Home > Going Down Fast (Billionaire Bad Boys #2)(8)

Going Down Fast (Billionaire Bad Boys #2)(8)
Author: Carly Phillips

“Well, every so often I’d ask him about you. Especially after seeing a picture of you in the paper or a mention online. One night I asked how you were doing. He told me you were engaged and… I guess it hurt to hear about it from someone else. I—”

He jerked and nearly spilled his wine. “Wait, did you say he told you I was engaged?” he asked, placing his wineglass beside hers.

She nodded. “I was happy for you—” And jealous, she silently admitted.

“I was never engaged,” he said through clenched teeth.

She narrowed her gaze. “But I’d seen pictures of you and a woman online—” Someone he was working alongside in California. Someone, she figured, he had a lot more in common with, as his business took off at such a young age, than he had with Maxie.

“Arielle? She was the CFO at a software company that was helping us get started. That’s all.”

Maxie shook her head. “But Keith said your parents told him the news.”

And Maxie had been devastated. Unreasonably so because they really had drifted apart during their college years. But she’d been in love with him and that hadn’t gone away. She’d held out hope for one day… until that night, anyway. Her hopes shattered, she’d soon after agreed to date Keith. After all, he’d been nothing but good to her. Her work friends and college friends were in serious relationships. A few had gotten engaged. She wouldn’t say her biological clock was ticking, but she’d wanted more in her life. Was ready for a real relationship and a family sooner rather than later.

“I just assumed the engagement ended for whatever reason.” And she’d already become heavily involved with Keith, and he’d kept her focus solely on him.

“I never even slept with her,” Lucas muttered. “My brother lied.” He clenched his fists so tightly his knuckles turned white.

Maxie tried to absorb the truth. With all she knew now about her husband, she wasn’t surprised he’d lied, but back then? He’d been the perfect gentleman, a good friend, a solid mentor at the office. He’d guided her in every aspect of her life… to exactly where he wanted her, she realized now.

“Oh my God.” She put her head in her hands. “He manipulated me completely.” Swept her off her feet in the guise of keeping her from pining for his brother.

Lucas grasped her wrists and pulled her arms away from her face, forcing her to meet his gaze. “It’s not your fault. He was damned good at manipulation.”

She blinked back tears. “Maybe, but I still not only fell for it but I let him use me to hurt you.” She shook her head. “Or he thought he was hurting you. We’d drifted apart by then, so why in the world would he think you’d care who I dated… or married?”

His strong hands remained around her wrists, holding her in place. “You said you would ask about him about me, right?”

She nodded.

“I asked about you.”

She sucked in a surprised breath. Well, maybe she shouldn’t be so shocked. They’d shared enough longing looks since she’d moved into the building that told her he hadn’t forgotten about her either. She just hadn’t been aware of his interest at the time. Nor did she know if his questions had been friendship-based or a wish for something more. But considering she’d married his brother, the ultimate betrayal, did it really matter?

He leaned in, his forehead meeting hers. “Don’t beat yourself up,” he told her, his thumbs brushing over the pulse points in her wrists.

Her entire body responded to his touch. As his calloused fingertips skated over her skin, her nipples peaked and her sex grew heavy and moist. She inhaled and took in the fruity wine scent on his breath. Neither broke the moment, and their breathing grew more labored, in sync with each other.

“He’s gone. He can’t hurt you again,” Lucas assured her.

But Maxie knew better. When it came to Keith, the blows kept coming.

“I need to get some sleep,” she said, pulling back before he… or she could act on this thing between them. She didn’t deny it existed, but she knew it was more powerful than anything she’d experienced before in her life.

She’d already put her faith in a sociopathic liar until she’d lost herself completely. She couldn’t allow her need and desire for Lucas to override common sense and drag her back into relying on a man too much. Not even one as special as Lucas.

* * *

While Derek stood off to the side, Lucas beat the shit out of the heavy bag, trying not to envision his late brother’s face as his target. Now that he knew how far Keith had gone to get Maxie to date him, he allowed the anger he’d held back to wash over him and pounded on the inanimate object until sweat poured down his body and some of the anger and frustration abated. He doubted he’d ever lose the feelings completely.

Engaged.

Keith had told Maxie Lucas was engaged to a woman he’d only had respect for and nothing more. There was no way in hell his parents had relayed any information about Lucas’ personal life to Keith. Because Lucas never shared it with them. No, Keith had made up the story to get Maxie into his bed. And ultimately, it had worked. Lucas swung hard once more, connecting and feeling not just the reverberation through his arm and shoulder but the burn in his muscles.

“Okay, you’ve had enough,” Derek said, waving a hand to get Lucas’ attention.

He pulled back mid-punch and bent over, hands braced on his thighs as he pulled in much-needed air.

   
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