Trade it all, p.1
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         Part #3 of The Barrington Billionaires series by Ruth Cardello
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Trade It All


  Trade It All

  The Barrington Billionaires

  Book Three

  Ruth Cardello

  Author Contact

  website: RuthCardello.com

  email: [email protected]

  Facebook: Author Ruth Cardello

  Twitter: RuthieCardello

  Lance Barrington’s priority is business, not pleasure. Only one woman has ever been able to turn him inside out: Willa Chambers, his sister’s best friend. Forbidden. Scandalous. Unforgettable.

  They’ve spent the last ten years trying to forget one night.

  When Willa and Lance are thrown together again, things heat up fast. Loving him almost destroyed her the first time.

  This time, will it heal her?

  COPYRIGHT

  Kindle Edition

  An original work of Ruth Cardello, 2016.

  All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

  This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, places, events, business establishments or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Dedication

  This book is dedicated to my sister, Judy.

  I still miss you every day.

  A Note to My Readers

  Hate to say goodbye to your favorite characters? The perfect solution is a Synchronized Series! One world. Three authors. Character cross-over. Triple the amount of books. Binge reading at it’s best.

  Each author’s books are full stories you can enjoy individually! But putting them all together weaves an even more pleasurable reading experience.

  Books 1-3 available as of July, 2016. Watch for more releases in Barrington Billionaire Synchronized Series.

  Table of Contents

  Copyright

  Dedication

  A Note to My Readers

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Epilogue

  Other books by Ruth Cardello

  Author Biography

  Acknowledgements

  Chapter One

  August, ten years earlier

  Willa Chambers hesitated at the door of the guest bedroom she and her twin sister, Lexi, were sharing for the week. Their friend, Kenzi Barrington, had invited them to join her family at their beach house on Nantucket Island as an end-of-summer getaway. It wasn’t the first time Willa had gone on vacation with the Barringtons, but this weekend was special.

  Willa was eighteen and heading off to Acadia University with Lexi and Kenzi in a few weeks. They weren’t children anymore. They were confident women following their dreams and, happily, taking their first big steps together.

  Willa wanted a solid career somewhere within the artistic community. She had a deep appreciation for creative works in all forms and, although she’d been told she had a natural talent, she kept her aspirations realistic. If she could support the art community in a meaningful way and make a living at it, she’d consider herself a success.

  Lexi wanted to be famous. Or rich. Or rich and famous. She didn’t care which came first as long as she found her way to both.

  Kenzi—well, she was harder to figure out. Her educational choices were based more on emotion than career path. She was already financially set for life. On her twenty-first birthday, she would inherit a large trust fund from a grandfather she said she’d never known. Kenzi didn’t talk about her family much, but Willa knew their relationship was strained. Kenzi didn’t like to go home without Willa and Lexi with her. They were her buffer. Her sisters. Willa wasn’t surprised when Kenzi choose the same university as she and Lexi had. For someone who seemed to have everything, Kenzi clung to their friendship. She said they were her sanity.

  Us? Willa smiled ruefully. Poor Kenzi.

  Lexi joined her at the doorway in a tiny, neon-pink bikini that was barely decent. Her long blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail that flipped back and forth behind her as she shook her head. Her blue eyes turned critical. “You’re not coming down to the beach?”

  “I am,” Willa answered and waved a towel in the air.

  Lexi frowned. “Did you forget your bathing suit?”

  “I have it on under this.” Willa referenced her denim shorts and T-shirt.

  Lexi shook her head and laughed. “Of course you do. Come on; Kenzi said to meet her down on the beach. Her brothers arrived late last night and this morning. They’re all here, you know. Even Lance.” Lexi wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.

  Willa blushed. “I know.”

  “Look at you, pretending you don’t care.”

  Willa gave her sister a playful shove. “I like him. No big deal.”

  “You don’t like him, you like him.”

  Willa rolled her eyes and tried to look cooler than she felt. “Whatever.”

  “You’ve had a crush on him for—like forever. Are you ever going to do anything about it?”

  “He’s Kenzi’s brother,” Willa said in protest.

  “So what?” Lexi flounced beside her. “We’re not in high school anymore. Aren’t you curious if college guys kiss better?”

  I barely know how high school boys kiss. But that wasn’t a conversation Willa wanted to have with Lexi. Sometimes it was simply easier to agree. “I guess.”

  Willa closed her eyes briefly and let herself imagine kissing Lance. He was two years older than them and already in college at MIT. He was a dual major: Applied Mathematics and Architecture. Brilliant. Gorgeous. He was also the reason she had trouble dating. No one could compare. From the first time Lance had visited the boarding school she, Lexi, and Kenzi attended, Willa had been smitten. Lance was naturally confident. He walked into a room and introduced himself as if everyone should know his name. And everyone did. And his eyes. Oh God, those eyes. Dark brown until he talked about something he cared about then they went almost black.

  Willa sighed. A look from him was enough to bring a flush to most girls’ cheeks. Rowing for a college team had given him an enviable chest and arms—muscular, strong, powerful. He was the perfect height at just over six foot. His face? So stunningly chiseled even married women stopped to take a second look. Really there wasn’t an inch of him Willa could imagine not being perfect. She’d spent a significant amount of time imagining it.

  And he was downstairs.

  Lexi shot her a cheeky grin. “He’s hot. If you don’t want him, maybe I’ll give him a go.”

  Willa froze. Her eyes flew to Lexi’s to gauge how serious she was. Lexi had always been the more impulsive of the two of them and Willa, for the most part, has been okay with that. Although genetically they were identical, with the same blonde hair and blue eyes, Willa had never felt beautiful. She’d heard people joke that even between twins there was a prettier one, and that had always been Lexi.

  It was something Willa accepted and Lexi reveled in. Lexi needed to be the center of attention. Even when they were little, Lexi had always wanted to be the first to hold something, the first to walk in line, the one people talked about the most after meeti
ng them.

  Willa, on the other hand, was naturally shy. She preferred people-watching instead of drawing attention to herself. She was cautious where Lexi was brash. In most cases it worked for them. Willa didn’t need to be first at anything. She was happy to be her sister’s biggest cheerleader.

  But that wasn’t how she felt with Lance.

  Lexi must have seen the horror in her expression because she said, “I’m only kidding.” Then she started toward the stairs. “You take everything so seriously. Come on. I’ll race you to Lance.”

  Lexi took off down the stairs.

  Willa tried to tell herself she didn’t care, but she sprinted after Lexi. They came to a skidding stop in the hall when Kenzi’s mother called out to them. “Girls!”

  They turned toward her in unison.

  Sophie Barrington was a delicately beautiful woman in her fifties. Her chestnut hair was gathered into a classical loose bun. The short-sleeved, collared, cotton dress she wore was tasteful and subdued. She looked exactly like what she was: a woman who had been born into wealth but had kept her life simple and focused on family.

  Years ago, when Kenzi had first invited Willa and Lexi to visit her home, she’d briefly explained that her family had one unspoken rule no one, not even the eldest son, Asher, dared to break. Never ever upset Sophie. Willa had expected her to be a shrew, but the reality was Kenzi’s mother had fallen apart after the loss of a child, and no one wanted to be the one to topple her a second time. It was hard not to feel sorry for the Barringtons. They were a huge family, but when given the chance they chose not to be together. They were all there that week for one reason—Sophie had asked them to come.

  “How did you sleep last night? Do you have everything you need?” Sophie asked.

  Willa answered enthusiastically, “It’s beautiful, Mrs. Barrington. Thank you so much for letting us come.”

  Sophie smiled widely. “You know you girls are always welcome.”

  Lexi chimed in, “What’s not to love? This place is like a hotel.”

  Sophie dismissed the twelve-bedroom, fourteen-bathroom beach mansion with a wave of her hand. “I don’t like islands, but I used to enjoy the beach as a child—those were happy times. I told Asher we didn’t need anything this big, but he likes to spoil us. I like to think we’ll fill it with grandchildren one day and give the next generation the same happy memories.” When neither Willa nor Lexi responded to that, Sophie bent and picked up a cloth bag from near the wall. “The boys are going out on jet skis. Could you be a dear and give this to Grant? There’s a spray can of sunblock in there. Tell him to make sure they all wear some.” She handed the bag to Willa. “You two should, too. It’s easy to get a nasty burn.”

  Lexi made a face and Willa shook her head in subtle reprimand. Since their parents died in a plane crash when they were young, an older aunt and uncle had taken custody of the girls. It hadn’t taken them long to deposit the girls at the boarding school. Being mothered by anyone felt unusual, but Lexi knew better than to buck it with Sophie. Willa rushed to assure Kenzi’s mother they would definitely be careful.

  With a satisfied smile, Sophie nodded at Willa. “I know you will, dear.”

  Lexi made a sound of displeasure deep in her throat but didn’t say anything. Sophie never called either of them by name, and Lexi said it was because she couldn’t tell them apart. Willa didn’t want to believe it. Confusing them was the quickest way for the girls to lose their respect.

  Lexi’s smile turned impish. “We’ll make sure your sons get sprayed all over.”

  Sophie’s eyes rounded in surprise. Willa grabbed Lexi by the arm and pulled her toward the door. “We should run this down to them. See you later, Mrs. Barrington.”

  Lexi was still laughing when Willa closed the door to the house behind them. “Did you see her face?”

  Willa shook her head in disapproval but couldn’t help smiling. Lexi always was and probably always would be a ball-buster. “You’re so bad.”

  Arm in arm with Willa, Lexi walked toward the dock. “You loved it.”

  Willa laughed. Part of Lexi’s appeal was her in-your-face attitude. She didn’t worry the way Willa did. “I hope she doesn’t say anything to Kenzi about it.”

  Lexi shrugged. “If she does, I’ll say you said it.”

  Willa gave her sister a playful hip check. “Do it. Kenzi would never believe it anyway.”

  Lexi’s smile widened shamelessly. “You’re probably right. Hey, on the bright side, we don’t know how to drive a jet ski so that means we’ll be cuddling up against some Barringtons today.”

  Willa smiled back but corrected, “Who see us as their little sister’s friends.”

  Lexi arched an eyebrow at Willa and wrinkled her nose at Willa’s T-shirt and shorts. “You, maybe, not me.”

  “Lexi—”

  Her sister waved a hand in surrender. “Don’t say it. I know. Really, Willa, you need to relax. There is nothing wrong with flirting. I’m not going to sleep with any of them. I’m not that stupid.”

  “That’s a lot of beer,” Lance said as his brother, Andrew, opened the large cooler from the back of the Jeep they’d used to drive supplies down to the beach.

  “Want one?” Andrew cracked a can open and took a long gulp.

  “I don’t drink much,” Lance said. Life was generally out of control enough without adding alcohol to it.

  “You’d better not. You’re not legal,” Grant, the second oldest of the Barrington brothers, said sternly.

  Andrew rolled his eyes. “The Marine Corp handed me an M16 at twenty, but the government won’t let him have a beer? Give him a break.”

  In the same stern tone, Grant said, “I don’t care if Lance has a few at college but not here. You shouldn’t either.”

  Andrew took another deep gulp. “See, that makes me want to get shit-faced.”

  Asher walked over and lifted the top of the cooler. “Just beer?”

  Lance gave his eldest brother a measured look. “Not up to your standards? Were you hoping for Macallan on the rocks? Money hasn’t changed you at all, has it?”

  Asher’s expression tightened. “On your next birthday, you’ll get the same amount I did. It’s your choice if you want to do something with it or piss it away.”

  “Is that crack directed at me?” Andrew asked, straightening to his full height.

  Asher didn’t look at all bothered that he might have offended him. “No, you’re throwing away your life, not your money. I look at you as an investment of sorts. If you’re signing up for another two years, make sure your will is up to date.”

  Everyone was silent for a moment, then Grant said, “Not funny, Asher.” He looked across at Andrew. “Andrew, keep your head down and don’t get killed. But you should have a current will. That part was actually sound advice.”

  “Your concern is touching,” Andrew said sarcastically.

  Whatever Asher was about to say was interrupted by Ian’s arrival. “It’s a beautiful day. Let’s not argue.” He was well on his way to following in their father’s political footsteps. When it suited him, he could be smooth and persuasive. But, he could also be a bull—and often was with the family. Lance figured that came from growing up so close in age with Grant and Asher. It was a case of step up or be stepped on. Although there was only a span of ten years between the oldest and youngest of them, their childhoods had been very different. Asher remembered life before their mother had her breakdown. He was old enough to have been affected by the scandal that had rocked the family. What he’d seen had hardened him. To some extent, Grant and Ian were the same. Lance, Andrew, and Kenzi on the other hand had been too young to understand. They only knew the aftermath. In some ways it had split the family in two: those who were angry and had become controlling asses, and those who had to put up with them.

  Andrew faced the annoyance head-on. He held up his drink. “Chill, Ian. It’s all good.” He threw a second beer to Lance, who caught it only because it would have hit him s
quare in the chest if he hadn’t. “Right, Lance?”

  Lance survived his family by not engaging. Given a choice, he would have stayed at school during vacations, but that wasn’t an option. When summoned home, they came. All of them, even the mighty Asher. Then, like puppets on strings, they would pretend to be close until they were given permission to leave again. It was pathetic, really, how little control even his very successful brothers had over this part of their lives. It should have made them less oppressive, but it hadn’t.

  It might have been the parental disapproving look his three oldest brothers were giving him or the fact that he and Andrew had always been close and he missed him, but Lance opened his beer and took a swig. “Absolutely.”

  Andrew looked past him and whistled. “Holy fuck, who is that?”

  Lance turned and saw his sister’s friends headed down the path toward the beach. He gave himself the luxury of appreciating the exposed expanse of Willa’s long legs as the sound of her laughter carried across the distance to them. In the two years Kenzi had been bringing the twins around, they’d blossomed from giggling girls with braces to beautiful women—uncomfortably beautiful. “That’s Willa and Lexi.”

  “No shit,” Andrew said. “Wow. I should come home more often.”

  Grant made a disapproving sound. “Stand down. Those two are off limits. Kenzi considers them sisters. You should, too.”

  Andrew groaned. “That’s not fair. How old are they?”

  Asher went to stand beside Andrew. “Too young for you. They’re eighteen.”

  Andrew made a face as he considered it. “Four years. Not that bad. But yeah, that’s young. Damn, though. What a shame.” He gave Lance a sideward look. “You, Lance, are the only one of us young enough. Lucky son of a bitch.”

  Lance opened his mouth to say that he would never see them as anything but Kenzi’s friends but stopped when his eyes met Willa’s. Despite the distance, his blood shot directly to his dick and his breath caught in his throat.

  Ian clapped a hand on Lance’s shoulder. “Not that lucky. Let’s be really clear about something. None of us will ever get involved with any of Kenzi’s friends, no matter who they are or how close they are to any of our ages. Things like that never end well.”

 
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