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Breaking love broken lov.., p.2
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       Breaking Love (Broken Love #4), p.2

           B. B. Reid
 
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  In all I’d given up, I never fully realized what I, too, would have to give. Rosalyn was right. My father would want an heir, and he would want one soon, but the thought of touching this bitch made my skin crawl.

  I left the restaurant twice as irritated and fled to my empty apartment. It greeted me with silence as it always did as I shed my suit jacket and tie on the way to my bedroom.

  I had moved back to Nevada after graduating but then chose to leave Six Forks behind for the city thirty minutes away. My commute to the office was still thirty minutes, which explained why my father stayed away so often.

  When I laid my jacket on the foot of the bed, the royal blue corner of the envelope peeked from the pocket, reminding me of the mail Sheldon had sent.

  I knew what it would be without opening the invitation.

  My sister was getting married… and to one of my best friends.

  A best friend who I’d grown to have mixed feelings about over the last four years.

  My finger slid slowly through the small opening and tore open the flap.

  TOGETHER

  Keenan Masters

  and

  Sheldon Chambers

  Request the pleasure of your company at

  the ceremony of their marriage.

  Saturday, the Twenty-fourth of November at

  Five o’clock in the evening.

  Chambers Mansion

  476 Cambridge Lane

  I read the words over and over, and each time, I debated over my answer even though there was really only one.

  My phone rang in my pocket, and without looking, I retrieved it and answered on the second ring. “Yeah?”

  “Uncle?”

  “Ken?” My heart rate accelerated as I held my breath and waited for trouble to come through the line. It didn’t take much anymore to make me worry.

  “Hi, uncle!” I breathed a little easier when her voice sounded its usual toddler cheeriness. I checked my phone screen to see Keenan’s name. I wasn’t surprised that she was able to call me. After her kidnapping, they started to teach her how to call one of us despite her young age. Speed dial became pretty handy when it was clear she couldn’t retain all of our numbers.

  “Ken, what are you doing with your father’s phone?”

  “He let me play with it so he could play with mommy.”

  “Son of a—” Her innocence was truly astounding at times. “Why aren’t you in bed?”

  “I don’t know. I’m not sleepy. What are you doing?”

  “Going to bed like you should be.”

  “Are you sleepy? I not,” she boasted.

  “I am very sleepy. Did your daddy let you have candy again before bedtime?”

  “Uh huh. Don’t tell mommy or she’ll be very mad and make daddy cry.”

  “Angel—” My eyes involuntarily shut at the memory of the only other girl I called Angel. “Ken… your father is a phony.”

  “My daddy not a phone.”

  “I didn’t say—”

  “I talk to Uncle Keke now. Bye, Uncle.”

  And just like that, the line went dead. I shook my head and finished undressing before entering the expansive master bath. A hot shower was needed to relax the permanent tension I seemed to carry these days. Tomorrow I had an important meeting with an oil company my dad had been looking to buy into for years. If I succeeded, maybe I could convince him that an alliance with the Cordells wasn’t necessary.

  I knew it wasn’t entirely about money because we had plenty of it—enough to last for the next generation. My marrying Rosalyn was a failsafe. In case I fucked up, we would have their backing.

  My father didn’t believe in me enough to let me make my own decisions for the better of the company and our family. I was now the head, but I felt more like a pawn.

  If I landed the deal, I could prove him otherwise. Knowing Rosalyn, she would want a lengthy engagement. Enough time to generate interest from all over the world and possibly grace a few magazines.

  I had time.

  I just had to make it work for me.

  I dried off the hot water from my body and ran my fingers through my dirty blond hair. Over the years, I had been someone every girl wanted to be with. Rosalyn had been the only girl I ever dated though even that had been arranged. It wasn’t long before she began to spread the word that we were engaged. I never really cared what anyone thought, so I ignored the lie and let it spread until the summer when one unorthodox girl changed it all.

  She had been a pawn in a game I never should have been a part of, and in the end, I was the one who fell hard. I never expected to want her the way I did, and I never expected for her to give me a run for my money and shut me down at every turn. The worst part was that she chose not to deny me after I spent the summer fucking her brains out.

  That bitch had done something to me that was irreversible and completely addictive, and once she had, she tossed me back as I’d done to so many other girls.

  I slid my naked form inside the expensive sheets and fell asleep dreaming of freckles and wild red hair.

  CHAPTER TWO

  FIVE YEARS AGO

  DASH

  I CAN’T BELIEVE what he has me doing. From a distance, I observed, the poorly dressed, freckled-face disaster, look around as if lost. I didn’t want to be so judgmental, but her clothes were threadbare at best and terribly mismatched. I wondered if the power had been out in her dorm when she dressed this morning. I leaned against a tall oak, watching the show freely behind my shades while trying not to ogle her curves.

  Did I even like curves?

  On this girl I did, but I didn’t know why. There was just something about them… even under the hideous clothing. I told myself it wouldn’t matter. If I had to fuck her, she definitely wouldn’t be wearing any clothes. Then I could actually see if I liked them.

  I sucked in a breath when I noticed her black combat boots.

  How, for fuck’s sake, would I ever convince this girl that I was actually interested in her long enough to fuck her friend over? Especially, when the campus was alive with potential that fit my taste much better than the colorful sight before me.

  Giving her another once over, I wondered how I never noticed her before if we attended the same school? There was no way. The bright colors alone were enough to blind me.

  She looked directly at me, and her big green eyes rounded with recognition.

  So, she knew me, huh?

  She quickly turned around, dismissing me while giving me a full view of her lush ass. My tongue swept across my lips involuntarily, and suddenly, I felt very hungry.

  She may not have been my type, but there was no fucking way I hadn’t noticed her before.

  I pushed away from the tree and stalked after her, determined to learn if my eyes were betraying me or if my dick really wanted a taste.

  “Hey,” I called when I was within hearing distance. She kept walking, but I could tell she heard me when her pace quickened.

  I gritted my teeth when I realized she was running away from me as if I were some creep chasing her down an alleyway.

  I wanted to call out again, but I struggled to remember her name. I think she was named after some kind of plant…

  Fuck it. I’d play it by ear. My strides increased, doubling her short ones, effortlessly, I caught up with her in time to grab her arm before she could disappear into the crowd. “Girl.”

  “Funny.” She laughed. “For seventeen years I mistakenly thought I had a name.”

  It took a minute for me to realize she was talking to me because I’d become completely enraptured by the tiny freckles sprinkling her rosy skin. I counted each one in the space of time it took me to respond.

  “Huh?”

  Smooth.

  “I have a name. One that you apparently don’t know, so I’m curious as to why you are talking to me.”

  “Are you always this much of a bitch?” This was a first. I was never rude, especially to a female, but this one was already breaking my r
ules and I didn’t even know her name. I had to admit it was sexy seeing how much her temper matched her hair—or whatever the rat nest was on top of her head.

  “Take your hand off me, Dash.”

  “So, you do know me?”

  She looked caught before she glared. “Of course I do. We go to the same school. Why wouldn’t I?”

  “Because you walked away without speaking.”

  “I didn’t see you.”

  “You saw me… right before you gave me a peek at your ass.” I couldn’t help but grin down at her as I watched her cheeks heat.

  “We’ve been in the same school since grade school. We’ve even had a few classes together and you never bothered to speak to me. Why the sudden interest?”

  “Are you a detective or something? I don’t know anyone here. I know you. We can be nice for the summer until this is over.”

  Way to charm her, dude.

  “Oh yeah, douchebag?” She snatched her arm away from me and crossed them, bringing my attention to her chest in the tight green top that looked like a corset.

  Fuck me.

  “What’s my name?”

  “Right. We’re back to that.” I didn’t mean to roll my eyes, but this girl was making a big deal out of nothing. Since when did names matter?

  “No, we aren’t because I’m leaving.”

  She turned away again, and I decided to let her go. This was more trouble than it was worth. My phone vibrated in my jeans, so I fished it out without taking my eyes off her form as she disappeared into the distance. A text message.

  What’s the status?

  Keiran.

  He was the reason I was even talking to this girl in the first place. When he told me about his plan to get back at Lake by using her best friend, I refused. I admit what the girl had done was beyond fucked up, but to use someone innocent was out of the question.

  Besides, Keiran had taunted and done much worse to her for years. It was about time she grew a backbone even though no one ever expected her to go that far. For years, I thought about asking him his reason for tormenting her, but seeing how violent just the sight of her made him always gave me pause. If he thought I would defend her, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill me. I’ve never actually seen him murder anyone, but the intent was there in his eyes.

  I may have been his best friend, but even I wasn’t willing to brave the dark to see what lurked inside.

  Three years ago, he told me things about his past that gave me nightmares, so I knew something tormented him. I just didn’t have a clue what Lake Monroe had to do with it.

  I watched the copper haired girl as she stopped to talk to some asshole in a letterman jacket. I saw him watch her, or more likely, her body, as she walked. I could smell a player from a mile away.

  He was probably asking for her number right now thinking he would score some fresh ass.

  Not fucking likely.

  I looked away long enough to type my response:

  On it.

  * * *

  PRESENT

  “Your father is here.” My assistant was in the office bright and early, as always, to greet me. The smug look on her face told me she enjoyed seeing me frazzled.

  “Those are not the words I need to hear at eight in the morning.” I looked around the open space but saw no sight of him. “He’s in my office, isn’t he?”

  “He showed himself in.”

  I took a deep breath and considered walking out to spend a few more hours—or days—in the dark wondering where the hell my life was going.

  I was fresh out of college with little experience other than the few months I had spent under my father’s wing in Germany and the years before that he’d spent grooming me. Partying during spring breaks was not something a Chambers heir had time to do.

  His words, not mine.

  Cale Chambers was a hard man who was persuaded by nothing other than social status, money, and success, but at least he wasn’t cruel.

  Taking over, and filling his shoes, wasn’t something I was ready for, a fact he was very much aware of given his frequent impromptu visits. I’d only just officially taken over a couple of weeks ago, and this was my father’s fourth visit.

  Becoming the head of a multinational company took years of experience, but my father saw fit to throw me directly into the fire.

  The door to my inner office gave way with a little too much force and bounced off the wall. I could hear my assistant’s gasp of surprise, but I couldn’t care less.

  “I can’t completely take over this company if you’re here almost every day. It might confuse the employees.”

  I didn’t bother with a hello or the warm greeting a person would typically use to greet their parent. The resentment I held for him was far too engraved for trivial manners.

  I loved my father, but I hated him at the same time.

  “I’m just checking on you,” he said while looking through the papers on my desk.

  “Me? Or your company?”

  That seemed to gain his full attention. He slammed the papers down and glared. I could feel the anger seeping out of him from across the room. “It’s not just a company, son. It’s an empire. One that I want you to start appreciating. Believe it or not, I didn’t just hand it over to you. You earned it.”

  “But you don’t think I’m ready. Isn’t that why you’re intruding twice a week and monitoring everything I do? By the way, I’m firing your mole as soon as I find him.”

  “You don’t need to find him. Owen James has agreed to keep a close eye on you and step in when necessary.”

  “James? You got your VP to spy on me?”

  “No, I got your VP to look after you. He’s a good guy. You could learn a lot from him.”

  “Like how to be a bloodthirsty shark? Yeah, I’ll get right on that.”

  “Don’t be disrespectful.”

  “If you think he’s so great, why not make him your successor?”

  My father rose from my chair to stand before me. “Because he’s not my son. I built this for you and your sister. I just want you to appreciate it more.”

  “I appreciate it, Dad. I just don’t want it forced down my throat, and if you’re going to let me take over, then let me take over. I don’t need your watchdog sniffing around.”

  “It’s just a precaution.”

  “That you wouldn’t need if you had listened when I said I wasn’t ready. I don’t have enough experience.”

  “Nonsense. Some of the greatest empires were built on inexperience, and do you know why? Because they were driven and they were focused. They didn’t waste time on trivial pursuits and walking on the wrong side of the law.”

  I took the seat he’d vacated and leaned back casually though I felt anything but relaxed. “Meaning?”

  “Your friendship with Keiran Masters. I want you to end it. “

  “Not happening.”

  “Damn it, Dasher. He’s a public relations nightmare waiting to happen, and I don’t want you or this empire being caught in the crosshairs.”

  “No. I’ve given you enough. I’m not giving any more. He’s my best friend and more than that, he needs me.”

  “He’s a grown man and he’s trouble. How long before he turns on you? One wrong move or word, and you think he won’t hesitate to hurt you or worse, kill you?”

  “That wouldn’t happen.”

  When persuasion didn’t work, he tried to enforce his authority. “I won’t stand for your disobedience.”

  I laughed at the serious expression he wore, knowing he was completely serious about his demand. “I’m not fifteen anymore. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an empire to run, remember?”

  I smoothed my suit jacket and made my way for the door to show him out. When he continued to stare, I made a gesture for him to exit. He’s my father, but these days, there was only so much of him I could handle.

  “Dad, I have a meeting with executive management in fifteen.”

  “I’m not leaving until you see re
ason.”

  “There is nothing for me to see. It’s non-negotiable.”

  He stared at me silently, but the tick in his jaw told me he was calculating. “What if I told you if you gave up your friendship with Keiran, you’d be free to marry whomever you wish?”

  My hand slipped from the door and my full attention turned to him. “Come again?”

  “Keiran or Rosalyn. It’s your choice.”

  CHAPTER THREE

  A WEDDING

  THREE MONTHS LATER

  DASH

  THERE WERE ONLY two occasions I wore a suit for personal reasons.

  Today was one of those days.

  Dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and royal blue tie to match the theme of my sister’s wedding, I made my way through the mansion I called my home and where she decided to have her wedding.

  The house was full of my sister’s wedding guests. All of which were busy sipping the expensive champagne and filling their time with casual conversation. I recognized some old classmates from Bainbridge though most of the guests were undoubtedly associates of my father.

  It took longer than necessary for me to make my way through the first floor. I was constantly bombarded with the pressing, yet unwanted need for conversation from people whose names I could barely remember.

  “Lake, darling, I realize you’re her maid of honor, but I am her mother, and I just think we need more flowers.”

  “Mrs. Chambers, I don’t mean any disrespect, but the place already looks like a greenhouse because you wanted to add every flower known to man.”

  I had heard them before I saw them and entered the kitchen to see my best friend’s girlfriend of four years and my mother both go toe to toe next to a horde of flowers. She wore a simple strapless royal dress with a thin silver chain to encompass the middle. Her feet were adorned with silver strappy heels that made her long legs look even longer. Her hair swept down her back in a tumble of curls. It took a moment to realize I was ogling my best friend’s girl. Lust wasn’t a factor, but I couldn’t deny that she was beautiful. One of the most beautiful women I’d ever seen, in fact. She transformed from a little duckling of a teenager to a graceful woman effortlessly, though she still carried an air of innocence. I could almost understand Keiran’s obsession with her. She was undoubtedly irresistible even to a complete stranger. He had fifteen years to cultivate a connection that he would never be able to shake even if he wanted to.

 
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