Sweet Seduction (The BAD BOY BILLIONAIRES Series) (5 page)

BOOK: Sweet Seduction (The BAD BOY BILLIONAIRES Series)
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It took several minutes before the tenseness inside
Jake began to ease.  He reached for a pen and notepad then, with a sigh, he
leaned back in his chair.  While in his hideout he might as well scribble a few
lines.  Or at least try to. 

He’d been doodling for a while then scribbling random
thoughts when a germ of an idea began to form.  He’d started so many stories
but after the first few pages each one had left him cold.  But now, for the
first time in years, his mouth went dry and he felt the zing of excitement that
told him this story was a winner.

He sat forward and slapped the notepad down onto the
desk then as fast as the thoughts came he threw them down on the paper, his
fingers flying.  As the plot formed he mumbled softly to himself, covering page
after page with a story that refused to give him pause.

Jake had no idea how long he’d been writing.  He’d
stopped watching the clock.  He was startled back to reality by a knock on the
door.

His head jerked up and he saw the top of Sam’s head
through the decorative glass in the upper portion of the door. “Come in,” he
said, his voice hoarse from prolonged silence.  He cleared his throat and got
up to open the door.

She was standing there on the steps, her smile
tentative, a streak of dust on her forehead.  He was tempted to reach down and
wipe it away with his fingers but he resisted the impulse.  Instead, he stepped
aside to let her in.

He saw a flash of uncertainty cross her face then she
swallowed.  “I’m sorry to disturb you,” she said, her voice low, “but there was
something I wanted to show you.  To get your opinion.”

He felt a stab of guilt and almost winced.  It was
because of him that she looked so hesitant.  The poor girl probably didn’t know
where she stood with him.  He gave what he hoped was a reassuring smile and
tilted his head toward the extra chair.

“Rest for a minute,” he said gently.  “You must be
tired.”

She raised her eyebrows and looked liked she was going
to decline but then her face relaxed and the tension left her shoulders. 
“Okay,” she said, her voice sounding more like the Sam he knew.  “I could take
a break right now.”

She climbed the two steps and entered the studio, her
eyes darting around the room.  She was obviously filled with curiosity and for
a moment she did not speak.  Then she said, “You love books.”  It was not a question
but a simple statement of fact.  She’d stared at the walls lined with books and
had immediately made a very accurate assessment.

“They’re my life,” he said simply and went back to his
desk where he sat down and looked up at her.

She took that as her cue to finally sit and she looked
at the notepad and laptop on his desk.  “Are you working on a paper?”  she
asked, looking interested.  “Doing research?”  Then she held up her hand.  “No,
let me guess.  You’re a professor.”

He laughed.  “No, no and no.  I’m a writer.”

Her eyes widened and the admiration was plain on her
face.  “A writer,” she said, her voice breathless.  "I’ve always admired
people who could create imaginary worlds on paper.  Wow…”

As her voice trailed off, her eyes still trained on
him, Jake shifted in his seat.  He hated being in the limelight and that was
why he’d never made public appearances.  He didn’t have a single photo on his
website.  And now, even though it was just Sam, he could feel the prickling in
his scalp that told him he was getting just a little bit too much attention. 
He cleared his throat but before he could speak she gasped and leaned forward,
her eyes on the bookshelf just behind his head.

“McKoy,” she read aloud.  “Killer Instinct.”  Her eyes
narrowed as she read the other titles.  “Criminal Pursuit.  Dead in December.” 
Her jaw dropped and her eyes flew back to his.  “Jake, you’re not McKoy, are
you?  The world-famous suspense writer?”

He felt his face flush and he looked away.  Blast it. 
Exactly what he’d been trying to avoid.  Christ.  Why hadn’t he remembered that
he had those personal copies of his book on the shelf?  If he’d remembered he
probably wouldn’t have let her in.

“Jake,” she said, her voice insistent, “you’re not
answering.  That means you’re guilty.  It really is you.”  She gave a look of
triumph that soon morphed into a look of awe.  "I can’t believe it.  I’m
in the presence of one of the most successful authors on the planet.  Do you
know,” she whispered, “that you’re a billionaire?”

That caught him by surprise and despite his uneasiness,
he burst out laughing.  On top of all her wonderful traits Samantha Fox was a
comedian.  At the thought he laughed some more and soon she was laughing, too. 

The tension broken, they both relaxed back into their
chairs.  Sam put up a hand to wipe her eye.  “Seriously,” she said, “you are
the ultimate suspense writer.  I bet I’m the only one of your fans who’s
actually seen what you look like.”

“You’re a fan?”  he asked, still smiling.

“Of course,” she said.  “I’ve got four of your books
at home as we speak.”

“Thanks,” he said, feeling genuinely grateful.  It was
people like Sam who had made him the success he was.

She tilted her head to one side.  “Your books simply
state your author name as McKoy.  A deliberate attempt to remain anonymous?” 

His smile dissolved as his face turned serious.  “Yes,
and I want to keep it that way, Sam.  I hope you understand.”

“But, of course,” she said quickly.  She looked
directly into his eyes and in her he saw an earnestness that banished any
doubts he may have had.  “I would never divulge your secret to anyone.  I
respect your right to privacy, Jake.  You can trust me.”  

And the strangest thing was, he knew he could.  He’d
known this woman for less than a month and yet he felt he could trust her with
his greatest secret.  A shock ran through him as another thought entered his
mind.  He actually felt he could trust Sam with his life.

“Jake,” Sam said, her voice gentle, “may I ask you a
question?’

“Go ahead,” he said with a shrug.

“Don’t take this the wrong way but for a man who’s so
wealthy, why would you want to live in a place like this?”  She gave him a shy
look, as if embarrassed by her own question.

“ When you say 'a place like this’ are you talking
about the town,” he gave her a look of mischief, “or the house?”

“The house, of course,” she said with a laugh.  “Or
maybe both.  This is sort of a sleepy town.  Why’d you choose this one?”

“Well, you know me,” he said and cocked an eyebrow at
her.

“Yes,” she said with a chuckle, “I do.  The ultimate
mystery man, staying out of sight.  But you know you could have found nicer
homes here, right?”

“I know,” he said, his voice casual, “but I didn’t buy
this place for the house.  I bought it for the bubbling stream, the beautiful
bridge and this little haven at the bottom of the garden.”

She gave him a soft smile as she looked at him with
eyes that seemed to twinkle in the subdued light of the studio.  “That almost sounds
poetic."

“Well, I am a writer.”  His laughter echoed in the
room.  He got up from around the desk and stretched out a hand to her.  “Come
on.  I’m sure you’re starving.  I’ll make you some lunch.”  When she rose he
stepped back, leaving just enough space not to crowd her.  “And then I can see
whatever it was you wanted to show me.”

Her cheeks turned rosy in a girlish blush and as she
turned to go out the door he touched her arm.  “One second,” he said, as she
paused.  “If you don’t mind…” He lifted the newsboy cap from her head and her
hair tumbled around her shoulders and down her back.  “That’s better.”

She rolled her eyes at him and he put a hand to her
back and gently prodded her through the door.

“Let’s get going,” he said, his mood suddenly very
cheerful.  “I’m starving.”

 

 CHAPTER FOUR

 

“Down, Luther, down."  Sam had to fight off the
exuberant Russell Terrier as he bounced around her then threw up his paws,
almost knocking her over.  “I know, honey, I missed you, too, but let me come
in, will you?”

Tail wagging, his body trembling with excitement,
Luther moved aside just enough for Sam to finally push the door open and step
in. This was their ritual every time she came by to visit her mother at the
family home just outside of Niagara Falls.  Anyone would think Luther would
have been bored with her frequent visits, but no such luck.  Every time he saw
Sam, even if she’d been there just the day before, it was like a grand homecoming.

“Where’s Mom?”  she asked as she strolled through the
house toward the kitchen.  She smiled as she saw the big round vase sitting in
the middle of the table sporting a wild assortment of flowers, the vibrant
colors bringing cheeriness and life to the room.  Mary adored flowers and even
from her childhood days in this house Sam couldn’t remember a day when this
kitchen hadn’t had a fresh bouquet of flowers.

Luther was following behind her, still whimpering with
joy, when a gray tabby with black pencil strips sauntered into the room.

“Sheba, how are you?”  Sam leaned down to pat the cat
who paused and gave her a haughty look that said, “You may stroke me now.”  Sam
laughed and did as she was told, running her hand from the top of Sheba’s head
and across her back to the end of her tail.  The cat trembled in ecstasy then
lifted her head for more of the same.  Finally, as a reward to her loyal
subject, she rubbed her fluffy body against Sam’s leg.

“Do you know where Mom is, Sheba?”  Sam asked as she
opened the kitchen door and stepped out onto the deck.  And, just as she’d
guessed, there was her mother sitting in front of an easel in the shade of the
thicket of trees and bushes at the bottom of the garden, her eyes focused on
the canvas.

Not wanting to startle her, Sam didn’t bother to call
out.  Instead, she descended the steps and walked across the grass toward Mary
whose back was turned to her.  As she got nearer she saw that her mother was
painting a cluster of buttercups nestled at the foot of a majestic old elm. 
She marveled at the beauty of the depiction, so striking and true.  She never
ceased to be amazed by her mother’s talent.

“How are you, dear?”  Mary asked without taking her
eyes off the canvas.  “You didn’t call me yesterday.”

“I’m great, Mom.”  By this time Sam was right beside
her mother, and she watched as the delicate hand deftly placed brushstroke
after brushstroke, creating the effect of light with the simple addition of a
touch of white.  “Sorry I didn’t call.  I just got tied up.”

She dropped to the grass by her mother’s feet, drew
her knees up and wrapped her arms around them.  She loved to watch her mother
paint.  And this evening was perfect for doing just that.  It was a beautiful
September day, cool enough to be comfortable, the gentle breeze softly stirring
the leaves above their heads.

“Almost done,” Mary said with a sigh of satisfaction
as she put the finishing touches on her work.  She obviously loved what she was
doing, smiling as she worked and even humming under her breath.  She was so
different from the mother Sam had known when she was growing up.  Where she
seemed relaxed now, even carefree, back then her mother would have been better
described as subdued and careworn.  It was now that Sam realized that she’d
been a frustrated artist, her talent suppressed and sacrificed to her role as
mother and wife.

“Your father never appreciated this creative side of
me,” her mother once told her.  “He’s such a practical man, going out to work
and heading back home to the little woman who should only occupy her time with
housewifely duties.  My painting seemed so frivolous to him.”  Still, her
mother never resented him.  They remained friends even after the divorce.  She
shared with Sam that she was confident she’d made the right decision in moving
on.  It was neither the smoking nor the gambling that had made her decide to
end the marriage.  It was the realization that, in order to grow, she had to
move on.  She recognized the value of Alvin’s industry and his skills with his
hands.  His clients sang his praises all around town.  “You got the best of
both your parents,” she told Sam, “combining the practical world of home
repairs with the artistic world of colors and decoration.  And you’re great at
both.”

But as far as Sam was concerned, her mother was the
true talent when it came to art.  She was so good at what she did that her work
had been placed in a local gallery and she’d even been invited to teach a couple
of evening courses in watercolor painting.  And she loved it.  She’d truly
found her calling.

“That’s it,” Mary said and laid down the brush then
turned to her daughter.  “I'm all ears.”

“Excuse me?”  Sam cocked an eyebrow at her mother. 
“I’m not here to gossip.”

“No, but you’re here to talk.”  Mary gave her a
pointed look.  “Don’t forget, I know my daughter.  I’ve been reading her like a
book for the last thirty-two years.”

Sam chuckled.  “And she can’t fool you, right?”

“Never.”  Mary slipped off her stool and sat on the
grass next to Sam.  Unfortunately Luther, who had used the doggy trap door to
slip out of the house, saw that as a signal to romp and came bounding toward
them, his tongue hanging out of his head, his mouth open wide in a grin.

BOOK: Sweet Seduction (The BAD BOY BILLIONAIRES Series)
4.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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