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The Billionaire's Desire
The Billionaire's Addiction
(A Steamy Billionaire Romance Boxed Set)
Alexander Jacobs knew his life would be different from now on. Nothing could prepare him for the changes that were soon coming. Had he known, he would have done things differently, prepared somehow. He would have tried to make his father proud of him, he would have loved his mother more.
He hung his head in his hands. There was nothing he could do now. His life was changed, and all he had left to focus on was tomorrow. Everything seemed too quiet now. His parents were both gone. They were killed by a drunk driver, he had no siblings, and only a few friends he could count on, friends he could trust that is.
He sat in the high-backed chair and took a deep breath. Even the friends he did have were busy with their own lives. He was 23 years old and still too young to know what he was doing most of the time. Now, he was going to have to run the family business that he hadn’t much thought about before.
He enjoyed the fruits of the family business. He always had everything he needed or wanted. He was spoiled and selfish. He shook his head because he knew that he would have to grow up fast.
Alex glanced up at the clock on the mantle. The meeting started at 2. That gave him ten minutes to get his head together. He started rifling through the ledger on his desk, trying to prepare for the day ahead. His parents had been gone for almost a week. The funeral was yesterday. They deserved more...deserved better. He would do his best to make them proud. He knew he would have to, there was no one else who could.
The only bright spot about yesterday's funeral was that Brienne Warhol was there. He remembered the day he first saw her in 4th grade. She was all elbows and freckles with her long red hair in braids. She was beautiful. They grew up in the same town, but were raised very differently. His family was wealthy, while her parents worried about where the next meal would come from.
She was always a gangly tomboy who loved playing in the dirt and riding bikes with the boys. All the other girls were happy playing inside with their Barbie dolls and practicing putting on make-up and nail polish. He smiled thinking about the 6th grade dance.
He prepared to ask her for weeks. She never seemed to notice he was there because she always busy with something else. Most of the boys thought of her as one of them. Not Alex, he was very much aware of the fact that Brienne was a girl. He had it all planned out and walked up to her at lunchtime. She was sitting at a table with some of their friends who were arm wrestling each other. He took a deep breath and simply said:
“ Brienne, will you go to the dance with me?” He said it casually, despite the fact that his heart was racing a mile a minute.
“ Sure.” She said it so quickly that he had to look at her to catch her eye and make sure she was actually responding to him. She gave him a slight smile and set out to arm wrestle, and beat, Bobby Anderson on the next match.
His dad sent him in a company car to pick her up the night of the dance and he was terrified. She came down the stairs in a green dress and her hair all brushed out, fluffy like orange cotton. She was beautiful. He opened the door for her, and once they were inside she started chattering away about school and how her "girly" shoes were so dumb.
He just let her talk. He liked the way she went on and on. He was always the quiet one and she didn’t know how to be. It may have been because she had no mother, and her dad was doing the best he could with her. Whatever the reason, she always had a lot to say. They pulled into the school parking lot and waited for their group of friends to show up. It was just like any other school day. At some point, she braided her hair so it would stop “flying all over the place” as she put it. The rest of the night was spent having fun with their other classmates. No dancing, and certainly not what he planned.
He smiled as he was brought back to the present. She came to the funeral. She was there for him, and he loved her all the more for it. They were friends now, not as close, but still friendly enough. She would send him emails from school and he would write back talking about whatever was going on in their sleepy town of Dale City Virginia.
He enjoyed the way she would write about her classes and about the men who asked her out. She went off to New York after high school because she dreamed of going to Columbia Law. She thought her best option would be to complete her undergraduate work there as well.
Brienne always worked hard to do well. Alex would frequently ask if she was okay and if she needed anything. She always told him no. She was defiant and determined to succeed. He admired that in her. He went to college locally at Mary Washington and studied Business. He had no clue what he wanted to do, and his father told him it was a great back up for whenever he figured it out.
Today he was thankful for that. Seeing her yesterday after such a long time was amazing. Gone were the braids and freckles, and in their place, was a sophisticated woman. She was still as beautiful as the day he met her. He never even had a chance to speak with her. She gave him a wave at one point and he smiled back.
She was rarely in town, and when she was, he always tried to make time for her. They would usually eat Chinese take-out and laugh, and listen to music from the year they graduated. The last time she visited was over two years ago. Even then, she hadn’t strayed much from The Brienne of middle school. It was obvious something changed. Yesterday, he was surrounded by his parents' friends and business associates. By the time he was able to get a few moments alone to visit with Brienne, she disappeared.
It would be easy to find her. She was staying with her father, who lived in the same house where she grew up. Her home was located in a small mill town, while Alex and his family enjoyed living in their gated mansion a couple miles away. His parents planned on having more children, but it never come to pass.
He had every intention of going to see her tonight. After this meeting of course. He stood and grabbed his paperwork, took a deep breath, and headed down the corridor. He could do this.
Two hours later, Alex pulled forcefully on the tie at his throat. What a mess. The merger was two days away when his parents were killed. He wanted to go home and grieve but this paperwork had to be done before something, or someone, showed up to rock the proverbial boat. He spent two hours being briefed about acquisitions and merger paperwork.
The logistics of operations, and the appointing of officers to manage the foreign accounts was almost too much for him to handle. Most of which he was in the dark about, but he would learn, he had too. The only person he trusted was Jameson, who was his father's trusted advisor and best friend. He was the one who prepared him for today and the one who would help him take the business to a new level. He would be okay, he had no choice.
Alex headed home to organize the pieces of his life he could still control, and to change and relax before tackling the next big thing that would inevitably come up. The driver pulled up to the gate and they moved on until they rounded the front of the house. Not really one for the rules, Alex jumped out of the car as they stopped. He refused to wait for the chauffeur to open the door for him, as he was capable and refused to follow all of the rules.
He bounced up the front stairs and opened the door to the main hall. He could smell his mother’s perfume when he entered the house. He hoped it would always be that way, but sadly, time erases everything. He made his way upstairs and changed into jeans and a t-shirt. He was sure being seen in town dressed so casually was something frowned upon now that he was the head of the business. He was suddenly forced to become his father. The thought made him cringe as his father had been stern and fair, but not easily approachable. His mother was the nurturer and his father, the businessman.
Alex ran a hand through his black hair and looked at his reflection for a moment. He had lines around his eyes. The stress was already taking a toll, and it had been days.
He dated his fair share of women, enjoyed having fun, and meeting different people. He would figure out his new life as he went along. He shrugged and grabbed his jacket as he headed out. He decided to walk. The April air was crisp and clean, and it helped him to clear his head.
Brienne always had something to say that would make sense, make it better. She never indicated she was interested in Alex at all. Once upon a time he thought she was the one for him, but instead, they only become good friends. That was worth so much more than romance or sex. He walked the quarter mile in silence thinking about his parents. They loved each other very much. They were always together, and the night of the accident was no different.
His father was hosting a dinner party to raise funds for one of his business mergers. His mother accompanied him, ever devoted to her husband. They said goodbye to Alex that night as he watched television in the den eating a snack. He yelled a hello and gave them a wave and a glance before they left. Why didn’t he go say goodbye the right way, why hadn’t he hugged his mother? The fact that he barely gave them a wave made his resolve that much stronger. He would make his parents proud.
He made his way up the driveway of the house Brienne grew up in. It was small and quaint, but clean. Even now, her ten speed bike was propped up against the side of the house. Untouched in years, it was a symbol of a childhood long gone. She opened the door before he even knocked.
“ Alex.” She smiled at him, opened the screen door, and came out on the porch. She hugged him tightly. “I’m so sorry about your parents.” She stood back, and he took her in. She was more beautiful than he could remember. She finally tamed her hair and was dressed in a black dress. She was elegant, and he was lost.
“ My dad is getting his treatments so I thought I should come outside to you.” She walked over to the swing on the porch. Her father was sick, he thought. She had such a hard life growing up but she was strong. They sat on the swing together for a few moments and chatted about the weather. She asked about work and he shared and she told him about school and how soon after she graduated she would be going to Columbia. She had been accepted.
“ Hey brat you made it in?” He sat up quickly.
“ Yes I did.” She nearly sparkled with the excitement.
“ Wow that’s great Brie that is wonderful. You worked so hard, I know you’re excited.” He grabbed her hand and gave her a squeeze. “Thanks, I am overwhelmed really. I have so much to do to get ready and…well there is a lot.” She smiled at him.
“ Well we have to go to dinner tonight and celebrate, my treat.” He offered and she accepted.
“ We never get to hang out anymore, like old times.” She sighed. “It was so much easier when we were kids. No one was sick and we all had each other. We had our family we had friends.” She sighed.
“ It certainly has changed, you're still a brat though.” He looked at the tree across the street, thinking. He stood up to go. “I’ll pick you up at 6, surprise restaurant, and wear something nice.” He smiled at her as she stuck her tongue out at him. He made his way back up the hill towards the bend in the road which would lead back to his house.
Damn you Alex. She watched him leave. He was so handsome, that was all she could think about. He had always been so damn handsome. It made it hard for her to concentrate when he looked at her. She hated the way he called her brat. He’d done it since they were in middle school. She looked down at the slippers she was wearing. They were so different, she and Alex. Once upon a time she thought he had a crush on her. It was probably at that horrible dance in 6th grade when she figured out he just wanted to be friends. He picked her up and she tried so hard to look pretty.
Her father enlisted help from the neighbor to help with “girl stuff.” They did their best. No one knew about conditioner yet and she’d had hair the size of a beach ball. He picked her up and they went to the dance. She talked him to death. It’s what she did when she was nervous.
Everyone thought she was just one of the guys and in some ways, she was. She loved playing football and wrestling and she hated getting dressed up. But there was something about Alex that made her feel funny. Looking back she knew it was because he made her feel like a girl. Feeling like a girl was a new idea for her that was for sure. Once they arrived at the dance mean Mary Jenkins pulled her aside in the bathroom and told her about the “bet”.
The boys all bet that she would be “different” if she dressed like a girl. So she knew then they were testing her, fearful their friendship would be gone for good. So she braided her hair in the bathroom and went back to being one of the guys. She refused to allow her heart to hurt because she wanted Alex to like her. They were all friends and that was more important than anything else and they didn’t want to lose her.
Even now she shook her head as she thought about it. The entire “group” was disbanded by now. Two of the group members left for the military. One was a teacher in town, one was killed in a boating accident, one was a police officer two towns over, and then there was she and Alex. It was funny that they were the only two who didn’t have people in their lives. That alone made no sense. Alex was not only the most eligible bachelor in Dale City he was gorgeous to boot. It made no sense at all.
She picked the pillow cushion on the seat as she swung lightly. She was no angel. She dated her fair share of men. Most of them where playboys and only wanting one thing from her. As she took her education more seriously, they took her less seriously. What she wanted was an equal, but who knew if that even existed. Alex was always out of her league anyway, he was rich, refined and charming, and she was all tomboy and barely had enough money to get through school.
Even today he in his designer jeans and she in her slippers with a hole in the big toe. She laughed lightly. They were on opposite ends of reality but they were friends and that was enough for her. She sighed, time to check on her father.
She made her way through the house and cringed. It was a mess. She hated leaving him alone for so long. She hadn’t been home in two years. It was just too expensive to come home, she needed every penny for school. He said he understood but it was hard for him. He had gotten sick some time ago and it never seemed to go away. He had breathing treatments and on the phone he always told her he was fine, being here now she knew he had been lying. The house was turned upside down. TV dinners and coffee seemed to be a staple for him and he had no one to come check on him. She found a clean spot on the couch in the living room and sat down to start planning her course of action and what she would tackle first.
A few hours later she looked around her. It was better than she had expected. She scrubbed every inch of the living room and kitchen. There wasn’t a speck of dirt on anything and the four large trash bags on the front porch was a testament to her hard work. She was filthy. Her hair in braids and wearing jeans and a tank top, she was a visible mess. Her father spent the afternoon resting and it wasn’t until there was a knock on the front door that she even considered how long she had been at it. She opened the front door to find Alex standing there. He was perfect. Blue suit and tie white shirt. His hair brushed back, he could have been on the cover of a magazine. She stood there for a moment before the realization set in that she had been working much longer than she realized. He smiled at her and it brought her back to reality quickly.
“ Alex, I …well see the thing is.” She looked down at herself and he cut her off.
“ I’m early brat, you have time to get ready unless you want to change the plan and do something more industrial?” She threw a rag at him and he chuckled. The truth was she was adorable. Hair in braids and cleaning, it was like he stepped back in time for a moment. He needed that moment. He felt normal even if for only a few moments. He settled onto a bar stool and watched her head upstairs to get ready.
“ I'll hurry Alex, I promise.” She called down the stairs to him.
“ Just wash your hair, whatever you do, I think I saw a candy bar wrapper in there.” He smiled.
“ Ha ha very funny mister fancy pants.”
He heard the bathroom door shut and the water come on. She always kept him amused if nothing else. He looked around the house. Her father was alone here and it was cozy. He much preferred a smaller space when being alone. It was nice - almost like the house was hugging you. Unlike the space Alex had at home. He was alone in a tremendous amount of space. She bounded down the stairs and the transformation was astounding. She straightened her hair somehow and was wearing a dark blue dress with a square cut neckline and black pumps. Her face was alive with pink cheeks and some light gloss on her lips. Otherwise she was without make up.
“ You gonna stare at me like I have two heads or are we going, Mr. Jacobs?” She put her hands on her hips and tapped her foot. He shook himself free of his thoughts and stood so they could go. The drive was pleasant and uneventful. He decided to drive them himself and made reservations in the town nearby.
They had reservation for 7 and he knew she was always multitasking so his early arrival was on purpose. They dined on oysters and salads, and he ordered steak for his main course and she the fish. They chatted about the past and who was where. It was over dessert when a burly looking man came over to say hello.
“ Alex and Brie…now if Junior and Jerry were here I’d be rich right now.” He smiled and Alex stood and embraced his friend. Brie did the same and kissed Brandon on the cheek. He was part of the “group” and had managed to stay close by. He wasn’t in uniform but Alex knew he become a cop a year or so ago. He was always the jokester of the group which made his profession that most interesting. He had always been the one to get them into trouble and now he was the one enforcing the rules.
“ Just look at you two, how long has it been two three years?” Alex motioned for him to sit and he did so.
“ My buddies and I are out celebrating a big bust we took down earlier today. I have to get back but after seeing "Red," over here.” He hooked his thumb towards Brie. “I just had to come say hello.”
Brie smiled at him. “You look great and congrats on the bust.”
“ I look the same, you on the other hand look great.” He leaned towards her obviously flirting and joking at the same time.
“ Sorry to hear about your folks Alex man, really. I was at the funeral but you were surrounded by people.” He sobered for a moment.
“ Thanks Bran that means a lot to me.” Alex took a long drink. “So why would you be rich?”
“ Oh yea that.” He chuckled “A long time ago Jerry and Junior and I made a bet on who was going to marry Brie. They said Mason but not me, I said Alex. We all put two bucks in and buried it under the old cotton mill steps.” He laughed and they joined in.
“ Well we’re not married so you’d still not be rich, besides that money was spent a long time ago.” Alex smiled at the shocked look on his face.
“ Well you two look married enough all fancy and laughing I just assumed…” he trailed off as Brie took a long drink of water. “Wait what do you mean that money was spent a long time ago?”
“ Well the thing is Mason and I heard about your bet and we dug that money up and bought soda pop and chips one afternoon. We sat by the old mill and laughed at how we pulled one over on you all.” Alex laughed at the look on his face.
“ Well damn, and here I thought I had $6 in savings I could count on.” He smiled at them and stood up. “I have to get going, y'all look real nice together so don’t fight the love people.” He sauntered off giving Brie a wink as he went.
“ Well Bran has certainly not changed a bit.” Brie changed the subject as to avoid and discussion about love.
“ Have I told you you look beautiful tonight Brie? I’m slow so I doubt I have but I wanted you to know it.”
He gave her a half smile and she blushed. What was wrong with him anyway, he was being awfully flirty. They wrapped up dinner and he headed back to her house. She had always been easy to talk to and having this time together was wonderful. She helped him feel more like himself than he had in a long time. They sat on the porch swing for a while. He wanted to enjoy laughing for a little while longer.
“ When do you head back?” He glanced over at her on the swing.
“ Tomorrow.” She looked down at her hands. “I have registration Monday and classes start next week. I feel like I should turn it all down though. Dad, he is just not well and I worry about him.”