The Billionaire's Christmas (A Sinclair Novella) (10 page)

BOOK: The Billionaire's Christmas (A Sinclair Novella)
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She glanced up at him with a frown. “But every business you’ve started has gone on to be a huge Internet sensation.”

Grady shrugged. “I get paid well for them. I’m not social, and I don’t interact with people all that well.”

“What are you working on now?” she asked curiously, pulling another pile of papers out of a box and setting them on her lap. She was determined to organize him.

With his history and personality, it probably wouldn’t make sense to her at all, but he answered, “A new social media site.”

She was silent for a moment as she stared at him, probably trying to figure out if he was really serious. “Why?” she asked hesitantly.

Grady shrugged. “Because I can, I guess. Those who don’t socialize develop social media sites for others who do.”

She looked at him incredulously, and then burst into laughter, her delighted shrieks echoing in the large room. “Oh, Grady, you’re brilliant. And your communication is fine. You just never let anyone really know you. Is there anything you can’t do?” She was still holding her stomach and gasping for breath from her fits of laughter.

Get you to let me fuck you.

The one thing he wanted, he couldn’t seem to accomplish. Aloud, he said, “I obviously can’t file.”

“I don’t think that it’s a matter of not being capable—you obviously just don’t want to do it,” she answered, her skeptical look challenging him.

Busted!

“Paperwork is boring and tedious,” he answered defensively.

“So what . . . you build an online business with your genius, sell it off, and just throw the contracts and everything else into a box when you’re done?”

Grady fidgeted uncomfortably, ’cause really, she was pretty damn close to the truth. “Of course not,” he said irritably.
I also deposit the check, or get the wire transfer into my bank.

“Grady Sinclair, I can follow your last five years of work from the mess in these boxes,” she told him ominously. “But none of it is organized.”

“The tax stuff is all in the computer,” he argued, beginning to enjoy himself. Obviously, his record keeping offended her ultraorganized MBA personality.

“Do you even know how much money you have right now?”

Grady smirked. “A lot.” He had a financial manager who kept him on top of things, but he honestly didn’t know the exact balance of his accounts every single day. That was why he paid the best in the business to do it for him. “I look occasionally and the balances are always going up, so that’s good, right?” Okay . . . he was yanking her chain a bit, but he loved to watch her reactions.

Emily threw her hands in the air in frustration. “But what if it’s not invested properly? What if you could be doing better . . . but you aren’t . . . because you aren’t watching things?”

God, he loved watching her stubborn, protective look. Emily was trying to watch out for
him
, and his heart soared. But the worried look on her face got to him. He got up and walked to where she was sitting and picked up the laptop computer next to her. Holding the computer with one hand, he logged in to a website and handed the computer to her. “My portfolio is fine. See for yourself.”

She took the computer from him and stretched her legs out, propping it on her thighs.

He walked back to the desk and sat back down in his chair, watching her face as she flipped from one page to the next, her brows wrinkled in concentration. Smiling, he propped his feet on his desk and crossed his hands over his abdomen. Watching Emily had become his favorite activity. “Happy now?” he asked, after watching her analyze everything for several minutes, catching on to the workings of the portfolio tracker site very quickly. “Do you think my financial manager is doing a good job?”

“He’s more than good,” she said, her voice dripping with admiration. “He’s incredible. Who is he?” Her head was still down, her complete focus on the numbers.

“Jason Sutherland,” he answered, disgruntled, and not quite sure he liked the reverent expression on her face as he said Jason’s name.


The
Jason Sutherland?” she asked, her tone reaching the point of awe.

Grady nodded abruptly, now certain he hated Jason.

“My idol,” she sighed, setting the computer to the side as she looked up at him. “He’s incredible.”

“He’s not that great,” Grady grumbled, knowing he was lying. Jason was one of the most intelligent men he knew, but he wasn’t going to admit it when Emily had that dreamy look on her face.

“He doesn’t do personal portfolios. He doesn’t need to. He’s already worth billions, the golden boy genius of the investment world. I know you’re a wealthy man. Um . . . okay . . . really wealthy, but he doesn’t do portfolios for anyone but himself. He was already incredibly wealthy when I was in business school. I used to study his investment strategies. And he’s so young.”

“The same age as me,” Grady answered, wanting to not talk about Jason anymore. Emily looked too enthralled, and it was irritating him.

“How do you know him?”

“He’s my friend. I’ve known him since childhood,” he grumbled. “I suppose you think he’s gorgeous too?” Most women did, and the female adoration Jason got had never bothered Grady before, but it bugged the hell out of him now.

“Nope. I’ve never met him, of course, but I don’t think he looked the least bit attractive in his pictures. But he’s incredibly good with investments,” she answered, rising to her feet.

“You don’t think he’s hot?” Grady questioned, his voice full of disbelief.

“No,” she answered quietly, her hips swaying as she moved closer to Grady. “He’s too pretty, almost too perfect. I much prefer tall, dark beasts who make generous donations to charities and aren’t obsessed with their money.” She bent over and kissed him softly, lingering just long enough to make Grady nearly insane.

Her scent enveloped him, and her lips tasted like sweet coffee and sin.

She moved back slowly and rested her forehead against his. “I’m on to you, Grady Sinclair. You donate millions to charity. I thought your donation to the Center was incredible, but you do that all the time, don’t you? I saw some of the receipts, and I have a feeling there are a lot more I haven’t seen yet.”

Grady shrugged and swallowed hard before answering. “I don’t need the money. They’re all good causes.”

“I find men who donate millions quietly to charities without wanting people to know how generous they really are incredibly hot,” she said in a husky whisper.

Right at that moment, Grady wanted to donate most of his fortune to charity so Emily would find him even hotter.
Christ!
If he didn’t get inside this woman very shortly, he was going to spontaneously combust.

Mine!

“Did you actually think I was hot for your friend? Were you . . . jealous?” she asked slowly, as though she didn’t believe it was possible.

“Yes,” he answered immediately. “He might be my friend, but I wanted to tear his head off because I thought you wanted him. Does that scare you?” Honestly, it kind of scared the hell out of him.

I’m losing my fucking mind. I like Jason. He’s a good guy. But one mention from Emily that she admired him, and I’m ready to lose it.

“No. I’ve just never had a guy who wanted me that much,” she answered in a tremulous voice.

“I do,” he growled, grabbing her around the waist and swinging her onto his lap.

“Careful,” she scolded, trying to wriggle off his lap. “You still aren’t healed. Let me up.”

He wanted to tell her she was healing him, and his gunshot injury was doing fine too. “Kiss me first,” he demanded, spearing a hand through her hair, but waiting for her to kiss him because she wanted to be as close to him as he wanted to be to her.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she said nervously.

“Then you damn well better hurry up and kiss me, or I’m going to expire right here in this chair.” Shit, he was desperate, and he needed some connection to her right now. His cock was trying to burst out of his jeans, and he knew she could feel it cuddling up to her ass. “Stay here and let me keep your ass warm,” he told her gruffly, putting mild pressure on the back of her head. “Kiss me.”

Emily nibbled on her lip, as though she were considering the risks and benefits. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m dying,” he rumbled. “Kiss me or kill me.”

Emily giggled and boldly lowered her mouth to his.

CHAPTER 7

I’m in love with Grady Sinclair.

Emily knew how she felt about Grady with a certainty that was frightening. There was no wondering if it was true, or any indecision about if that love was the real thing. They’d known each other for such a short time, but he’d had her from the moment he’d helped her up from his porch and cleaned off her glasses for her without a second thought. He’d snatched her heart with that one insignificant but thoughtful gesture, and she’d fallen deeper and deeper as every piece of Grady’s puzzling personality fell into place.

Really, he wasn’t such a great mystery. He was a man who followed his conscience, led his life the way he needed to for his own happiness, and gave to others because he wanted to do it. And he was lonely, not because he wanted to be alone, but because he was afraid he’d never be accepted. He’d felt different all his life.

It made Emily want to give
him
everything he needed, but she was afraid. If she gave everything over to Grady and things didn’t work out, there would be nothing left, no pieces of herself to put back together. She loved him just that much, and he had the power to either destroy her or make her deliriously happy. Emily knew that with Grady, there was nothing in between. It was all or nothing.

Trying to turn off her own thoughts, she went to the living room and turned on the Christmas tree that she and Grady had decorated together. It was Christmas Eve, and their dinner was warming, everything finished—including the huge turkey Grady had insisted on, telling her he’d eat the leftovers. Neither one of them talked about what would happen after Christmas. It was as though they were both afraid to burst the bubble of happiness that surrounded them right now.

The phone rang, startling Emily with its shrill ringtone. It was Grady’s landline, and it hadn’t rung once since she’d gotten here.

Walking to the kitchen, she wondered if she should answer. Grady had gone into Portland, telling her he had business to attend to, but that he’d be back by dinnertime.

It could be Grady. Maybe he’s going to be late. Answer it.

The number was displayed as private, so she answered, fairly certain it was Grady. “Hello,” she said cautiously.

“Where is Grady? And who are you?” a haughty female voice asked Emily.

“I’m sorry. He’s not here. Can I take a message?” Uncomfortable, Emily shifted from foot to foot, wishing she hadn’t picked up the phone.

“Who is this?” the female voice insisted in a nearly hostile voice.

“I’m Emily. I’m here to visit Grady for Christmas,” she answered hesitantly, not wanting to piss off any of Grady’s friends or business associates. “Can I tell him who called?” she inquired again.

Emily heard a sound of disgust before the woman answered, “I’m Hope Sinclair. Grady’s wife. Get the hell out of my house.” The line went dead with a loud, decisive
click
.

Her hands shaking, Emily dropped the phone back into the cradle. Her heart hammering so fast she could feel it pulsating through her body, she quickly turned off all the burners on the stove.

I have to go. I have to go.

The need to flee was clawing at her, adrenaline flooding her body.

I never asked him if he had someone. I just assumed he didn’t.

There had never been any talk of Grady having a wife, but what did anyone really know about Grady Sinclair? He kept himself isolated, and maybe she traveled a lot. Or they could be separated. But he should have told her.

Pain sliced through her body, almost making her double over in agony. And with the pain came shame. She’d kissed another woman’s husband, done intimate things with him.

“Oh, God,” she whispered to herself in an anguished rasp.

No. No. No.

Emily couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, wanting nothing more than to get out of the house. She needed air, and she needed to clear her whirling thoughts—none of them good, none of them rational.

“Noooo!” she wailed as she yanked the front door open, jammed her feet into her sneakers, and ran.

There was snow on the ground, but she ignored it, needing to distance herself from the pain that was cutting her to shreds. It was cold, but she’d be okay if she just kept running, just kept moving. Maybe she could outrun the agony of Grady’s betrayal.

You don’t know the truth. Don’t jump to conclusions.

Her rational mind said it wasn’t possible, but holy hell, her heart ached, and her eyes were streaming tears, the flow trickling down her face.

Why didn’t he tell me?

She stopped, breathless and hopeless, at the shore. She made her way down a fishing dock that had been here as long as she could remember. It was weathered, but still sturdy. Standing at the end of the wooden structure, she looked out at the churning ocean. The sound of the crashing waves calmed her down a little, the turmoil matching the emotions that were slamming into her body all at once.

Pain.

Betrayal.

Fear.

Emptiness.

Despair.

Emily would have trusted Grady with her life, never imagining he’d hidden a secret that would destroy her.

The way he looked at me, the way he treated me . . . was everything a lie?

She really needed to leave before Grady got back. Part of her wanted to confront him, but she knew she needed time. She was hysterical, irrational. Her thoughts needed to be clear before she spoke with him or she’d lose it.

She had turned to leave, knowing she needed to go home and get herself together, when her foot skidded along the slippery, icy surface of the dock, making her lose her balance completely. One long slide, her slick sneakers propelling her sideways, and she tumbled into the churning waves with a startled, fearful scream.

BOOK: The Billionaire's Christmas (A Sinclair Novella)
2.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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