The Billionaire's Secret

By: Julie Farrell

“You’re very nice, Jake.”

“You don’t know me, sweetheart.”

“I’d like to.”

He pulled open the main entrance door. This building was a run-down concrete monstrosity, consisting of twenty floors, with an ugly rusting fire escape running all the way down the front. Jake had followed her home daily, and every evening he’d wanted to take her back to his place and let her sleep in his king-sized luxury bed – after making love to her all night long. His brothers were paying him well, and he was living in a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park. It was a world away from this place, with its paper-thin walls and grubby foyer.

He halted near the entrance and glanced at the metal elevator, watching out for any lurking danger – as he always did. He was satisfied she was safe, so he bent to kiss her on the cheek, relishing how soft her skin was on his lips.

“Well, goodnight,” he said. “Nice to meet you, Astrid. I’ll see you around.”

She grabbed his jacket. “Come in.”

“That wouldn’t be a good idea.”

She laughed. “I told you – I’m not sleeping with you. I just…” She fell serious. “I’m scared to go up alone. What if Graves is up there waiting for me?”

The thought of abandoning her to Graves filled Jake with protective guilt. What harm would it do just to check she was safe and locked in for the night?

He was a strong-minded guy with enough willpower to say no to a beautiful woman…

Wasn’t he?

They traveled up in the elevator together, with the tension sizzling between them. He wanted this woman more than anything else on the planet right now. But he had to resist her. If he slept with her, not only would it be immoral because she was drunk, but also it would put the entire investigation – and probably her job – at risk. He refused to fuck up this project for his brothers, but mainly it was Astrid’s well-being he was thinking of.

What the fuck was happening to him?

The rickety elevator creaked to a halt at her floor and she shot him a shy smile. What was she thinking right now? Did she really just want to check there was no danger in her apartment? Or was she as attracted to him as he was to her?

He walked with her to the front door, then stepped inside. The apartment was exactly as he’d expected – cramped and old. The front door led directly to the living room, which was only just big enough to squeeze in the three-seater couch and coffee table. He couldn’t see a TV, but she seemed to work most nights anyway. The room was decorated in light tones in an attempt to make it look bigger, but the illusion wasn’t fooling Jake. He could see the kitchenette through an archway, and presumably the bedroom and bathroom were through those two doors. The high ceiling and large windows gave the place a slightly less crowded feel, but – in truth – this place was smaller than most hotel rooms his brothers would stay in on business trips.

“Coffee?” she asked.

“I should go down.”

She burst into laughter at his Freudian slip. “Oh really?”

“Down to the foyer… to my car.”

“Just stay for a coffee?”

He gazed at the couch. It looked invitingly comfortable, with a cream throw draped over it – probably disguising how decrepit it was.

She smiled sweetly. “It’s okay, I don’t bite.”

He chuckled. “Shame.”

He strolled over to the couch and sat down, making the springs beneath him boing – and making them both laugh. She sat next to him. “Jake, when you kissed me earlier…”

He gazed into her innocent eyes and realized he needed to put a stop to this right now. It didn’t matter what he wanted – he wasn’t what she was looking for, even if she didn’t yet know it.

He shrugged coolly. “It was just to make Graves think we were together.”

Disappointment flashed across her face. “I know. That’s what I thought. Thank you.”

She stared at him for a moment, and he tried to harden himself against her. He shifted position to get up and leave, but his heart melted with tender affection as her lip twitched with the onset of tears – which was quickly followed by a gushing sob. Oh shit… Crying women were his weakness – they had him in chains…

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