Authors: Alexx Andria
The stakes have never been higher for curvy
Penny McDaniel and her billionaire brothers as each vie for her love. Who
should she choose? Should she risk rejection and go with her heart or choose
the safe but ultimately, loveless route in exchange for financial stability? In
a world where deep, painful secrets have the power to ruin, Penny and the
Buchanans have to decide if they’re strong enough to pay the heart’s ransom.
Don’t miss the emotionally thrilling, final installment of the best-selling
Bought By the Billionaire Brothers series!
Bought By The
Billionaire Brothers 6:
The Heart’s Ransom
By Alexx Andria
Copyright © 2013 by Alexx Andria. All rights reserved.
*This story is
intended for mature readers only.
The following short
story of approx. 13,000 words is a work of erotic fiction and part of a
six-installment story arc.
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Dillon had balls
of steel to walk up to her as if nothing had happened, wearing a grin fit to
bamboozle even the most stoic of women as if she’d just fall into his arms
because he deigned to talk to her.
She was tired of
the men in her life treating her as if she were too stupid to think for herself
or assuming she didn’t have an opinion about what was going on.
She had plenty of
opinions about the situation and right about now, she was ready to share them
with the first unlucky fool to cross her path.
Maybe it was all
those years of squelching her feelings, hopes or dreams that it’d somehow
become normal to simply nod like a bleating sheep and follow wherever she was
led but those times were over. Penny didn’t know if the change was attributed
to the fact that her heart had been stomped into a million pieces along with her
dignity or she was simply fed up with everything going wrong in her life but
she wasn’t going to sit back and swallow her feelings any longer.
answers, damn it.
spiraled back to Isabel and so far, Dillon had only shared half the story. What
the hell had happened in the Buchanan family to create such a psychic fracture?
She knew the barest of details: Isabel had killed herself by doing a swan dive
from the twins’ penthouse and she’d been pregnant when she died. But she didn’t
know what the twins’ involvement was or why Dillon hadn’t simply apologized for
being an ass and repaired his relationship with his father. How had one
incident torn apart the lives of so many people?
It was plain to
her that each of the Buchanans were suffering from an overabundance of pride,
which had festered into ugly wounds in different ways.
Was it her problem
that the Buchanans had never learned how to have a simple conversation?
Communication, people. Try it sometime
Emboldened by her fresh infusion of courage and chutzpah, Penny felt more in
control of her life than she had in years.
For so long she’d
sat behind a desk, hoping and wishing someone would notice her — but
not just anyone — someone dashing, handsome and just a bit wicked.
Her Papa had always warned her to be careful what she wished for because God
had a funny sense of humor. She’d been star-struck by the twins but Dillon had
knocked her sidewise. She’d not only been noticed by one man with all those
qualities, but three! Talk about overkill. And her life had changed in an
instant. From the clothes she wore to the way she wore her hair, nothing seemed
remotely recognizable from the outside; however, Dillon had seen that she was
more than a doll to dress up and play with from time to time and that was
something the twins had failed to recognize.
But there was one
thing all three Buchanans shared in common and it was something that likely,
neither realized or would admit: deep down, they were all good men. If there
was a kernel of goodness inside them, with the right encouragement, it could
bloom and grow. But how was she supposed to make that happen? And even if she
could, should she? Maybe she ought to cut ties completely. She could give back
the money and break the contract. Penny stilled. Was she ready to make that
bold of a statement? Was she ready to completely walk away from everything
associated with the Buchanans? A part of her offered a weary yes but the other
part said no. At the moment she didn’t know which part was stronger or why. All
she was certain of was that she needed more answers before she made her
decision and if no one seemed eager to share details, she’d just have to find
them on her own.
Dillon was in the
worst mood of his life.
It’d been a
mistake to see Penny again — what had he been thinking?
— and now she was in his head. Everywhere he turned, his brain
played tricks on him. First, he thought he caught a whiff of her perfume, then
he thought he saw her walking by but each time strangers stared back at him. He
was losing his mind.
He shouldn’t have
said the things he had to Penny when he saw her at the park. If it were safe to
say she coaxed the best out of him, it was certainly fair to say she had the
equal and opposite effect on him as well. She’d floated into his life unexpectedly,
a ripe vision in a blue designer dress, and she’d put her stamp on everything
he’d touched since. He couldn’t blame his brothers for wanting her —hell,
he’d taken one look and knew in that instant that he would have to have her
— but he chafed at the realization that Penny had stayed with the twins
even after everything had gone down in the Hamptons. He knew she was conflicted
by her arrangement so why did she choose to stay? The right thing to do
would’ve been to simply ask her point blank but his mind had turned to mush and
a jealous rage had taken over making it impossible to think straight much less
put together a persuasive argument.
And frankly, what
the hell did he care that she was still shagging his brothers? It was her
business, not his.
Because it did.
Holy hell, it bothered him more than a little. The knowledge made him want to
beat someone to a bloody pulp — mainly his brothers.
The last time he’d
felt such passion for another human being, that person had ended up taking her
own life, which wasn’t really a ringing endorsement for allowing it to happen
again. But how was he supposed to walk away when there was something tugging at
his chest, pulling him straight toward Penny?
Penny walked into
the library of the twins’ palatial mansion and for the first time ever, didn’t
suffer from a serious case of
She clutched a manila envelope to her chest of research she’d spent the
afternoon uncovering through no small amount of effort as she’d combed through
newspaper archives and paid a small sum of money for the police report, with a
newfound resolve. After finding the newspaper clipping of Isabel’s swan dive,
Penny knew she couldn’t stop there. She needed to know more about Isabel as the
person and began to dig even deeper. She managed to find Isabel’s high school
transcripts and even though she didn’t know what use it could be to her to know
that Isabel had tanked economics her senior year, Penny felt almost sleuthlike
as she strode through the halls. Perhaps she was riding on the adrenalin or
maybe she was just too frazzled to care about the consequences but she finally
felt on top of her game for the first time since…well, forever.
She didn’t know if
the change was temporary or permanent but she liked the way she felt after spending
an afternoon chasing after the ghost of a woman she’d never known. Somehow, it
felt as if the answers she sought were necessary to start the healing for
everyone involved. Maybe she was being a silly twit for even hoping such a
thing was possible but she wasn’t going to stop now. Come hell or high water,
she was going to end this journey without questions poking at her brain.
when she walked in and Vince, engrossed in something on his tablet, didn’t
realize anyone else was in the room with them until Nolan cleared his throat
meaningfully. “Darling, this is a surprise,” Nolan said, moving forward as if
to embrace her but Penny put her hand up, stopping him. He frowned. “What’s
Vince looked up
and mirrored his brother’s expression. “What’s going on?”
“I need answers
and since everyone in this family seems reluctant to share, I’m here to get
what I need straight from the source. No more dancing around the past, no more
patting me on the head as if I’m some ninny without two tufts of straw in my
head. I deserve to know what the hell happened to the woman before me.” At
that, Penny tossed the manila envelope so that it landed on the coffee table.
“In that envelope is all the information I managed to find on Isabel Walker.”
Nolan and Vince
stared at her as if she’d just thrown down a bloody head. “What are you doing?”
Vince said, standing to grab the envelope, his movement sharp and agitated.
“Why can’t you just leave it alone? She’s dead. End of story.”
“No, it’s not
end of story
for me. I need you to
resolve this issue or else we’re through,” Penny said, holding her ground even
though her insides had begun to tremble. “Don’t you see how her death has
affected you all? I’ve only known you for a relatively short time but in that
time I’ve come to see a few things that maybe you can’t because you’re too
close to the situation.”
began, trying for patience but he was just as uneasy about the prospect of
talking about the past as his twin. “I can appreciate your curiosity—“
to Isabel is the reason Dillon wants to destroy you — the reason he
used me to get to you so don’t you dare try to tell me that it’s none of my
business or else I’ll scream like a Victorian with a gent’s hand on her ankle.”
The twins stared in consternation and she muttered a quick, “You know, because
the Victorians were so prim and proper — never mind — the
point is, I need answers and you’re going to give them to me.”
“And why would we
do that?” Vince said with quiet calm that she didn’t trust one second and
probably meant he was mad enough to choke a nun but she was running on pure
chutzpah and the dogged belief that if she could get these people talking,
things might start to make sense in her world. Maybe she was delusional and all
this sharing was going to blow up in her face but she had to try. “Nowhere in
our agreement did it state that you would make demands and we would capitulate.
You’re overstepping your bounds, sweet pet.”
“Perhaps. But I
don’t care. Besides, you and I both know that there’s no way we can simply go
back to the way things were. Not now.”
“Perhaps if you’d
kept your legs shut around Dillon we wouldn’t be in this position,” Vince
growled and she gasped in hurt surprise at his vulgar statement. Nolan sighed
and shot his brother a quelling look, which Vince dismissed with a glower.
“This is total bullshit. If I wanted to be peppered with nagging questions, I’d
have taken a wife by now. If you want to be interrogated, by all means, stay,
but I’m out of here.”
said, stopping him with a firm hand as he attempted to brush by. Penny willed
the sudden moisture away as her bravado quailed under the fiery heat of Vince’s
“Stay. She’s right. We
need to tell her.”
unable to believe his brother’s statement. “I don’t enjoy talking about the
past when there’s nothing that can be done about changing it,” he said in a low
tone. “Why can’t we just leave her in peace?”
A current of
understanding and empathy passed between brothers and Penny was floored by how
connected the two were, even as adults. The twin-thing was in full force for
even though Vince looked as if he’d rather chew off his own foot than remain
and talk about Isabel, he backed away and went to the bar to pour himself a
drink as he muttered, “I’m going to need plenty of this to make it through this
fucking story hour.”
“Pour me one,
too,” Nolan said, gesturing to Penny. “Please, darling. Sit. I’m afraid as
you’ve already figured out, this story doesn’t have a happy ending and I fear,
we are not the heroes.” He grimaced as he admitted, “In fact, we were bastards
in this tale and I’m afraid of what your reaction may be when you hear the
but managed to nod.
She came for
answers. “My Papa always said, don’t ask questions that you don’t want answers
for. Whatever you tell me, I’m ready to hear.”
“We’ll see about
that.” Vince downed a shot of whiskey and shook his head as if he didn’t
believe her. “Sweet girl, you have no idea how sordid our past has been. We’ve
done things…well, let’s just say, there’s probably a special place reserved in
hell for the Buchanan boys, and that includes Dillon. Are you sure you want to
know all our dirty secrets? You still have a chance to close Pandora’s box.”
“I can’t go back
to how things were — completely ignorant and complacent
— everything is changed.
changed. Please tell me what happened to that poor girl and why Dillon hates
Nolan accepted a
glass of whiskey from Vince, and after a quick swallow, he began with a sigh.
“Isabel Walker was like an angel.” A brief smile lifted the corners of his
generous mouth. “And being the true devils we were, we had to have her. But
Dillon got to her first. As you already know, he has a way with women. But
Dillon broke the rules, he fell in love with her and declared Isabel
off-limits. Of course, that only spurred us to want her more. You see, Penny,
when you grow up having any and all things at your immediate disposal, the word
has little meaning. We saw it as a
challenge and simply waited for the right moment to spring. We had no idea that
Dillon had stopped playing the game. We didn’t believe him when he said he’d
fallen in love with her.”