Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(9) read online by Jessica Clare
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Beauty and the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #2)(9)
Author: Jessica Clare

“Hi there,” Gretchen called.

They stopped what they were doing. One woman froze mid-feather-dust, and the one wielding the enormous vacuum shut it off. They were all middle-aged to elderly, and they stared at her as if she were a ghost.

Gretchen gave them a friendly little wave, though she was feeling a bit odd about such things. This place was crazy. “You guys work here?”

As soon as the question left her mouth, she felt like an idiot. They were wearing traditional black-and-white maid costumes that Gretchen thought only existed for costume parties, though a more modest kind than she’d seen for Halloween. Of course they worked here. “I’m staying in the east wing,” she said lamely. “Working. Nice to see you all.”

“No one’s supposed to be in this wing,” one woman said after a moment. “Today’s Saturday.”

“Umm, okay.” She glanced around, but everyone seemed to be waiting for her to go. “Why can’t we be in the west wing today again?”

“Because it’s Saturday,” another woman said. “Off limits except to the cleaning crew.”

“Yeah, okay, but why?”

The woman shrugged. “That’s how it is. We don’t make the rules. We just work here.”

And now she was making them nervous. Well, wasn’t this awkward. Gretchen pointed at the door behind her. “I’m . . . um . . . just going to leave, I think. Have you guys seen Mr. Buchanan?”

“No one sees Mr. Buchanan except Mr. Eldon,” the eldest maid offered helpfully. “Do you want me to call Mr. Eldon?”

“No, that’s okay. I already had my fill of Mr. Eldon.” Gretchen glanced at the door, then back at the maids. One wing was closed yesterday because it was Friday. This wing was closed because today was Saturday. “So tomorrow’s Sunday. What happens on Sunday?”

“Boathouse and Greenhouse,” one of the women offered. “And any outlying buildings or special projects.”

“And Monday?”

“No one works on Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday is the north wing, Thursday is the east wing, Friday is the south wing, and Sunday is the west wing.”

“You do a different area each day of the week? Huh. Which day of the week is Mr. Buchanan’s room?”

“Wednesday.”

So he lived in the north wing. Not the same wing as her. “And the rest of the family?”

“No one else lives here except Mr. Eldon and Mr. Buchanan.”

In this big house? Only two men? How positively . . . creepy. And lonely. And an enormous waste of all this incredible space. “I see. Well, I think I’m going to finish taking a look around, if that’s okay with you guys.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to ring Mr. Eldon?” One woman pulled out a phone that looked remarkably like a walkie-talkie. “I’m sure he’d—”

“No, I’m good. I was just heading down to the kitchens. Can you tell me where they are?”

“There’s three kitchens,” one maid volunteered. “But the only one that’s kept stocked is in the north wing.”

Spiffy. “Thank you. Is there a kitchen staff?”

“Just Mr. Eldon. He prepares all of Mr. Buchanan’s meals. He’s probably there right now.”

“I see.” Jeez. This was sounding weirder by the moment. Gretchen knew the rich were eccentric, but this was a little ridiculous. “Well, skip that, then. I’m not that hungry after all. I’ll check the kitchens out some other time. Thanks for your help, ladies.”

She left, quickly shutting the door before they could protest—or worse, call the oh-so-pleasant Mr. Eldon.

Gretchen headed back to the main hall, heading toward the familiar part of the house before she got lost and someone had to call Eldon on her. It was still early enough that she could get a good day’s work in on Astronaut Bill before Eldon returned to show her where they were keeping the letters. She could return, wake up Audrey, spend some time with Igor, and relax. And work on her book like she was supposed to. Even better, she could ring the bell and force that awful Mr. Eldon to make them breakfast. The thought of him slaving over a stove for her and Audrey had a certain appeal.

And yet . . . Gretchen turned. Then, after a moment’s thought, she headed up the stairs to the north wing.

She was being nosy, she told herself. She just wanted a glimpse of what the mysterious Mr. Buchanan looked like. Maybe he’d be just as weird and unpleasant as Mr. Eldon. But her imagination was fired up.

Plus, she’d use any excuse to avoid spending manuscript time with Astronaut Bill. Maybe it was time Astronaut Bill met up with a fearsome race of skinny, bald giant butlers that needed to be slaughtered.

It would be satisfying, if not a bit bloodthirsty. At least it was just fiction.

***

When Gretchen had thought she’d want to see the master of the fabulous house, she hadn’t thought that she’d see . . . well, all of him.

After exploring the north hall for a time, she turned down another section of the wing, the faint sound of piped-in rock music drawing her forward. She’d headed toward the sound . . . and stopped.

At the end of the hallway, not a hundred feet from where she was standing, a door was opening. Steam rushed out in a billowing puff, along with the source of the loud music. A man emerged, rubbing his head with a fluffy white towel to dry his hair, humming to himself. His face was hidden from her but . . . nothing else was.

And oh, mercy, he was gorgeous.

He was utterly naked, his skin gleaming with wet drops from his shower. His legs were tanned and shadowed from the wet hair clinging to them, and his legs were thick with cords of muscle. Nice, wet cords of glorious muscle. A tattoo traced across one bicep.

He was hung, too, Gretchen didn’t mind noticing. His c**k lay semi-erect against his thigh, as if he’d recently pleasured himself.

Her gaze traveled upward, feeling almost lascivious at spying. But his chest was just as perfectly sculpted as the rest of him, deep grooves worn into the muscle and displaying a delicious lack of body fat. This was a man who worked out regularly and with great enthusiasm.

Much like the enthusiasm she was feeling staring at his broad shoulders and washboard abs, Gretchen thought to herself. There was something not quite right about the way one side of his body looked, as if the skin had too much shadow on it, but she was too far away to see what it was. A trick of the light, perhaps? A light dusting of chest hair covered his pectorals.

The towel fell, and she caught a glimpse of dark hair atop his head and strong, handsome features . . . and then the towel revealed his entire face.

Scarred. Broken. His mouth was pulled down on one side.

She gasped, unable to help herself. He’d been so perfectly sculpted that the sight of the ruin on his face had completely thrown her for a loop.

The man froze and turned toward her, as if seeing her for the first time. Recognition flitted across his face, and then he was wrapping the towel around his waist. “Get the f**k out of here,” he roared. One hand went in front of his face, shielding it from her gaze.

“Sorry,” Gretchen said in a high-pitched voice, taking a few cautious steps backward. “I didn’t mean to spy. I just—”

“Get out of here! Go! You’re not allowed down this hall!”

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