Billionaire on the Loose (Billionaires and Bridesmaids #5)(6)


by Jessica Clare

Sigmund: I just want to log off and crawl into a hole.

Sigmund: Or just log off of life entirely.

Oh, god. Should she answer? Ignore him? She’d told him she wouldn’t be available and yet he was still texting her like crazy. What should she do? Send him a cheerful note to pick up his mood? But then she was enabling him, wasn’t she?

Distracted, Taylor walked into the bathroom and slapped the door shut behind her. She took a step forward—

—And nearly choked herself. Her scarf was stuck in the door. Damn it. She turned and gave it a hard yank. Still stuck. With a sigh of frustration, she put her phone down on the bathroom counter and opened the door.

Or . . . she tried to.

The doorknob moved, but the door itself wouldn’t budge. Her scarf hung in the doorjamb, stuck fast, and the door itself didn’t seem to want to move. Uh-oh. Had Gretchen said the bathroom on the left or the bathroom on the right?

Oh, boy. Taylor was pretty sure she’d just locked herself in the bathroom and the hot guy had just shown up. Could this day get any worse?

With an uneasy glance at her phone, Taylor picked it up again.

Sigmund: I wish I were dead. No one cares if I’m here or not. They won’t even show up for the raid. :(

Yeaaaah. She shouldn’t have dared the universe. This day could get worse. She backed away from the toilet in case it decided to take her up on her dare and start overflowing or something.

Chapter Three

Loch studied the stately manor house as he strolled up the walkway. Felt a bit odd to be showing up at someone’s house without guards or at least a friend in tow. It was clear after a few days of being in the States, though, that while he was Someone Important in most of Europe, here, he was just another guy.

It was quite nice, actually. Quiet. Calming. He could get used to this.

He rang the doorbell, noting that even though the exterior of the house looked old-fashioned, the door was new and he’d wager that the interior was modern, too. He’d grown up in a manor house that was five hundred years old, complete with low ceilings and roof leaks and household ghosts. He’d sold the place after his parents had died and never regretted it. Didn’t want the upkeep of that sort of place. Didn’t mix with his lifestyle. He had a suite in a hotel downtown, but maybe he’d see about getting himself an apartment while he was staying in New York. Something modern. He liked the idea. Maybe something above one of the local pubs, though he hadn’t seen many of those yet—

The door opened, interrupting his thoughts. A smiley redhead greeted him. “Oh, good lord, what are they feeding you over there?” She looked him up and down. “You must be Loch. My goodness, the internet does not do you justice.”

He laughed and extended his hand. “Loch delle Scogliere, Griffin’s cousin. I’m told I’m expected?”

“Yes! Come on in.” She waved a hand at him excitedly, ignoring his extended one. “I’m Gretchen, the bride-to-be. My fiancé, Hunter, will be finished working soon, and your tour guide is going to be around here somewhere.” She shut the door behind him as he stepped inside.

“Pleased to meet you,” Loch told her. She seemed nice enough, if not a little frantic. “Cousin Griffin is still overseas, I suppose?”

“Yes! It seems like you missed him and Maylee. You were leaving Bellissime and they were going. Ships passing in the night and all that. I’m surprised you didn’t stay to say hello to him.”

Then she didn’t know about the political turmoil? That was good, then. That meant it was being nipped in the bud before it had a chance to spread. “Had business to attend to here. Diplomatic visits and all that.”

“Sounds boring.”

He laughed. “It can be, indeed.”

“Have you met Maylee?”

“I have not,” Loch said, opting to be diplomatic. “I hear she is . . . quaint.”

“She’s a bumpkin,” Gretchen said, and then added, “But a cute one. She and Griffin are good for each other.”

That was definitely an opinion he didn’t share. He’d heard about his cousin’s strange fiancée and had been slightly appalled at the thought of such an uneducated and thoroughly common woman marrying his rich, titled cousin. Between Griffin’s engagement and cousin Alex’s new marriage to the actor, the family tree was getting diluted like—

Oh, bollocks. Now he sounded like the insurgents. He cleared his throat. “I’m sure she’s quite lovely.”

Gretchen peered down a hall, and then turned back to him, opening her eyes a bit wider. Her expression of interest was intense. “So what is it you like to do, Loch? You into computers?”

“Not really.”

“Video games?”

“I prefer sports I can do with my hands.” He raised them in the air as if holding a ball. “Cricket, rugby, football. I’m the captain of the Bellissime polo team and I do enjoy running. Physical things. I’m not a big fan of computers and the like.”

“Oh.” She looked rather disappointed with that answer. “Maybe sports games are the answer, then.”

“Beg pardon?”

“Nothing.” Her smile returned and she snapped her fingers. “Unless you’re a big fan of those British sci-fi shows?”

He gave her a blank look.

“Yeah, that was a stab in the dark. It’s okay.” She clasped her hands tightly in front of her. “We’ll find common ground.”

“Common ground for . . . ?”

“Never mind.” She waited an awkward moment, and then glanced around. “My goodness. I don’t know where Taylor’s gotten off to. She said she’d be right back.”

He wasn’t familiar with the name. “And Taylor is . . . ?”

Gretchen beamed up at him wearing a look he was utterly familiar with—the matchmaking-mama look. “She’s one of my bridesmaids and has agreed to show you around the city, new guy! Isn’t that sweet of her?”

“Charming.” He managed to keep the sarcasm out of his voice. Wonderful. His new hostess was going to be flinging women at him, was she? He was old hat at avoiding those types of entanglements. He liked his bachelorhood, thank you very much.

Gretchen frowned at her surroundings, then shrugged. She patted his arm. “Why don’t you wait here and I’ll get my fiancé? We’ll sit down and have a nice lemon scone and tea. I made them fresh just for you.”