Billionaire on the Loose (Billionaires and Bridesmaids #5)(2)


by Jessica Clare

“Actually,” his great-aunt interrupted. “You are going to America.”

He frowned. “I am?” America just seemed so very . . . well, American. He was sure it was nice and all, but didn’t see the fascination for it that his cousins had. “Can’t I just go to Thailand or some such for a few months?”

“You’re going to America for the next year or two,” the queen emphasized.

Year or two? “But my polo team—”

“Will find a new captain.”

“My estates—”

“Can run themselves.” The queen gave him a stern look. “I am not asking you, Loch. I am telling you.”

Blast. He rubbed his face, feeling defeated. “Fine, I’ll go play with the Americans for a bit. Any place in particular, since you seem to be deciding everything for me?”

“Yes, actually.” Princess Alex smiled and pushed a cream-colored envelope toward him. “You’re going to be a groomsman in a wedding.”

Chapter Two

“Ma’am, have you tried cycling your modem?” Taylor asked politely as she maneuvered her character into position. It wasn’t easy trying to work remotely and play Excelsior at the same time, but Taylor had become a pro at multitasking. “Cycling the modem can often fix a variety of simple issues.”

“What’s a modem?” the ancient woman asked on the other end of the phone.

Oh, boy. This was going to take a moment. She quickly typed to her guild, Wait a moment, guys. I need a quick AFK.

Again? complained Rowsdower. You’re always away from keyboard. We should change it from AFK to Tay-FK.

Then you lead the raid! she shot back.

Sigh. Fine.

We’ll wait, wrote Sigmund.

Turning in her swivel chair, she pulled up the client’s account on her other computer. “I’m going to make a few notes on your account, and as I do, let me walk you through the steps.” She began to explain slowly and in great detail the process of turning off and on the client’s modem, and as she did, she could hear chat-pings on her other computer that told her people were talking in-game. She glanced over at the screen.

I was thinking about you, Sigmund wrote in a private message. I think we should marry in-game. I really care for you.

Oh, no. Taylor’s stomach clenched hard. She forced herself to concentrate on her client, to ignore the constant pinging in the other window. Sigmund was getting clingy again, and that was never good. Letting him cool for a few minutes would be the best thing to do.

By the time she got off the phone, she had a full window full of chat-pings, all private messages from Sigmund.

Sigmund: I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately. I hope that’s okay.

Sigmund: You’re the only bright spot in my life.

Sigmund: I don’t know what I’d do if you left me.

Sigmund: Are you there? Am I making you uncomfortable?

Sigmund: I hope not. I’m just telling you how I feel.

Sigmund: I looked you up on Facebook, by the way. You’re beautiful. And it says you’re single. Score for me!

Sigmund: And you live in NY. Me, too. :)

Sigmund: You coming back, ever?

Sigmund: I hope your clients aren’t giving you too hard of a time.

Sigmund: Ping me when you return.

Sigmund: Hugs, beautiful.

Jesus. The longer she was away, the more he just kept sending her messages. Taylor jumped out of her chair and went to the kitchen to get a bowl of cereal. She dumped the entire box into a mixing bowl, threw in some milk, and then returned to her chair. How to deal with Sigmund?

One of the reasons she played Excelsior in the daytime instead of World of Warcraft was simply because there was no chat program like Ventrilo. Excelsior was kind of “old school” in that if you wanted to talk to someone, you didn’t use a microphone, you typed. It was perfect to noodle on when she was on a boring call or on hold. Problem was, it had stopped being fun months ago, and she couldn’t quit.

All because of Sigmund.

He was worse every day. They’d started out as chatty friends, simply joking around during the daytime when not many other people were on. He seemed nice and funny, and so she’d talked to him. But as the months went on, Sigmund got . . . clingier. And that was when the problems started.

Now, every day he was sending her messages like, If you leave, I’m going to end it all or You’re the only thing worth living for, Taylor or I love you, Taylor—how do you feel about me?

Way to put a girl on the spot.

She wanted to quit the game. She wanted to quit so damn badly. It was fun and all, but it wasn’t worth the stress. The problem was, if she didn’t log on for a single day, Sigmund spiraled and started flooding her character with all kinds of depressing messages.

She felt a little like she was being held hostage.

Taylor ate her marshmallow-filled cereal slowly, watching as more messages from Sigmund rolled across the screen.

Sigmund: I’m just imagining the heck those clients are giving you.

Sigmund: You’re too nice!

Sigmund: I should call your boss and tell him you need a raise.

Sigmund: Boy, it must be a long call.

Sigmund: I’m looking at your Facebook again. You’re so pretty. Is that a Doctor Who scarf? I love the 4th doctor.

Sigmund: I could marry a girl like you.

Sigmund: I hope that wasn’t too forward of me. I just . . . really like you.

Sigmund: Taylor?

She moaned in frustration into her cereal. Why had she ever told the guy her name? This was what happened. Now everywhere she went online, he was bothering her. Now that he had her Facebook, she had no doubt he was going to start sending her messages there. The trapped feeling continued.

Taylor put down her bowl of cereal and thought for a moment, then began to type.

HaveAGoodTay: Back. And, Sig, you know we’re friends but I’m not looking for a relationship. Can’t we just stay buddies?

There was a long pause. Taylor bit her lip, worried that this was going to cause him to wig out, and then she’d be fielding suicide threats for the rest of the night and trying to convince him that no, he shouldn’t kill himself and yes, he was worth it, and please don’t hurt yourself. That had happened too many times in the last few months, and just thinking about it made Taylor reach for her Xanax prescription.

Sigmund: I know. I’m coming on too strong. I just . . . You’re the only good thing in my life.