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Unbelonging

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She's a poor girl from Hamtramck. He's a billionaire bad boy from Detroit. They should've never crossed paths. But when they do, thanks to Chloe's latest housesitting gig, the collision of sparks, secrets, and misunderstandings leaves both of them yearning to belong exactly where they shouldn't - with each other. 

 

Sneak Peek

Chapter 1

Some girls might fantasize about being handcuffed in Lawton Rastor's basement.

I wasn't one of those girls.

Sure, I thought about it a time or two. Sometimes with handcuffs, sometimes without. In my fantasies, we weren't in some cold, damp basement. Usually, we were on some yacht in the Pacific. With wine. Or maybe dirty martinis.

I've never actually had a martini, and I don't know what makes one dirty. But I do know you need a special kind of drink when globetrotting with a badass billionaire from the wrong side of town.

"You need some water?" he asked.

I stared at him. "Water? Seriously?"

He shrugged. He was leaning against the opposite wall, arms crossed, eyes flat. He wore faded jeans and a black T-shirt. Tattoos snaked up and down his forearms. He looked harder than the concrete behind him and just as cold.

"It's water or nothing," he said.

Fucker. He probably didn't even own a yacht.

Lawton made his money through prizefighting. Not the kind with padded gloves and some bowtie-wearing referee. He made it through the gritty, back alley kind where sweaty money changed hands over beer and bimbos.

The billionaire part came after an Internet video led to a reality series which led to all kinds of merchandising and event opportunities. In five years, he'd gone from being a fucked-up nobody to a financial force to be reckoned with.

And he was only twenty-six.

That's three years older than me. Except looking at him, I felt like a babe in the woods – a very pissed off babe in the woods. "You're an asshole, you know that?"

If the insult bothered him, he didn't show it. "I let you keep your panties, didn't I?"

It's true. Compared to what I'd been wearing earlier, I was minus a whole bunch of clothes, but my undergarments weren't among them. Obscenely, stupidly, I was glad they were black and silky with lace trim. If there's one universal truth in this world, it's that no one wants to die in grubby underwear.

Lawton wasn't the one who attacked me, but he sure did a number on me afterwards, and not in the way you'd think. He hadn't beaten me, raped me, or taken a single obscene picture. At least not yet.

Mostly, he just stood there with his arms crossed, watching, like he was waiting for me to sprout horns and fangs. It was like Chinese water torture, without the water.

It still shocked me how quickly he'd gone from being my knight in shining armor to my basement jailer. It's better than what I deserve, he says.

I'd heard that sort of thing before. Sure, not from him. But did it matter? If I believed half the stuff people told me, I might as well believe in Santa Claus. And I hadn't believed in him for a long, long time. Even when I was little, it's not like he spent a lot of time at my house.

My wrists ached from the handcuffs, and my lips were so dry I swear I could hear them crack. Screaming all those obscenities probably hadn't helped. How long had I yelled at him? Minutes? Hours? Was it still dark outside? Probably.

In truth, water would be heavenly, but I wouldn't give the bastard the satisfaction of asking for it, even if he did offer. I looked around the massive basement. I saw windows, or what I guessed were windows, high up near the ceiling. But they were all covered in black plywood.

I guess that's pretty standard if you're planning to lock someone up in your basement.

Except it didn't look like any of this was planned. Other than the actual handcuffs, I saw nothing that would have alarmed me if I weren't in my particular predicament.

The basement was gray and spotless with a painted floor that matched the painted concrete walls. I saw a few cardboard boxes, a weight bench, and some skis leaning against a far wall. If the basement weren't so massive, I'd have no idea it sat beneath a multi-million dollar mansion in Rochester Hills, one of Detroit's most exclusive suburbs.

Yeah, such a place exists, as hard as that may be to believe.

I didn't want to talk to him, but there was something I had to know. "The guys who attacked me, where are they now?"

"Trust me," he said, "it's better if you don’t know."

"Trust you?" I rattled the handcuffs. "You're joking, right?"

"Believe what you want." His eyes were the color of coal, the same as his hair. His heart was probably a couple shades darker. There was a time I'd thought differently. God, I'd been such an idiot.

His calm demeanor grated on me. "How long are you going to stand there?" I asked.

"As long as you're here," he said.

My tone was brittle. "And how long will that be, exactly?"

He glanced at his wrist. "Another half hour should do it."

"Do what?"

"Again," he said, "better if you don't know."

My stomach dropped. What was he saying? I forced down the panic. Stay calm, Chloe. Eyes up, jaw set. Never let them see your fear. It worked with your stepmom. It can work with this guy. I kept my tone neutral. "So you're saying you'll let me go in a half hour?"

At this, he glanced away. "Probably."

Shit.

***

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