Authors: Mia Caldwell
The Billionaire Cowboy’s Carolina Girl
© 2015 Mia Caldwell
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locations is purely coincidental. The characters are all productions of the author’s imagination.
Please note that this work is intended only for adults over the age of 18 and all characters represented as 18 or over.
Find the rest of Mia’s stories on
her author page
Check out “
The Billionaire’s Matchmaker
” right here. It tells the story of Anita’s sister, Eleni. Both books can be read as standalones and follow different, but related, characters.
“Can’t you transfer to Texas A&M, Anita?” Billy held me close and kissed me. The water was cool around us, and the swimming hole was conveniently absent of people that day. It seemed like the Smoky Mountains were always full of tourists trying to find the hidden swimming holes after a hot day of walking around in Asheville, but right then it was just us. I kissed him back, and that familiar ache ran through my body again. That ache that said, “This is it. This is him. This moment is everything.”
But that ache… well, lust isn’t everything. There was real life to consider.
“I can’t. My family is here. My granny is in Greenville, and she’s already hoppin’ mad that I went all the way to Asheville for college. My life is for my family, Billy. Hell, what would
family say about me?” I already knew the answer to that question. We’d skirted around that topic way too many times, and I’d gotten the point. I was damn proud of my heritage. I had Korean and African and Irish all wrapped up in one beautiful person, and I wasn’t about to waste my time on a white boy whose family would snub me. Billy kept telling me that they weren’t like that, but I knew better.
Billy blushed deeply. He avoided talking about his family, especially his daddy. My family had its dark times too — my daddy walking out on my mama, my Korean granny and my black granddaddy being the talk of the town… and not in a good way. Billy had often told me that his parents only wanted him to associate with the rich kids at school, and eventually they moved him into a private education. I was thinking they might not like a girl who had grown up dirt poor — and on top of that, I was a dance major. And that whole thing about being a woman of… a
All that information told me that this relationship wasn’t worth the effort. It told me that Billy
the one, no matter what my body had to say about the matter.
Billy ran his fingers down my neck and over the thin black strap of my bikini. He hooked his finger under the strap and brushed his knuckles over my bare, wet skin as we bobbed in the water. He brushed just slightly against my nipple, sending a flood of that ache through me. That feeling that undid me and shattered all of my logical thought.
“Billy, don’t. You know we can’t be together.”
“I don’t know that,” he said, reaching around and unhooking my suit until it floated free in the water. I laughed, listening to the echo off of the rocks. My voice filled the cove, and right then it all felt like it was there for us and only us. Anita and Billy. The frivolous dance major and the farmer on an internship for the summer in Asheville. That one summer, we’d talked over and over about running away to the Midwest. We’d have a farm with goats, and I’d learn how to make cheese and sell it at the farmer’s market. He’d bring organic farming to the small town, and we’d give free tours to all of the local elementary school. I’d teach dance lessons out of the refinished barn, and we’d be happy and far away from anyone who could hurt us. “Think about the farm. We could run away. We could run away today,” he said.
I let myself float into that dream, relishing the touch of his firm, calloused fingers on my skin. That was our last day before Texas A&M started up again, and Billy would be gone that next morning. As much as my body ached for his… as much as that vision played over and over in my mind, none of that was real. We were from two very different places, and his family would never accept mine. And hell, Texas was half a world away.
Billy moved his hands over my body, squeezing my bottom and pulling me up so my legs wrapped around him. He trailed his lips over mine and down my neck and over the long line of my collarbone. Chills ran through my body, activating that need deep inside my core.
“Not here, Billy Joe,” I whispered.
“Why not, pretty girl? What do we have to lose?” I smiled broadly and let him kiss me and touch me under the water. I cried out, gasping and moaning, the echoes of my voice surrounding us. There was no one around to hear us, after all. None of it seemed real that day, and I thought it wasn’t. I thought Billy would slip out of my life just as casually as he’d fallen into it, and that I’d never think of him again.
How very wrong I was.
He held my hand at the airport that next morning, kissing me before he turned and walked to his gate. He’d go on to his cowboy life far away from me, and I would studiously avoid his emails and phone calls until he just stopped calling altogether.
But he would never leave my mind.
Eight years later, he was the man I thought of every time I met a date from Match. He was the one I thought of whenever one of the sexy millionaires gave me the side eye at one of the Million Dollar Matchmaking events. He was the one I wanted to call when I broke my foot the month after I was accepted in the Los Angeles Ballet… the moment all my dreams shattered into a thousand pieces. But I hadn’t sought out his number, and I never found him on Facebook.
And here I was at twenty-seven, a self-proclaimed spinster. I accepted that no one would compare to him, at least not right then. I was content to work for my sister’s matchmaking service, finding love for everyone else. I put on a bright smile for the world and rescued stray cats and dogs that no one else would take. My two-bedroom ranch in Sun Valley was filled with their warmth and love, but it was never quite what I was looking for.
I didn’t know how all of that was about to change. It was all something I never could have imagined.
“Anita, get over here!” I sighed deeply, glancing over at my sister’s desk. She was always calling me over these days. Between planning her wedding and being six months pregnant, she didn’t have much energy to get up from her desk. I watched as she picked up her cell phone. Her entire face lit up, and I knew it was Josh. I couldn’t help but let a smile cross my own face. I’d known it was real from the very start. My sister and her billionaire. It was like a strange fairytale come true. She put the phone down again and gave me a look. “Nita, seriously! You’ve got to get over here. We’ve got another big client on the hook.”
I rolled my eyes. Ever since Josh, one of California’s most famous billionaires, had met his match at Million Dollar Matchmaking, we’d had men lining up out the door. It seemed that everyone wanted love these days, and MDM was the place to get it. I supposed that was good for business, and what was good for business was good for me too. It meant I might be able to get a huge commission boost — and with that extra bit of cash, I could start the dance studio I’d longed for since I’d broken my foot. It wasn’t the Los Angeles Ballet — that was a dream I’d lost years ago — but it was the art form I loved and the path I knew I was meant to follow. I hopped up and made my way over to Eleni’s desk.
“Okay, okay, lazy pregnant lady, what’s the deal?” I leaned against Eleni’s desk and smiled as she patted her baby bump. She wasn’t ready to find out the baby’s sex, but even then, I knew it would be a girl. Even if I wasn’t meant to find the man of my dreams and have my own children, I could spoil my niece rotten. That baby made me smile madly every time I thought about it.
Eleni absently patted her belly bump. I wondered what it would feel like to have a life growing inside of me — someone to cherish and love forever. I thought of Josh and his incredible attraction to Eleni, especially during her pregnancy. I wondered if my life ever would be like that, if it even could be.
"It says here that he's another billionaire... he earned his first billion by buying out an oil refinery during the recession and selling it in 2013. He's also now president of a gas and oil pipeline company." Eleni paused and looked back over her notes. "It's crazy how some of these men get their money. Looks like this one was blind luck, backed by good business sense."
"Well, why on earth is he looking out here for a wife? Why not wherever he's from?"
"Oh, he's from Texas. Doesn't say
he's from in Texas, just that he owns a boatload of oil. Well, why do any of these men come to us?" I paused. That seemed beyond me, but I had seen some great romances flourish from Million Dollar Matchmaking, including Eleni's destiny with her billionaire Josh. I shrugged and scooted onto Eleni's desk, sitting on the fine hard wood she favored in the office. I fiddled with one of her pens and let my mind wander. I'd never been to Texas myself, but I'd always wanted to go when I'd been dating Billy. I wondered if he'd found his happiness, building that farm life and big family he'd always wanted. Just not with me.
"Anita, focus." Eleni laughed — I'd been hearing a lot more of that these days. Josh had brought laughter back into her life, and for that I was grateful. "I know that someday, you'll have a business of your own. But for now, work on understanding the philosophy behind mine." She winked at me, and I smiled.
"Okay, okay. Eleni, enlighten me. Why do these world-famous men come here for love?"
"It's because they're not finding it where they are. It's because every other woman they meet is looking for money, and they know we look for professional women, women who know their own minds. And it's because men are more practical than women. They don't want that fairy tale ending — they want a stable, steady relationship. Someone they can come home to at the end of the day and share a meal with."
of them are looking for that. I bet some of them want the fairy tale ending too. Josh did." Eleni grinned and blushed a deep red.
"Well, he did come to us. And he did find what he was looking for. He knew he'd have better luck looking at an agency."
"And he did," I said, looking her in the eye. "He just had to tune you into the romantic side of things."
"Regardless of my relationship with Josh," Eleni said pointedly, "Let's get back to the issue at hand. This guy — Joseph Wootton — has some specific requirements. And it does look like he's searching for that stable, steady spouse he wants to come home to at the end of the day."
"Sure, fine. I'll accept your premise so we can get our next big client." I knew I was holding out for that bit of romance, and hell, maybe that's what had made me so lonely all these years I'd been in L.A. "What's he looking for?"
"He wants a woman who has her own career, but one that she might be able to transport to Texas. And he wants a woman who wants kids, pretty much right away. Other than that, he says he had his heart broken years ago, and he just wants someone who won't hurt him." A chill ran through me. This man had love taken away from him. I knew how that was. Maybe it was best just to be practical at this point, just like this Joseph guy was.
"Any information on him online?" I wondered what he looked like. It seemed like a strange coincidence that he'd have the last name as Billy. Maybe they were related... I felt a thrill at the possibility. Maybe he'd be able to get me in touch with the man I'd missed for so very long.
"Nope, not a trace. Looks like this guy keeps to himself. And with good reason. He's one of the richest men in Texas, and I'm betting he has a lot of people trying to get a piece of him."
"I guess so. Money like that... well, it separated Josh from the world. Until he found you." Eleni rolled her eyes again, but I could tell how happy she was. It radiated from her every moment of the day.
"Sure, sure. As I said, Josh is a different story. He's... one of a kind." Eleni cleared her throat, and I could tell she needed me to stay away from the subject. She hadn't gotten used to the concept of romance quite yet. "Let's go through our files and see which women might fit with Joseph. I think we want three extremely high-quality candidates in here. Can you and Danielle coordinate a happy hour? Let's hope this billionaire is easy to please. I hate it when they refuse dates and make us start over again."