Dirty Billionaire (Page 15)

“You’re taking that flight to New York either way, aren’t you?” she asks.

I squeeze my eyes shut. I’m backed into a corner, and I don’t see a way out other than these two very crazy options laid out in front of me.

I have no idea what I’m going to do. Still, I have to do something. I have no other choice.

With a deep breath, I reply, “Yes. I’m taking the flight to New York.”

I would have made an excellent warlord.

I see.

I want.

I conquer.

I keep.

Anyone who gets in my way is removed by whatever means necessary. I’m not afraid to take chances, and I’m sure as hell not afraid to make waves.

The only time I let something go is when I’m damn good and ready, and there’s no guarantee I’ll ever be ready when it comes to the woman I’m waiting on. The last six days have done nothing but strengthen my determination to have her on my terms.

I’ve made myself comfortable in a leather wingback chair in Room 1919 of the Plaza, enjoying three fingers of Bushmills while I wait for my newest acquisition to arrive. Because in all honesty, at this point, that’s exactly what she is. The latest toy to add to my collection.

Cannon Freeman, my best friend and COO, would probably tell me that calling my bride-to-be an acquisition is the quickest way to fuck this up, and he’d be right. I may think it, but I’m not stupid—I’d never say it to her face.

Yes, I know I sound like an asshole. It goes with the territory. You don’t get where I am in life without making more enemies than you can count. But one of the upsides? I get to pull crazy stunts like this, and people just shake their heads and wish they could be me.

There’s no guarantee she shows, but I’ve wagered big many times before—and won big. Honestly, I don’t expect this time to be any different.

She slipped out of this very room in the early hours of Christmas morning, leaving me without any way to track her down. I’m a creative guy, so I took a novel approach to finding her.

I sip the whiskey as I wait and listen to CNN. The topic of conversation on this New Year’s Eve? You guessed it, yours truly. But I’m no stranger to being discussed by talking heads. Although, the conversation on the screen is starting to piss me off.

“This kind of behavior by a CEO does nothing to inspire the confidence of his stakeholders. Once again, I urge that the activist investors come together and take a stand.”

Usually I ignore these kinds of opinions, but when it’s your uncle on CNN bitching about the way you run your company and insulting your character, it’s harder to let it slide. Especially when it’s the uncle who begrudgingly took you and your sister into his home and “raised” you. I throw the mental quotes around the word raised because I’m not sure shoving me off to boarding school and turning my sister over to a nanny counts as raising us.

Either way, every public company deals with activist shareholders; they’re just not usually relatives. I’ll deal with him later. He’s made noises for a while, and it seems it’s time to shut him up for good.

I look at the clock on the bottom of the screen: 11:50. Ten minutes to go. She’ll show. My missed connection wasn’t a question, it was an order, and she’s very good at doing what she’s told. And once she comes, she’ll continue to concede to my every wish, because that’s how things work in my life. I give the commands, and everyone else obeys.

CNN cuts to a commercial, and then my uncle is back spewing more bullshit. I glance at the clock again: 11:58. The woman sure knows how to make a man wait. I wonder if she realizes she’s going to be punished if she’s late.

The thought brings a smile to my face.

“I don’t know what to do, Tana. I wish you’d pick up. I’m freaking out here!”

I whisper-yell the words into my phone, knowing I’m being unfair because I know she has an appearance at the Opry tonight. But still, if there was any time I could use her guidance, it would be right now.

I sold my soul to the record company for what turned out to be chump change, but I got the chance to live my dream. What am I willing to do to save that dream? That’s the question I’ve asked myself over and over for the last forty-eight hours.

I’m here in Manhattan, feeling like I’ve just watched the last grains of sand pass through the hourglass. I’m out of time.

A feeling of inevitability mixed with helplessness weighs down on me, and I hate it. When it comes to my career, I want to be in the driver’s seat. I don’t want someone else calling the shots. But that’s not a choice I get to make.

I look down one last time at the list in my hand. Pros and cons. Because apparently that’s what you do when faced with a decision like this. Weigh the options.

Get engaged to JC and perpetuate a farce that may end up with me being an even bigger laughingstock in the industry, but keep the record execs happy and my career flowing in the right direction.

My other choice is to sell my body to a man for a generous divorce settlement in the hopes that he has enough power to save me from the wrath that will surely follow from the record label.

I’ll possibly be putting my dream at risk, but I have to believe Tana is right—the man is rich beyond my wildest imagination, and with that money comes incredible power. Will he use it to help me?

The other pro on that side of the column is the amazing sex. But will I be able to have that kind of relationship while keeping myself and my emotions intact? He was so incredibly dominant before, and I can’t imagine he’ll be anything less on a daily basis. But will he understand that the demands on my career come first?