Irresistible Billionaires by Summer Brooks
When Zach had slid the ring on my finger, it broke my heart. I had hoped when I got married, it would be for the right reasons. I knew my dad wanted to walk me down the aisle, but I wasn't thrilled about it being with that schmuck.
But what am I supposed to do? He has all the money and power. He even has lawyers at his beck and call. There's no getting out of this now. I'm sure whatever contract he just had me sign is airtight.
When he had made the joke about fake marrying him, something in me had snapped. I needed to get away from him right then, or I was either going to turn into a sobbing mess or straight knock him out at the table. I didn't need to deal with that lawsuit. I threw the contract at him and stormed off. It didn’t change that I’d already signed it, but it made me feel better. I also couldn’t afford to break his deal. I needed the money.
How can he be so charming and infuriating at the same time?
Once I'd made it outside, an unpleasant memory from our time in high school bubbled to the surface.
The sounds of Logan and Zach talking distracted me. Bella, Sarah, and I looked up from our lunches to see them in their usual corner. Zach playfully shoved Logan, and Logan just glared at him in return.
Their usual crowd of groupies surrounded them as they talked and laughed in their cool-kid corner of the outside lunch area. When she caught me staring, Sarah followed my gaze and scoffed.
“You know Logan and Zach had a fight the other day?”
I shook my head. “Really? I’m surprised I missed it. What caused the fight?”
She pointed her spork at Zach. “Apparently, he locked his brother out of the house so he could have a party. His brother had to spend the night at a friend’s house. That’s sick and twisted.”
Bella wrinkled her nose and said loud enough for him to hear her from across the courtyard, “Zach sounds like a major dick. Who abandons their brother like that?”
Sarah laughed beside her, and I smiled and joined in after a moment of hesitation. I didn’t want him to know I still had a crush on him. Several other people in the cafeteria joined in, laughing at Zach and at Bella’s comment. He shot us a death glare and stormed off.
After that, we'd gone back to class. I still mooned over Zach as usual.
How could someone so good looking be so horrible to his sibling? Maybe there was a reason he acted that way?
He sat right in front of me, but he didn't speak to me for the entire class. Anytime he looked at me for the rest of the day, it was only to shoot Bella and me cold glares. Even so, I admired his color-coordinated notes and the way his dark-brown hair shrouded his blue eyes.
Why does someone so mean get to be handsome, smart, and rich? I sighed. The world really is unfair.
I went about the rest of the school day in a daze, barely taking notes because all I could think about was him. I fantasized about feeling his lips on mine and having his gorgeous blue gaze focused on me and only me, even though I knew it would never happen. He was one of the popular kids, and I was just a nobody. I slumped in my desk, wishing the day would be over already.
When the bell rang, ending class, I gathered my books and supplies and raced out the door. I wanted to put as much distance between Zach and me as possible, but fate had other ideas. One of my shoes had come undone without my realizing it. When I tried to pick up my pace to walk over to my next class, I tripped on the laces and fell face first, my palms slipping and sliding on the floor. I had to drop my books, so I could use my hands to keep my chin from colliding with the tile.
My textbooks went flying, along with my notes. "I should've put everything in my bag before I made a run for it," I muttered as I gathered my belongings.
Seeing Zach in my peripheral vision made me pause. When I looked up, a girl with curly, strawberry-blond locks and red ribbons in her hair was giggling.
She was twirling a curl around her finger as Zach approached her. "Hi, Zach. It's good to see you." She smiled, and he put an arm on the wall next to her.
"Hi, babe, how was class?"
She put a hand on his chest. "It's better now that you're here. So, are we still going to meet tonight at your house?" The girl leaned in closer to him.
Zach smiled, and my heart sank into my stomach. Are they together? Zach responded to the girl, "Of course we are."
"Good. I can't wait to have some time alone with you." She traced circles on Zach's chest. Then she looped her arms around his neck and leaned in closer.
I froze up when their lips brushed. I couldn't bring myself to move or say anything. I just sat there on the floor among my scattered books and class notes. My mouth hung open in shock.
After a few painfully long seconds, their lips parted. They both breathed heavily. I heard the bell ring and scrambled to gather my things so I could head to my next class. That was when the girl's gaze fell on me.
She pulled back from Zach, and her shoulders shrugged. “What are you looking at, nerd? Why don't you run along like a good girl?”
Just then, Sarah poked her head out of the classroom. When she saw me, she rushed out into the hallway. "Come on, Clara. You're late. Let me help you." When Sarah saw I wasn't moving, she followed her gaze to the girl leaning up against Zach. Sarah's brows knit together in a scowl, and she advanced on the blonde.
Sarah's voice came out, forced, and cold. "You better back off of Zach if you know what's good for you."
The girl grabbed Sarah's hair and yanked it, so their eyes met. "Not a chance. He's mine, and I'm not giving him up for a nerd girl who has no business crushing on Zach to begin with. Now move along, loser."
Sarah grabbed the girl's hand so hard that she yelped and let go of Sarah's hair. She didn't break eye contact with the blonde until she got to me. "Come on, Clara. They aren't worth your time, especially Zach. You can do so much better than that scum." Sarah grabbed my arm and dragged me back to class.
After class, Sarah filled Bella in on what had happened, and we went home together. When Bella found out, she wrapped me in a hug. "I didn't realize you'd liked him like that. I'm sorry that he's such a jerk."
Sarah chimed in with, "I think this calls for ice cream and movies."
I nodded in agreement, and we went back to Sarah's house.
We'd plopped down onto the couch together and were about to turn on a rom-com when Sarah turned to me. "I never want us to end up not being friends, so can we make a pact right now?"
Bella and I looked at her, but I was the one who spoke up. "A pact about what?"
Sarah said, "We should agree never to lie to each other. I don't want our friendship ever ending because of a lie."
Bella and I nodded. From that day on, we'd told each other about everything that happened in our lives, whether it was good or bad.
At that moment, I knew I would be friends with Sarah and Bella forever.
Thinking back on my pact with Sarah and Bella made guilt twist in my stomach.
What will they think if they find out I am lying to them about something as huge as this? Will they stop being friends with me?
Just the thought of losing them made my heart sink. I didn't know if I could go through with it.
I decided I needed to talk to my parents, so I plugged my father's number into my phone and rang him.
Maybe talking to them will help me calm down.
Or it would send me further spiraling through this hellish guilt laden rabbit hole I tripped head first into. I wanted to hate this man and everything he stood for but there was something so incredibly sexy about him, it was hard to walk away. I needed to get it together, if for no other reason, then for my father. Whether Zach needed me or not, he wouldn't stick through all of it if I continued to lose it over everything. I needed to make him comfortable enough, if not wanting in some way…but how in the world was I going to do that?