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One Night With A Billionaire

By:Jessica Clare

, like your nana, and that’s when things become a problem.”

“I’ll talk to her,” Kylie said, a tension headache threatening to crush her. “But”

“I know. She has dementia. We know it’s a losing battle,” the attendant said gently. “But we still like to try and drive the concept home if possible.”

She understood, even if she knew it was impossible. No one came out a winner where Nana Sloane was concerned. Kylie nodded. “I’ll see what I can do. Is she okay otherwise?”

“Other than the usual ailments that an elderly demented woman has? Sure. She’s unhappy when she’s lucid, she’s confused when she’s not, and she frightens the other patients.”

“Sounds great.” She grimaced, picturing her bitter grandma railing at the other residents. “What about today?”

“Today was a bad day,” the attendant said. “She’s heavily sedated at the moment, but if you stick around for a few hours”

“I can’t,” Kylie said, relieved to hear that there wouldn’t be a messy confrontation. Not today. “I’ll just pop in to see her and go.”

The man nodded and opened the door. “Let me know when you’re ready to leave and I’ll take you back out.”

Kylie stepped into her grandmother’s room, feeling the weight of responsibility on her shoulders. The room was utterly silent and clean. A picture of Kylie’s mother, long deceased, was next to the bed. There was no picture of Kylie’s father, or of Kylie. But that didn’t surprise hershe’d never been Nana Sloane’s favorite person.

You’re a burden, Kylie Daniels. I have to work two jobs just to put enough food on the table to feed your fat ass. The least you can do is be grateful. If only your mother were here.

She squelched the hateful memories and pulled up a chair next to her grandmother’s bed and took the woman’s hand in her own. Nana’s hand was fragile and so utterly small in her own, her skin dry like paper.

“Hi, Nana,” Kylie whispered. “I hope you’re doing well. I just got a job going on tour, so I’m not going to be able to visit much for a few months.” Not that her nana noticed if Kylie was there or not. Most days she was lost in her own mind, or looking for her long-dead daughter. Kylie rubbed her fingers against her nana’s palm. “But the good news is that you’re all paid up and my new job should allow you to stay here for a long time. I know you don’t like it at this place, but they have the best care. They really do. I’m going to make sure that you’re taken care of. It’s my responsibility, and I’m not going to shirk it.” She pressed her mouth to the old woman’s limp hand. “Be good while I’m gone, okay?”

She held her grandmother’s hand for another minute, lost in thought and worried about burdens and family, and the weight of responsibility. Nana Sloane didn’t wake up. It wasn’t a bad thing. When Nana was asleep, she was peaceful. Almost sweet. She wasn’t spitting nasty words at Kylie, screaming that she didn’t belong here, or sobbing uncontrollably. Kylie could deal with the snide comments about her weight. She could deal with the jabs about her hair, or her slutty clothing. But when Nana wept as if her heart was broken, her dreams shattered? It nearly broke Kylie, too.

Thankfully, her nana’s lined face remained slack, a bit of drool pooling at the corners of her mouth.

So Kylie left.

Seeing Nana Sloane was good for her, though. It helped Kylie focus. Made her determined. It was a reminder of what she was working for. She might hate touring and never having a place to call her own, but as long as her nana was safe and looked after, well, that was all Kylie could ask for. She’d been a burden to the woman in her younger years, and now it was Kylie’s time to return the favor.

No matter how much it sucked the life out of her.

TWO

If Cade Archer could have predicted how he’d spend his thirtieth birthday, he’d have only been part right. Surrounded by the Brotherhood, the secret society he’d been in since college? Check. Playing a hand of poker in a smoky cellar beneath a club he owned? Check. The men chewing on cigars and discussing business strategies as usual?

Not so much.

“Check this shit out,” Reese Durham said, pushing a sonogram picture toward the center of the table. “He’s got a dick like a baby’s arm.”

Griffin Verdi picked up the photo and squinted at it. “You sure that’s not, in fact, the baby’s arm?”

“Nope.” Reese chewed on the end of his cigar¸ looking quite pleased with himself. “Reese Junior’s packing some major heat.”

Griffin rolled his eyes and tossed the picture back down. Undeterred, Reese snatched it up and offered it to Hunter. “So when are you and Gretchen thinking about children?”

“Maybe next year,” Hunter said, studying the photo. “After the wedding.”

“No children for us yet,” Logan said. “Brontë wants to finish her degree first. I’m certainly in no rush.”

“Amen,” Griffin said. After a moment, he added, “Though I wouldn’t mind if Maylee and I had a happy accident.”

At his side, Jonathan Lyons dropped a handful of chips onto the pile. “Violet and I are hoping for a happy accident. Maybe sooner than later.”

“Ha,” Reese said, and punched Jonathan in the arm affably. “Go for it. Raw-dog her, man. Our kids can nanny swap.”

“That is a horrid term,” Griffin said. “Raw . . . dog?”

“Bareback”

“I know! Good grief, I know.”

Cade just shook his head and picked through his cards. Definitely not what he’d have expected for his thirtieth birthday. He’d pictured spending it with his friends, of course, but talking about babies and marriages? Not exactly. Hardened bachelor Reese had turned from ladies’ man to future daddy and expert on everything husband-related.

In fact, everyone in their small circle had more or less settled down in the last year.

Everyone except Cade.

It wasn’t that he didn’t date. Okay, maybe he didn’t. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in women. He was. Actually, there was one in particular he’d been messed up over for the last, oh, fifteen

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