Beauty and the Billionaire (Page 28)

Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(28)
Author: Jessica Clare

“I won’t. Do you want to hear more?”

“Absolutely,” she breathed. “This is as dirty as those letters I’ve been reading.”

He chuckled again, which never failed to cause her to squirm with pleasure. “We want the Papa Meilland to bloom and mature. Once it has, we take the pollen from the Papa Meilland and transfer it to the Blue Girl. We let the Blue Girl go to seed, collect those, and plant them to see what we’ve created.”

“Hmm,” she said, her voice breathy with distraction from his touch. “This isn’t a fast hobby, is it.”

“I’m a patient man.”

“You think long term, don’t you?” If what he was saying was true, it’d definitely be months—maybe even years—before her rose ever came to fruition. Would they even know each other by then? She’d be long gone.

For some reason, that sent a stab of unhappiness through her. She turned her face slightly, offering her lips for a kiss. She wanted to be taken hard and rough by him to forget all about her troubles.

But the kiss he pressed on her lips was light, soft, and tender, the barest brush of his mouth across hers. “I love you, Gretchen. Don’t be sad.”

He loved her? All breath escaped her lungs. She stared up at him in surprise. “Hunter, I . . . I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything.” His hands continued to caress her, moving all over her body, as if he couldn’t get enough of her. “I’ve never met anyone like you. If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never feel as deeply for anyone as I feel for you right now. You bring light and sunshine to my life. I’m not telling you that I love you to make you unhappy. I’m telling you thank you. Thank you for coming into my life.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but was stopped when he pressed a finger to her lips.

“Don’t say anything, Gretchen,” he murmured. “I’m a practical man. I never thought to have a woman in my life, ever. I thought my face would turn off any woman worth having. I never thought I would be lucky enough to meet someone like you. I have no illusions as to what this means to you, but for me, it is the world.”

She smiled softly at him and snuggled closer. “Sounds like fate’s brought us together.”

“Yes,” he said, and his voice was curiously dry. “Fate.”


I love you most ardently, my dearest. It’s becoming impossible for me to spend even a day without you. This is interminable, these endless partings between us. I ache to be with you. My love grows every moment of every hour, much like my passion for you. I—

Gretchen put the letter aside with a sigh. For some reason, reading the endless declarings of adoration and oversexed adulations of Lula and Ben were bothering her today. Maybe she’d woken up in a bad mood. She thought of the way that Hunter had woken her up that morning—with a kiss and his hand between her legs. Nah, that hadn’t been it.

Maybe it was the rapidly mounting piles of work and her ever-approaching deadlines.

Or maybe it was because she felt like a jerk.

Lula and Ben were clearly in love. Wildly, passionately in love. Every day they wrote letters to the other, going on and on about how much they loved each other and wanted to be together. And last night, Hunter had declared his love for her.

And she’d sat there and stammered like an idiot.

It wasn’t surprising that this had happened. They were spending a lot of time together. Pretty much every moment that one of them wasn’t working, in fact. They were having an intense sexual relationship. And on top of that, she was Hunter’s one and only sexual relationship. Of course her lovely, scarred virgin had fallen in love with her. The question was, why did that make her feel like an ass?

He’d told her that she didn’t need to declare love for him.

She’d only known him for three weeks.

He was a man with Issues with a capital I.

And yet . . . he was really wonderful for her. He looked at her as if she were the smartest, funniest, sexiest woman he’d ever met. He listened to everything she said, laughed at all her jokes, and blushed when she deliberately tried to make him blush. Sex with Hunter was some of the best she’d ever had—and what he lacked in experience, he was more than making up for in enthusiasm and intensity. He always made sure that she came. He was rich, handsome, and devoted.

So what was her problem?

Gretchen fiddled with the letter, thinking. Her gaze moved to the rose on her desk—a Papa Meilland. She recognized the dark, velvety petals and her body flushed, remembering yesterday in the greenhouse.

It wasn’t that she couldn’t fall in love with Hunter. She could very well see herself falling for him.

So what was the problem, exactly? Nothing, except that now she felt like her love had a deadline. Hunter had declared and she had to make a decision. A declaration wasn’t something you could leave hanging for months on end.

And Gretchen sucked at deadlines. They made her anxious and unhappy, as evidenced by her up-and-down publishing career. There was just something about other people’s expectations that made her freeze in place, unable to function.

And that wasn’t fair to Hunter.

Ergo, she was a jerk.

She put aside the letter, then studied her manuscript file of notes. Just from her transcripts, she had almost forty thousand words and two hundred letters between the two lovebirds. Really, that was more than enough for her to build her story around. Her editor didn’t need every letter transcribed, after all; no one would read an eight-hundred-page epistolary novel. They’d faint if she turned that in.

To be honest, Gretchen had the work she needed. She could go home early instead of staying at Buchanan Manor for another week, get a week’s start on her deadlines, and get that final chapter of Astronaut Bill and Uranea turned in.

But that idea didn’t appeal much at all, and this time it wasn’t just because of the sexist space adventurer. She wanted to stay another week and spend it in Hunter’s arms.

“Hell, Igor. Now I’ve gone all moony, haven’t I?” She reached over and idly scratched the cat’s belly. Igor was curled up next to her laptop, his skinny frame pulled into a tight ball. He always wedged himself carefully against the left side of her laptop, where the fan blew warm air. She didn’t mind it, though because she had company while she worked. “You just tell me if I’m being ridiculous, cat,” she told him with another pat.

And since she was going to stay another week despite everything, she might as well continue reading letters and looking for super-juicy ones. She pulled out the next and began to scan it, almost bored by the endless florid sexual details of Ben and Lula’s encounters.

Your games grow more and more scandalous, and more and more exciting, my beloved. Last Sunday’s interlude still swirls in my mind. I’ve played Blind Man’s Bluff many times before, but this was the first time I’ve played and made love.

Gretchen raised her eyebrows, a bit more interested. Sex in the middle of a parlor game? Kinky. This one was definite fodder for the book.

I was so surprised that you showed me the hidden passage in the library, darling. As many times as we’ve made love there, I pause and wonder if someone has perhaps spied on us. Surely not. How many could know about the secret panel you showed me? I wouldn’t mind going back to that room by myself, but I don’t remember which brick it was that you touched to make the room come alive. Do tell me, darling.

A secret passage? Gretchen’s sense of adventure got the better of her and she reached for the next letter, excited to find out more. She skimmed Ben’s bolder, slightly crabbed handwriting until she came to the answer.

It’s the brick to the right of the mantel, my love. If you look closely, you can see my initials carved into the caulk.

Okay, this she had to see for herself. Putting the letter aside, Gretchen got up and scanned the library for a fireplace. There were two of them, one at each end of the long room. She headed to the closest one and scanned the bricks, running her fingers along the grout, looking for imperfections. Nothing. She moved to the other fireplace, but it was nothing but smooth marble.

Huh. Gretchen paused, thinking. This was a large house and it was bound to have multiple libraries. Perhaps this was the wrong one? With the letter in hand, she gave Igor a quick pat on the head and headed out. She had no idea where another library was, but Hunter would know. Brightening, she headed for his office, smiling to herself. Now was she excited at the prospect of the fireplace door and having an excuse to interrupt Hunter. Did it even matter? She loved interrupting Hunter. This was just a delicious opportunity that had presented itself.

Gretchen headed to his office and knocked lightly on his door.


She peeked inside and smiled at the sight of him. Even though no one was in the house but her and Hunter and Eldon, and Hunter worked alone, he was still dressed in one of his suits. Today’s was a dark brown jacket and a lighter brown tie to match. His hair was slightly tousled, as if he’d been running a hand through it. His brows were furrowed but his expression eased when she entered.

“Finished working?” Hunter stood to greet her. “It’s early.”

“Just momentarily distracted,” Gretchen told him, sauntering over to give him a kiss in greeting. She lightly brushed her lips across his and smoothed a stray cowlick of his hair. “Am I bothering you?”

“Yes,” he said bluntly. His hand moved to her waist, pulling her against him. “But I don’t mind it.”

She grinned, wrapping her arms around his neck and sighing with pleasure when his hands caressed her ass. “You’re going to make me forget my mission.”


“Mmmhmm.” She lightly traced a finger along his jaw, admiring the strong lines of his face that were marred by scars. “I’m looking for a secret passage.”

“Is that so?”

“It’s mentioned in the letters,” she told him, dragging her fingers along his shoulder even as she slipped out of his arms. She seemed to recall seeing a second library off his bedroom wing. “Where are the other libraries in the house?”

Hunter seemed to stiffen. “There’s no secret passage.”

“There is,” she insisted, pulling the letter out and pointing at it. “I swear I’m not lying. They go on and on about it in the letters. I thought it would be terrific to see. We could take pictures of it and add some excitement and reality to the book.”

His mouth thinned. “There’s no secret passage.”

“Of course there is. Just look at this.”

He wouldn’t look at the letter. Puzzled, Gretchen pushed it in front of his face. He pushed it aside again and gave her an annoyed look.

“Wow, what’s crawled into your panties?”

“Nothing.” He rubbed his face. “I’m just tired.”

“Then will you quit acting like I’m bothering you?” She held the letter out to him again, her expression daring him to take it. “I don’t know what the big deal is.”