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Make Me Yours
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He’s a billionaire single dad who needs help.
Remington Key: I left the Navy, scored a billion in tech, got married, and had a baby. I did everything by the book. Happily ever after, right?
Fast-forward four years, and I’m alone, raising my daughter, caring for my mother-in-law, and trying to keep my stuff together. How did this happen?
I was clearly drunk the night I offered a gorgeous girl in a bar $500 a day to be my live-in nanny. Or maybe it was my dick talking.
So what if I’ve been alone since forever? I’m focused on launching my new business, not bedding the sexy siren who sleeps down the hall.
At least that’s what I keep reminding myself…
Ruby Banks: Remington Key is distant, brooding, and incredibly sexy. And when he scoops up his adorable four-year-old daughter Lillie and blows raspberries on her tummy while she squeals with delight, I totally swoon.
Bumping into him at our local pub that night slightly drunk and overly frustrated was a total accident. He needed help, and he offered me a ridiculous salary. I couldn’t say no. Right?
Now he’s given me the chance to pay off my debts and take control of my life. I can’t screw up this job. But as bad as I want to be good, I’m not sure I can fake it…
The way he watches me sends heat sizzling through my insides.
(A STAND-ALONE CONTEMPORARY Romantic Comedy. No cheating; No cliffhangers.)
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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that little girls know by fifth grade whether they’re bitches or not.
Okay, I just made that up based on the intro to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. I don’t really know if it’s a universal truth or not, but in Oakville, our tiny bedroom community of Charleston, it was real clear the day Serena Whitehead emerged as queen bitch of our fifth-grade class.
A lot of families had migrated to Oakville from Charleston for the small-town schools and the perception of safety, so we were meeting a lot of new girls. Still, we’d known Serena since Kindergarten…
“My mother says your dad was voted Most Handsome in high school.” Her voice comes from behind my left shoulder. “Too bad you look nothing like him.”
My father, prominent Charleston neurosurgeon Kenneth Banks, is tall, with light brown hair and flinty blue eyes.
Stepping back, I smooth my finger along the fair brow framing his round eyes, thinking how they look disappointed even in charcoal. “My mom was voted most beautiful in her graduating class.”
“Where was that? Suzy Wong Manicurist Academy?” Serena laughs, and I turn to face her.
Bitches don’t scare me.
“Clemson Magnet. Her degree was in accounting.”
I leave out how she then met my dad and gave it all up to stay home and raise her family, also known as me.
“You are so good at portraits.” My best friend Drew’s voice is a sweet interruption, and the fist in my chest relaxes.
“I’m too literal.” Leaning my shoulder against hers, I speak quietly. “Your technique is good—”
“They just never look like the person I’m drawing.”
Serena isn’t done. “What a pair,” she quips. “The fallen princess and the daughter of a geisha.”
My jaw tightens, and I turn quickly, stepping right into her face. “You’d better watch your mouth, Serena Whitehead.”
“Why, banana brains?” Her eyes flash, but I don’t flinch.
“My family are Bak Mei kung fu masters. Since the age of seven, I’ve perfected the Five Finger Heart Exploding technique.”
Serena’s green eyes narrow slightly. “What the hell is that?”
“Piss me off, and I’ll show you.”
“I’m telling Ms. Hughes you threatened me.”
“I’m telling Ms. Hughes you’re a foul-mouthed bully.”
We glare at each other as the second-hand ticks, one… two… three…
Until our teacher’s voice breaks the stand-off. “Girls, what’s going on here?” Ms. Hughes puts her hand on my shoulder, and Serena skanks off to her side of the classroom.
Drew pipes in. “Just packing up, Ms. Hughes.”
Our teacher gasps, clutching her chest. “Why, Ruby Banks, this portrait of your father is outstanding. It’s an amazing likeness. You have to take it home and show him tonight.”
“Oh, no…” The confidence in my chest deflates. “My dad’s not really into art.”
Or anything I do…
“Nonsense!” She spins off toward her desk. “I’ll send them a note. I’m recommending you for the artistically talented program at Oakville High. You have real potential!”
It’s no use arguing. I’ve tried explaining to teachers before, and they never believe me. Everyone thinks my dad is some cultured philanthropist because he grew up in the city and Charleston General named the children’s surgery wing after him… Maybe even because he married my mom.
The truth is, he’s kind of just an absentee jerk.
“Sure.” I smile and nod.
When I meet Drew’s eyes, her smile is sad. “You should go to the artistically talented program. You really deserve it.”
“We both know it’s not going to happen.”
The bell rings as we finish collecting our books. Serena glares at me from across the room, but I have more important things to worry about.
“Bak Mei kung fu masters? The Five Finger Heart Exploding technique?” Drew whispers, and we both start to laugh.
“I guess somebody never watched Kill Bill.”
“Or The Amazing World of Gumball.”
We do a low five, and I follow her to the door.
“Ruby, wait!” Ms. Hughes hurries to give me a business-sized envelope. “I want you to give this to your parents tonight. Have them sign it.”
“Yes, ma’am.” A knot tightens in my throat.
I wish people wouldn’t jump to conclusions.
Unless they need the exercise.
Drew and I walk our regular route home from school. We live in the same neighborhood, but developers have been adding to it so long, it’s more like three neighborhoods connected by long, winding streets.
Her family’s historic mansion is in the oldest part of Oakville Estates. It was one of the first homes built here. My family’s house is on the other, newer end. It’s not a mansion, but it’s still pretty big.
We reach the fork in the sidewalk, and she hesitates, looking in the direction of her house. Since her mom died, all her daddy does is drink, and her brother Danny gets in trouble all the time.
“If your dad hates art so much, why’d you pick him for your portrait?”
“Daddy issues.” I joke, kicking the grass with the toe of my shoe. Neither one of us really wants to go home.