The billionaires obsessi.., p.4
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       The Billionaire's Obsession, p.4
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         Part #1 of An Heir At Any Price series by Holly Rayner
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  Once on the other side, the trail in front of us was wide and looked to be smooth.

  “You want to trot them for a bit?” he asked me.

  “Yeah,” I said with a huge smile.

  “Good, the rest of the trail up to the meadow is gentle enough to trot most of the way.” He clicked his tongue at his horse and took off at a slow trot and I did the same. This part of the trail was surrounded by gorgeous Higan cherry trees. They bloom in the fall so they were covered with fragrant deep pink flowers and on some of them I could also see clumps of black cherries. I don’t even know why I knew so much about them, I had just always found them beautiful. Being on the trail at this point was like being enclosed in an aromatic greenhouse.

  I followed Aiden, continuing to marvel at the beauty around me for a few miles before we came to a junction in the trail. To the left was another creek and to the right was a stunning lush, green meadow. Aiden reigned in his horse and I did the same.

  “It’s all so beautiful,” I told him. “Beautiful doesn’t even really describe it, it’s more like breathtaking.”

  “It is yes, I ride up here as often as I can. It’s good for the soul, I think. It makes me feel close to the earth, and when I get up here I feel at peace. It’s not a feeling that comes easily in the city. I’d take you out across the meadow but this time of year it gets a little boggy from all the rain. I wouldn’t want our horses getting stuck.”

  “Oh well, it’s still lovely to look at,” I told him. We started back up the trail once more, we were climbing, but at such a gentle angle it was barely noticeable. When we reached a peak, Aiden stopped once more.

  “Come closer and take a look.” I did, and what I saw literally took my breath away. Below us was another meadow, but this one was covered in a lush carpet of colorful wild flowers. I could see the faint outline of the city in the distance and if it would have been green I would have thought I was on the path to the Emerald City. The creek that we’d crossed earlier looked like a big snake as it wound along below us. After I got an eyeful of all of that, he led me around a ridge and from there we had a view of what looked like a deep valley. It was fenced off with bright white fences and everywhere you looked, horses and cattle could be seen grazing. They looked peaceful. In the center of all of that sat a huge white three story home. The side of the house that faced our direction at the moment had windows that rose from ground to ceiling and it was easy to see that it would afford anyone sitting inside a front row seat to every morning’s sunrise. I couldn’t even imagine having a life like that.

  “Is that where you live?” I asked him. In that gorgeous, fairy tale house, Prince Charming.

  “That’s my main residence, yes,” he said. “It’s my favorite.”

  “Your favorite? You have more than one home?” Another thing that I cannot imagine.

  He smiled and said, “Yes, I have three. I have a penthouse apartment in the city, this one and a summer house at the lake.”

  “Wow,” I said, thinking of what he’d asked me to do and also about how happy this would all make a child. I would have died for a place like this to grow up in. Aiden let me sit and just drink in the view for a while. I had a hard time taking my eyes off the house and imagining what it would be like to live in a place like that. I wondered what it looked like inside, and if he lived in that gigantic house alone. Then I caught myself imagining what it would be like to live there myself. I pictured the two of us having coffee in that sunny nook after a long night of…..Never mind, I shook that thought off quickly. He asked once again if I was ready.

  “Yes, this is all so beautiful, Aiden. You must be very happy here.”

  “It’s lonely,” he said. “I stay at the penthouse most of the time. It’s less square footage to roam on my own.”

  It was hard for me to fathom that I’d known this man for over two months and hardly knew anything about him. Now I was suddenly getting to know more about him than I’d ever imagined I would. I was also starting to figure out that he wasn’t happy, no matter how much money he had.

  We turned and headed back down the same trail until we came to the fork we’d gone up to the right the last time. This time we went left and as we rode along, I kept seeing chunks of something white glinting off the sun. Pulling Snowflake to a stop I asked, “What are those white, shiny things?”

  “They’re pieces of quartz…white quartz,” he said.

  “They’re so pretty. Are they here naturally, or did you have them placed here?”

  “No they’re a natural part of the landscape. I haven’t moved or changed anything out here. Mother nature did a fine job arranging it all already.”

  “She sure did,” I agreed.

  “The Washoe Indians consider this area of land sacred. The tribe was angry about me buying the land in the first place. I’ve shown them since that I have no interest in ruining this place, it’s perfect like it is. I’m actually an honorary member of the tribal council now,” he told me with a smile. “Are you getting hungry?”

  “Yes,” I told him, “Starving actually.”

  “Okay, follow me, our table is ready.”

  I wondered what he meant by that, but I followed him a short way down the side of the ridge. At the bottom of the gentle slope was a flat area of green grass and Aiden stopped and got off his horse. He came over and helped me down off mine. His hands on me once again sent a jolt of electricity through my body.

  His touch on my waist lingered just a bit longer than necessary and for a few seconds his face was so close to mine that I could feel his breath across my lips. I shuddered and took a step back, hoping to eliminate the sudden raw desire I felt to put my lips against his. He grinned, like he not only knew the effect he had on me, but he was satisfied by it as well. I wish I had that kind of confidence in myself.

  “Do you want some help setting it up?” I asked him as he laid the blanket he’d brought across the soft grass and began setting up our lunch.

  “No, today is your day to be waited on. You wait on me every day.” I walked over to the edge, and as I looked out over the property from one of the highest points of it while he set up our lunch I thought about how nice this was. No one ever waited on me. Even when I lived at home with my mother, I was still fending for myself. I’d been on dates of course and had what I call mini relationships, but none of them had stuck long enough to find out what it was like to have someone wait on you or fawn over you. I’d have to be careful, I might get used to this and say yes to the proposition of his for the wrong reasons. Each time I had that thought, I had to remind myself about the walking away part. He’d not given me any reason to believe that he would want to keep me too.

  ~

  Chapter Six

  ~

  The next day was my day off and I was so relaxed from the day of fresh air and sunshine that I actually slept in. It was something that I hadn’t done in years and it felt wonderful. I woke up about half past nine and panicked a little at first, thinking of all the things I had to do. It was something I had done every morning since I was about thirteen. I’d open my eyes and think of all that I needed to do and then I’d obsess over getting them done. It was part of trying to make the things I could control in my life outweigh the things that I couldn’t.

  Then I changed tracks mentally and thought about Aiden and that made me feel all warm and comfortable inside. I let myself linger in bed a little longer and then I dawdled over my coffee and then instead of my usual quickie shower, I let myself take a long, luxurious bath. It all felt wonderful and although it was almost noon before I was ready to do anything, I was more content than I had been in a very long time.

  At last I got together my laundry things and began to head over to my mother’s house. Once a week I did her laundry for fear that if I didn’t, she would wear clothes stained with vomit from some of her long, hard nights. On my way out the door I nearly ran into Aiden’s driver head first.

  “I’m sorry, Miss,” he told me. “I was
about to knock on your door.” He held an envelope in his hands and I had the silliest little moment of panic that it was a letter from Aiden telling me he wanted to call the whole thing off because he’d decided that I wasn’t good enough after all to be the mother of his child. I really needed to work on that confidence, or lack thereof.

  “That’s okay, I didn’t see you there.”

  “That’s because you have your arms awfully full. Mr. Scott asked me to deliver this envelope to you. Can I help you with those bags?” I had two large bags of dirty clothes and laundry supplies in my hands.

  Sitting them down near the door I said, “Oh no, thank you. I’m headed to do laundry. I’m used to it.” He handed me the envelope, and then offered to drop me wherever I needed to go. When I politely declined, because there was no way I was letting Aiden find out about my mother, he left. As soon as he was gone I lugged my bags back inside and opened the envelope. There was a one page letter and I carried it through the house and outside. I was craving the fresh air. I opened up the letter.

  Holly,

  Tonight I would like to take you to dinner and the Opera. The dress at the Opera is formal and I would love it if you’d allow me to help you with that. So, here is the address of a boutique that you can go to and pick out whatever you like. The woman there has strict instructions to be very helpful and accommodating to you. The address just underneath that one is for a spa. They’re also expecting you. Get whatever treatments or services you are interested in having. The phone number is to my driver, if you call him when you’re ready, he will take you to the boutique and the spa and wherever else you need to go. Have a lovely day; I will call for you at eight.

  Aiden

  I stood on the little balcony outside my apartment and stared at the letter. I wondered if I should be insulted that he just assumed I would have nothing to wear to the Opera. I suppose that would be a safe assumption, considering that he’s seen where I live. I thought about a day at a spa and actually got a chill. I’d never had that, I’d heard Myra talk about it, and it was something her wonderful husband insisted she treat herself to monthly. I had seen it on television, but I had no real idea what it would be like, other than expensive and wonderful. I looked down at the laundry at my feet. If I was going to do this right, the laundry would have to wait. In another move that was uncharacteristic of me, I took the laundry and left it in my room and then I called my mother.

  I got her voicemail which meant she was probably sleeping off whatever alcohol she was able to get her hands on the night before. I left her a message telling her that I wasn’t going to make it to do laundry because something had come up. Then I changed into one of my nicer skirts and blouses, put on a touch of make-up and swept my hair back in a bun. I didn’t want to go into a fancy spa or boutique looking the way I do when I do laundry.

  Finally, I called Aiden’s driver. I apologized to him for letting him go and asking him to come right back. He laughed and said it was no problem. I would have taken a cab but I didn’t really have the money to pay one to take me to the other side of town. The driver must have still been up the street, because he was there in minutes.

  “Where are we headed, Miss?” he asked. I gave him the address of the boutique and he helped me inside and as people gawked from the front of the complex, I leaned back into the plush leather seats and got comfortable. A girl could get used to all of this. A girl needed to remind herself not to.

  When we got to the boutique there was an older woman with short, pixie-style platinum hair behind the counter. She was wearing a very nice, expensive looking bohemian style blue dress and the color of it brought out the bright blue of her eyes. She was one of those kinds of people whose class and breeding oozed out her pores. She looked me up and down and with a neutral look on her face.

  “Good afternoon. How can I help you?”

  “Good afternoon. My name is Holly, Aiden Scott sent me.” It was like watching a transformation in front of my very eyes. The woman’s face went from neutral to almost painfully pleasant. She came around the counter and offered me her hand. I wondered what it would be like for just your name to have that kind of effect on people. I’d have to guess that’s where a big dose of his confidence came from.

  “I’m Gretchen and it’s a pleasure to meet you,” she said.

  “Hi Gretchen. Like I said, I’m Holly. Holly Valentine. It’s a pleasure to meet you too.”

  Then she insisted I be seated, and I took a seat in a plush, oversized chair that was arranged with its twin around a glass and brass coffee table. Gretchen excused herself and came back moments later with a flute of champagne. I thanked her and accepted, one glass wouldn’t hurt and I was being treated today after all.

  “Can I get you anything else?” She seemed so desperate to please me that I almost felt sorry for her. I’m sure she’s hoping when I see Aiden I’ll give her rave reviews.

  “Water would be nice, thank you,” I told her. While she went to get that, I glanced around the little store. There were only two racks of dresses. I found that strange because when I did shop for myself, which was rarely, I went to bargain department stores where there was rack after rack of clothing.

  When she came back with the water she said, “What is your size Holly? About a two?”

  “I think it would be more like a four,” I told her. “I haven’t bought myself a dress for a while.” I was significantly well-endowed as well as ample in the bottom area. She stepped back and looked me over.

  “I guess that would be to accommodate your curves. Very well, Aiden’s told me where you’re going so what I did was pre-select a few styles and colors for you to look at and try on. Are you ready to get started?”

  “I’m ready,” I told her with a smile. She showed me the dresses and I picked out three that I liked and tried them on. I fell in love with one of them instantly and Gretchen told me she thought I had excellent taste and that I looked like a princess in it. I know Aiden was paying her handsomely for her compliments, but it was nice to hear anyways.

  The dress was made by the designer Carmen Marc Valvo. I had heard his name on TV, but that was as far as my knowledge of him went. His dress was lovely though. It was a sleeveless, ruffle waist party dress and it was a strawberry color and an A-line silhouette style made out of a super soft satin material. It had a V-neckline and stopped at just above my knees. I loved it.

  Gretchen helped me pick out a gorgeous pair of silver strappy sandals and a few pieces of jewelry and a bag to accessorize it. Two hours later I walked out, outfitted for the Opera and feeling like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

  The driver took me to the spa next, and for the following three hours I was massaged and steamed and lotion-ed and creamed. By the time they finished with me my skin was so dewy I felt like I’d spent a week in the rain forest.

  After all of that I was taken to the other side of the spa where my hair was shampooed, set and styled and my make-up was applied by a professional. The end result was someone I barely recognized and I loved it. My long dark hair hung across my shoulders and down my back in soft, feminine curls. My green eyes were lined and plumped and tinted with just the smallest amount of green on the eyelid to bring out my own color. I walked out of there around five p.m. knowing that I’d never felt this pretty. I felt like a princess and I was ready to go home, slip on my new dress and wait for my Prince Charming.

  By the time Aiden knocked on my door, I was dressed and ready. When I opened it, the look on his face was something that I would remember forever. He didn’t even need to use any words, but when he did, I liked them.

  “Wow, Holly you look gorgeous.”

  I know I was beaming, but I couldn’t stop smiling. I felt gorgeous for the first time in a long time.

  “Thank you, for all of this,” I told him. Then I really took inventory of him in his black tuxedo. He was the handsomest thing that had ever walked the earth I was sure. “You look very nice too,” I told him. It was a huge understatement.
He had a little strawberry colored rose stuck in his lapel and I realized that it matched my dress exactly. “You’re matching me!” I said.

  He laughed, “Yes, I cheated and asked Gretchen what color you picked out.” I had never known anyone who paid as much attention to details as he did. I suppose that was another thing that contributed to him being so wealthy at such a young age.

  I took his arm and he led me to the car. My neighbors were really gawking this time, and I didn’t care. This time when I slid into the limousine, I felt like I belonged. The driver took us to an elegant restaurant in the city where once again we were treated like royalty. This time I believe that a few of the eyes were actually on me. It felt good to feel that I was standing out in the crowd for a change.

  We dined on steak and lobster and cheesecake for dessert. Then the car took us to the opera house where I saw my first opera. It was a tragedy in Italian and Aiden translated much of it for me. I found out that night on top of his many other talents, he also speaks five languages.

  We were sitting in our own private box and had an excellent view of the entire stage. It was a beautiful story, a beautiful performance and an all-around beautiful night. I wanted to pinch myself and make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. Aiden was such a gentleman and so attentive. He listened to everything I said like he truly believed it to be the most interesting thing he’d ever heard and I found myself opening up to him more and more. I told him about my father who had passed away a few years earlier and I touched on some of the lighter points of my childhood. The years before my father gave up his quest to get my mother sober were good ones, and those were the ones I shared with him. I still didn’t tell him about her, or the problems her addictions caused for me in my life. I was having too much fun, and I didn’t want to put a damper on any of it. Aiden made me feel like I deserved to be treated with respect, he made me feel pretty and smart and sometimes even funny. He was definitely a prince, and I could unquestionably see myself as his princess. I told myself, and that annoying little voice in the back of my mind, that I’d think about those feelings tomorrow and what I was going to do about them. For the moment, I was lost in a dream and I didn’t want to wake up.

 
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