Home > Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(2)

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

“Your assistant didn’t come by to pick up the boxes,” Hunter said after a moment. “This Gretchen did, and your Brontë was with her.”

“I have to go,” Logan said. “I’ll call Audrey and see who she sent over.”

“Send me information about this Gretchen woman,” Hunter reminded me. I want her.

“I will. And thanks.” Logan’s tone had changed from dejected to triumphant. “I owe you one.”

“You do,” Hunter agreed. “Just get me information on her friend, and we’ll call it even.”

Things had suddenly gotten a bit more . . . interesting. Hunter glanced at the empty townhouse and smiled to himself, his mind full of the unusual woman who had been there minutes before.

Chapter 1

Hunter Buchanan didn’t believe in love at first sight. Hell, he didn’t much believe in love at all.

But the moment he’d seen the tall redhead standing in the foyer of one of his empty houses, a box of books in her arms and a skeptical look on her face, he’d felt . . . something. She’d been bold and fearless with her words, something that attracted him as a man who clung to the shadows.

And when she’d admitted to her quiet friend that most men bored her and she wanted something different in a relationship than just a pretty face?

Hunter knew she was meant for him.

She was pretty, young, and single. She had a smart mind and a sharp tongue. He liked that about her. She was unafraid and laughed easily. Days had passed since he’d glimpsed at her and he still couldn’t get her out of his mind. She haunted his dreams.

Hunter was smart and rich and only a few years older than her. It shouldn’t have been unattainable.

Unconsciously, he touched the deeply gouged scars on his face, his fingers tracing the thick line at the corner of his mouth where damaged tissue had been reconstructed.

There was one thing preventing Hunter from pursuing a woman like that. His face. His hideous, scarred face. He could hide the scars on his chest and arm with clothing. He could clench his hand and no one would notice that he was missing a finger. But he couldn’t hide his face. When he chose to leave his house, people crossed the street to avoid him. Men frowned as if there were something unnerving about him. Women flinched away from the sight of him.

Just like the woman next to him currently was doing.

Brontë, Logan’s big-eyed girlfriend, sat next to him at the Brotherhood’s poker table. The dark basement was filled with a haze of cigar smoke and the scent of liquor. Normally the room was filled with his five best friends, but they’d gone upstairs to talk to Logan about the fact that he’d brought his new girlfriend with him to a secret society meeting. Brontë had stayed behind with him. It was clearly not by her choice, either. She sat at the table quietly, nursing her wine and trying not to look as if she’d wanted to bolt from the table once she’d gotten a good look at his face. Her gaze slid to his damaged hand, and then back to his face again.

He was used to that sort of thing. And he wondered if the redhead who was her friend would react the same way to his face.

Experience told him that she would. But he remembered the redhead’s sarcastic little smile and that shake of her head. The words she’d said.

“Save me from rich, attractive alpha males. They think they’re the heroes from a fairy tale. Little do they know, they’re more like the villains.”

And he found he had to know more.

“Your friend,” he said to Brontë. “The redhead. Tell me about her.”

She looked over at him again, those dark eyes wide and surprised, pupils dilated from alcohol. “You mean Gretchen?”

“Yes.” He knew her first name, but he wanted to know more about her. “What is her last name?”

“Why? How do you know about Gretchen?”

“I saw her with you the other day. Tell me more about her.”

She frowned at him. “Why should I tell you about Gretchen? So you can stalk her?”

Hunter glanced down at his cards and tried not to suppress the annoyance he felt at her caginess. Couldn’t a man ask a simple question? “I am an admirer of hers . . . from afar.”

“Like a stalker.”

“Not a stalker. I simply wish to know more about her.”

“That’s what a stalker would say.”

Hunter gritted his teeth, glancing over at her. She automatically shied back, her expression a little alarmed as she studied his scars. He ignored that. “Your friend is quite safe from my romantic interests. I simply wish to learn more about her.”

After all, what woman would want to date a man with a grotesque face? Only ones who wanted his money, and he wasn’t interested in those. He wanted a companion, not a whore.

“Oh,” Brontë said, studying her wineglass as if it were fascinating. “Petty. Her last name is Petty. She writes books.”

Now they were getting somewhere. He mentally filed the information away. Gretchen Petty, author. He could see that. “What kinds of books?”

“Books with other people’s names on them.”

He gave her an impatient stare, hating the way she shrank back in her chair just a bit. “A ghost writer?”

Brontë nodded. “That’s right. And Cooper’s in love with her.”

“Cooper? Who is Cooper?” Whoever it was, Hunter f**king hated him. Probably good looking, smug, and not nearly good enough for her. Damn it.

“Cooper’s her friend. It’s okay, though. He won’t make a move. He knows Gretchen isn’t interested in him that way. Gretchen likes guys who are different. She likes to be challenged.”

He snorted. Well, she’d definitely get a challenge with Hunter Buchanan.

They chatted for a bit longer, the conversation awkward. Brontë kept turning her face to the door, no doubt anxiously awaiting Logan’s return. Logan was a good-looking man, tall, strong, and unscarred. Brontë was a soft, sweet creature, but he doubted she’d ever look at someone like him with anything more than revulsion or pity.

He’d had his share of pity already, thanks.

“Gretchen Petty,” he repeated to himself. A ghostwriter. Someone who wrote books for others and hid behind their names. Why, he wondered. She didn’t seem like the type to hide behind a moniker. She didn’t seem like the type to hide behind anything. And that fascinated him. What would draw a woman like her to him? Did he even want to try? Did he want to see if she looked at him with a horror that she was trying desperately to hide for the sake of politeness, just like Logan’s woman? Or would she see the person behind the scars and determine that he was just as interesting as any other man?

He remembered the first time he saw her, standing next to Brontë in the foyer of an empty mansion. She’d declared, “I’d rather have a man not in love with his own reflection than one that needs hair product or designer labels.”

A plan began to form in his mind.

It wasn’t a nice plan, or a very honest one. But he didn’t have to be nice, or honest, if he was rich. The good thing about money was that it allowed you to take control of almost any situation, and Hunter definitely planned on using what he had to his advantage.

***

The Brotherhood played poker into the night while Hunter’s bodyguard stood at the door, keeping out anyone that would disturb them. They drank, they smoked cigars, and they played cards. It was one of their usual meetings, if one could ignore the quietly sleeping woman curled up on the couch in the corner of the room, Logan’s jacket acting as a blanket over her shoulders. Business was discussed, alcohol drank in quantity, and notes taken for analyzing in the morning. Tips were shared back and forth, investment opportunities and the like.

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