But even so, it hurt to hear herself whisper, “No.”
It broke her heart to deny him, and a part of her was already shaking in fear, dreading the moment he might force her to reject him again.
But that moment never came.
The billionaire pulled away, and when he rose to his feet, she couldn’t help looking up—-
The look in his eyes said everything.
He had only let her go because he had known it would hurt her even more to say no to him again, and the knowledge killed her, her hands flying up to cover her mouth just as a heavy sob tore out of her throat. She tried to end it there, willing herself to stop crying, but the tears only fell faster, and when another sob escaped her lips, she heard him curse under his breath—-
And then he was leaning down.
“No—-” She couldn’t let him kiss her again. Didn’t think she’d be able to handle it. “Damian—-”
But all he did was gently wipe the tears off her cheeks.
“I obviously need a lot more practice in not making you cry.”
She choked back a teary laugh.
“Hush now, love. We’ll talk more tomorrow.”
“I don’t want—-”
“Tough.” But his voice was casual, and he was also reaching for her as he spoke, and before she knew it, the billionaire had her tucked back under the covers. “Good night, Sarah.”
She flipped to her side and pointedly refused to answer even as her stomach started churning at the rudeness of it all.
“Just say good night back.” The billionaire’s tone was faintly amused. “There are other and better ways to get back at me, but doing something that you hate isn’t one of them.”
Shit. Shit. Shit.
“You’re already beating yourself up for it, aren’t you?”
“Okay, fine,” she snarled without looking back. “Good night. Happy now?”
A lazy chuckle was her answer, followed by three words delivered in a soft, wicked tone. “That’s my girl.”
Naomi’s birthday party officially started the next day, and with it Fox Lodge temporarily closed its doors to guest bookings while transforming itself to a Great Gatsby-themed paradise. The party also came with a structured itinerary, and the first item in the program had the whole family welcoming guests and escorting them to the three key areas for morning entertainment: women were directed to the patio for a winter spa brunch, the kids were taken to the play area at the basement, while the men were escorted to the library.
Over a hundred guests had been invited to celebrate Naomi’s fortieth, and Sarah was more than happy to find out that all of them had confirmed attendance. The more, the merrier, Sarah thought, believing the sheer size of the party’s guest list would not only keep her busy but also safe from any possibly nefarious plan of a certain billionaire.
Or so she thought.
A guy had just come up to her, introducing himself as someone playing for the NFL, when an arm suddenly curved around her waist, and Sarah stiffened, knowing who it was without having to look.
“It’s nice to see you again, Garth,” Damian drawled.
“Yeah, you, too, Fox.”
When the other guy’s questioning gaze swung between Sarah and the billionaire, Damian said easily, “Sarah’s my stepsister.”
“Right.” The younger man couldn’t seem to stop staring at the way Damian’s fingers were idly caressing Sarah’s hip. “That’s, ah, cool.” And then he coughed and cleared his throat, saying, “Anyway, I gotta go.”
“What the hell was that?” Sarah burst out as soon as the football player was out of earshot.
The billionaire lowered his head, his arm tightening around her waist as he whispered straight into her ear, “Marking my territory.”
Color burst in her cheeks, and she waited until she was sure no one was looking at them before stomping on his foot as hard as she could. It had Damian grunting in pain, but Sarah didn’t care. “Stop messing around!”
“It’s not as if you truly found him attractive,” Damian dismissed with typical arrogance. “You saw the look on his face when he found out you’re my stepsister. Men like him will never be able to defend you—-”
“I don’t need defending—-”
“You don’t,” the billionaire agreed silkily, “but you wouldn’t mind it either if I were the one doing the defending.” His tone turned pensive. “What was it that you used to like saying about us? You’d happily be the sub to my—-”
“Will you shut up?”
“Only if you call me what you used to call me.”
“Damian! Be serious!”
“If you don’t—-”
“That’s not quite it.”
“Last chance,” he warned.
She took a deep breath and whispered, “My handsome Dom.”
A devastating smile curved over her lips, and oh God, it was like seeing the sun shine for the first time—-aaah!
Damian had bent down to brush his lips over her mouth and had already pulled away before she could do a thing.
She looked around, horrified, embarrassed, and aroused all at once, and while none of the locals were acting any differently, there were various out-of-state guests who were now staring at them with scandalized expressions on their faces.