Seducing the Billionaire's Wife

By: Marquita Valentine

Chapter One

Hannah Miller was going to die. And even if she somehow managed to survive the riptide pulling her further and further out to sea, her grandparents would kill her for being so stupid when they found out.

Never go swimming alone. That was the only rule her grandparents had when it came to the sea, and she’d broken it to swim out with the dolphins.

Parallel. Swim parallel to the shore.

But her arms were tired. Her legs were weak, and her lungs were burning from all the salt water she’d swallowed.

Hannah gave up fighting and willed her body to float on her back instead. With a little whimper, she smashed her lips shut and breathed through her nose.

A large wave rolled over her and she went under, resurfacing with a hard sputter. Everything she’d been taught to do in a situation like this wasn’t working. Legs and arms furiously moving, she tried to stay afloat. But she sank, bubbles and filtered sunlight surrounding her as the water surged and churned.

She didn’t want to die. She was only thirteen and had never been kissed. The only thing she wanted in life was to be kissed by Drew Montgomery.

God wouldn’t let her die without kissing Drew first, would He?

Desperately, she held her breath until black dots appeared in front of her eyes. Air. She needed air.

Oh God. She needed air.

Water began to fill her mouth. It went down her throat, and she let out a silent scream.

Suddenly, strong arms wrapped around her waist and she began to struggle, even as those arms pulled her to the surface.

“It’s okay, Hannah. It’s Drew.”

Coughing like crazy, she tried to make sense of his words, but all she could hear was the cry of seagulls and the waves crashing onto shore.

She was alive. Alive.

Her feet scraped sand, but when she tried to stand up, her head spun and her knees gave out.

“Got you,” Drew said as he lifted her off her feet. It would have been romantic, but she threw up all over herself and ruined the moment.

“Sorry,” she croaked.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “It’s only water.”

Drew carried her from the ocean and laid her down on a towel. His dark green eyes searched hers. “Are you okay?”

Hannah wanted to cry, but she refused to give in to the tears. There was no way she’d let Drew see her cry. He was two years older and already thought she was a little kid.

Instead, she nodded weakly. “Please don’t tell my grandparents.”

“I won’t.” He produced a water bottle and helped her sit up. “I know this might sound crazy with all the water you just… got rid of,” her cheeks heated at the reminder, “but you need to drink this.”

Her heart beat faster in her chest as she drank the entire bottle down, and the realization of what Drew had done for her set in. He’d rescued her. He had saved her from dying.

He was her hero. If she hadn’t already been in love with him, then she would have fallen right that second.

“What made you go out there by yourself?” he asked, his tone sharp. His eyes narrowed. “That was pretty stupid, Hannah. You’re not stupid.”

He was mad at her. Embarrassment flooded her body, burning worse than the salt water had in her lungs.

For a moment, her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. “I wanted to play with the dolphins.” Great. Now she really sounded like a little kid. A stupid little kid.

His mouth lifted at one corner for a split second. “It’s not safe to go swimming by yourself, especially as little as you are.”

Though Hannah knew it was true about her size, it hurt to hear it from the Drew. She didn’t want confirmation that he only saw her as a kid.

“I’m not little,” she said.

Drew cocked his head to one side. “Yes, you are, and it’s a good thing, too.”

Wide-eyed, she gazed at him in disbelief. “Why?”

“Because you’re a strong little thing. Put up a hell of a fight when I grabbed you. Any bigger and I would have drowned right along with you.”

She thought that might be a compliment, but she wasn’t sure. “One day, I’ll be tall and pretty like Alexis George.” She could have slapped herself silly right then.

With a serious look on his face, he sat back a little. “Why do you want to be like her?”

Water trickled down her forehead and dripped onto her nose. The wind blew, and she shivered under the light breeze.

Either she could lie or be real honest and tell him exactly what she thought. That he liked how pretty and tall Alexis was. She’d seen him kiss Alexis. She’d seen them together when they thought no one was looking.

Yeah, she was a snoop, but so what? She was collecting vital information. But could she admit all that to Drew? Would he ever bother to talk to her again if she did? What if he guessed that she liked him, told everyone, and started teasing her? She would die of mortification.

Only she didn’t want to lie to him.

She settled on a half-truth. “Because boys like girls who look like Alexis George.” Alexis had boobs, curves, and long, pretty blond hair. Hannah had nothing, and her hair was the color of a log that had been sitting in the sun for years. Ash-blond her grandmother called it.

Dirty like ashes, Alexis had sneered once.

“Yeah, they do,” he agreed.

She blinked up at him. “I can’t believe you’d say that.”

His lips twisted. “There’s no reason to lie to you.”

“I guess,” she grumbled, wishing he had, in fact, lied to her.

He sat down beside her, stretching out his long legs. They were tan all the way down to his toes. “Besides, when you get older, you’re going to look way better than all the Alexis Georges out there.”

Cheeks heating, she rolled her eyes. “Now you’re lying to me.”

Shaking his head, he grimaced. Hannah had never seen him look so serious… or angry. “I’d never lie to you. Ever.”

“Really?” she whispered.

“Never. You don’t treat me any differently.” He ran a hand through his dark hair. “Ever since we first met, you’ve never wanted anything from me either.”

Confused, she sat all the way up and pulled the towel around her. “Why would I?” Except, she did want one thing from him. Okay, two things. A kiss and for him to look at her like she was Alexis George.

“A lot of people around here do. They treat me differently because of my dad’s money.”

“Oh.” She frowned. “But everyone who stays at The Majestic Dunes has money. How else could they pay for their vacation?”

Turning his attention to her, his forest-green eyes searched her face. “When you get older, you’ll understand why people act the way they do. But I hope you won’t become like them.”

“I won’t,” she promised.

A grin kicked up the corners of his mouth. “Good.” Then he turned serious again and leaned into her. So close that she could see the rings of blue around the pupil of his eyes. “Promise me something, Hannah. Two things, actually.”

“Anything,” she said.

“Don’t ever change. And don’t ever go out swimming alone.”

“I promise.”

He arched a dark brow. “Swear it.”

“Geez. You want it in writing?”

“Smart-ass,” he muttered, but she could see the smile in his eyes.

She looked around for her beach bag and found it only a few feet away. Scrambling to her feet, she said, “Stay right there.” She ran to her bag, grabbed it, and brought it back. Plopping it down in the sand, she began to dig through it, producing a journal and a pen.

“You’re really going to write it down?”

Hannah sat down in the warm sand. “Yep.” She pulled the cap off the pen with her teeth as inspiration struck. “And I’m going to reward you for saving me.”

“You really don’t have to,” Drew said, placing his hand on her arm. “You don’t owe me anything.”

He was such a hero. “I know, but one day you might need something from me… so…” Ignoring the heat of his hand, she quickly wrote out her promise, added a little extra note at the bottom, and then signed her name. With a flourish, she ripped it out of her notebook and held it out.

He let go of her long enough to take it. “A promise and an IOU?”

She gave him a firm nod. “You never know what the future holds,” she said, repeating one of her grandmother’s favorite sayings.

“Have you, uh, written a lot of IOUs before?” he asked, still staring at the paper.

“You’re my first.”

His gaze flew to hers. “We’ve known each other for a long time, right?”

She nodded happily. “Since I was eight. And you were ten.” She’d met him the summer she had to go live with her grandparents, after her mother had died in a car accident. Her dad’s family didn’t want her. They didn’t even believe Hannah was their grandchild in the first place, or so she’d overheard one of the maids on floor six say to the bellman.

“And you know I would never do anything to hurt you,” he added.

Drew always made her smile. He spent an entire summer cheering her up after her momma had died. “You saved me, Drew.”

He swallowed. “Hannah, it’s not a good idea to give a guy an IOU for anything they want.”

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