The Billionaire's Forbidden Desire

By: Nadia Lee

Chad made a sound that could have been a growl. “I’ll cook something up. What are you in the mood for?”

“How about…something fried?”

His eyes almost bugged out. “Something fried?”

She shrugged. “It’s not like I need to watch my weight anymore.”

He gave her a bemused look, then disappeared into the kitchen, muttering under his breath. “There’s some shrimp in the fridge,” he called out.

“That works.” She turned to Dane. “There’s a guest bathroom at the end of the hall there if you want to freshen up. It should have everything you need. You can leave your scotch on the coffee table…unless you want to drink it in the shower.”

“You sure he can cook?”

“He’s a great cook.” Who’d often despaired that she would eat only the most boring food. She couldn’t remember ever having had fried shrimp, but found she was looking forward to it.

She went to the master suite and showered, washing away the sand and sweat and grime of airline travel off her body. Hot water sluiced down her soapy skin, and she closed her eyes.

This was it for her. She felt like she was at a crossroads and should just accept that her dream was dead, no matter how much it hurt.

Time to start a new chapter in my life. She should just cling to the thought and move on, for her own sake. It would be terrible to end up bitter and angry, like some of the competitors who’d never reached the pinnacle they’d wanted.

She stepped out of the shower, put her hair up in a messy bun and pulled out a fitted magenta tank top and loose gray cotton pants, her favorite outfit when she just wanted to relax and unwind.

On the other hand…

She hesitated, thinking about the magnetic man she’d picked up at the beach.


It was a strong name, simple and blunt. It rolled smoothly off her tongue like a cool marble.

What did it matter? It wasn’t like she wanted to impress anybody…did she?

She suddenly stopped in the middle of putting on a pink lipstick. It wasn’t like her to fuss over the way she looked. The only time she cared about that was before press conferences or competitions.

What the heck was she doing? Trying to look pretty for Dane? It wasn’t like they were going to have a date.

Then…what was it?

She finished running the tube over her lips. She was just lonely and wanted to have a meal with somebody, that was all. Besides, it seemed like he was hurting for some reason. People didn’t usually drink scotch straight from the bottle during the day.

What was wrong with two unhappy people sharing a nice, companionable dinner?

Chad was standing in the hall on the way to the dining area. He had his arms crossed, which meant he was about to say something she didn’t want to hear.

Sure enough, he didn’t disappoint her. “I don’t like him, Sophia.”

“Why not?”

“He’s got that look.”

“What look?”

“That asshole look. The type of person who doesn’t give a damn about anybody but himself.”

Sophia tilted her head. “That’s pretty cynical.”

“Hard not to be when you’ve had so many creeps. I’ve lost faith in my gender.”

“Well, he’s not a creep. I can tell. Besides, we’re not getting married here, Chad. It’s just dinner.”

“Uh-huh. You’re too sweet for your own good, you know that?”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. Look, I don’t want to argue. I just want to relax and forget about…things.” She forced a small smile. “It’ll be nice to be able to eat with somebody who doesn’t know who I am.”

He grimaced. “I set the table for two. Enjoy. Holler if you need anything or if he does something you don’t like.”

“Don’t worry.”

She wouldn’t even have to scream before Chad would show up. Her heart-shaped garnet necklace came with a panic button. It had been Chad’s idea, since he couldn’t keep an eye on her all the time, especially during competitions when things were hectic.

She went to the dining room. Dane was already seated at the round glass-top table. A bit of his torso showed through the V of the white robe he wore. He’d also shaved, revealing an incredible jaw line. His profile was so perfect she couldn’t believe he was actually a living, breathing person rather than a sculpture. Then, as though he’d sensed her, he turned, regarding her with eyes so blue and direct it felt like a lance through the center of her chest.

Suddenly she couldn’t move, transfixed by that gaze. Her heart pounded like a captured bird’s as heat spread through her body.

He rose and pulled out a chair for her, the gesture surprisingly gallant and elegant. She walked slowly over, feeling like she was dreaming. Men were generally nice to her—she was young and pretty and had a bit of fame. But none of them…intensified her like Dane did. The blood in her veins seemed thicker and hotter, her pulse louder and more pronounced.

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