Authors: M. Malone
FINN (BLUE COLLAR BILLIONAIRES #2)
Finn Marshall survived several tours in Afghanistan before the billionaire father he barely remembers changed everything. Now he has it all: money, cars and most importantly, power.
Power to track down the woman who left him for a richer man.
Marissa dragged herself out of poverty one client at a time, so she's thrilled when her company, Maid-4-U, gets a huge contract for a luxury penthouse. Until she sees who owns it.
Now to save her struggling business, Finn demands everything she once promised him.
Money can't buy him happiness but it can buy him one thing:
**Sign up to be notified of all new M. Malone books:
Hospitals always smell like death.
To take my mind off the stinging smell of antiseptic, I look over at my mother who is propped up against the pillows of the hospital bed. Tendrils of her hair spread across the cotton like soft, spidery legs. When she notices me looking she smiles but her eyes are pinched at the corners. She’s trying so hard to be brave.
I’m honestly not sure why she bothers. She’s never been able to hide anything from me.
She turns her head my way. I can tell she's tired because her eyes are slightly unfocused. "Remind me when I get home that I need to refill my prescription. I keep misplacing the bottles."
"Of course, Mom. Or I can pick it up for you. You know I don't mind."
I’d do anything to make this process easier for her. The chemo treatments were bad enough but due to her weak immune system, she’s back in the hospital because she developed pneumonia.
She grabs my hand and gives it a squeeze. The skin on her fingers is paper-thin now. Fragile. It’s hard to touch her when she seems like she might shatter into a thousand pieces at any moment. And I can’t live knowing I’ve destroyed one more thing I love.
“I know,” she answers. Her attention returns to the television hanging in the corner of the room. Mom hates talk shows but that’s all she’s been watching since she was admitted. That and reality programs. I think it makes her feel better to see people who voluntarily have fucked up lives.
My cell phone pings in my pocket and I reach in with one hand to silence it. There’s no need to look at the display. I’m late for an appointment. And I don’t care.
“I have to go but I’ll be back tomorrow.”
She smiles when I kiss her cheek. “You don’t need to come every day, Finnigan. I know you’re busy.”
Although she says this every time I visit, I still give her the same scowl. “Like I said, I’ll see you tomorrow. Try to get some sleep.”
She’s already absorbed in her program again. Someone on the screen is yelling at someone else. The tinny sound follows me as I leave her room and emerge into the cool air of the hospital corridor.
I look up to see my older brother Tank and his girlfriend, Emma. Emma’s friend, Sasha, who I’ve met a few times at Tank’s place, stands right behind them. Tank and I clasp hands and I pull him in for a quick hug. As usual, he can’t resist trying to crush my hand.
“Hey, Emma. Sasha, it’s good to see you again. If I’d known you guys were coming I would have planned to stick around.”
Tank motions with his head toward Emma. “Em thought a mini-spa session might cheer Mom up. So she and Sasha are going to help her do her hair and file her nails. All that girly stuff that you and I are no good for.”
Tank hasn’t been with Emma for long but she’s become so ingrained in his life that it’s hard to imagine him without her now. She’s also become important to me, not just because of how much she means to my brother but because of how much she means to our mom. Mom thinks of Emma as the daughter she’s never had.
“Thank you. Both of you,” I make sure to include Sasha. I’m sure they both have other things they could be doing on a weeknight but I know that Sasha sings in a nightclub for a living. She’ll probably have to go to work after this and would rather be relaxing instead of spending time in a hospital. I can’t help sneaking in an appreciative glance at the same time. With her beautiful brown skin and big doe eyes, she’s hard not to notice. Seeing her reminds me that I had planned to recommend her to a friend of mine who owns a hotel. They have live entertainment and Sasha would be perfect.
“I’ll get out of the way. I’m sure Mom is sick of my company.”
“Call me later tonight,” Tank adds. “There’s something I want to ask you.”
I nod but don’t meet his eyes. Tank has been after me to sit down and “talk” lately and I’ve been dodging him for weeks. Talking usually isn’t high on either of our priority lists but he’s noticed Mom’s pill bottles disappearing. He thinks she’s hiding them on purpose or throwing them away. I can’t look him in the eye and lie to him again so it’s easier to avoid him. But he can be relentless when he’s worried.
As I pass the nurses station, Sandy gives me a nod. She updates me on my mom’s progress every morning. It helps to know what I’m walking into before I get here. Even though I know mom tells me not to come every day, I would never leave her alone. She has always put Tank and I first. She’s sacrificed and worked herself into the ground to shelter and protect us. It was only recently that I’ve come to understand how much she’s done.
I walk out of the hospital and the humid summer air cloaks me like a wet blanket. Before my feet can even touch the asphalt, a black Bentley pulls up. Jonah West, my driver and occasional bodyguard, gets out to open the door for me.
“Mr. Marshall.” His eyes meet mine before darting around, assessing the environment. As a former soldier, I appreciate his diligence. A threat can materialize at any time and in any situation.
In the back of the car I stretch out, ignoring the dull ache in my lower leg. After a few excruciating minutes, I give in to the detestable weakness and prop my leg up on the seat. The edge of my pill bottle pokes me in the chest and I have to grit my teeth to resist the urge to take it out, shake out just a few pills. I can’t afford to be fuzzy right now.
I have shit I need to get done today.
My phone pings again and this time I pull it out. It’s my lawyer so I unlock the screen to read the email. I already know what the message will say. Still, as I scan the contract attached to the email, my heart beats a little faster. The familiar rush of adrenaline that I used to get from tactical training and being on the ground with my unit flows through me once again.
I might be laid up like an invalid, I’m beholden to my billionaire bastard of a father, my mother is in the hospital and I’m halfway addicted to my pain pills but finally there is one thing in my life going exactly the way I planned.
A second later, I lean forward. “Change of plans, Jonah. I need to get home immediately.”
My penthouse is an architectural marvel. I bought it as an investment with part of my inheritance from my father. He hasn’t been a part of my life in years but now he’s back and wants to make amends. Considering that he made his fortune while leaving my mother to struggle as a single parent, I felt no shame in accepting his guilt money.
Especially once I found out that he fathered multiple children while he was neglecting us.
My newfound brothers are on my mind as I cross the living room and stand at the window looking down to the traffic below. I have a standing appointment to see my youngest sibling but it’ll have to wait. Cell phone in hand, I take a moment to decide if this is really what I want. Because I could always allow my lawyer to handle the details and keep my name out of it. Once she sees my face, it’s another story.
I hit the button.
“Mr. Marshall. I assume you’ve already reviewed the contracts I sent over.”
Patrick Stevens came to me highly recommended as an estate lawyer but he’s been instrumental in helping me with other business matters as well. It hasn’t been easy navigating in the world as a sudden millionaire but I’m trying not to fuck it up too bad.
“I did. She agreed to all the terms?”
“She did. In fact, she was happy to start right away.”
The words should bring me happiness or give me satisfaction. Something. Yet, I don’t feel anything.
I won’t feel until I see her again.
“Excellent. As I said, I would rather Miss Blake not know anything until she shows up here tomorrow.”
“I’ve made inquiries into buying a few of her clients already. The power of attorney you signed last week gives me the ability to move quickly if an opportunity presents itself. Are you sure this is what you want?”
“Very sure. Buy any of her clients that you can. As many of them as you can. I don’t care how much it costs.”
He is silent for a moment. I know he must have questions. I’ve spent a considerable amount of money and time on this deal for no discernible reason. Why would a wealthy man care so much about the company that handles his cleaning? Despite the fact that he must have questions, Patrick doesn’t voice them. He’s learned by now that I keep my reasons to myself and require only that he delivers what I want. In this case, he has done exactly what I asked.
He’s delivered Marissa Blake directly into my hands.
An hour later, I walk into Anita’s Place and take my usual seat in a booth by the window.
It’s even busier than the last time I was here and it smells like sugar and sin. I’ve got a great view of the pedestrians bustling on the sidewalk outside but even more so, a great view of the waitress.
“There’s my favorite new customer.”
Anita Marshall appears at my elbow. Her long braids are drawn behind her head with a jaunty blue ribbon and her full lips are stretched into a big welcoming smile. She’s wearing her usual uniform of a blue dress with a frilly white apron tied around her waist. When I asked about it, she said she was going for a “retro” vibe. Then I said her apple pie was so good it should be regulated by the government as an addictive substance and that she didn’t need to worry about her outfit.
We’ve been friends ever since.
“You’re late today,” Anita chides playfully. She tucks the pencil in her hand behind her ear and slides her order pad into the pocket of her apron.
“I got sidetracked. But I’m here now.” For a moment, I wonder if my guilt is written all over my face. Anita is a motherly type through and through and if she had any idea what I’m planning for tomorrow, she definitely wouldn’t approve. She’d probably box my ears for even thinking of it.
But apparently my treachery isn’t apparent because her smile is just as warm as ever.
“You almost missed him.” She glances over her shoulder just as a young man, tall with light brown skin, appears behind the counter. He’s got traces of her in his expression, which is currently somewhere between annoyed and murderous, but his features are something else entirely. They are at once familiar and foreign. He reminds me so much of Tank when he looks pissed off like that.
I focus once more on Anita. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m only here because I’m hungry. And all that apple pie in that case isn’t going to eat itself.” I nod toward the front counter where big, fat slices of pie sit temptingly behind the glass.
Just as I finish speaking, another waitress appears and slides a plate in front of me with a massive slice of pie.
“Here’s your pie, Finn.”
“Everyone here knows how much you love your pie. Enjoy. We’ll leave you in peace now.” Anita thanks the other woman and then shoos her along when she doesn’t move fast enough. I have to hide my smile. Anita figured out who I was the first time she saw me. Strangely enough, she wasn’t upset either. She treats me with the same sort of casual affection that she shows her own son, including exasperation when her waitresses flirt with me.