Olivia Carter has a handsome, millionaire boyfriend she's madly in love with. The hitch? He's not real. She told the lie to save Forever, her wedding design shop. It worked—almost too well. Now she's designing a dress for an A-lister and appearing on talk shows...and everyone is waiting to meet Olivia's perfect man. And Olivia will do just about anything to save her newly successful career.
It's the perfect time for millionaire Mason Parker to save the day. Olivia and her father put Mason through hell as a teen, and his reasons for saving Olivia's gorgeous behind have everything to do with revenge. Olivia has something that he wants—beyond the clamoring need to claim her body for his own. He wants justice.
Even if the perfect revenge costs him the only woman he could love...
Each book in the Men of the Zodiac series is STANDALONE:
The Millionaire's Deception
The Millionaire's Forever
Ten Days in Tuscany
The Millionaire Daddy Project
Revenge Best Served Hot
The Prince's Runaway Lover
Seducing the Colonel's Daughter
One Night with the Billionaire
The Greek Tycoon's Tarnished Bride
Blurring the Lines
Her Sworn Enemy
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Millionaire's Forever
A Men of the Zodiac Novel
By Sonya Weiss, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Sonya Weiss
All rights reserved.
A life built on a lie is sure to collapse.
Olivia Carter stopped in the middle of pinning delicate fabric to a mannequin and cringed. Her late mother's advice played over in her mind at the most inopportune times, almost as if she could see when her only daughter was up to no good.
"It was one lie, and a little lie at that," Olivia muttered, lifting her eyes to look at the gold lettering etched onto the glass door of the wedding shop.
Forever, the lettering boldly proclaimed. Opening a wedding shop had been her and her mother's dream, but the cancer had fought harder than her mother had been able to and the day before Olivia's fifteenth birthday, she'd lost her.
As a young teen, for months after the diagnosis, she'd tried to be as good as possible, hoping that her good deeds would strike a bargain with the universe to spare her mother.
Sixteen years had passed since her mother's death and Olivia had finally been able to fulfill their shared dream. After she'd opened the shop, she'd worked hard to build up a clientele, but she'd struggled. Though her clients loved her creations and Olivia had used social media relentlessly, she hadn't managed to catch much attention.
Failure loomed dark and inevitable until the day she'd helped create a buzz for the business with that one tiny white lie. During an interview with a local newspaper, she'd mentioned her own fairy-tale love story with a rich, handsome, thoughtful boyfriend. One who didn't exist.
When the reporter had asked for her boyfriend's name, she'd smiled and coyly refused to give it. Only now, the lie had taken on a life of its own. That interview and the accompanying photo of one of her wedding dress designs had been picked up by a major entertainment news outlet and reached the eyes of a well-known A-list celebrity. Olivia was hired to create the dress the actress had worn for her wedding to another A- lister and had hoped her luck was about to change.
The next thing Olivia knew, she'd been featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show followed by a two-page article written about her in Wedding World Magazine, where she'd told the world how perfect her nonexistent guy was. How they'd met as teenagers and then found their way back to each other years later because they were fated to be together. She'd referred to them as Romeo and Juliet, but with a happy ending. The world had fallen in love with their love story. Their fake love story.
Now, she was heading toward trouble because people were beginning to have doubts whether her guy actually existed. She hadn't wanted to admit to herself whom she'd thought of as she'd created her fictional, smoldering-hot Romeo. She'd patterned him after Cash Mason Parker, the teenage boy who'd played the hero in all her high school daydreams.
If I could go back and do it all over again ...
Olivia sighed and rubbed her forehead, biting the inside of her cheek as she did so. She'd have kept her story on the straight and narrow. She'd stick to the facts if she could have a do-over. But on the other hand, if she hadn't lied, Forever would have gone belly-up. It would have been like losing a part of her mother. A lump stuck in Olivia's throat over the mother-daughter experiences they'd never have together.
The bell hanging on a string over the door handle jingled. Her friend and full-time employee, Beth, rushed in, eyes round with apprehension. "We shouldn't have gone no-technology yesterday and headed to the lake."
Olivia frowned. "We always go tech-free on our annual lake day-trip." Beth knew that. Olivia's mother had loved the lake, and after her death, she'd determined to keep the ritual going. Starting when they were seventeen, Olivia and Beth would head to the lake and sit on the dock to just let the world go by. They'd spend the time reading books, catching fish, and watching cute boys in boats zip around the lake showing off.
"I know we do, but the timing was really bad this year," Beth said.
"Why? I had to unplug to gain some sanity. Since that wedding dress design hit the news, the phone has rung off the hook. My email is flooded with messages from fans wanting me to create a dress for them like the one Heather Ramsey wore. What's the oh-no look on your face for? Beth, this is good."
"Good? Then you haven't seen the news at all?"
"No, I didn't even check my messages. I got up this morning, made my usual caffeine fix, and came straight to the shop. Why?" Olivia started searching in her purse for her cell phone. She'd forgotten to turn it back on this morning.
"Because the news is about you."
Olivia blanched and stopped her search, staring at her friend in horror. Had her secret been exposed after all?
"Take a look at this." Beth cleared a box of wedding tiaras from the top of the display case and put her tablet down. With a few swipes of her finger, she pulled up a news website.
In the middle of the screen was a video of a man proclaiming he was her boyfriend. Mr. Rich-Handsome-Thoughtful in the flesh. Olivia gaped. What nut would claim to be the boyfriend of a woman he didn't know?
Except ... She touched the screen. "That looks like ..." She paused as her mind searched for the connection.
The door opened and as the bell sounded, Olivia turned, smoothing down the sides of the simple blue dress she wore as she also smoothed away her frown. She fixed a smile on her face, expecting to greet a customer.
Her smile quickly disappeared. The Boyfriend Proclaimer! He looked much hotter in person than he had on Beth's small screen. He was tall, Olivia guessed about six foot two, and broad-shouldered with dark hair and thick lashes framing dark eyes. Eyes that stared into hers with a challenge she didn't understand. He was so jump-his-bones, incredibly handsome. There was something familiar about him, but she couldn't grasp it.
Beth scooped up her tablet, her eyes darting between them. "If you're okay, I'll be um ... getting a coffee." With a nod from Olivia, she quickly disappeared, leaving Olivia alone with the man. Her boyfriend, apparently.
Whoever he was, no matter how good he looked, she wasn't about to let him screw up her life. She could do that on her own, thank you. "What in the hell do you think you're doing pretending to be my boyfriend?" Olivia demanded.
His smile sizzled with a touch of mockery and a hint of sensuality that tugged at her only because her sex life had been in dry dock lately. No hands on deck, that was for sure.
"I'm helping you, Olivia," he said in a voice rich with promise.
She stiffened at the familiarity. "I'm afraid I don't understand, Mr. ...?"
She gasped. This drop-dead gorgeous, make-her-think-wanton-thoughts man before her was the boy she'd never been able to forget? Why was he was telling people he was her boyfriend?
"Why are you using your middle name?" Her voice lost the ability to do anything other than to force the words out on a stunned breath. The last time she'd seen him, his eyes had seethed with anger and bitterness as the court deputies led him away.
He shrugged as if it didn't matter, but she knew it did. His father had given him the name Cash after singing legend Johnny Cash. Olivia could still hear Mason's father shouting that day in the courtroom that his son was dead to him now.
"I've gone by Mason since the day I was sentenced to the Butler Field Juvenile Correctional Facility."
Though his hands clenched into fists, his cool tone didn't give away any emotion. He'd always been like that. Never giving away his innermost thoughts, even at the sentencing when those who knew Mason, including her own father, angrily demanded justice for what he'd done.
She'd known Mason since freshman year of high school. They'd been distant friends, sharing a few classes together. They'd never had a lengthy conversation though she'd always wanted to. Wanted to get to know the boy who'd fascinated her. But the chance was lost because of that fateful night the fire had destroyed the police department. The fire everyone said Mason set. The fire had raged on to burn down two homes behind the police station, narrowly missing injuring one family before it was controlled. It had been the talk of the town.
Thanks to the one-too-many she'd had at a party hosted by some of the footfall players, she couldn't recall much of anything about the night of the fire—just bits and pieces. Every time she tried to remember details of that night, something ominous hovered in the recesses of her mind that made her heart beat faster and caused her to feel uneasy.
"Why did you claim to be my boyfriend?" Olivia asked, more sharply than she intended. She found his presence unsettling and she didn't like it. It reminded her too much of the days she'd spent caught between the hope her mother might get better and the fear she wouldn't.
He leaned in closer, so close she caught a whiff of the mint on his breath, and this time, he didn't bother with a smile. "You know exactly why."
His nearness unleashed a barrage of desire in Olivia and she did her best to ignore it, but apparently not well enough, because her voice came out husky. "I don't know what you're talking about." She crossed her arms to hide her traitorous body's response to him.
Mason pulled a rolled-up magazine from his jacket pocket and dropped it onto the counter. He tapped the cover with the back of his knuckle. "Nice article about the beautiful, untouchable Olivia." His lips curved slightly and Olivia shivered. When he was a teenager he'd had a reputation as the guy nobody wanted to cross. One hard look from him was enough to make any other boy back down.
His dark eyes traveled the length of her body in an intimate perusal before returning to her face. "What I wouldn't have given back then to make you mine," he said softly.
The admission surprised her. "Then why didn't you ever ask me out?"
"And risk incurring your father's wrath?" He shook his head. "No way would I have touched you. But now that I'm your boyfriend ..."
Olivia took a step back, fighting to keep her words as civil as possible. "Has the sun in Texas baked your brain, darling? You are not my boyfriend."
He moved past her with the walk of a man who owned the world and settled himself on the arm of the plush sofa pushed back against one wall. "That's where you're wrong, sweet Olivia. I've been your boyfriend since the moment you told that lie."
She licked her bottom lip, her body heating to the temperature of lava when his eyes slowly followed the movement. Her wicked imagination could picture other things he could do to heat up her body temperature. Pull yourself together. How can I still have those old feelings for the guy-not-taken? Besides, they were worlds away from who they'd once been.
"How'd you know it was a lie?"
"I did my homework."
Putting her hands on her hips, hoping she sounded firm rather than breathless, she demanded, "What do you want? Money? You want to blackmail me?"
He laughed derisively. "Sweetheart, I have more money than you could make in a hundred lifetimes."
"What did you do? Branch out from arson to robbing banks?"
His laughter dissipated and his face darkened. He rose so swiftly that Olivia took a hasty step back. "I didn't start that damn fire and neither did my friends."
Olivia didn't know what to think, what to believe about that. She'd wanted so badly to believe in his innocence back then, but when she'd gone to his house to ask him about the fire, he'd refused to talk to her. Later that week she'd seen the arson investigator's report her father had left lying on his desk. Mason had bought gas in a container from a nearby gas station minutes before the fire. He'd hated her father and the deputies for always harassing him and his friends. The report stated that all four of the boys had opportunity and motive.
Mason and his three friends had been sentenced, but he'd received the harsher punishment. He'd run with a wild crowd of bad boys, but everyone knew he was the leader. His exploits made the rumor mill rounds and had mothers giving warnings to daughters that definitely went unheeded based on Mason's reputation in high school.
"I think you should leave."
He studied her, those dark eyes taking in the flush she felt creeping up her face. "You're not worried that I'll blow your cover? What would everyone say if the truth about your 'boyfriend' came out?" he mocked.
Damn it, he was right. She couldn't let that happen, not now with her big break at hand. Her business would fold as fast as a wedding tent caught in the middle of a hurricane. She'd have to say good-bye to her dream of making Forever not only a tribute to her mother, but also the go-to place for one-of-a-kind wedding dresses. She'd lose credibility and become fodder for late-night talk show hosts. She cringed at the thought.
"If it's not money you're after, what is it?"
Mason moved closer and Olivia felt the heat radiating from his body. "You."
As if. Her breath caught. "Don't think for one second I'm available to become another tally mark on your sexual score sheet. I will not be pushed into sleeping with you regardless of your phony boyfriend announcement."
"I've never pushed a woman into my bed." His smile was pure confidence.
"That's right, you've always had plenty of women, haven't you?"
"There's no reason to be jealous. From now until our relationship is finished, I only have eyes for you."
"I'm not jealous and— What relationship?" Olivia asked as she realized what he'd said.
"Our relationship. I'm going to play the part of the very loving boyfriend you invented."
Olivia hoped her thoughts in regard to his statement weren't showing on her face. "Uh-huh, and in the rest of your fantasy, do hordes of women in skimpy French maid costumes grant your every desire?"
"It's not a fantasy. I'm going to continue to play the part of your loving boyfriend and by the time our relationship ends, you'll have agreed to sell me the land Butler Field Juvenile Correctional Facility sits on."
"I'm not entering into a relationship with you and I'm definitely not giving you the land. Why would I do that?" Olivia laughed. "That land has been in my family for generations and it meant a lot to my mom." Her great-grandmother's home used to be on that land. Not only that, in an effort to help the incarcerated teens turn their lives around, her mother had volunteered time with a nonprofit organization that made weekly visits to the facility. How could she let go of something that had been a part of her mother? "Why do you even want it?" She paused. "Is this about my father? As the police chief, he was only doing his job when he arrested you and your friends."
He closed his eyes for a brief second as if fighting for control. "Your father ruined my life. And you will sell me the land because there's a lot at risk for you if you don't." Mason shrugged. "I'll call a press conference, tell the media I was just trying to cover for you for old times' sake."
Olivia narrowed her eyes. He thought he had her between a rock and a hard place, damn him. Would he really do such a thing? She searched his expression for any sign of softening, but his jaw was firm, his gaze steady on hers. No weakness, no kindness showed on his gorgeous face. Olivia bit her lip as she thought over her dilemma. She had to do something to stop the reporters from finding out there was no boyfriend.
"And if I agree to this plan of yours, how long do we have to pretend that we're a couple?"
"I think six weeks should do it. By then, I'll have convinced you to sell me the land."
"And if I'm still not convinced?"
"You will be," he said in a tone that oozed self-confidence.
"But if I'm not? Aside from not being outed for my lie right now, what do I gain out of this arrangement?" Olivia pressed.
"I'll keep your secret—even if it means I have to go all the way to the altar to do so."
Excerpted from The Millionaire's Forever by Sonya Weiss, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2015 Sonya Weiss. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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