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Bound by Him
Billionaire's Club #3
By Red Garnier
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 St. Martin's Press
All rights reserved.
The sights, the scents, the noise ...
Andrew Fairchild leaned back in the seat of his Challenger jet, taking in the lights flickering below. He could almost feel the wind, smell the damp air of Lake Michigan, hear the traffic, the pedestrians.
The city where he'd been born and hadn't set foot in for over a thousand days. The city where he'd lost his virginity, had partied until dawn, the city where he'd become as rich as Midas. The city where he'd expanded his family's empire — real estate, hotels, and oil, gas, and energy across the world. He owned thousands of acres of the most prized spots in Chicago. But Chicago owned him.
He'd seen the world when he was young, he'd been everywhere, done everything — nothing had rivaled what he'd found here. Right at home. In the arms of one beautiful young woman.
His chest swelled at the thought of her, and an insanely hard erection pressed against his tailored slacks. His mouth watered at the prospect of feeling her red hair — as fiery as her personality — wrapped around his flesh again.
Every nook and corner, every plane, every angle of her small, slender body, he knew it by memory. He'd drawn it in charcoal. He'd photographed it. He'd fucked it. He'd kissed it in its entirety, fondled it to his will and liking, loved it like there was no tomorrow.
What would she do when she saw him? Would she still scream in pleasure when he grabbed her hips down and pounded her? Hard. Harder. Harder than ever. Would she still bite him until he bled? Would she writhe like all those days and nights they'd tumbled in his bed, in the kitchen, on the couch, the floor, against the wall?
He stroked her name, which was tattooed on his wrist, and tried to picture her face, imagining how she might have changed, how she would look when she saw him again.
She'll fight you. She'll deny anything she feels for you ...
He smiled sadly at the thought. He wanted to make love to her, not war. Time and distance hadn't diminished his need of her. On the contrary. The need, powerful, consuming, had built and festered with every passing day until now there was a black hole inside him only she could fill. Now there was a roiling tornado of emotions, all of them for her, all of them at the thought of seeing her, feeling her, smelling her up close.
He'd told her that his work took him abroad, and that the search for new oil fields in the Middle East was dragging him deeper into unchartered territories, where communication was impossible.
No amount of work, no amount of money, would've taken him from her for three years. Nothing. Except this.
His companies — he had a thousand things to do, and a thousand things to check up on. He hoped his CEOs had taken charge, and that his investments had proven fruitful. He hoped his friends were still well and thriving, hoped that nobody was dead, but more than that, what he prayed to his dying breath to find, alive and well and waiting for him, was Whitney Donahue.
Chest heavy with anticipation, he felt as his bird, a beauty that flew like a cloud in the air, hit the ground, and as soon as it taxied to a stop, Andrew unlatched his seat belt and stood.
"Home sweet home, right?" Air Marshal Gregory Johnson asked.
Andrew met his gaze and held out his arms, watching him unlatch his handcuffs.
"That's right," he softly murmured. Once his hands were free, he stroked his tattoos with Whitney's name again. He'd never in his life been so grateful than when the pilots pulled open the plane's door and the air — pure, crisp Chicago air — bit into his face with a frigid chill.
His hair flew in the wind as he climbed out of his jet to find his chauffer and assistant waiting for him. "Did you find her?" he immediately asked after greeting them, taking the five huge folders he was handed.
"Yes, sir. She's at the Women for Women Gala tonight, sir, at the Four Seasons Hotel," his primary assistant said.
He nodded in approval at the new suit his chauffer, Jerry, held out. "Drop me off at the first of our hotels; have a room ready for me to change. We'll head over there right after," he said, and hardened his voice when he added, "Burn whatever luggage is on the plane. I don't want to see it again."
* * *
"He's on the way! Oh my God, what if he chooses me?"
"What do you even do with a billionaire?"
"Shut up! They say this one's extremely good-looking and young, and that someone here will die when she sees him. Chloe says she already knows who he's probably going to choose!"
Whitney Donahue laughed at all the fuss surrounding her. A mysterious billionaire was apparently on his way here. He'd ordered that no one leave the event, for he would bid for a kiss tonight and donate a million dollars in exchange.
Since all the ladies in attendance had gathered for the sole purpose of selling kisses to help abused women across the country, they all tittered in excitement over who it was that the billionaire would choose.
As one of the organizers, Whitney hadn't planned to kiss anyone tonight. Not tonight, or any other night. Nor was Chloe Lexington, her good friend and fellow organizer, up for grabs.
Chloe's kisses were strictly reserved for Graves Buchanan, the man she loved and who'd been at her side the entire evening. They made a striking couple. Chloe was fair, and Graves was dark, and when they were together, there was always a part of their bodies, even if only their little fingers, attached. And Whitney? Oh, no, she was not up for sale.
One time getting her heart broken had been good enough, thank you very much.
She'd devoted the past three years to expanding Women for Women so they could reach even more women in need, and she'd steered clear of men as much as she could. She'd been burned before by a man, and had no interest in any kind of contact with their species.
They were all the same.
They'd want sex ... they'd make you burn like a thousand fires until you promised to belong to them forever ... and then they'd leave.
Heart imploding at the memory, she stroked her fingers along a sable tattoo, the word ANDREW surrounded by an elegant Celtic ink bracelet that completely circled both of her wrists.
The brand was as permanent as the one he'd left in her heart, and now both marks lay nestled discreetly under the wide gold-cuff bracelets she used to hide them. Oh, no, she was not up for sale. How could she? After Andrew, she would never belong to anyone again.
"Whitney, you need to do this, too!" Chloe came up in a flash of gold silk, green eyes dancing with excitement. "We can't miss out on snagging this guy's interest. Think of all the women we'll help with a million dollars!"
Whitney's stomach clenched at the memory of her own abused childhood. She'd had doting parents, but when they'd both perished in an awful hotel fire in Las Vegas a decade ago, her father's brother had become her guardian. The bile rose up Whitney's throat as she remembered him. "Of course I won't deny a million dollars for our cause," she told Chloe. "I'll do it. If I'm chosen, I'll kiss him."
"Tell us who he is!" Another woman blushed. "Is it your sexy brother, Chloe?"
Chloe shrugged and shot a playful smile at Whitney. "The condition for his arrival was to keep it a mystery, but you'll know soon enough. Oh, I think he's here! Line up, ladies," she said, ushering them forward.
Whitney followed several dozen women onto the empty dance floor. Suddenly, the room fell ominously silent. She turned curiously as all eyes focused on the open doors, but her view was obstructed by several other, more eager women who were up on their toes.
"All ladies forward, please. Our last-minute bidder has arrived," the auctioneer of the night said into the microphone.
The formal auction had ended thirty minutes before, after each of the ladies had taken the stage, one by one. Now, some forced improvisation was necessary for the new bidder, and he'd have to review the women side by side.
"Whit!" called the lively brunette who'd fetched five thousand dollars for her kiss just minutes ago, and she hauled her over to the center of the line.
Whitney followed, trying to smile but failing miserably. She was tired, and she wanted to go home, soak her feet, and watch something funny. She didn't want a man. She didn't want to even feelanything. It had taken too long to get to the point of blessed numbness.
Gasps erupted across the ballroom as a dark-clad man appeared through the doors, and it seemed like the crowd parted like the Red Sea for him.
Whitney blinked, and her heartbeat picked up unexpectedly.
His shoulders were broad, and he towered above all the others.
He reeked of power. Strength. Just the way he strode forward told you he'd made it big. Her eyes raked over six feet of pure man, pure sin, pure fantasy, and then she stared deeply into his drop-dead gorgeous face.
His drop-dead gorgeous, achingly familiarface.
Her sex spasmed when she found herself staring into a pair of liquid coal eyes she'd feared never seeing again.
Andrew Fairchild. Oh, God. He looked so ... male. Grown. Mature. And sexy as hell. His jaw was lean bone, his eyebrows drawn low and dark, dark as those piercing eyes, looking down at her like they used to. His lips were still sensual and sinful, slightly tilted at the corners.
A piercing arrow of lust sliced through her; her nerves, her cells, every inch of her body recognizing him. Wanting him.
The world came to a standstill. The background music was drowned out by the sudden sound of her heart thundering as he continued advancing. In her direction.
Adrenaline coursed through her as she prepared for fight or flight, her breath held in a chest that suddenly felt heavy with so much emotion she thought she'd explode with it.
She hadn't felt lust in years.
She hadn't felt this pull. Magnetic. Overwhelming. In years.
He was ... still him. Her childhood sweetheart. Her only love. The man who'd taken her body, her heart, and her soul.Who'd protected her from ... from Uncle Harry ... from what she'd done to him ... from what he'd done to her ... from everything. From everything, except from the only thing that could destroy her — him.
Tall, with those obsidian eyes, that sable hair, that sensual smile, that scruff on his jaw, and those beautiful lips, she was dying while still alive as he stretched out his hand to her, and said, in a voice that made her knees melt, "I've been waiting a thousand days to look into your face, Whitney Donahue. Will you dance with me?"
Cheers erupted all around her as his choice was made clear to the group of people. But Whitney stared at his hand, his long fingers, dying. Dying. His musky scent had been imprinted in her nostrils, and now her lungs were burning to breathe more of him inside her. He was a powerful man, with an oil and energy empire that spread across the world, and he'd had the power to make Whitney love him beyond reason.
Years ago she'd melted in his arms, melted. She was still not ... solid. How could she resist him now? After she'd spent nights and days, taking out his precious few letters, aching to read between the lines, searching for something she'd missed, some sort of clue to when he was coming back home.
He was so much more masculine now, her body was coming alive in a way she hadn't felt since he'd left. He kept staring at her with those all-knowing black eyes that cut through her like sharp little diamonds, a small smile on his lips.
Whitney envisioned herself wrapping her arms around him like a monkey and crushing his mouth, taking every part of him she could into her body, but she wouldn't. Of course she wouldn't. She hated him now. Didn't she?
Will you dance with me ... ?
Heart thundering as the fight-or-flight urge really took charge, and flight seemed the better option, she glanced toward the exit that would lead to the elevators. Before, she'd always run toward Andrew, and he'd catch her, twirl her, kiss her, hold her ... never had she run away. She'd never imagined that she could even be capable of it.
"Don't even think about it," he warned, his voice hard as one strong arm clasped her wrist and yanked her to him. He held her, his voice hypnotic as he drew her into a dance that followed the haunting love song that now played in the background, his lips brushing her ear. "Never. Ever. Run away from me, Whitney."
Whitney swallowed the surge of arousal that came with his words as she met the wide-eyed, delighted eyes of some of the crowd members behind him. Don't make a scene, don't make a scene. It's just a kiss ... you can still resist him. He can only break your heart once — and that's over with. You'll never love again. Haven't you proved that to yourself?
She set her hand tentatively on his shoulder, but unfortunately he wasn't so tentative. His fingers opened wide across her bare back, pressing her tightly against his solid form. She could feel his erection. Could feel his thigh slide between hers, sensuously arousing her. He whispered huskily into her ear. "Is your heart beating as fast as mine?"
It beat faster at the sound of his voice so near. So fast that she felt each pump in her temple, her sex, her feet. "No," she said thickly, hating that she had trouble speaking that little lie.
His chuckle seduced her, his chest vibrating against the tip of her breasts. The proximity of his mouth to her ear still wreaked havoc on her libido as his body moved against hers. "You look good enough to eat, Whitney," he rasped, "and I want to be the one to feast on you tonight."
She stiffened as her pussy creamed at his indescribably sexy words, his intoxicating masculine scent surrounding her, his presence an assault on her senses that she had never expected to experience again. "The only thing you're getting tonight is what your money buys you. A kiss," she said tightly.
"Mmm. Then I can't wait."
Her skin pebbled as his fingers stroked up her spine, to the fall of hair at her nape. His breath was warm on her ear, burning her, consuming her.
His tongue slipped out to caress her earlobe. Bolts of pleasure rushed through her, and Whitney's eyes stung from the force. She began to tremble, hating him because she could still, still, after all these years, want him like this. Her nipples ached in her dress, and the urge to be with him was so acute, she could envision pulling out his manhood, yanking up her dress, and having hot hate sex with him right now on the dance floor.
He drew back to meet her gaze as though he could read, sense, her every unspoken desire, and his eyes were livid with carnal thirst. It had always been combustible between them, always.
He glanced around them, then started pulling her across the room, toward the emergency exit, into the stairwell, and before she knew it he'd pressed her against the wall, and he was sliding his hands into her hair.
His eyes were unexpectedly wild, his face so impossibly beautiful her eyes blurred at the sight of it. "I know you're angry. I know you hate me right now. We both know that's going to pass. But this ..." He tangled his hands deeper into the free mass of her hair and fisted them, his gaze clawing her like talons as he bent his forehead to hers. They were both breathing fast. "This, Whitney ... this will never pass between us. Never."
He dragged his nose down the length of hers, his breath scorching a path down to her lips ...
"Don't, Andrew, don't." She turned her head away from his kiss and pushed at his chest, hating that he'd taken a slice of her with him to the Middle East, and she hadn't been the same ever since.
She felt only half alive, half a person, without him. Even now, when she was desperately trying to go on as if she'd never heard his name, much less had belonged to him; no man could ever surpass the immeasurable standard of his kisses, his touch.
No man could ignite the flames inside of her like the mere thought of him did.
"Whitney." The way he looked at her lips made her tremble. A slumbering intensity crept into his eyes. And though they blazed with emotion for her, he said, softly, firmly, unapologetically, "There's a little string" — he pointed at his chest and then at hers — "from here to here. I don't need to tie you. We're bound to each other, wherever we are, whether we like it or not. You're bound to me."
Excerpted from Bound by Him by Red Garnier. Copyright © 2013 St. Martin's Press. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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