Home > Going Down Fast (Billionaire Bad Boys #2)(7)

Going Down Fast (Billionaire Bad Boys #2)(7)
Author: Carly Phillips

“Avoiding going home,” he said, honest with one of the men he trusted above all others.

“The pretty lady has you tied up in knots already?” Derek asked.

“She’s had me tied up in knots my whole life.”

A smirk lifted Derek’s mouth. “Yeah, I know. So what are you going to do about it? You could always make a move,” he suggested.

“On my brother’s grieving widow?” The words felt raw and gritty in Lucas’ mouth.

Derek raised a shoulder. “You so sure she’s grieving?”

Lucas opened his mouth, then closed it again. “She married my brother.”

“Everyone has reasons. Ever ask her hers?”

Lucas swallowed hard. “No.”

“And on that happy note, I’m out of here.” Derek pushed himself up and off the desk. “Learn from Kade. Women are either a pain in the ass or you can’t live without them. Might as well figure out what yours is.”

Lucas rolled up the nearest piece of paper and tossed it at Derek. “Go home.” And he’d do the same.

Not to make a move on his houseguest but to begin living whatever his life was going to be like now.

A little while later, Lucas walked into his apartment to the delicious smell of dinner, reminding him he’d skipped a meal. He stopped at the kitchen, which was sparkling clean, and glanced in the refrigerator. A plate with a note for him to microwave dinner if he was hungry.

He was. But he wanted to thank her first.

He headed toward her bedroom and caught sight of her curled up on the sofa. He stepped closer. She had one hand beneath her head, her hair falling around the throw pillow and her lips slightly parted. The television scrolled movie credits in the background.

His heart kicked hard in his chest.

He knelt down and brushed her hair off her cheek. “Maxie.”

“Hmm.” Her nose twitched and she rolled over, her eyes opening wide. “Lucas.”

He loved the sound of his name on her lips.

“You’re home.”

“Better late than never.”

She pushed herself to an upright position and curled her legs beneath her. “There’s dinner in the fridge. If you haven’t eaten.”

“You cooked?”

She nodded. “I figured it was the least I can do.”

“Thank you. And I’m sorry I didn’t make it home in time.”

She lifted one shoulder. “It’s fine. I’m used to eating alone. And I don’t mean that in the pathetic sense. I did it long before Keith passed away.”

She was independent and he respected that about her. But the innuendo behind the comment got him thinking. Maybe it was none of his business, but he couldn’t help but be curious what her life had been like with her husband. And why she’d stayed with him to the end.

So he kicked off his shoes and sat back beside her. “Mind if I ask you a question?”

“Go for it,” she said, meeting his gaze.

Chapter Two

“Was it always like that? Your marriage, I mean.”

Maxie thought she was prepared for a serious question, but she hadn’t thought he’d dive into a conversation about Keith already. But she wasn’t going to avoid the question.

“No. In the beginning things were good. I moved to Manhattan after graduation, and I ran into Keith one of the first nights here.” Her eyes glazed over and she was clearly lost in thought. “I was out with friends and he was at the same restaurant. We talked, I told him I was looking for a job, and he offered to put in a word at his firm. He seemed so different from the pompous jerk he was when we were growing up. His firm hired me and we spent time together as friends. You were out in Silicon Valley then. And we’d lost touch for a while,” she reminded him.

“Do you want a drink? A glass of wine?”

She thought about it and nodded. She might as well have some fortification for this talk.

“Red? White?”

“White is good.”

“I have a nice Moscato chilling. I’ll be right back.”

She watched him go, her gaze drawn to his wide shoulders and trim waist. God, he was sexy, she thought, and so different than her computer-loving childhood friend. He was every inch a sexy man now, and she shifted in her seat, all too aware of her body’s heated reaction to waking up and finding him staring into her eyes.

He returned a few minutes later and handed her a glass. She took a sip of the fruity drink and smiled, running her tongue over her lips, belatedly aware he’d catalogued the movement.

She treated herself to another, bigger taste.

“So. Back to your story?”

“Right.” Her fingers curled tighter around the stem. “Keith and I started spending more time together at work, and after. The first few times he asked me out, I said no. I didn’t want to mix business with pleasure.”

And she’d still been holding out hope that Lucas would come home and maybe he’d finally see her in a different light. One that didn’t keep her in the friend zone.

“I’m amazed he was able to be on his best behavior for so long.”

“He was a very patient man when there was something he wanted,” she said, having learned just how true that was.

“What made you change your mind and go out with him?” Lucas asked in a tight voice.

She placed her glass on a coaster on the end table. How much of the truth did she tell him? she wondered. Then realized it couldn’t hurt to admit what had driven her into Keith’s arms the first time. As long as she didn’t sound like she was carrying a torch for Lucas all these years, she’d be fine.

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