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The Dom’s Bride
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I won a date with a billionaire. He promised me three things:
Maybe I was crazy for agreeing, but for once, I just wanted to feel something. Anything. I’ve spent my life running away from men who get too close. Call it a combination of emotional baggage and a fear of commitment. Either way, I’m a virgin who gets to have the night of my life with a billionaire dom. It’s a dream come true, right?
I thought I could just forget it all when it was over. I’d throw it in with all the other crap in my past and move on. Except the dom isn’t ready to move on.
I had one rule: no attachments. One simple rule, and then she happened. Stephanie Holland. The one who decided to dump a big, flaming pile of complicated on my life and then disappear.
I shouldn’t be surprised she ran off. I practically kicked her out the door, didn’t I? Old habits die hard, I guess, but this time I haven’t been able to get her off my mind. Month after month and it just gets worse.
Maybe I could break the rule just once. Hell, I don’t even need to break it. I’ll just give it a little bend for her and then she’ll be off my mind.
One way or another, I’m going to wrap my tie around her perfect little wrists again. The only question is whether I’ll have it in me to show her the door again.
*As always, this is a totally SAFE, full length book with a happily ever after, no cheating, and plenty of steam.*
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I sit hunched over in the small office break room, staring at my untouched salad. The only other person in the room is Jamie, who I have the misfortune of calling a best friend. She’s staring at her sandwich like most women would stare at a guy with perfect hair and a six-pack.
Her eyes flick up to me as she carefully lifts the sandwich. “What?” she asks. You’d never guess it from looking at her thin, athletic frame, but Jamie has a love of food that no man can ever hope to top. I’ve felt the need to cover the eyes of innocent children from the oddly sexual way she can look at a slice of pizza, or the totally inappropriate way she licks the icing off cupcakes.
I laugh. “I’m just waiting to see if you’re planning on making out with the sandwich or eating it.”
She makes a show of mock sympathy, even going as far as reaching to pat my hand across the table. “I’m sorry you have lunch-packer’s regret, but that doesn’t mean you need to sabotage my experience with your sarcasm.”
I roll my eyes, but still crack a grin. “I don’t have ‘lunch-packer’s regret.’ I’m just not hungry. You also probably should avoid calling eating lunch an experience. You’re going to freak somebody out.”
“You’re not hungry because you packed turtle food for your meal. Not my fault.” She punctuates her sentence with an aggressive but somehow uncomfortably sensual bite of her sandwich.
My phone buzzes from my purse, making both of us jump. “It’s them,” I say in a half-whisper. I don’t even need to tell her who them is. She knows I was expecting a call from the adoption agency any day now. The call that would tell me if I was going to finally be a parent. I hold my thumb over the phone, hands shaking as I try to force myself to answer the call.
“Answer it!” Jamie says.
I flick my thumb across the phone and press it to my ear. It’s not the first time I’ve been through this. I started applying to adopt a child two years ago, and I’ve already been through the entire process and rejected twice before. Third time’s the charm… right?
Jamie flashes me a double thumbs up and an encouraging smile. I know she’s rooting for me, but not even something this big can stop Jamie from her sandwich, which she eyes lovingly before digging in.
“Hello?” I say into the phone, my voice full of false cheer and confidence.
“Miss Holland?” It’s a deep, authoritative voice on the other end that makes my throat tighten.
Wouldn’t they want someone nice and bubbly to deliver the good news?
“This is her…”
“This is Max from American Adoptions. I’m calling to inform you that your request to adopt Braden Smith was unfortunately denied. I’m sorry, Miss Holland. I know this is never easy, but we encourage you to apply again.”
Every syllable slams into me like a hammer, knocking the air out of my lungs and making it feel like the room is on a swivel around me. “I see,” I whisper.
There’s a long pause, as if the man on the other end is waiting for me to protest or ask questions. “A married couple who lives in a very good suburb outside the city was trying to adopt Braden as well,” he says, as if no further explanation is needed.
“Of course,” I say again. Yes, of course. I hang up the phone without waiting for more.
Jamie takes a huge bite of her sandwich and watches me with narrowed eyes. “Everything good?” she asks around a mouthful of bread and meat.
“I’m too single and too poor to be a good home for him,” I say.
She washes her bite down with a swig of soda and sets her sandwich down.
I raise an eyebrow. I must really look bad if she’s putting her food down.
“They said that?” she asks.
“They might as well have. Shit,” I say suddenly as I pinch my temples with my fingers. “Am I crazy for wanting this so badly?”
“A little,” admits Jamie. “I’ve always thought kids were overrated. They are cute and all, but so are animals. Cats won’t crash your car and then roll their eyes at you. Honestly, the only real perk seemed like the whole making them part, but you’re even skipping that. So…”
I sigh. “It sounds crazy when I try to explain it. I just know that’s part of what I’m here to do. I’ve always known since…” Since my little brother died. That’s what I was going to say, but I can’t say that out loud. Even if Jamie suspects my real motivations for wanting to adopt, she’s a good enough friend to let me think I still have that secret to myself. My parents split when I was three, and my little brother Brian and I ended up with my dad. The years leading up to Brian’s death are like a black stain on my memory, a poisoned place I don’t mentally touch anymore because it hurts too much. In some twisted way, adopting has always felt like it would give me a part of Brian back, that it would help me heal somehow…