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A Beautiful Mistake
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How did this happen to a rich playboy like me?
My perfect plan starts to fall apart when her controlling, desperate ex threatens her.
I’ll protect Marian, the baby growing inside her and will destroy anyone who gets in my way.
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Six years earlier
“Another round of Old Fashioned for me and my gang, Rick.” I slap another bill on the cold granite.
The stocky bartender takes the money as the small crowd around me erupts in a thunderous cheer. A few heads in the bar turn, including one with strawberry blonde curls several stools away. I send her a wink. The corners of her crimson lips twitch up into a smile but quickly droop as a man’s arm goes around her.
Too bad. I would have liked to try tugging at those curls. Then again, it’s her loss.
When the drinks arrive, I grab one and turn my attention to the rest of the establishment.
There’s a good-sized crowd for a Wednesday night, mostly college students. UMass. Emerson. Suffolk. Young. Naive. Far from home. Raring to conquer the world. Bad at handling their alcohol. Just the way I like them.
I lift my glass to my mouth for a sip and keep it there so it’s not too obvious I’m surveying the field.
Now, who among these young women is going to get lucky tonight?
The raven-haired chick with the nose piercing playing darts? Too hardcore. The brunette with the plunging halter and the leather skirt? Too easy. The other brunette with the pearl earrings and the fake laugh? Rich and trying to hide it, probably so she can get along with her new friends. It takes one to know one, and the last thing I want is for Daddy’s lawyers to come after me, so no.
Then my gaze rests on a redhead. At least, I catch a glimpse of unruly auburn strands peeking out from under a gray bonnet. Her fingertips run over the rim of her Manhattan as she listens to her friends chattering. Well, she appears to be listening. But is she interested? The rigidness in her rounded chin suggests otherwise. Every now and then, a deep thought shrouds her copper eyes and she wanders off into a daydream. It’s just for a moment, and she tries to hide the lapse by putting on this smile that lets me see her gleaming white teeth and the dimples in her cheeks, but I notice it.
I take another sip of my Old Fashioned.
I rest my elbows on the bar and watch her as I finish my drink. She isn’t strikingly beautiful – in fact, she’s perfectly ordinary in her baggy UMass sweater, her face void of the slightest touch of makeup – and yet I can’t take my eyes off her. I’m fascinated by the way she gulps down her drink even though she grimaces at first sip. And by how she taps her fingers on her knee beneath the table when a jazzy song starts playing. And by her habit of putting her finger between her lips. I can’t figure her out.
And I want to.
As she bites down on that finger to stifle a yawn, I almost chuckle. My friend, Adam, gives me a weird look before standing up next to me.
“Okay. I’ve kept quiet this whole time about you checking out the chicks, but dude, you’re starting to creep me out.”
“I’m only checking out one chick,” I tell him.
And right now, she’s posing with her friends for a selfie. No looking at a compact mirror to see if she has something between her teeth. No applying lipstick. No combing her hair. No fixing her bonnet. She just leans towards the person beside her, looks at the camera and flashes a quick smile.
I can’t tell if she’s that confident or she just doesn’t care.
“She’s okay,” Adam remarks with a shrug. “I like the bonnet.”
I narrow my eyes at him. That’s the best he can come up with?
“Are you going to go over there, or are you just going to stare at her all night imagining her without clothes and jerk off to it later?”
“Don’t answer.” He lifts a finger. “The great Dustin Montgomery doesn’t imagine because he gets the real thing. He doesn’t jerk off because he gets chicks to do that for him.”
I grin. “You know me so well.”
Adam snorts. “I’ve only spent most of the past three years of my life stuck in a lab with you. When you’re not out screwing a chick, anyway.”
I pat his shoulder. “Oh, poor Adam. I didn’t realize you wanted me to be your boyfriend.”
“Shut up.” He takes my hand off as he brushes off my teasing. “If any woman knew you as well as I do, they’d jump off a building before wanting you for a boyfriend.”
I place my hand on my chest. “Now you’re hurting my feelings.”
Adam’s eyebrows go up. “Oh, I’m sorry. I wasn’t sure you had any, given the fact that most of the time, you’re as cold and mechanical as that pile of metal and wires you’re always tinkering with.”
“I’m not cold,” I argue. “Or mechanical. At least, not in bed.”