Maid for the Billionaire
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Thomas gathered some papers and shook his head. “I guess life does come full circle. Do what you want, Dominic, but your father finally had the best of intentions when he wrote this into the will.”
He nodded kindly to Abby, opened the door to the office and handed Dominic a copy of the will. “Show your lawyers, son, then come back to see me.”
Dominic took the papers even though he clearly didn’t want to. He pulled Abby behind him through the door. She had to double step to keep up. “I won’t be back,” he said over his shoulder.
“If you don’t return, I’ll know one thing for certain.” Thomas tossed back from the entrance of his office.
Dominic stopped at outer door, positively seething and glared back over his shoulder at the older man. Skidding to a halt behind him, Abby barely avoided slamming into Dominic at his sudden stop. She would have slipped her hand out of his, but his attention was firmly planted on the lawyer and no amount of squirming released his vice grip. “And what would that be?” Dominic ground out.
Thomas slid his glasses up the bridge of his nose and stated, “That you finally did become your father.”
It wasn’t until they’d reached the interior of the limo again that Dominic realized he still held Abby’s hand in a crushing grip. Poor woman, he must have dragged her down the hallway behind him during his grand exit. He let her go with more reluctance than he would have liked.
He braced himself for the verbal assault he knew was coming. It was no more than he deserved. What kind of idiot invites a woman he barely knows to share one of the ugliest moments of his life? She had every right to call him her full vocabulary of insults.
Her silence beside him was as painful as any thrashing could have been.
He wished she'd just say it and let it be done. He was a horrible human being, he knew it. An unspeakably poor example of a son, a disappointment as a brother, and a money driven monster in general.
Abby was with him today only because he'd threatened her sister's job. He was a multi-billionaire who wasn't above blackmailing a school teacher. Doesn’t that just say it all?
Was that what held her tongue? Was she trying to think of way to get out of the vehicle without incurring his wrath? During the construction of his financial empire, he'd bent his moral code more than he cared to admit, but today was a new low, even for him.
If only she'd just say it.
“Where to, sir?” the driver asked.
Abby answered before Dominic had the chance. “We'll need to go shopping,” she said. “There is a mall in North Attleboro on Route 1.”
Dominic turned to Abby in surprise. If she were any other woman he'd assume that her own self-gratification had overshadowed her comprehension of the past hour. However, her amber eyes were brimming with a compassion he neither deserved nor welcomed.
“It's time for me to get back to New York,” he said to the driver. “You take Ms. Dartley home. Stop at the mall on the way if she wants. Have any charges billed to me and call a second limo to take me to the airport.”
“Wait,” Abby said.
The driver hesitated which gave a direction for some of Dominic's anger. “If you like your job, I'd make the call.”
The driver began to call in the order for the second limo.
“It's just a mall,” Abby interjected as if issuing a dare.
Dominic sat back and squared his shoulders. “I'm not in the mood for shopping.”
“Afraid?” she asked softly, so softly he almost missed it. His head whipped around. His sweet little middle school teacher had an impish glint in her eyes.
“Not interested,” he lied. He was becoming more interested each time she surprised him.
She crossed her legs slowly, fully aware that she had his attention once again and folded her hands over her exposed knee. She let out an actress like dramatic sigh. “Then you'll never know where I was going to take you after the mall.”
There wasn't a man on the planet who could have resisted her in that moment. She was pure temptation. He leaned toward her and growled, “Why not take me there now?”
She shrugged lightly as if the opportunity had passed. He reached across the foot that separated them to drag her into his lap, but she scooted further away and said, “We're not dressed for where I want to go.”
He shifted closer to her. “Are you sure clothes will be necessary?”
“Positive,” she said. Her laughter just about sent his blood pressure through the roof of the limo.
Forget the plane. He instructed the driver to cancel the other limo and head toward North Attleboro. This was one merger he wasn't going to miss.
Abby refused to start doubting herself now. If she hadn't wanted this throbbing, almost visible sexual tension to return, she could have accepted his offer to end the day early. He would have let her go and that probably would have been the last she'd ever see of him.
The problem was, she didn't want the day to end. Yesterday, he had been a two dimensional, gorgeous, amazingly arrogant sexual fantasy.
Today he was also a man. A complicated man who had escaped the misery of a controlling father only to hold himself in an even more painful vice grip of guilt.
He wanted to run. She knew that feeling far too well. She'd spent most of her adult life running from the sadness of the loss of her parents. No, she hadn't gotten on a plane and flown away, but she had distanced herself emotionally so much from whom she had been that she barely knew herself anymore.
She wasn't the strict, rule following, penny pinching, starched shirt facade she'd hidden behind for years. No wonder Lil had rebelled. Abby had tried to force her sister to hide from life with her; afraid that if either of them stepped off the straight and narrow, tragedy would strike again.
Dominic was fighting his own emotional demons. On the surface he looked like a man who needed nothing and no one, but he’d shown her the man behind that façade when he’d clung to her hand.
Their connection was as exhilarating as it was terrifying. Dominic had offered her the chance to end this adventure, but something told Abby that they were meant to meet. Being with him was teaching her about herself and she hoped that on some small level she was able give him that same gift.
A plan for the day was forming in Abby's mind; a purely impulsive plan that she would have dismissed last week. Today, she gave in to the possibilities. Lil was right, it was time to start living again.
When they pulled into the parking lot of the mall, Abby gathered her purse to her side and announced, “This is a race. The first one back in the limo dressed in jeans, a t-shirt and sneakers wins.”
The seriousness of the day fell aside and Dominic’s predatory smile returned. “And what exactly will I win?”
Overconfident billionaire, Abby thought smugly. He might rule the business world, but when it came to shopping, she doubted he'd ever purchased his own clothes. That alone would slow him down.
“The winner gets the right to decide how we spend the rest of the day,” she declared.
His eyes flared with interest. “I like the sound of that. I know just where I'm going to take you.”
Not giving him time to plan his strategy, Abby threw her door open, sprinted onto the sidewalk and announced over her shoulder, “So do I!”
Upon his return, Dominic flung the rear door of the limo open before his driver could scramble to get it for him. He grunted in response to Abby’s triumphant smile. She had already given the driver directions to their destination and was loving every moment of her victory.
As luck would have it, she'd shopped in that very mall a few days earlier and impulsively tried on an expensive designer pair of jeans. They hugged her curves as if made for her. Since they weren't practical, she hadn't purchased them, but today she'd snatched them off the rack with confident abandon. She'd added a maroon, v neck t-shirt that revealed just enough of her cleavage to make most men take a second look and had dashed for her favorite brand of sneakers; determined to not only win this race, but look damn good doing it.
Dominic climbed in and slid onto the seat next to her, appearing less than pleased with the outing. “Do you know that no amount of money will raise the IQ of a teenage clerk? What kind of department store hides everyone above the age of twenty from the public?”
“Don't be a sore loser, Dominic. You never had a chance.” Abby patted his jean-clad knee in mock sympathy and snatched her hand back in response to the jolt of attraction she felt from that brief touch. If she'd been hoping that he'd be less appealing in casual clothing, she couldn't have been more wrong. His dark blue cotton t-shirt revealed his natural athletic build and flat stomach.
He grabbed her hand and placed it back on his thigh, holding it neatly captive beneath his much larger one. “Why do I get the feeling that you cheated?”
She let out a shaky breath. Remembering her original altruistic reasons for the day’s outing was proving difficult when all she could think about was her body's reaction to their one point of contact. Her stomach quivered with an anticipation she was beginning to associate with any proximity to Dominic. “You're a businessman. Are you above using a natural advantage to win?”
He slid her hand up his thigh an inch, his breath quickening along with her own. “When it comes to winning, there isn't much I wouldn't do.” He leaned toward her, close enough for a kiss, but stopped before their lips met as if he were debating something with himself.
She said, “You sound like you're warning me.”
He released her hand and with very little effort, turned to lift her so she was facing him, straddling him, on the seat. “You made your choice an hour ago. I just don't want you to imagine this is more than it is.” He held her still with one hand on either hip. “Or that changing your mind is an option.”
She sat back, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “So many threats. Haven't you ever heard of the honey and vinegar adage?”
“That's never been my maxim. Not then, not now. You're here only because I threatened your sister's livelihood.” His right hand caressed upwards until his thumb rested just below the swell of her breast.
Abby almost laughed, but gazing down at him, she realized he was serious. She put a reassuring hand on one of his well-muscled shoulders. “Do I look like a woman who was blackmailed into being with you today?”
His gray eyes darkened to near black as an inner storm raged. “No, but you do look like the kind of woman who should run from a man like me.”
There was such pain in his expression, she leaned down and pressed a kiss to his forehead rather than his lips. She whispered, “I’m not worried.”
With both hands on her sides, he leaned her back so he could see her expression. “You should be.” He shifted her hips forward so she could feel his excitement throb through their denim.
Unusually brazen, Abby rubbed herself against him, reveling in the way his thighs tightened and his hands moved to halt her hips, as if he feared his reaction if she continued. She said, “Maybe you should be, too.”
He put a hand behind her neck and pulled her in for a kiss. Abby tasted him hungrily. Everyone deserved one night so good the memory of it would elicit a secret smile decades later. She just hoped her surprise destination didn’t break the mood.