Dirty filthy rich love, p.1
Dirty Filthy Rich Love, p.1
Dirty Filthy Rich Love
Paige Press LLC
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2017 by Laurelin Paige
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
Cover: Tom Barnes and Laurelin Paige
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I brought the tumbler of scotch to my lips, taking another sip as the Frou Frou song playing from the Spotify app on my phone started up again. How many times could a song be listened to on repeat? If there was a limit, I was approaching mine.
I pressed my cheek against my bedroom window and watched the lonely street below. The glass was cold against my skin, a stark contrast to the liquor burning in my chest. Winter had set in just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday. The few people still out this late were well bundled in gloves and scarves, and hats pulled down over their ears.
I still didn’t have enough winter wear. There’d been no need for warm gloves in L.A., and I’d only been in New York since September. My sister had already given me a hard time about it when she’d arrived earlier in the evening, and a shopping trip was on the agenda for the next day.
My wardrobe would soon be remedied. Audrey would make sure of that. In one night, she’d already rearranged my living room furniture and put up the rest of the framed photographs and knickknacks I hadn’t bothered to unpack.
If only she could fix the inside of me as easily as she addressed the outside.
No, I had to be the one to fix this mess.
I thought back to the conversation I’d had with Audrey before she’d slipped off to bed in my guest room.
“Will you press charges?” she’d asked.
“I don’t want to press charges.” I wanted explanations. I wanted theories confirmed. I didn’t want more distance between us.
I didn’t want any distance at all.
She’d smiled as though she got it, and because she was my sister, maybe she did, even without me explaining. “So you’ll go to France, then. Make him tell you what’s up.”
“He doesn’t deserve that either. He can run all he wants. I’m not chasing. I have more respect for myself than that.”
“Good. I respect you too.” She’d laughed then. “Probably not the best idea to chase someone who’s obviously been stalking you for ten years anyway.”
“Probably not.” Though I wasn’t really worried about him. He was dangerous, yes. Dangerous to me. But he wouldn’t hurt me. Not like that. Not the kind of hurt that anyone else could see.
“You’ll figure it out,” she’d said in the end. “You always do.”
I knew what I had to do already. Just…being bold enough to do it.
Another sip of scotch. Another full listen to the old song on repeat.
This time when the silent pause came at the end, I put down my glass and reached over for the phone instead. I turned off the music, pulled up my contacts and only shivered slightly when I found his name.
Two weeks had passed. I didn’t have to do this now.
But it might as well be now.
I hit the CALL button and waited.
It rang once. Twice. It was after midnight here. He’d just be waking up. Another ring. Was he alone? One more ring.
Then his voice.
His voicemail, actually. I hadn’t exactly expected him to answer, and it was easier leaving a message.
Still, somehow it was disappointing. As though a small part of me had hoped he’d see my name and rush to hear my voice. Wouldn’t I rush to answer if he’d been the one to call?
The beep sounded and caught me off guard. But I was ready with what I wanted to say.
“Donovan. It’s me. I know about the file you have on me. We should talk.”
“There’s nobody here,” Audrey said as we stepped out of my office.
It was Monday evening and wrapping things up after a hectic afternoon had taken longer than planned. It was hard enough getting everything done in a short holiday week. On top of that, I’d lost my weekend to visiting with my sister—time I would have usually spent behind my desk.
It had been three days now since Audrey had arrived.
Three days since I’d left the message for Donovan.
Three days and no return call.
But I wasn’t thinking about that. Or rather, I was trying as hard as possible not to think about that. Trying as hard as possible not to let on how much it hurt.
Work was a good distraction. Audrey was an even better distraction.
“When you got here it was almost five,” I said, locking my office door behind me. Thankfully, there was plenty to occupy her in the city while I worked. It would be a miracle if she got even a quarter of her agenda crossed off before she had to go back to school on Sunday. But even with the many other exciting items on her list, I’d convinced her to stop by my office so I could show her around.
More like so I could show off.
I glanced at the clock on the wall. “That was an hour ago. Most everyone’s gone home now.”
“Do you always work this late?” The question was accusatory.
“I usually work later.” I didn’t mention that part of the reason we’d stayed late tonight was because she’d had to tell me all about the bus tour she’d taken earlier in the day.
Crossing her arms over her chest, she glared in my direction. “Workaholic.”
I rolled my eyes. “You’re a workaholic too. Your work is just more artsy so you can more easily disguise it as a hobby. Come on.” I threw my keys in my bag and hitched the strap on my shoulder. “Let me show you around.”
She followed me to the main hallway. Out of habit, I glanced down the dark corridor leading to Donovan’s office, feeling a pang in my chest before leading her in the opposite direction to the large open section of the executive floor. Usually, the floor-to-ceiling windows there would be a feature worth pointing out, but the sun had already set and the cleaning crew had turned on the lights so the glass just looked black.
Another light shone farther down the hall, and I steered us in that direction.
“Roxie,” I exclaimed, when we came upon my boss’s assistant gathering her things at her desk. “You’re here late!”
“Just leaving. You caught me.” Eyeing Audrey, she set her purse down and thrust her hand out
“Thank you. Great to meet you,” Audrey said, trying not to appear stunned by Roxie’s brusque hospitality.
“You look alike,” the Hungarian native said after studying us for a beat. “Light and dark versions.”
Audrey and I laughed as we exchanged glances. She wasn’t just a lighter version of me in coloring with her chestnut hair and almond eyes, but also in temperament. She was bubbly and romantic. I was serious and practical. She liked men who adored her and were into public displays of affection. I liked a man who enjoyed rape play and apparently had a serious problem with stalking.
It was something we joked about often.
“Night and day,” I said.
“Chocolate and vanilla,” Audrey agreed. “That’s us.”
“Is Weston in there?” I asked nodding to the office behind Roxie. The door was still open and the lights were on, but I didn’t see him at his desk.
“No, but he be back any minute. You can wait inside for him.” Roxie buttoned her coat and picked up her purse. “He in a good mood today. He won’t mind.”
We said our goodbyes and after Roxie went her way, I ushered Audrey into Weston’s spacious corner office, switching off the light as we walked in.
The effect was immediate. “Holy bananas!” Audrey exclaimed. “This is insane!” She ran to the closest wall of glass and gazed out at the city. “It’s an endless sea of lights! I bet you can see everything in the daytime.”
“Not everything. But a lot.” I stood back, watching her with a smile. My reaction to the view had been quite similar. It had been exhilarating, not just because of how much I could see, but because I finally felt like I was on top of it all.
And then Donovan had walked in, putting my new world in a spin. Reminding me it had been his world first.
Whatever. It was my world now. He wasn’t here, and I was. I wasn’t going anywhere.
Audrey craned to look farther out the window. “If this isn’t everything then you’re too greedy. Hey! It’s the empire! Why isn’t this your office?”
“It will be soon enough,” Weston’s baritone sounded behind me. “With the work she’s producing.”
I rolled my eyes while he came to stand next to me. “Oh, hush.”
He frowned as though I’d offended him. “I’m serious. You’re the first name on a short list to replace me if I ever leave.”
Weston was a sweet talker. All the smart women knew it. Still, I was warmed by the compliment, even though it wasn’t one that mattered. “You’ll never leave,” I said dismissively. “I hope you don’t mind we were in here. I was showing my sister the view. This is Audrey.”
The lighter, younger version of me had already abandoned the windows and was prowling toward us, her hands behind her back. “Let me guess—you’re Weston.”
Weston stuck his hands in his pockets and lifted his chin proudly. “You’ve told her about me.”
“We’re close.” I watched apprehensively as Audrey circled my boss, sizing him up. I knew full well she wasn’t evaluating him as my superior, which would have been embarrassing enough. No, she wanted to figure out what it was about him that had lured me into his bed for an entire weekend earlier in the year.
Not that it wasn’t obvious—blue eyes, blond hair, built like he was a personal trainer rather than a CEO. He was eye candy for sure. Add the charm and a smart head on top of that?
Yeah, my panties dropped.
“Nice,” she said appraisingly. “Whoa. Real nice,” she said when she got to his backside. “Good job, sis.”
Weston’s eyes widened as he interpreted her comments. “Ah, you’ve really told her about me.” He turned his attention to my sister. “Maybe Sabrina didn’t get a chance to tell you I’m involved with someone else now. I’m engaged.”
“Fake engagement,” Audrey corrected.
His head spun around to glare in my direction. “Everything about me. Wow.”
“Audrey!” My face flushed. “She won’t tell anyone. I promise.” I shifted to scold her again. “That was supposed to be top secret.”
Weston’s engagement and impending marriage to Elizabeth Dyson was all an arrangement to get Elizabeth her trust fund money and to get Reach, Inc.—our company—access to an advertising firm in France she owned. Once married, Elizabeth would get her inheritance, sell the firm to the men, and the two would divorce.
At least that had been the plan.
That was supposedly why Donovan was in France—to pave the way for an easy merger. Only Weston and I knew it was really just an excuse to get away from me.
Very few people knew about the fake marriage—only Elizabeth, the five guys who owned Reach, Inc., me, and now, my sister.
Weston chuckled. “It’s fine. I mean, you’re not a secret spy for the Dyson’s, are you?”
Audrey lifted a brow. “No.”
“Then we’re cool. Besides, it’s not a fake engagement anymore. Or, it’s not a fake relationship anyway.”
She raised both brows now and looked at me accusingly. “Now I didn’t hear this.”
“Weston and Elizabeth like each other for real now. There. Are you happy?” I didn’t give her time to respond. “It didn’t have to do with me so I didn’t fill you in,” I added, unapologetically. Also it wasn’t really fun to talk about someone else being lucky in love when my own heart was hurting like it was.
She clapped her hands. “Of course I’m happy. I adore a good coupling! Tell us more, Weston.”
“She left today to go to her grandmother’s for Turkey Day,” he said, directing this to me despite Audrey’s eagerness. “I’m joining her Wednesday night, and we’re supposed to do the whole pretend, pretend thing, but all I keep thinking is I’m going to meet her grandmother. This is the single most important person in her life. Which shouldn’t matter because this is all temporary. But maybe it’s not temporary. Maybe it’s something more.”
The last Weston had talked to me about his relationship with Elizabeth, they’d slept together. He hadn’t said anything about more. “Then things are still going well?”
He sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Honestly, I don’t know what things are. It’s a mess. I want to wring her neck most of the time and she doesn’t really seem to like me much either, but I kind of can’t stand to be away from her for more than a day. Whatever that is, it’s that.”
“That’s love,” my sister said, her voice all swoony.
I groaned. “Audrey’s a hopeless romantic. It’s her only flaw.”
But she made me think, too. Things between Donovan and I were a mess too. I wanted to wring his neck, and I was aching inside with him so far away. Was I so far in that I was in love with him?
Well, wasn’t that going to be a bitch if it was the case? Because next time I saw him, I was planning on killing him.
“Weston, I can call my driver anytime you’re ready to—” The man who’d walked in stopped when he saw us. “Oh, excuse me. I didn’t realize you had company.”
I stood up straighter, immediately on guard. I didn’t know the man. His suit was expensive and he had brown wavy hair and a British accent. He appeared older than us by at least a dozen years, but was quite attractive and distinguished. What was odd was that a stranger was wandering the office halls after hours.
“I can go anytime,” Weston said in reply. “But this is perfect. You haven’t met Sabrina yet, have you?”
The man frowned. “Can’t say that I have.”
Weston shifted to me. “Sabrina, this is Dylan Locke. He’s in the States this week to visit his son.”
That explained things. Dylan Locke ran Reach’s London office. He was one of the founders of the company. There were five of them in total—Nate Sinclair, Weston, Donovan, Dylan, and Cade Warren, who ran the Tokyo office.
“It’s a real pleasure to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand. “I’m the di
“Ah, you took Robbie Wise’s place when he came over to our office in London,” Dylan said. “Robbie’s fine at his job but he isn’t as lovely as you. And he smells.” He turned to Weston. “Is it entirely sexist if I say I think you got the better end of the deal?”
“Donovan got the better end of the deal actually.” His subtext suggested he’d mentioned me to Dylan before. That this was his way of saying, This is her. The one that Donovan was involved with.
Which was fine. But I didn’t want to talk about Donovan right now. “Weston, please…”
“He called earlier,” he said soberly. Simply. As though he knew the words would knock the wind out of me, and still he’d thought the best way to present them was plainly and without a fuss.
“He called you?” I hoped no one noticed the hitch in my voice.
“He told me not to say anything.”
“To anyone? Or to me?” Fuck, I shouldn’t have asked. I didn’t want to know. I already knew. If he’d wanted to talk to me he would have called me.
Weston lowered his head, confirming my suspicions. “I’m sorry.”
It was sweet that he cared how I felt. And nice, I supposed, that he’d bothered to tell me about it at all. Though Weston and I had formed a friendship over the last several weeks, he was Donovan’s friend before mine. He didn’t owe me any loyalty.
I couldn’t bring myself to thank him at that moment.
“I don’t care,” I said, when he took a step forward to comfort me. “He can do what he wants. I don’t care anymore.” Lies. But maybe if I kept saying it, someone would start believing it. Maybe even me.