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But if it’s not my money she’s after, will she ever be comfortable with my job for the Bratva, or am I wasting my time thinking that she could finally be my happy ever after? I never knew I wanted a wife before I met her, but now only claiming her as my own is the only thing that will do. And I won’t let anybody get in the way.
But when my father gets into trouble with some local heavies, Roman steps in to offer protection in more ways than one. Is he just taking what he can get from the girl desperate to give him her very first time, hoping it’s forever, or is he in it for the long haul too? My heart’s on the line, but he already had it the moment I met him.
*Bratva Billionaire is a standalone romance with an HEA, no cheating, and no cliffhanger.
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Destiny Grainger always had excellent hair and a plan for everything. Straight out of school, she’d gotten her childcare qualifications and set up her own business and everything she touched turned to gold.
Me, not so much. If she wasn’t my lifelong best friend I would have hated her on principle. But she was, and that was why she knew that dragging me down to Sunny Isles to scope out all the Russian billionaires and watch the gold-diggers with bikini bodies sunning themselves on the perfect white sands of the beach was exactly what I needed. The pair of us mere mortals took up precious square footage right in the middle of it all and slurped on frozen drinks made of nothing but chemicals I couldn’t even spell right.
Since we were sixteen, this had been our go-to place for curing any kind of bad mood.
“Wait for it. Wait for it. That skater is going down!” Sure enough the blonde nearly crashed into the jogger who’d been too busy on his cell phone to notice. I snorted a laugh as they waltzed a step or two and the woman on skates skittered about.
Destiny didn’t seem amused.
“You know what your problem is, Chloe?” She had the straw of her raspberry slushie in her mouth and she was talking to me between a brain freeze, making a face as she swallowed.
I grimaced, tearing my attention away from the collision and back to the serious tone of my friend.
“Please, enlighten me.”
She rolled her eyes.
“No, seriously. Do. Help me out. Hell if I know what I’m doing wrong all the time.”
“You want everyone to be a nice person.”
I side-eyed her through my sunglasses. “Says the woman who spends her life being nice to everyone.”
She held up a hand. “Not everyone. And anyway, it’s not like I can’t tell who’s an asshole or not. I just think about the kids, and the money and suddenly I can be nice as pie. But we’re talking about you and your expectations. I hate to say it Chlo, but you gotta downgrade them or nothing’s ever going to work out.”
I jabbed at my frozen yoghurt with the itty bitty plastic spoon. I’d just been fired from my latest job ferrying tourists out along the coast down to the Florida Keys, dolphin spotting. It wasn’t the first time an employer of mine had called time.
“You should have seen them, Desta. I don’t care how much you’ve paid for the boat ride, the dolphins are wild creatures. You do not throw Coke cans at them when they don’t jump up in the air like the ones at SeaWorld. And Hank has another thing coming if he thinks I’m going to let a whole bunch of tourists with too much money mess with them just because they want a photo to pin up on the internet.”
She stretched out her toes in the sand, tilting her sunglasses to look at me over the top of them. She looked kinda like a movie star from the fifties or something – all old fashioned glamor and elegance. “Yeah. I totally agree, but… Isn’t that kinda what the whole job was supposed to be?”
I gritted my teeth and folded my arms across my chest, not too old at twenty-one to be above a bit of pouting. “Yes, maybe. Okay fine. But it was ridiculous. And I didn’t want to be part of it anymore.” I wrinkled my nose. “Maybe it wasn’t such a good fit for me.”
Her Russian vocabulary book lay discarded on the towel next to her bottle of suntan lotion because heaven forbid she waste an opportunity for self-improvement. Destiny had everything planned out.
“Exactly. You’ve just got to go for things that are more you.”
That was all she’d ever done. I swear, Destiny knew herself from the age of five when she was lining all our dolls up in a circle and playing mommy. How I hadn’t learnt more from her about how to have my life together, I would never know. Somehow, I was still her polar opposite. The kind of girl who wears soccer shorts and tank tops and sliders and scrapes my hair up in a ponytail to keep it out of my face, ball cap on most of the time.
“Trouble is, nothing’s a good fit for me.”
Destiny handed me her slushie and I traded her my fro-yo before taking a long indulgent pull on the thick straw, sucking the sugary ice mix into my mouth.
“That’s not true you’re excellent with animals. And boats. You’d be awesome working at the marine rescue center if they weren’t such sticklers about qualifications. Did you ask your dad again about working with him?”
I’d grown up on the water. My Dad captained charter boats and he always joked that I’d been born part dolphin. I’d have joined the business with him, but he kept trying to turn me off it. Kept telling me it wasn’t the life I wanted. That I could make better money doing other things, which was all well and good, except so far that hadn’t panned out and any money would have been better than no money at all.