The Bad Boy Billionaire's Wicked Arrangement
Author:Maya Rodale
Synopsis:

Dedication



    “Ow. Damn.”

    The couple paused in their sighs and moans. For just a moment, the sounds of a frantic kiss ceased.

    There really ought to be better lighting in these facilities. For safety’s sake. Just the right amount so a girl could make a discreet exit without injuring herself. Resolved to speak to the janitorial staff about it tomorrow, I inched along, tracing my fingers along the spines of books as a guide.

    More laughter.

    More heavy breathing.

    The sounds of a kiss turning to something else.

    I turned the corner at the end of the row of tall stacks. In the faint lighting I could just make out three aisles of shelves running perpendicular down the room. They were only waist high. The party people had littered the tops with empty beer bottles and half-drunk glasses of wine and champagne. Masks were strewn about, as well as stray sets of headphones with the thumping bass pumping through faintly.

    Now was not the time to tidy up, however much I was struck by the inclination. You’re too neat, Jane. You’re too “just so,” Jane.

    “Shut up,” I whispered to the voice of Sam in my head. I took a deep breath. There were only two ways out of this room. I could double back and attempt to navigate the darkest, farthest aisles—hopefully not encountering That Guy and his very loud girlfriend.

    Or I could go directly toward the door. On my hands and knees so that I wouldn’t be seen. I didn’t know where the couple was in this cursed room. They could be anywhere.

    I did not want to be seen. I didn’t know That Guy and he definitely didn’t know me. We ought to keep it that way. I certainly didn’t want to meet him under these circumstances.

    There was a shuffling noise. I held my breath, waiting. More sighs and more moans.

    I dropped to my hands and knees and started crawling and I started praying that I’d get out of this room without being discovered in such a ridiculous position. Of all the things I’d been wishing for lately—Sam to want me back, a book deal, a pay raise, a new dress from J.Crew—getting out of here undiscovered was top of the list.

    The sighs got louder. So did the murmurs and moans. Either this girl was a drama queen or That Guy Was. That. Good. For a moment, I paused, wondering what it would be like to completely disregard any sense of decency, respectability and get it on in a public place.

    Once upon a time I’d had the chance. It had been during study hall, senior year. C’mon Jane . . . Meet me in the stacks. Sam had grinned, sliding his finger in through the belt loop on my skinny jeans, playfully trying to tug me along for an illicit rendezvous in the local public library. I had laughed nervously and pushed him away.

    Tonight I wondered: What if I could ditch my unyielding sense of modesty and wrap my legs around a man as he took me up against a wall of books? What if I didn’t bite back sighs, moans and cries from the touch of a man determined to bring me to the brink of outrageous pleasure?

    I didn’t do it back then. Instead I had told the love of my life, “Shhh . . . We’ll get in trouble.”

    I should have said yes. Because he never asked me again.

    I definitely should not have shushed then—or now. I knew the rush of that shaming, condemning hiss had escaped my lips when that girl fell quiet.

    “Hello? Who’s there?” the girl asked from somewhere in the darkened room.

    “It’s nothing,” a guy said, presumably the one she was hooking up with.

    And then I heard another man’s quiet laughter. It seemed that . . .

    Oh God. Please God, no, no, no . . .

    Still on my hands and knees I looked up. Breathing kind of stopped for a second. He towered above me. And he was that kind of good looking—all thoroughly disreputable with a disarming boyish grin.

    He’d caught me on my hands and knees. And shushing people.

    “Need a hand?” he asked.

    “I just dropped something,” I said, frantic for an excuse. I blurted out the first thing that came to mind. “My mask. I dropped my mask.”

    “The one you’re wearing?” The corner of his mouth quirked up into a sexy grin and I wanted to die.

    I smiled in a please-kill-me-now kind of way and struggled to go from hands and knees to standing with some semblance of grace, while wearing a pencil skirt. The guy just watched with a cool, detached and bemused expression.

    The sighs and moans carried on. Clearly it wasn’t That Guy, since he stood before me. Alone.

    “I know they’re loud,” he murmured leaning on the stacks and blocking my exit. “But did you really just shush them?”

    I just sighed and gave him an annoyed glance, which hopefully communicated that this was a mortifying encounter that I’d rather not prolong.

    “Let me guess. You’re a librarian,” he said with a hint of humor in his voice. “I mean, who else shushes people in a library? And a party.”

    “Actually, I am,” I said awkwardly.

    He laughed, a low rich sound without any mockery, just mirth. Laughing in the library was also something that usually elicited a shhh but I bit that one back.

    “Are you going to kick them out for making out in the stacks?”

    There was no need to clarify which them he was referring to. They were making their presence known. Loudly.

    “No. I’m really sorry to interrupt. I didn’t mean to. I’ll just let you . . . finish whatever it is you were doing in here.”

    “Just had to take a phone call. Thought it would be quieter in here,” he said, shrugging. “You’re really a librarian?”

    Yes. Who cares? I should be going.

    He leaned against the stacks as if settling for a long chat. My heart started thudding and I wasn’t sure if it was desire, anticipation or because this was the sort of situation that ended badly and on the cover of the New York Post.

    “So what’s your name, Sweater Set?” He asked, as he pulled out his iPhone.

    “Jane.”

    “Jane what?”

    “Sparks. Why do you care?”

    Jane Sparks, Age 28, hopelessly single and tragically flummoxed by attentions of hot guy at the library.

    “I’m looking you up to see if you’re really a librarian. And if I should mention you in my tweet about getting shushed at the Hush party.”

    “Is that really necessary?”

    They were projecting tweets about the party (#HushParty) on the large screens set up around the room. The last thing I needed was the whole party full of cool people—and the whole freaking Internet—knowing about this increasingly disastrous situation. I was the square who had just shushed people at a party. I had just interrupted a hot hook-up in the stacks. And I was trying to pretend none of it had just happened.