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Breathless In Love (The Maverick Billionaires #1)(7)

By:Bella Andre & Jennifer Skully



But she wasn’t ready to concede. “This is ridiculous. I don’t even know you. We just met, and only because my brother wanted to see your cars.”

“That’s why people go to dinner, isn’t it?” He smiled again, clearly a deliberate tactic, given that he had to know his smiles made her heart jump around inside her chest. “To get to know each other better.”

“Come on, Harper, say yes,” her brother added. “And then I can come back to see more cars.”

She shot Jeremy a shocked glance. She might have to ground him when they got home. Permanently.

“If you say yes,” Will said in a low voice, “I promise I won’t drive faster than you want me to.”

But that was exactly what she was afraid of. That she would want him to go faster. That she might even beg him to go faster. All because those thrilling moments sitting beside Will in his fast car this afternoon had been the best ones she’d experienced in a very long time.

Only, even though there were at least a dozen reasons she should say no, when she opened her mouth the word that came out was, “Yes.”

* * *

Will knew he shouldn’t lead Harper on. She was a good girl. She was someone who deserved the fairytale, a guy who was as good as she was. Not an ex-thief who still battled his demons, who knew that he could never change the blood he came from, no matter how much he wished he could.

Speed had taken away far too much from Harper already—her brother’s independence and her parents’ lives. And yet, he could feel that she craved it all the same. Craved the rush, the thrill, just as much as he did.

Just as much as he craved her.

Will wanted Harper with an intensity he’d never felt before. And maybe if he hadn’t felt that same intensity from her, even as she’d tried to hide it, he could have let her go. But as he stood in the late afternoon sun watching them drive away, with Jeremy waving madly out the window as they took the downhill curve and disappeared, Will knew he couldn’t let her go. Couldn’t let either of them go, truth be told.

Will had never known anyone with such high spirits or as much freshness as Jeremy. He had almost died all those years ago, and he’d probably been in rehab for a good part of his life since. Yet he had a boundless nature.

A Birdcage Maserati. On the drive over from the hangar, Jeremy had enumerated all the reasons why Will should build the car, most of which came down to the fact that it was awesome. And Jeremy was right—it was a truly incredible car. Having finished the Cobra a few months before taping Hot Cars, Will could use another project now. The problem? As he’d told Harper, there was no such thing as a Maserati kit car.

Then again...his friend Daniel Spencer had recently told him about a guy in Europe who could scrounge up just about anything.

Will started to get an idea, one that fired him up. He’d told Jeremy he wasn’t a genie, but maybe he could grant the boy’s wish after all.

He pulled out his phone to call Daniel, and his friend answered on the second ring. “You’re interrupting.”

“What? You watching paint dry?”

“More like a dozen cameramen all groaning since we’re going to have to do this take over,” Daniel told him. “Whatever you’ve got to say, make it snappy so that I can get back to it.”

Despite their razzing, Will knew his friend was happy to hear from him. They didn’t get together nearly enough lately, not since success had pulled the five of them in so many different directions. It was why Daniel had picked up Will’s call in the middle of a take for his home improvement show. Will would drop anything for any of the Mavericks, even if he was in the most important business meeting of his career. They, along with Bob and Susan, always came first.

Daniel owned the largest home improvement chain in the United States. He operated four plants across the country, manufacturing his own line of machines and tools. But the last time he’d held a paintbrush or a hammer—and used it for more than a shot on his TV show—had been in the previous decade. Will had started to wonder if that was a good thing for Daniel, who’d always been the guy that had not only liked working with his hands, but had also seemed to need it.

Just the way Will needed speed.

“You have the contact info for that guy in Italy?”

“Rupert?”

“Yeah. Sheet metal. Fiberglass fabrication. You said he’s damn near an artist.”

“Sure, I’ll text it to you now. That all you want?”

“Yeah, thanks. See you on Memorial Day. Bring beer.”

The conversation ended. They didn’t have deep discussions every day. But the Mavericks were always there for him no matter what. And vice versa.

The Maserati wasn’t a life-and-death issue that he needed to discuss. It wasn’t a business problem he wanted to mull over with one of the guys. Meeting a new woman didn’t usually rank up there, either. Yet there was something about Harper…

Something special.





CHAPTER FIVE


The following evening, the tattoo high on Will’s right arm disappeared from sight as he pulled a long-sleeved shirt over it.

The tattoo was of a muscle car with the words Road Warriors curved over it in stylized lettering, small drops of red dripping off the W and the second and third R. He never let anyone see it, not even the women he slept with, making sure that it was either dark in the room or that he didn’t take off his shirt. Even when dressed at his most casual, he chose T-shirts with sleeves of the necessary length.

When he was eighteen, Susan had suggested that he could get the tattoo removed. But he needed to leave it as a reminder of where he’d come from.

And of who he really was.

No matter how much Will changed on the outside, how many people he helped, or how much money he made—he knew he would always be his father’s son. A father who was a liar, a thief, and a bully. You’re a chip right off the old block, was what Gino Franconi had told him many, many times. And even though Will hadn’t seen his father in more than twenty years, he never wanted to forget that his blood ran dirty—didn’t want to think he could ever turn cocky and let his guard drop just because he hadn’t screwed up for two decades. He’d easily need a lifetime to make up for the liar and thief he’d been.

And yet, sometimes his need for that rush was just so damned strong...

Will had never put anyone in the hospital the way the teen who’d crashed into Jeremy had, but he’d still hurt a hell of a lot of people when he was younger, people who hadn’t deserved to have their cars stolen or their kids’ lives turned upside down by being dragged into a gang by a punk like Will. He’d hotwired stolen cars, drag-raced, fought hard, drunk hard. And that had been after his father had gone to prison and Will had moved in with Daniel’s parents. At the time, Susan had been a couple of years younger than Will was now, but she’d started going gray because of him. And Bob, the same age as Susan, had lost what little hair he’d had. Without Susan and Bob and the Mavericks, Will would have remained his father’s son for the rest of his life, still living in that dirty, neglected Chicago neighborhood.

Will wasn’t proud of the kid he’d been. And he definitely wasn’t proud that it had taken him so long to change. Way too long. And way too late.

He tucked the shirt into his dark jeans and buckled his belt, thinking about the pact he’d made with the other Mavericks. The day they’d made that pact was the day he finally understood he’d found his true family in the Mavericks, never the Road Warriors. He, Daniel, and Sebastian were eighteen, almost out of high school. Evan and Matt had another year to go, but they were all ready to turn their backs on Chicago and everything in it, except Susan and Bob. They’d sworn to get out, to make it big. They’d come from hell, aimed for a heaven gilded in gold, iced with diamonds, and they’d done it, all of them. If it weren’t for the fact that Susan and Bob refused to leave their hometown, Will would never go back there. Thank God Daniel had at least convinced his parents to move to a decent suburb and accept a house the five of them could well afford to buy for the couple.

Yesterday, Harper had seen the entrepreneur, the businessman, the cars, the house, the money. She hadn’t seen the Road Warrior, and he planned to keep it that way. He was glad that she’d told him her story and he hoped to learn even more about her tonight. But he knew with utter certainty that his story wasn’t one he should ever tell her.

Not if he wanted her to stick around with him for even a little while.

And though he’d only spent a couple of hours with her, he already knew he wanted her to stick around a hell of a lot longer than that.

* * *

What was she supposed to wear to dinner with a billionaire?

Dressed only in panties and bra, Harper stared into her meager closet. A pile of discarded clothing lay on the bed—jeans, shirts, a couple of dresses. Nothing seemed right, certainly not any of her staid work clothes. She had one serviceable cocktail dress, but Will had been just as mysterious about where he was taking her as he was about everything else. For all she knew, he had something outrageous planned, like a hot air balloon ride in Napa, or a flight to Tahoe in his private jet for an intimate dinner in an exclusive casino restaurant. Didn’t rich men on TV always do things like that to show off on first dates?

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