Billionaire on the Loose (Billionaires and Bridesmaids #5)(7)


by Jessica Clare

He nodded at her and watched as she hurried up the stairs. A matchmaking session with one of her bridesmaids? He should have suspected as much when he’d gotten the invite. And as a guest, he couldn’t very well turn them down, could he? Hopefully his escort would be tolerable. He mentally tried to picture the type of woman they’d assume he liked. Someone with big blonde hair and even bigger, ahem, assets, he imagined. Americans didn’t seem to do things halfway.

He lifted one of his Italian leather loafers and noticed gum stuck to the underside. Disgusting. That was one thing that New York City was taking some serious getting used to—everything was just . . . dirty and crowded compared to his pastoral little country. And there was a faint smell no matter where he went. Loch shuddered and pulled his shoe off. He needed tissue or something to wipe it off. Normally he’d have a manservant handle this for him, but his manservants were back in Bellissime, because he was supposed to be “incognito.” This was a damned inconvenient time to be incognito.

Loch looked around and saw no wastebasket or anything of the sort in the room, just a lovely rug that he was centimeters away from ruining if he took another step on it. Nor were there any servants around. All right, he’d have to man up and fix this himself, then. He headed down a hall, filthy shoe in hand, looking for a lavatory.

The first hall he turned down yielded nothing interesting, but off of the kitchen, he saw what looked to be a washroom. Excellent. He headed toward it—

—And stopped as a closed door down the hall rattled violently.

What in the devil was that? A servant stuck in a room? He narrowed his eyes and studied the door. There seemed to be a bit of ugly fabric sticking out of the doorjamb. He turned and headed toward it, his curiosity getting the better of him, and the door rattled again.

Now that he was closer, he could hear slight muttering.

“. . . Stupid . . . wish I had a stinking holodeck . . . or a freaking TARDIS. Bet Doctor Who never gets stuck in the damn TARDIS.” Another violent shake of the door, then a pause. “Don’t be stupid, Tay. The Doctor doesn’t take a shit. He’s a time lord. They’re evolved life-forms that don’t need bowel movements.”

Er, okay. “Is everything all right in there?”

The door shook again and then the person spoke once more. “Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no intelligent life in here.”

Right. A crazy servant. “Are you . . . looking for someone named Scotty?”

A pause. “It’s a Trek-ism.”

“Beg pardon?”

“A saying common to Trekkies?” The doorknob twisted. “Haven’t you ever seen the Star Trek movies? The TV shows? The cartoon?”

“I’m afraid not.” Why on earth would he watch any of those?

“Oh. Man, that’s weird.” The woman’s voice sounded skeptical. “I really need to talk to Gretchen about educating her staff or like, giving them a day off so they can watch TV or something. Poor souls probably only watch Downton Abbey or some crap like that. Double-yew-tee-eff.”

Against his will, Loch’s mouth curved into a hint of a smile. “Not a fan of it, are we?”

“Sorry. No offense to your British people or anything, but no. It’s a real snoozer.”

Loch snorted. His accent was about as British as hers was.

“Anyhow. Give me some good old science fiction any day of the week.” The doorknob twisted again. “Or fantasy. Speaking of fantasies, I have one where I can someday escape this bathroom, but I seem to be stuck.”

He chuckled. “Shall I assist you, then?”

“That would be just ducky.”

He put aside his offending shoe and studied the door. The wood was old and he could see where the door had warped at the top and the bottom, likely due to humidity and settling. It happened at his old manor house, too. There was usually a trick to forcing the door open, but the ugly bit of fabric sticking between frame and door would be a problem. “You might need to cut this bit of cloth—”

He could hear her gasp on the other side. “Fuck that noise! This is the fourth Doctor’s scarf!”

Right. “Very well, then. Stand back.”

“Hang on! Let me take my scarf off!”

He waited, and as he did, he heard a small choked noise. Uh-oh. “All right in there?”

The woman on the other side coughed. “Yep. Just . . . forgot I was attached and all. I’m good now.”

“All right. Move away from the door.” He took a step backward. “And if I break the doorjamb, give my hostess my apologies, will you?”

“Eep!”

Loch squared his shoulder, eyed the door, and then flung his body against it. The wood rattled hard, but stayed put, even though the woman on the other side squealed. A second slam of his weight against the door did the trick, though, and it flung open, and Loch pushed inside.

The washroom was a mess. There was water all over the counter, spilled soap, the scarf seemed to be tangling around his legs, and there was a young woman sprawled on the carpet, her legs splayed and her head resting against the lip of the footed claw tub.

Blast. He rushed forward to her side. “You all right?”

She groaned, rubbing the back of her head with a hand. “Did anyone get the number of that truck?”

“I told you to step back from the door.”

“Yeah, but then I thought I’d help out by pulling on this side. That was probably a bad idea.” She rubbed the back of her head and let him help her sit up on the rug. “My damn head’s killing me now.”

Helping him pull? That was the most foolish thing he’d ever heard of, but Loch kept that thought to himself.

He should have been looking at her head, he really should have. But he couldn’t help but notice that she was wearing a white shirt, and it was completely soaked and sticking to her body. Through the wet fabric, he could see an outline of a pale bra, two spectacular, well-formed breasts, and tiny, pert nipples that were just begging for attention.

“I hate to ask,” Loch murmured, helping her to her feet. “But why are you all wet?” Rather magnificently wet, if he said so himself. She was cute enough, her face round and sweet, but those breasts were drawing all of his attention—and rightly so. They were damn magnificent, and they were completely outlined by her drenched clothing.

“Oh.” She blinked up at him with big gray eyes surrounded by thick lashes. Then she glanced down at her shirt and grimaced. “There’s a reason.”