Dirty Billionaire (Page 17)
“No, Mr. Karas, I’m not a stripper.”
I could swear he breathes a sigh of relief at my answer, but his expression never changes.
“You have me at a disadvantage then. You clearly know my name, but I don’t know yours.”
Here we go. “My name is Holly Wickman, but most people know me as Holly Wix.”
I’m not a big enough deal that I would expect recognition to light his features, but I’m slightly disappointed at the continued lack of change in his expression.
Finally, one arrogant eyebrow lifts as if telling me to continue. I stay quiet.
He fails to keep a slight edge of frustration out of his tone with his next question. “And why do most people know you as a name other than your own?”
“It’s my stage name. I sing. Country music.” The explanation comes out in a disjointed tumble of words.
Knowledge flares in his eyes. Has he heard of me? For some reason, that sends a shiver up my spine.
He frowns and his eyes turn hard. “I have heard of you. My assistant is a fan of yours, and your boyfriend who was . . . supposed to propose tonight?” He turns and reaches for my coat. “I make it a policy not to fuck other men’s women. And I sure as fuck don’t marry them. I would’ve married a stripper, but even I draw the line at a cheating whore.”
The complete one-eighty in his mood throws me for a loop, and I cringe. “Please don’t call me that.”
“If the cowboy boot fits . . .” His expression is no longer blank, but filled with ugliness.
My stomach drops to my toes, and I take my coat from his outstretched hand.
Well, that was quick. And now I’m screwed.
“I knew it was a mistake to come here,” I whisper.
“Then why did you?” he asks. “And why the hell did you leave that bar with me on Christmas Eve if you had a fucking boyfriend?”
I walk to the door, static buzzing in my head. I just bet it all on him, and lost.
What am I going to do now?
I grasp the handle, twist, and tug before I realize the door is still locked. I flip the dead bolt and pull it open an inch before a large tanned hand slaps against the door, slamming it shut.
“Answer me,” he demands.
I don’t care if he is a billionaire, I won’t let anyone speak to me that way. Spinning around, I find myself trapped in the cage his arms have formed around me.
“You really want to know why I did what I did on Christmas Eve?”
He bites the word out, and now that I have nothing to lose, I want to slap the expression off his face. Instead, I go for as much honesty as I can offer.
“Because sometimes you just need to escape from reality. And what better way than to let someone screw you into oblivion? And it’d been fourteen months since I’d been with anyone. I was overdue, and you were there. I considered you my Christmas present to myself. That’s how I justified it.”
I turn again and reach for the handle as his arm wraps around my waist. It’s the same move as when I was sitting on a bar stool downstairs. Before I can protest, he hauls me back against his hard, hot chest. I struggle, ready to elbow him to let go.
A harsh whisper in my ear doesn’t still my movements.
“Fourteen months? You don’t get to throw out something like that and then not explain yourself.”
I continue to fight against his hold, and his arm pulls tighter.
“You’re not leaving this room without giving me an explanation.”
I can feel the ridge of his erection pressing against my lower back, and I’m battered with memories of Christmas Eve. I need to get out of here and fast, because I’m liable to do whatever he says. There’s something about the man that I just can’t stay immune to for long.
“I’ll probably get sued if I tell you more,” I say.
His hand spreads out across my stomach, his thumb sliding up and down beneath my breasts in another move I recognize all too well.
“I’ve got top-notch lawyers, Holly.” His lips brush my ear, and heat gathers between my legs.
I have to get out of here. I tug again at his hold—unsuccessfully.
“Good for you,” I say. “I hope you and your lawyers are very happy together.”
His tone loses a fraction of its edge when he replies, “They’ll be your lawyers too, if you’d just explain yourself.”
Those words finally still my struggle because they hit on the exact reason I chose him—my hope that he has enough power, leverage, and blood-sucking lawyers to uncoil the mess I’ve gotten myself into.
I took one leap of faith tonight, and I have no other alternatives. What is telling him really going to hurt now?
I suck in a deep breath before I whisper the truth that only the label execs, JC, Tana, and Mick know.
“My whole relationship with JC is a PR stunt organized by the record label, and I had no choice but to go along with it. JC and I . . . well, let’s just say that we’re both into male equipment.”
It’s as if I can feel the leashed anger drain out of him. He steps away, turns me back around to face him, and takes my coat from my hands, holding it up and open as if expecting me to slip my arms into it.
“Now you’re throwing me out?” He really is the complete asshole his competition makes him out to be.
My thoughts are stolen straight from my head when, for the first time tonight, he smiles. And my panties are a lost cause.
“No, Holly. We’re going to Vegas.”
I look down at the diamond on my left ring finger. You could buy the entire trailer park I grew up in with this thing, and still have money left over to buy a brand-new F-250 to park in front of it.