yet, not when I feel this way for you.”
Humor dripped heavy, banishing the anger from his gaze. “Why not?”
“Don’t look down, Sophia. Look up and say it.”
I obeyed out of habit and more than a little longing. His mirror stare didn’t allow mine to escape. Alexander’s eyes gleamed defiant, haunted with old memories and mine wounded from the very same ones. His brooding glare brought back humid afternoons, sweat staining every inch of skin, air so heavy it damned near hurt to breathe.
This was the man who taught me how to yearn for someone so badly I’d just about kill to have him look my way. Alexander taught me how to love, how to come, and how to die inside.
He was so very dangerous to me and to the glass tower I had built to keep safe from my past, from my weaknesses. Alexander and all my sad memories attached to him were going to be my undoing. I didn’t want him to see me like this, weak and grasping for crumbs of attention.
Helpless, hopeless, and still so very enamored with having Alexander right there with me, I repeated it again. “We shouldn’t have done that.”
“Tell me why we shouldn’t have done something that is so very natural and right between us? Something that never died no matter what lies you’ve spun to convince yourself otherwise. Tell me so I can know you.”
I glared at our reflection, hating the even tone that still had the power to make me feel like the stupid girl I once was, back then in a compressed world so different from this one.
“Back then” was simple when I simply tagged after him, hidden in the shadows, hoping Alexander would notice me and maybe come to love me like I’d always loved him.
“You know why. Don’t make me say it.”
“No, I don’t. So say it.”
His elegant, aristocratic southern drawl demanded obedience. Mine rebelled, slipping into the sharp twang that betrayed my humble origins. High-pitched and angry like a swarm of feral bees, I spat, “What’s there worth saying, Alexander? You know the words, heard them a million times over! I haven’t changed! You got that? I. Still. Haven’t. Changed.”
Like a broken record, my recriminations flooded the inside of my head.
And I’m afraid we’ll do it all over again.
He didn’t respond to my anger. Instead, he said in a firm clear voice, “Instead of worrying about what you think is wrong with you, why don’t you try something new?”
“How about like saying ‘You’re right, Alexander. We never really finished and life’s been hell since things ended the way they did. Let’s try again.’ It would be the simplest and so much better than regretting something so far out of our control.”
I swayed. His fingers held strong, tipping me closer to his body. It’d be so sickeningly easy to go back to Alexander without a fight and damn all the consequences. Everything I’d ever wanted for well over half my life beckoned like the proverbial mirage.
All I had to do was take a chance things would turn out differently this time. That I would be different; whole and not broken and not so damned scared of letting myself open the locked door in my heart branded with his name on it.
Terror and giddiness mixed violently inside. I didn’t know if I was going to drop to the ground and be sick or feel so happy that I could fly. “I’m not that brave.”
“Sophia not brave? I’d never believe that, little chick. You were always the bravest girl I ever knew. Keep being brave for me now, Sophia. Keep the door open for me. You promised you would not even thirty minutes ago. Don’t break my heart again.”
Despair tumbled over me, crushing and suffocating the tender, precious words into bleak silence. “I broke your heart?”
“You know you did. Now are you going back on your word?”
“I’m not trying to…I know what I said.” I couldn’t believe that Alexander was as wounded as me. He was so far above that kind of ugliness.
“Do you? Because you’re not acting like you do.”
I closed my eyes for a moment. My lips felt numb. “I’m sorry. I know this isn’t what I agreed to, and I really believed it when I said it, but don’t you see? I’m still the same person when it comes to you, Alexander, and I need that to change.”
I hated myself for saying that. I hated feeling that I was still insecure, angry, and lost when it came to the love of my life.
“Why is that so bad, Sophia? What is so wrong with being who you are that you have to push me away like this?”
Alexander sounded bewildered and hurt. I didn’t know how to explain or what to say to make his pain go away. Jesus, just the thought of him hurting left me reeling.
“There’s nothing good about me when it comes to you.”
“Nothing good. I didn’t realize you still hated me that much.” A tic developed by his jaw. I didn’t have to look too deep to see the sadness roiling beneath the calm surface.
“I don’t hate you! Never!” I tried to turn around. Alexander stayed me with one hand.
“Really? Can you honestly say that, especially after what you just said?”
“I can because it’s true.” I closed my eyes for a moment and let out a shaky breath. The words burned, demanding I let them out before they consumed me whole. “Just look at us, Alexander. Look at how quick we fell back into old habits.”
He stared at me, stony, rigid, and above all—silent. It was torture to hold his reflected gaze.
“Nothing between us ever turned out right. We’ve tried to make a go of it twice. It failed twice.”
“What are you really saying, Sophia? Spit it out.”
“At least if we do it this way, take our time, we might have a chance.”
“And if it doesn’t work?” He said it with a sneer, knowingly giving voice to what I left unspoken.
“We can end it right. With dignity. Respect. Affection.” My stomach knotted. My shallow breathing made a lie of my reasonable words.
“Already thinking of the end, Sophia?”
“I can’t help it.”
My whisper had him shaking his head. Alexander released me. I felt alone. I ached for his touch to come back. My nerve endings burned with abandonment.
I’m sorry, my heart whispered. Please don’t leave me. I don’t know how to say this right.
“You left me that last time,” Alexander finally accused, tone hinting at something dark and ugly. “I begged you not to leave and you did anyways. You left school, left the state even. Sophia, you cut me out of your life, erased me as if I never existed. Do you have any idea what that did to me?”
My stomach knotted, phantom agony coming back as if our parting had just happened yesterday instead of nearly a decade prior. My gaze flicked away, clouded as I remembered the endless nights of weeping, fully believing I was going to die of a broken heart and hating myself for finally realizing Alexander Monroe Draven II wasn’t mine to keep.
I had wanted to keep the lie going, God knows I tried, but I just couldn’t. I loved him too much. I’d had to let him go before it got worse…before I got worse…before I became someone I couldn’t undo.
I’d already changed, fighting with Alexander all the time during our short time living together nine years before.
The jealousy, the insecurity, all of it would’ve made me into a monster and eventually Alexander would’ve hated me. That was something I couldn’t bear to see.
His contempt—yes. His hate? No.
My stare scored into his, moody bravery manifesting because it dealt with a reflection—nothing real, flat to the touch, and forever out of reach.
“You should thank me. At least I saved you the trouble of dumping me again. That way it wouldn’t be your problem, right? We can blame me for the second time and this time if it makes you feel better.”
I paled. God, why did I become so loathsome again? It’d become my default reaction whenever I ventured too close to feeling vulnerable—something I only developed when I got back together with him.
I wanted to slink away. I was so ashamed of myself. Why was I trying to push him away like this?
Alexander dipped his head. A mirthless smile took hold of his lovely mouth. “I knew it would turn out this way but hope springs eternal. Come with me, Sophia.”
Alexander reached for my hand. Clasping it in his, he ushered us from the bathroom, body tight and notched as if ready to pierce me if I tried so much as to wiggle away. I swelled as the venomous memories from a million similar fights tainted my mind’s eye.
* * *
Nine Years Before
Alexander opened the bedroom door and immediately slammed it shut. Two vases exploded against the recently-shut surface. Emerald glass shattered in a brilliant, satisfying display.
“What in the hell is wrong with you?”
His bellow armed me with two more projectiles. I bent down, long hair brushing against the dingy carpet, and ripped them out of their cardboard box. Twelve more mementos to single-stem, sacrifice roses and baby’s breath traditions were lined up and ready to go. I gripped them by their long, narrow necks, fingers clenched so tight I wondered if the glass would spider web beneath the pressure.
Fuck it. There was no point in keeping these anyways. He never gave me flowers just because I inspired pretty devotion. They always came on the heels of a major blowup. Who needed the souvenirs? The memories were bad enough.
“Get the hell out, Alexander. You know you can’t wait to do it anyways!”
“What are you talking about?” Alexander cracked the door open. “Why are you so pissed off?”
I made my best knife-thrower impersonation. Neither faux blade struck true. More glass shattered against the wall, becoming a cutting reminder against bare feet for months to come.
“Why am I so pissed? Seriously? Gee, why do you think? You don’t come home anymore, you bastard! You sneak in when I’m sleeping. You’re too ti
“Bullshit!” Alexander shoved the door open, heavy boots crunching over glass. The knob hit the drywall hard enough to dent it. His gorgeous mouth shriveled tight. “Oh, no you don’t!” He kicked the box away from me before I could arm myself again. “That is fucking bullshit!”
“It’s not bullshit.” I shoved him over and over again, a volatile fury fixated on ruining us both. “I’m not stupid. I know the signs. You did it before, you’ll do it again.”
Alexander’s fingers made perfect manacles for my wrists. He yanked me hard against him, angular face contorted in outrage. “I never cheated on you!”
“But you did leave me six years ago, didn’t you?” My petty ego cackled in delight over the psychic crater left on Alexander’s conscience. “Just like now you pulled away from me, avoiding me whenever you could. Everybody could see you were gone but me. Well, screw that! I’d be a fool to not see it coming this time.”
“You’re crazy if you think I’m going to sit still and wait for it to happen again. Now leave! You know you want to!”
Alexander walked us both against the wall. Shoving his face into mine, he bit out, “When are you going to let this go?”
Raw, maddened beyond good sense, I picked out my best sneer. I felt ugly, spiteful, and rude but regret would come later. “That’d be so easy for you, wouldn’t it? Especially since you were the one who dicked me over!”
“Jesus Christ, Sophia. I was only eighteen!”
“I don’t give a shit! You left me!”
My agonized howl voided Alexander’s defensiveness. He blew out a long, shaky breath. When he spoke, it was with the delicacy of a condemned man confessing his sins before the executioner. My blade hung low as Alexander spoke in a papery whisper, as if afraid to summon his own inevitable ruin once again.
“I’m sorry, Sophia. I really am. I only did what I thought was best, what was best for my mom, for you, and me.”
by Charlotte DeCorte have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes