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


by Jessica Clare

Taylor picked up the box grater gingerly and then began to rub the lemon on one side of it. “So, how’s the wedding stuff going?”

“Terrible. Greer’s my planner and she abandoned me to go stay with her dad for a few weeks in Vegas. I’m like, this is a crucial time, Greer! I have to pick out cakes and everything!” Gretchen shook her head. “Tragic.”

“Oh, right. Her father’s getting married, isn’t he?” Taylor wrinkled her nose. Greer was a sweet, demure type, but her dad was . . . well, he was old and skanky. She didn’t hold it against Greer, though. Girl didn’t have much to do with her family or her dad’s business.

“To triplets,” Gretchen affirmed. She set the pan down and gave Taylor a shifty look. “Speaking of love and stuff . . . you seeing anyone?”

“God, no.” Just the thought made her want to vomit. Sigmund would freak majorly if she even had a whiff of a guy online, and she barely left her apartment long enough to meet anyone as it was.

Gretchen seemed surprised by Taylor’s reaction. “Do you not want to date?”

“It’s . . . complicated.” As in, There’s this guy online that threatens to hurt himself if I so much as walk away from the computer and I don’t know what to do.

“Well . . . the friend I want you to show around the city? He’s new to the States.” Her eyes gleamed. “And he’s damn hot, girl, so put on your lipstick.”

“My lipstick?” Taylor dropped her lemon again.

Gretchen swooped to retrieve the fallen fruit, and then took the grater from Taylor’s hands. “Yes, your lipstick. Put on some makeup, fix your hair, and get your best flirt game on. He’s a real catch and I think you’ll like him.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “He’s from Bellissime.”

“That weird little country that that Griffin guy is from?” She’d met Maylee, who was real nice, but a bit of a rube, and was surprised to find that her fiancé was a starchy aristocrat from overseas.

“Same one! Now, can we get rid of the Hello Kitty backpack?” Gretchen beamed at her.

Taylor clutched the straps of her backpack and shook her head. “I like my backpack.”

“So do all the eight-year-olds that own one. And that scarf. We need to ditch the scarf. It’s summer.”

“It’s the fourth Doctor’s scarf!”

“Which is why we need to ditch it. I don’t want you flying your freak flag until he sees how cute you are.” She pinched Taylor’s cheek and then gave a tug on the scarf.

Taylor’s hands went to her beloved scarf. She was a nerd and she was totally fine with it. Lots of hot guys liked nerds. So she hadn’t met any yet, but that didn’t mean they didn’t exist. “I thought I was just hanging around with the guy for a few hours and showing him how to find the subway and stuff. Is this a date?”

“Not really? But trust me when I say that he is smoking-hot gorgeous and you can bounce quarters off of his sporty ass, so you want to look hot, okay?”

“Um, okay.” Taylor mentally pictured flicking quarters at a hot guy’s bubble butt, then shook her head to clear the image. “Here’s the thing, though. I’m not usually the type of girl those guys go for, so I’ll probably be better off being his guide—”

“Makeup,” Gretchen bellowed. “Did you or did you not bring some?”

“I keep some in my backpack.” She winced at Gretchen’s bossy tone. “Is he coming here soon?”

Gretchen turned and checked the clock on the wall. “Should be here any moment now. You need to hustle.”

Eek. She was going to be spending the afternoon with a super-hot guy? Instead of vague excitement, she just felt dread. If Sigmund found out, he was going to flip. God, why did she even care if Sigmund found out? That was how messed up she was. Ugh. She slid off the barstool. “You got a bathroom I can borrow to freshen up?”

“Go down the hall to the right. Just don’t use the first bathroom on the left because the door sticks. Use the second one on the left.”

The hall had more than one bathroom? Jeez. “Right, left, right.”

“Right, left, left,” Gretchen corrected, and wiped her hands with a towel. As she did, the doorbell rang, a sonorous chime echoing through the kitchen. Her eyes lit up. “Oh, that’ll be him! Scoot!”

“Scooting,” Taylor said, and headed out into the hall even as Gretchen moved in the opposite direction. All right. Find a bathroom, slap on some mascara so she didn’t look tired, and show a hot guy around the city. She could do this. It might even be fun. She knew she wouldn’t be his type, but that was fine. Truth be told, she went for hot scholars herself, like the one guy in Criminal Minds or Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A big buff guy was probably a himbo, and that was so not her bag.

But she’d put makeup on to please Gretchen. She desperately wanted everyone around her to be happy, and Taylor had long been a project of Gretchen’s devious matchmaking mind. They usually ended in total failure, but that didn’t stop Gretchen from trying.

The hallway Gretchen had pointed her to was seemingly endless, with a line of shut doors. Good lord. How many rooms did this place have again? She pulled her phone out of her pocket to Google it, curious, and then stopped before she could unlock her screen. She shouldn’t look; if Sigmund was texting her, she’d get all anxious and freaked out again.

But surely it couldn’t hurt to peek, could it? Just to see how the raid was doing? And if she saw nothing from him, well, that’d be the best thing ever, wouldn’t it? She’d be able to enjoy her afternoon in peace.

And because she sucked at waiting and patience and things like that, Taylor swiped right to unlock her screen and looked at her phone.

A dozen messages crawled over her screen and Taylor’s heart sank. She walked forward slowly, reading the messages.

Sigmund: Raid’s about to start.

Sigmund: Daphine and LittleJohn didn’t show up. We’re missing a tank and a healer. This is ridiculous.

Sigmund: I can’t believe these assholes didn’t show. It’s because you’re not here!

Sigmund: They must hate me.

Sigmund: Why does everyone hate me?

Sigmund: Everyone but you.

Sigmund: I try so hard, Taylor, I really do.

Sigmund: I wish you were here right now. I hate it when you leave.