“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He looked astonished, then angry. Moving across the truck’s bench seat, he grabbed her by the shoulders, looking down at her fiercely. “Before I met you, I felt bored by everything and everyone. But now there’s one thing I can’t stop thinking about. One thing I have to have. At any price.”

Ruby’s heart was pounding. He was saying everything that she felt, deep in her soul. Trembling, she choked out, “I thought you didn’t do complicated…”

“This isn’t complicated. It’s simple. I want you to come home with me tonight. And I know you feel the same. Why are you trying to deny it?”

As their eyes locked, her phone started to ring from her bag. Glancing down, she saw it was Ivy again. Ruby looked from the phone to him, torn between reason and desire.

I know you feel the same. Why are you trying to deny it?

She took a deep breath. From the moment she’d first seen him in the nightclub, she’d wanted him. She’d tried to pretend otherwise. Because fairy tales didn’t come true, and there could be no bigger fairy tale than a handsome billionaire flying into a small mountain town and choosing a nobody like Ruby over every other woman in the world.

A rich man only wanted things he couldn’t have. Ruby knew this. Once possessed, a prize no longer had value. If she let him seduce her, Ares would soon look for new worlds—new women—to conquer.

And if she was wrong? If their affair lasted longer than a night?

That could be even worse. Because falling in love with a man like Ares, depending on him, could destroy her life, just as it had her mother’s.

And yet…

As she felt his hand move slowly up her arm, every nerve in her body sang with longing. She closed her eyes, holding her breath, hanging off the edge of the cliff.

Her phone started ringing yet again. With a single sharp movement, Ruby abruptly turned it off.

Holding her breath, she opened her eyes.

“Just dinner,” she whispered.

Ares’s sensual lips curved. Something deeper and more primal than satisfaction simmered in his dark eyes. Starting the truck again, he drove up the private road, pressing down hard on the gas, going as fast as the engine would allow.



Even as Ruby spoke the words, she knew she was playing with fire. Every moment she spent with Ares she was getting in deeper. It would be too easy to be seduced by him. Even knowing that it could only lead to heartbreak.

But she couldn’t go back home. Not yet. For too long, she’d lived only to take care of her family, until she’d forgotten what it felt like to do anything but work. Most of the emotions she’d known for the last year had been bad ones. The worsening of her mother’s illness. Her sister’s petulant anger. Long, painful battles with insurance companies and bill collectors.

Now she watched Ares drive faster and faster down the one-lane forest road, as if being chased by a hurricane. As if the powerful, handsome billionaire thought his life would be worth nothing unless he got Ruby to his expensive house—now.

There’s one thing I can’t stop thinking about. One thing I have to have. At any price.

Ruby shivered. Being desired in such a way was new to her. It was almost impossible to resist. But she would.

I’ll just stay an hour, she told herself desperately. Just a little while. Dinner, and maybe a kiss. Maybe a few kisses. She wouldn’t let it go further.

For one short evening, she needed to forget her real life. She needed to feel pleasure. She needed to feel alive.

Then she would go back to her real life with a memory she could treasure, of one night when she’d been romanced, pursued, cherished by a handsome prince.

After stopping at an electronic gate, Ares punched in a code. The gate swung open. They drove past a few cottages, some distance from the main house.

“Who lives there?”

“The house’s caretaker and housekeeper. My bodyguard. My driver.”

His voice was husky. Shivering, Ruby asked no more questions. She saw the main house looming up ahead, the lit windows shining gold in the darkness. The house was made of rock and wood, enormous and brand-new.

The huge driveway had been carefully cleared of snow. Ares parked her truck directly in front of the house and helped her out.

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