Home > His Lost Love (Manhattan Billionaires #1)

His Lost Love (Manhattan Billionaires #1)
Author: Ava Ryan

1


Liam

 

 

“Liam.” Michael Jamison, one of my closest buddies since we met at freshman orientation at NYU fourteen years ago, blocks the door, preventing me from entering his new apartment in downtown Manhattan. His scowl suggests that I’ve come strapped with explosives and begun waving the detonation button in his face. “What the hell are you doing here?”

I shrug and try to look harmless as I pass him the nice bottle of wine I brought as a gift.

“Unless I’m mistaken, you’re throwing your little housewarming tonight.”

I gesture over his shoulder, where a sizable crowd has assembled and appears to be happily enjoying cocktails and jazzy music against the panoramic backdrop of the Hudson River with the Jersey skyline in the distance. He and another college friend of ours, Jake Quinn, recently went public with the medical device company I started a few years back. I should mention that I got a degree in chemical and biomedical engineering before I went to Harvard Med and became a cardiac surgeon. Hey. I’m brilliant, ambitious and talented. Don’t expect me to apologize for it. Anyway, I won’t bore you with the details, but I invented a couple of devices that make cardiac procedures a hell of a lot easier. Michael and Jake were my early investors. I combined money I inherited on my father’s death together with their money. Which means that we’ve all experienced a significant uptick in our bottom line this year, although I still practice because that’s my first love. Now we all try to out-apartment and out-car each other. And I plan to start dabbling more in the real estate market when a good opportunity presents itself.

“I thought I’d check the place out,” I continue. “You know I’m interested in real estate.”

“Cut the bullshit,” he says, his scowl deepening as he snatches the bottle. “You’re here because you want to see my sister.”

I arrange my expression into something that hopefully suggests that the idea never crossed my mind.

“I just want to catch the view you’ve been bragging about.” I crane my neck, trying to see past his big head, but there’s no sign of her. Mia, his twin, was also in our class at NYU, by the way. “Looks nice. Your apartment could almost be a boat that sits directly on the water. Not as nice as my view, though. You letting me in?”

“No. I’ve been walking a tightrope ever since the two of you imploded back when we graduated. You think it’s easy for me to be Switzerland all the time when the two of you have avoided each other for years? Now she’s going to think that I set this whole thing up so you could ambush her.”

“Yeah, well, now I’m back in town.” I moved back last year during my mother’s final illness. Now that I’ve settled her estate, it’s time for me to settle things with Mia. “It’s past time for Mia and me to stop avoiding each other. We’re fully grown adults now. Not hotheaded kids. The city should be big enough for both of us.”

“Couldn’t agree more. Why don’t you text her and see if she wants to grab coffee or drinks like a normal person?”

“Because I’m here now.” The part I don’t mention? That I’ve worked up the courage to show up tonight and doubt I’ll be able to produce any new courage if I leave without seeing her and then need to text her. I decide to drop the act. “Is she here?”

“She’s here,” he says grimly.

I feel a tremendous surge of adrenaline. And something that feels strangely like triumph.

“What’s it going to be?” I ask.

“Fine.” He jerks the door all the way open and lets me pass. “Just make sure she knows that this was your idea. I didn’t want you here, and you know it.”

“That’s not strictly true,” I say, now scanning the room for any sign of her. “You said you were having your housewarming tonight. You also said that Mia would be here. I took that as a warm invitation to enjoy your hospitality.”

“Huh. Funny. Because I’m positive I stated it as a dire warning for you to stay away.”

“Semantics,” I say, then catch sight of Jake, who materializes out of the crowd with a scotch and soda for my benefit. I receive it with a grateful one-handed hug and a pointed look in Michael’s direction. “Finally. A true friend.”

“Fuck you,” Michael says mildly.

“Saw you coming,” Jake tells me as I take an appreciative sip to shore up my nerves. “What’d I miss?”

“Liam’s here to see Mia,” Michael supplies with his usual stir-the-pot enthusiasm and wicked glee at someone else’s discomfort.

“Fuck you,” I tell him, then spy her across the room and experience a sudden catastrophic system failure that freezes me to the spot. Seriously. It’s a wonder I don’t choke on my tongue.

These two, naturally, notice immediately.

“You planning to grow a pair and talk to her?” Jake asks me, not bothering to hide his sudden obnoxious smirk. “Or are you going to stand here picking your nose all night?”

“I’m betting on the latter,” Michael says. “Knowing Liam like I do. Based on long and painful history. Speaking of history, what was that Julius Caesar quote? We talked about it in ancient history freshman year.”

“What, I came, I saw, I conquered?” Jake says.

“That’s the one.” Michael claps me on the back with his free hand and gives my shoulders a squeeze that makes me want to see how many of his gleaming teeth I can knock out with a single punch. “I’m thinking Liam’s quote would be I came, I saw, I froze.”

“Either that or I came, I saw, I shat the bed.”

With that, my two so-called best friends launch into a round of raucous laughter at my expense. Not that I don’t deserve it at this point in the evening, when my ongoing paralysis acts as an embarrassment to me and probably my entire family for two or three generations back. Still, I wonder what it is about these two idiots that has made me keep them around this whole time. Probably the threat of blackmail for all the dumb shit they witnessed me do.

I unstick myself with tremendous effort and peel my eyes away from her long enough to glare at these two. Mia Jamison and I are ancient history. This doesn’t have to be a whole big thing. There’s no reason why the two of us can’t exchange a quick greeting and break the ice after all this time. Clarification: no reason except that a) she’s so engrossed in a conversation with some woman that she doesn’t know I’m here yet; and b) I’m still trying to grow that pair of balls I’ll need to make the long walk across the room to say hello to her.

“Maybe if I had better wingmen, I’d be over there by now,” I say bitterly, gesturing to a passing server for a refill on my scotch and soda. “How about you help a guy out rather than kicking him when he’s down?”

“Look,” Michael says, his amusement vanishing. He slings that arm around my shoulder again, reeling me in for a few urgent words of advice. “You’re building this up in your mind. She’s still just Mia. The same girl you met on our study abroad in Rome.”

That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.

Luckily, the server returns with my drink just then. I snatch it off his tray, and down the entire thing in a couple of rough gulps.

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