REMEMBER US: A Billionaire Romance (Part One)

BOOK: REMEMBER US: A Billionaire Romance (Part One)
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Remember Us

A Billionaire Romance, Part 1 of 3

 

Copyright © 2015

 

All Rights Reserved
. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.

Chapter 1

 

Xander

“Call me when it’s ready,” I said, handing Jonnie the file I was holding. “They want to see it as soon as possible.”

“No problem,” she said, skirting off to her desk.

I walked into my office, kicking the door closed with the heel of my foot. I could still hear the hum of working taking place outside the glass walls, but it was down to a dull roar, which was great for the headache I could feel coming on behind my eyes.

When I started this company, I thought it was going to be a breeze. But don’t all young entrepreneurs? I’m proud of what I’ve built over the last five years. This business has been my life for these past few years, but now, I’m ready to think about something other than security systems for a while. I’m ready to think about settling down and having a family.

I’ve already met the girl. I just need to convince her to marry me.

There’s a picture of her on my desk. Long blonde hair. Bright green eyes. A cute little button nose that accents her full lips perfectly. And curves that would catch the attention of a blind man. But it’s not just the way she looks. Harley is one of the most intelligent women I’ve ever known. And an incredibly talented artist. That’s how we met, actually. My company was contracted to set up security at an art gallery in Texas. She was the showcase artist at the time.

I knew I wanted her the second I laid eyes on her. She was in jeans and a t-shirt, her hair sweaty and tangled from her efforts of bringing a dozen, oversized canvases into the warehouse-like gallery without any help. That was her personality in a nutshell: strong, fiercely independent, and determined. I walked over and turned the charm on, and she shot me down in a single look.

I was a goner.

It took me almost a week to convince her to go out with me. But that first dinner led to a late lunch and another long dinner and six months later she’d moved to Los Angeles to move in with me.

I’d never thought of myself as the one-girl-for-the-rest-of-my-life kind of guy. But with Harley, I was dreaming of green-eyed babies and rocking chairs on the front porch. I even had the ring in the top drawer of my desk.

Like I said, I just need to convince her.

I settled down behind my desk and woke my computer, scrolling through emails that needed my attention.

Part of my job entails a lot of hand-holding. We provide security systems for companies, big and small. And these companies need to be reassured—some on a daily basis—that the system is working and we’ve got them fully protected—from their computer systems to their hiring protocol to their physical locations. So, most mornings, I have the equivalent of a single email from each client, which amounts to hundreds of emails. Harley told me once I should hire a secretary whose sole job would be to answer these emails. I was beginning to think she was right.

In a few minutes, I was lost in the emails, writing reassurances to clients I knew well and clients I’d only just met. I didn’t even hear the phone ring until Jonnie, my office manager, stuck her head in the door.

“Xander?”

I looked up. “Did you get those—?” I stopped because I could see something in her expression that caused the fingers of dread to dance up and down my spine. “What’s going on?”

“Someone from Cedars-Sinai is on the phone.”

I frowned, not following what she was saying.

“It’s about Harley.”

I snatched up the phone, pressing the appropriate button to connect the call.

“This is Xander Boggs.”

“Mr. Boggs? This is Alicia Franklin from Cedars-Sinai. Do you know Harley Alistair?”

“Yes. What’s going on? Is she okay?”

“There was an accident, Mr. Boggs. Ms. Alistair was hit by a car while jogging.”

That was all I heard. I know she kept talking after that, but it was just white noise. I remember saying I’d be there as soon as possible. And then I was searching for my keys.

“Maybe you shouldn’t drive,” Jonnie said.

“I’ve got to go.”

I charged past her and rushed out the door.

***

“Why won’t you go out with me?”

She looked up, surprise making her big green eyes look even bigger. “You sure are a conceited one, aren’t you?”

“No. I just know what I want when I see it.”

“Yes, well, I’m not something that can simply be possessed.”

“I don’t want to possess you. I want to take you to dinner. Have a nice conversation with someone who knows absolutely nothing about security systems.”

She smiled, but she ducked her head so that I only saw a glimpse of it. I wanted to see more.

“You think you’re so charming,” she said. “But I don’t have time to play games with a guy like you.”

“And what’s a guy like me?”

“Some big city playboy who thinks he can have any woman he wants. Some charmer who thinks the whole world should kneel at his command. I’ve been down that road. I have no intention of walking down it again.”

“So you’re cheating yourself out of a good time with me because some other jerk broke your heart?” I shook my head slowly. “You don’t know what you’re missing out on.”

“Oh, I think I do.”

“I could surprise you, you know. I might be the best thing that ever happened to you. But if you don’t give me a chance, you will never know.”

Again that smile appeared on her full lips, bringing a light to her eyes that could have lit the darkest of rooms. I felt like I was standing in the center of a spotlight when she shone those eyes on me, and that was a feeling I wanted to keep.

“If I go out with you, just once, will you leave me alone?”

“I can’t make promises.”

She groaned…but the groan ended in a soft giggle.

“Okay. One date. But I’m not making promises, either.”

***

I ran up to the nurses’ station the moment I got off the elevator, a little breathless as I slammed my hands on the counter to get their attention.

“Harley Alistair?”

“Are you Mr. Boggs?”

I nodded, watching the short, overweight nurse come toward me.

“If you’ll follow me,” she said, gesturing over her shoulder, as she pushed through the little gate that blocked the area behind the desk from unauthorized access. She walked slowly down the hall before she stopped and gestured for me to enter a door on the left. I thought it would be a patient room, that Harley would be lying in a bed, a little bruised but basically okay, annoyed with all the fuss being made over her. But it wasn’t. It was a small break room with hulking vending machines overshadowing the small table set in the center.

“What’s going on?” I demanded the moment the nurse joined me in the little room and closed the door.

“As I said on the phone, the accident was quite serious.”

“Where’s Harley?”

The nurse pressed her lips together and gestured toward the table, making it clear that she wasn’t going to tell me what I wanted to know until I calmed a little. I took a deep breath, trying to remind myself that this woman was in control here, not me. But it was a difficult thing to concede.

I took a seat, crossing my legs and locking my fingers together in my lap. She sat, too, sighing as she flexed her feet in their clunky white nurse’s shoes.

“Ms. Alistair was brought into the ER via ambulance about three hours ago. The paramedics said that she was jogging on Third Street when a car apparently veered out of control and hit her. She was unconscious when they arrived.”

I stared down at my hands, anger and fear and hatred and a million different emotions I couldn’t even begin to decipher filling my chest. I didn’t look up, didn’t speak. I was afraid if I did, I would say something I shouldn’t and this nurse would have me escorted out by security. I needed to see Harley. I needed to know she was okay.

“Ms. Alistair has a broken leg, three cracked ribs, and a dislocated shoulder. There are also many cuts and bruises, but the injury that doctors are most concerned with is the head injury.”

“Head injury?”

“It appears that Ms. Alistair was pushed forward by the impact of the car and landed head first against some sort of object. The paramedics thought it was likely a tree or a fence post.”

The image that conjured in my mind was horrific. Again, I bit my lip to keep from speaking because I was afraid what I had to say was not appropriate.

But, what the hell? What kind of paramedics couldn’t determine…but then, that wasn’t really important right now, was it?

“CAT scans show that she has what is called a subdural hematoma. What it is, essentially, is bleeding on the brain.”

My heart sank. That didn’t sound good.

“The doctors are with her now, trying to determine a course of action. As soon as they are available, I’ll send them in to speak to you.”

The nurse stood with a heavy sigh.

“Wait,” I said, leaning forward with the intention of snagging hold of the bottom edge of her sweater. However, I stopped myself just in time, instead resting my hands on my knees.

She turned and regarded me; the hard, no-nonsense expression she’d maintained from the moment I got her attention softened just slightly. She touched my shoulder ever so lightly and said, “I know it seems overwhelming at the moment, Mr. Boggs, but you should be assured that she is in the best of hands.”

She smiled softly, then walked away, closing the door with barely a sound. I stood and began pacing the small room, barely able to take two steps before I was forced to turn around again.

What would I do if Harley didn’t make it through this?

***

“You look absolutely amazing.”

“You’re just saying that.”

I let my eyes move slowly over her, lingering here and there as my eyes settled on things that were particularly fascinating to me.

“No,” I said, letting the word drag as it slipped from my lips. “You are pretty amazing.”

She laughed, tossing a soiled napkin at me.

She was wearing more paint than she was clothing. She was in her art studio, and the time had gotten away from her as she worked on a new project. While I was standing there in a dark suit that cost more than I cared to admit, she was dressed in denim shorts and a thin little tank top, both of which were covered in splatters of paint, as were her arms and legs. I think there was even a splash of sunny yellow paint in her hair.

“It’ll only take me a few minutes to shower,” she said, brushing past me as she rushed up the little path that led to the back door of her house. “You can wait in the living room. There’s tea in the fridge.”

“Sweet tea, I assume.”

“Of course. Is there any other kind?”

She glanced over her shoulder at me, laughter written in every angle of that amazing face. I could have just stood there and stared at her all day.

“Do you want company in the shower? I could scrub your back.”

“I think I can handle it.”

“Are you sure? It looks like you rolled in the paint.”

She looked down at herself as though she’d only just realized how much paint had adhered to her body. A slight blush colored her cheeks, bringing out the natural bronze of her skin in a most alluring way. And then she shook her head, brushing off the embarrassment that inspired that blush.

“I’ll be down in a minute.”

She disappeared up the narrow staircase. I watched her go, finding it a real struggle to keep from chasing after her. Instinct told me that I didn’t want to rush things with her. Harley was different from any other woman I’d ever been with. I didn’t want to screw things up before they’d even begun. So I was a good boy, sitting on her overstuffed couch, looking through an art magazine that didn’t interest me in the slightest. But it was well worth it when she returned nearly forty minutes later, her curves highlighted by a simple but elegant black dress.

I would never forget how beautiful she looked in that moment, the black a perfect contrast to her light hair and freshly scrubbed bronze skin.

***

“Mr. Boggs?”

A short, handsome man came into the room a good hour later, his lab coat announcing that he was a doctor. I crossed the room in three steps and took his proffered hand.

“I’m Dr. Caliendo. I’m a neurologist on staff here at Cedars.”

“You’re treating Harley.”

“I am.”

Dr. Caliendo gestured toward the table. Once again, I took a seat, waiting impatiently for him to explain what the hell was going on. He sat, too, taping his fingers against the frame of the iPad he was holding.

“As I’m sure Nurse Franklin told you, Harley has multiple injuries from the accident. The most concerning is the head injury. Her skull has several fractures. Those fractures have caused a hematoma, or a bleed, on her brain. This is causing pressure within her skull.” He paused, studying me as though he were trying to measure how much I was comprehending. Apparently satisfied, he continued, “We’ve placed Harley in a drug-induced coma to allow her brain to rest while it heals. We’ll monitor the swelling for the next twenty-four hours before determining our next step.”

BOOK: REMEMBER US: A Billionaire Romance (Part One)
11.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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