Home > Billion Dollar Catch (Seattle Billionaires #3)

Billion Dollar Catch (Seattle Billionaires #3)
Author: Olivia Hayle

1

 

 

Bella

 

 

“You’re going to be staying here all summer?” Trina’s voice echoes through the dining room. She rounds the chandelier-topped table, large enough to seat King Arthur and all his knights.

“Yes,” I say, twirling in the adjoining hallway. Even with my arms extended, I don’t touch any of the walls. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?”

“Amazing? It’s mental. It should be a crime. You should be the one paying them.”

Laughing, I grab her arm and pull her into the kitchen. It’s an expanse of marble and gray cabinets, of artfully arranged copper pots hanging over a six-plated stove.

“Look at this place!”

She reaches for her phone. “I have to take a picture of this.”

“It’s so beautiful.” I open a set of the cabinet doors carefully. We can marvel, but it’s still not my home. It’s just mine for the summer. “I can’t wait to cook in this kitchen. The things I’ll be able to make…”

“I volunteer as a taster,” Trina says. “If you need one.”

“You’re always welcome, as long as you—”

“Yes, yes, I know. Take off my shoes and don’t touch any glass surfaces.” She gives me a mock salute, but behind her glasses, her eyes are glittering. “I’m still in shock that you found this job, if you can even call it that. I’m happy for you.”

“So am I. It’s an immense relief, actually.” When my ex had come home and announced he’d found someone else, I hadn’t wanted to spend another minute in our apartment. But that left me with nowhere to stay and not enough money to find a good short-term solution.

So when this opportunity appeared on my screen—a Seattle-based company looking for house-sitters for the ultra rich—I’d applied at the speed of light.

“Come out here!” Wilma calls. “You have got to see this!”

Trina is out the back door immediately, following the voice of our third friend. Already guessing what she’s spotted, I follow along, grinning.

Wilma is standing on the patio with a stunned Trina at her side. They’re facing the backyard, if that’s even the right word for it. A giant swimming pool glitters in the early summer sun. Four lounge chairs form a beautiful half-circle around an adjacent jacuzzi. Beyond it spreads a lawn impressively green even by Emerald City standards, neatly framed with a large hedge. We’re in a walled paradise.

It’s Eden.

“Bella,” Trina demands. “I need a link to the company who gave you this job, and I need it stat.”

Wilma’s tone is urgent. “I need more than that. I need guaranteed visitation rights this summer. Every day off I’ll be here, using this pool, and there’s no way you can stop me. I’ll give you anything.”

“Yes, anything,” Trina agrees. “I’ll proofread the final draft of your thesis.”

“You’ve already agreed to do that,” I point out. “I’m reading yours at the moment!”

“Damn, that’s right.”

Wilma sinks down on one of the patio chairs. Her voice is dreamy. “I can’t understand why these people would leave their house all summer. They’re really gone until the end of August?”

“Yes, for three straight months.”

“But why?” She sweeps an arm out to the luscious surroundings, the scent of freshly mowed grass wonderfully thick in the air.

“I have no idea,” I say. “I’m guessing the Amalfi Coast beckoned? Who knows why the wealthy do what they do? I’m just happy they do. Now I have a place to stay and an extra income.”

Trina stretches out on the other patio chair, a hand over her eyes to guard from the sun. “Not to mention a beautiful neighborhood. Have you seen your neighbors yet? This is your chance to get in with high society, you know.”

I roll my eyes. “Yes, because I’d fit right in.”

“Hey, none of that attitude here. It’s not worthy of this house.”

“You’re right.” Cocking my hip, I look down my nose at her. “And speaking of attitude, I’m not liking yours. Where’s my Aperol Spritz?”

She grins at me. “That’s more like it.”

“Well, I’ve kind of already met my neighbor.”

“You have?”

“Yeah.” I nod to the hedge on the right side of us. Thick and green and high, the only thing visible beyond it is the shingles of the roof. “The man who lives there. At least, I think it was him.”

Wilma, like a bloodhound when she scents a good story, straightens. “What happened?”

“I was out here yesterday,” I say, nodding to the pool. “My first day here. And the sun was so gorgeous, how could I not be out here swimming, you know?”

“Of course,” Trina says. “Anything else would have been a crime.”

“A cardinal sin,” Wilma agrees.

“And the hedges are very tall here. So I thought, maybe this summer will be the one where I’ll finally manage to avoid any tan lines?”

“You didn’t!”

“I was in my own garden!” I say. “Well, my is perhaps not the right word, but at the moment it is. So I took off my bikini top.”

Trina’s eyes are scanning the hedge, even as Wilma looks at me with wide eyes, like she can’t believe I’d do such a thing. “There are no holes in those bushes,” Trina says resolutely. “I’m guessing where this story will go, but he can’t have seen you.”

“He wasn’t looking through the hedge, Trina. He was in that tree.” I point to the large, curved oak that rises from the property on the other side. “I looked over and there he was, sitting on a bough. I could see the top of a ladder, too.”

Wilma’s eyes grow even rounder. “And he was watching you?”

“At that moment at least, yes, he was. Our eyes met.” A flush rises to my cheeks at the memory. Even across the distance, I’d seen the wide smile on his face. He looked older than me, but probably not by much. And he’d been… well. Attractive.

“On purpose?”

“I doubt it,” I say. “He had a yardstick and a saw in hand. Probably working on the tree.”

“Was he hot?”

“Did he wave?”

“Yes, and no. I covered up and hurried inside. He’d gone when I got back out.”

“Holy shit.” Wilma sits back, nodding to herself. “This is a golden opportunity, Bella. You have to see that.”

“Opportunity?”

“Hot neighbor, check. An interested hot neighbor, check. A single Bella, check check check!”

“There is no way anything will happen,” I say. “Besides, we don’t know if he lives there. He might have been the gardener.”

Even as I say it, it seems unlikely. There had been something familiar in the set of his features, something in the smile… where had I seen that before?

“Or not,” Trina says, pulling up her phone. “Now, I know pretty much everyone who lives in this area…”

“You mean you know of them,” Wilma corrects, shooting me a wide smile. I return it. Trina is the queen of gossip.

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