“Five million,” he countered.
Did this man really think he could buy people’s actions? Did he really imagine that if he didn’t like somebody, he could just pay to make them disappear?
“I don’t want your money,” I said sharply.
“Then what do you want, Ruby?” he drawled, his tone skeptical. “What will it take to get your claws out of my brother? Do you really want to be stuck with a man who can’t keep up with you because he has physical limitations?”
Tears started to pour down my cheeks, but they were tears of sorrow. They were proof of the fury and frustration I was experiencing, and I was done listening to this man say negative things about a man he couldn’t possibly even understand or appreciate.
“Jett has no limitations,” I snarled. “And I’m with him because I love him. You’ll never be even half the man your brother is, with or without his money. And you sure as hell shouldn’t be finding fault with anyone else when you slept with your own brother’s fiancée. You’re despicable.”
Before I could think, I lashed out and slapped him across the face, sending the drink in his hand flying and snapping his head to one side.
The satisfying sound of my hand connecting with his face was enough to not make me regret what I’d done.
He reacted immediately, his hand reaching out to grab my arm.
People were staring now, but I was too emotionally riled up to care. “Don’t touch me. Don’t ever touch me,” I hissed as I yanked and pulled myself free. “Money doesn’t make you less of an asshole. It just makes you a more powerful asshole to people who care about your status. I don’t. Just like your brother, I judge people by their actions and not their net worth. And just for the record, Jett is eight years older than me, you jerk.”
I turned around and ran, stumbling a little as I tried to see through the flood of tears that were flowing down my face.
“Bastard!” I said as I moved through bodies to get out of the building so I could compose myself.
In some ways, I had to admit that my relationship with Jett was unlikely, and looking at us from the outside, it wouldn’t be hard to make the wrong assumption.
Homeless girl who was on the streets and hungry.
Rich guy who had a good heart.
I’d never really thought about how the situation looked before, but now I couldn’t help but wonder how many other people had made the same conclusion as Carter.
“Give me one good reason not to put your ass in the hospital,” I growled as I grabbed my brother, Carter, and pushed him up against the nearest wall.
I’d seen red the minute I spotted my brother putting his hands on my woman from across the room, and that color had filled my vision as I saw Ruby trying to get away, obviously upset and crying.
Nobody touched Ruby. Not ever.
“I didn’t hurt her,” he said hostilely as he pushed me back and freed himself from the choke hold I had him in. “Jesus, Jett! Are you really going to do this to yourself again? How many users are you going to go through before you learn your lesson?”
“She’s not using me, shithead,” I said vehemently. “She probably could have, but she didn’t.”
I moved toward him again, but I felt a strong hand on the neck of my tuxedo holding me back.
“Don’t, Jett,” a masculine voice said. “This is our sister’s wedding. Don’t make a scene.”
His comment was the only thing that held me back, but as my eldest brother slowly let go of me, I knew I didn’t want this for Marcus’s and Dani’s wedding. I’d flatten Carter somewhere else. But not here.
“What did you say to her?” I asked angrily, my brother Mason moving forward to stand next to me.
Carter shrugged. “I was trying to buy her off. You don’t really want her, Jett. For God’s sake, she was a homeless prostitute before you took her in.”
I moved forward again instinctively, but Mason had a restraining hand on my tux again before I could get to Carter.
“She wasn’t a prostitute,” I informed him. “She was a virgin. Ruby was a teenage runaway who had every reason to leave home. When I met her, she’d been kidnapped by a human trafficking ring and they were ready to sell her to the highest bidder. Anything that’s ever happened to Ruby was not her fault. And she’s been through hell. She’s taken very little from me, even though I offered her everything. She’s strong, and she’s a survivor. But she’s not a user. She’s starting her own business, and she’s doing very well without my help.” I took a ragged breath in before I continued. “I offered to marry her, and she refused because she didn’t feel like she had enough to give me in return. That is not my idea of a woman who wants to use me.”