Big Brother Billionaire (Part Three) (2 page)

BOOK: Big Brother Billionaire (Part Three)
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I didn’t know what to think, or what to say, or what to feel. All I could do was watch a man on his knees in front of me, crying tears that I hadn’t managed to come up with yet. Maybe I was still in shock. Maybe that’s the reason I didn’t tell Ron right there and then to go to hell.

Instead, I helped him to his feet. He’d admitted his mistake. He knew he’d done something that wasn’t acceptable. Couldn’t I accept that small victory?

The thought of breaking off something that had, up until this point, been so wonderful just because of a little grab made my stomach writhe with anxiety. I’d gotten used to Ron being around all the time. I would be horribly bereft if I were left alone again. I didn’t think I could do it, not with all the time, money, and effort I’d invested into this relationship. How could I fail at something as simple as two people loving each other? Had I been doomed from the start of my life, some rotten heritage inherited from my mother, to only pick men who were bad for me?

I didn’t want to believe that. I didn’t want to label this relationship as a failure already—without at least trying to repair it. The attraction that Ron and I shared was real and deep. Surely there had to be a way forward from this.

“I want you to have something,” Ron said, leaning sideways to fumble around in his jacket pocket but not standing up. “It’s nothing very special, but I wanted you to have it. I’ve been an idiot, not showing you how much I appreciate you, how much I love you. You must think that I just take and take and take and I don’t want you to think that. That’s not the truth. That’s not who I am.”

He produced a velvet box and held it up, his hand trembling. I took the gift, troubled that my own hand was steady as a surgeon’s, and popped open the latch.

“It’s been in my family for a long time—several generations,” he babbled, as I withdrew a glittering locket on a long, gold chain. “I realized I had it in a lock box with a few other valuables in one of the banks here in Miami, and I know that I don’t want anyone else to have it but you.”

It was a delicate thing, and it sparkled in the streetlamps illuminating the parking lot.

“I don’t think I can accept this,” I admitted, placing it back into the box and snapping the lid shut. “I don’t want to rob you of a family heirloom, Ron.”

“You’re not robbing me of it,” he said quickly, lurching to his feet. I could smell the whiskey on his breath from where I stood, and his balance was unsteady at best. “I’m giving it to you. It’s a gift. Please, take it. Pawn it. Throw it in the ocean. I don’t care. But take it now. For me. From me.”

“Okay,” I said, unzipping my purse and shoving the box in. “Thank you. It’s really a beautiful necklace.”

“Can…can we go home?” he asked, hiccupping from the weeping and the drinks I’m sure he imbibed throughout my entire shift. “Kick me out tomorrow, if you want, but I just want to sleep with you by my side…just one more night.”

I didn’t know where he would go if I refused him. And I didn’t even think I wanted to kick him out. I just wanted everything to be all right.

“That’s fine,” I told him. “Let’s just go home. I’ll drive. We can come for your motorcycle in the morning.”

It was hard to sleep that night with his arm heavy around me, his stinky breath puffing against my ear. My own arm ached, reminding me of the damage he had caused, the injuries he was capable of inflicting. First the incident with the dominant sex, and now this? I was beginning to wonder if Ron was able to maintain consistent moods.

But the next morning, he behaved surprisingly normal. And the next morning after that, things were even more normal. It stunned me just how quickly my life with Ron shifted from the knife’s edge to a place of safety and happiness. I wore the locket at all times, and it tinkled against my chest like a reminder of what was possible—both the bad times and the good. I was afraid that anything could change at any moment, but Ron made a real effort to keep his temper in check.

“I’ve always had a bad one, ever since I was a boy,” he explained to me. “Almost got myself kicked out of school on more than one occasion. Had to finish up my education at an alternative campus there at the end. I’ve never been good with dealing with anger. I don’t know why. Probably has something to do with my dad.”

“Parents can wreak all sorts of havoc in their children’s lives,” I remarked darkly.

As the marks on my arms faded, it became easier to forget what had happened that night. Ron was extra sweet, playing with the locket when we were sitting together, his arm around me. He said he even liquidated an asset so that he could help with some of the expenses.

For a few blissful months more, I even imagined that things had changed, that Ron had seen and understood the errors of his way, and that everything would be back to normal. When things were good, they were really good. It was easy to take hold of that, to hold onto it for dear life, and to hope nothing else bad would happen.

Yes, everything was just perfect until Marcus’ letter arrived in my mailbox one day unnoticed—unnoticed by me that was.

I didn’t know that one of Ron’s favorite hobbies was to go through my mail, but when I got home from the club in the wee hours, he was sipping a beer on the couch and the sheets of paper covered in Marcus’ handwriting were scattered across the coffee table. Ron was resting his loafers on one of the sheets of paper, and I fought the urge to wince as he crossed his ankles. I didn’t want him to tear the paper—not before I got a chance to read what Marcus had written me.

It was at that precarious moment that I realized that I didn’t love Ron anymore, and it was entirely possible that perhaps I never had. I’d only been filling the hole that had opened when I tried to shove Marcus out of my life, believing the true love we shared was wrong. I had this epiphany in a flash, seeing my boyfriend’s shoes marring the letter that Marcus had sent me. How long had it been since I’d sent him a letter? I scoured my memory, my shoulders sagging when I remembered that I’d written him sometime after my mother’s funeral. I wrote that he should give up on me, give up on us, because it was never going to happen. I was just wasting his time, if he was putting his life on hold for me. I would never be his.

All of these thoughts, and not one of them on the danger I had to be in with Ron.

For all of his apologizes and reparations and promises to be better, I understood intrinsically that I had to work quickly to defuse this situation or I would be the victim of yet another lash of my boyfriend’s terrible temper. I put my purse down and stepped out of my shoes.

“What’ve you been doing?” I asked, walking over to the fridge. “Is there any beer left? Mind if I grab one?”

“You probably need a drink,” Ron said, his voice even but strained. “You want to tell me just what kind of relationship you’ve been carrying on with this Marcus fellow?”

I collected myself, as I popped the cap off the bottle with a hiss, taking a quick draught to clear my thoughts and give myself a drop of liquid courage. Beer wasn’t a “Parker” drink, and it had been a while since I’d tasted the hoppy suds.

I cleared my throat and stood in front of Ron, who looked up at me, a little amused.

“I have to confess something,” I said, watching his eyebrows rise slowly. “And I have to also admit that it’s something I’ve been hiding from you because I’m so embarrassed about it.”

“Go on,” Ron said slowly. I could clearly see I piqued his curiosity and
emotion was currently winning out over blind rage.

“That letter’s from my stepbrother, Marcus,” I said, pointing at the sheets of paper at Ron’s feet. I didn’t get into the particulars of the illegality of someone opening another person’s mail. That would distract from my goal of defusing Ron.

“Your stepbrother?” he repeated, dubious but still interested.

“This is…I’m really, really ashamed to have to even say this out loud.” I paused and pinched the bridge of my nose. “My stepbrother’s in love with me.”

I steeled myself for a violent outburst, but Ron seemed to resist his most common denominator and continued to stare at me in rapt attention.

“We were close growing up,” I embellished, “but things really got twisted when we were both seniors in high school. We lived in the same house, and I guess with all the raging hormones and everything, he got it in his head that our closeness was romance.”

I chanced a glance at Ron, who was still listening, slack-jawed.

“I always told him how wrong he was, how wrong the whole idea was, but he was too enamored.” I sighed. “Maybe I should’ve given him a blowjob just to make him go away.”

It was the wrong thing to say. “You mean, you wanted him?” Ron demanded. “Do you still want him?”

I held my hands up. “All I want is for him to leave me alone,” I said. “I don’t know why or how, but he is always figuring out where I am and sending me these stupid letters. I usually tear them up and throw them away without reading them.”

Ron pointed at the paper beneath his shoes. “This letter here says you wrote him back.”

“What am I supposed to do?” I demanded, well aware that I was skating on thin ice. “He was raised as my brother. I want to have a normal relationship with him, but it’s apparently impossible for him to separate sexual and familial closeness. I told him in the last letter I wrote that he needs to stop writing letters to me, that I’m happy with you, and that he’s wasting his time. It makes me physically sick to think about being with him, Ron, and I’m sorry that you know about it, too. You probably think I’m wretched…that I’m wrong, and disgusting.”

I hitched my shoulders a couple of times, gearing up for the waterworks if I needed the tears to make my half-truths more convincing. It pained me to throw my relationship with Marcus under the bus, especially when I had, just minutes before, rediscovered the fact that I loved him now more than ever. But I needed to do whatever I could to save my own skin from Ron’s wrath. My boyfriend was a jealous man. I was more than clear on that fact.

“I’m not disgusted by you,” Ron said, holding his hand out to me. I disguised a sigh of relief by taking another quick sip of the beer before taking his hand and allowing him to lead me around the coffee table, around the pages that Marcus had written to me, and sit me down on the couch beside Ron.

“I’m just really ashamed that you know, now,” I said. “I’m embarrassed that you read Marcus’ letter; I’m angry that he won’t stop writing them in the first place.”

“Why haven’t you reported him to the police?” Ron asked. “This qualifies as stalker behavior. They can do something—compel him to stop.”

I thought quickly. “I really don’t want to upset my parents—well, my mom and his dad. They both would be gutted if they realized how far my stepbrother had tried to take things, and I don’t think they’d ever forgive themselves. They never knew that he was the reason I moved here to Miami, all the way across the country from everyone. I don’t want anyone else to hurt because of my stepbrother’s stupidity.”

“But you’re hurting, obviously,” Ron said, putting his arm around me.

“If I’m the only one who has to suffer, I’d rather it be like this,” I said. “I can wait. I can deal with this. I don’t want to ruin the family name, you know, with incest. I’ll wait until my parents are dead and gone before I press charges or anything like that. I feel that I owe them that much.”

I didn’t owe either of them shit, and it brought a bad taste to my mouth to parrot all the things they’d poisoned my mind with all these years. But if it would get me out of a possibly violent confrontation with Ron, I’d do anything.

“He says some pretty sick fucking stuff in there, Parker,” Ron said, scuffing at the pages with the heel of his loafer. “About not ever stopping loving you, about being with you at some point. Tell you the truth—if I ever see that twisted motherfucker, I’ll kill him.”

I swallowed hard. Some men, when tossing out threats in conversation, blustered. However, this was no empty threat. Ron was not capable of empty threats. No, my boyfriend meant it. If, by some joke of fate, my boyfriend ever ran into my stepbrother, there would be blood.

I was just thankful that Marcus was nowhere near Miami.

“Let me get these things out of here,” I said, setting my beer down on the coffee table before gathering up the pages of Marcus’ letter, yanking the one sheet from under Ron’s shoe. “I’m sick of looking at them.”

I straightened the pages against the table before deciding that looked suspicious, so I instead tore them into pieces. It was like doing injury to my own body, but at least I was the one doing it—not Ron.

“I usually just tear them up and flush them down the toilet,” I lied, plastering what I hoped was a sheepish grin on my face. “Sorry to be so secretive about it. I just wanted them out of the house before you saw them. I didn’t want you to judge me for something I can’t really control.”

Ron guffawed, taking a gulp out of my discarded beer by mistake. “It’s lucky you haven’t clogged the pipes,” he said. “Go on. You don’t have to hide anything from me. No more flushing paper, okay? Flood the whole damn place.”

I giggled dutifully and tossed the destroyed letter into the trash. I had lots of things I needed to hide from Ron now, apparently, that my feelings had resurfaced for Marcus. Marcus would never make me feel like this—caged, endangered, at risk of losing everything with just a single wrong move.

No. Being with Marcus would set me free. Why had it taken me this long to figure it out? I’d wasted so much time denying what was there that it made me feel physically sick.

BOOK: Big Brother Billionaire (Part Three)
8.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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