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Dirty Scoundrel

By:Jessica Clare

Roughneck Billionaires 2


About the Book


Clay Price has everything he's ever wanted, except the one thing money  can't buy  –  Natalie Weston. Years ago, Clay and Natalie were in love . .  . until she turned down his marriage proposal. Now Clay and his  brothers are oil-rich billionaires, they can have whatever they want.  And what Clay wants is Natalie in his bed, no matter what it takes. If  it means being ruthless, he'll do it.

Natalie gave up on true love years ago when the realities of the world  destroyed her fairy-tale hopes. Giving up Clay is her biggest regret in  life, and she's excited to see him return . . . until she finds out why.  Clay's got one hell of a proposal for her: he'll save her father's  business and bail Natalie out of debt if she'll agree to become his very  personal assistant. It's clear that he wants more from her than just  typing.

It's also clear that Natalie has no choice. This scoundrel's bet could  destroy any hope they had of reconciliation  –  or it could bring them  together once and for all . . .

Want more irresistible romance? Look for Jessica's Billionaire Boys Club  titles, starting with Stranded With A Billionaire, as well as the  sizzling spinoff series, Billionaires and Bridesmaids, starting with The  Billionaire And The Virgin.





Chapter One



Clay

My brother Boone doesn't even give me a decent greeting when I knock on  his door. Normally I'd comment about how the heavy wood double doors to  his new ranch mansion are bigger than my trailer, but I don't feel much  like laughing today.

Instead, I've got a cold knot in my gut that's been there for days and  feels like it's growing larger by the moment. If it grows any bigger and  I'm gonna start looking like delicate Ivy, all ponytail and belly.  Well, 'cept for the ponytail, I guess.

Boone just eyes me as he opens the door. He's silent, too. My brother  usually has something to say about everything, but maybe he's got the  same knot in his gut I do. He eyes my clothing, noting my best jeans and  the only long-sleeved white shirt I own, which has also sat in the back  of my closet since the last funeral I went to. It's tight around the  chest and neck, but fuck it. Ain't nobody gonna give a shit today. I  glance down at my boots, but the heavy rain today is washing away any  dirt I have on them. I'm mostly presentable. Mostly.

My brother isn't happy, though. He just shakes his head. "No jacket?"

Another smart-ass comment rises to my mind but I bite it back, too.  Doesn't seem right to joke, even if that's my natural instinct. Not  today. "Nah. Don't have one."

He grunts. "Seems like none of my brothers do. But Ivy wants everyone in jackets, so come in. You can borrow one of mine."

My brother's been married for almost a year now, and his new wife has  pretty much turned him upside down. New house, new clothes, looking at  investments, you name it. What Ivy wants, Ivy gets. It's a good thing  Ivy's the sweetest girl and doesn't have a gold-digging bone in her  body, because Boone's absolutely batshit crazy for her and would give  her his fortune if it'd make her smile. It's kinda cute, in a henpecked  sort of way.

"Ivy dressing everyone?"

My brother just arches an eyebrow at me.

I ain't wrong, I bet to myself as I shake off the rain in the echoing  foyer. When I don't drip on the marble flooring, I step forward and  follow Boone into the downstairs living area. Sure enough, Ivy's there,  running a lint brush over Seth's borrowed jacket. Gage is seated on a  nearby chair dressed to the nines in some Gucci or Armani shit, but he's  the only one out of all of us. Knox is nearby wearing another one of  Boone's jackets, but the way he's adjusting the collar, I imagine he's  deciding whether or not to five-finger it home. Doesn't matter that Knox  is as rich as the rest of us-he likes to lift things. Dunno why. No one  knows what's going on in Knox's head.

Ivy takes one look at me and hurries over with her lint brush. "Clay,  you're not dressed." Her brow wrinkles and she looks unhappy, studying  my appearance. "We'll have to get you one of Boone's jackets."

"Eddie wouldn't care," I tell her, trying to smile. "He's an old  roughneck, through and through. I doubt he even owned a dress shirt.  Wouldn't expect me to own one."

"I care," Ivy says, ignoring everything I say. "And his widow will care.  And his children will care. It's important, Clay." She speaks to me  like I'm a child but it just rolls off my back. Ivy is a little fussy  about appearances but she means well, and she wants us to look right for  this.         

     



 

And even though every one of us Price brothers knows Eddie Murteen  wouldn't give two shits what we wore to his funeral, it's important to  Ivy that we are respectable when we pay our last respects.

So I shrug and put my arms out. "Come dress your Ken Doll, Barbie." She  thwacks me with the lint brush as I grin. Guess I got a bit of spark  left in me, after all.

I jacket up, and Ivy fusses with my hair, removing my favorite baseball  cap and wetting and combing down my flyaways like I'm a kid. I just let  her fuss. Ivy's the only female in our lives, so I figure she knows more  about this sorta thing than we do. I glance down at her big belly and  the tented black dress she's wearing. "Junior's getting big."

"His name won't be Junior."

"Mason, then. That's a good name."

"Like the jar? No thanks."

Boone just grins behind her like a big dumb loon. Never thought I'd see  the day that my mule-stubborn brother would let a little blonde waltz  all over him, but he does. I bet this baby's gonna have some trendy,  crappy name like Juniper or Pastel or some shit.

"Ford?" I suggest.

"Like the car?"

"Good, solid car."

"No. Absolutely not." Ivy finishes messin' with my hair and then runs  the lint brush over my jacket. "All right. You look good. Are the  wreaths in the cars? Everyone have umbrellas?"

"We have hats," Seth says, a bit of sulk in my youngest brother's tone.

"Umbrellas," Ivy repeats firmly. "This is a funeral, not a bowling  alley." She fusses with the string of pearls at her neck, looking  worried. "I want you to look the part. Everyone's going to be focused on  the fact that the Price family is showing up-"

"We look good, baby girl," Boone says, moving to press a kiss to his  wife's cheek. "They're just giving you shit. It's going to be fine, I  promise."

Ivy gives him a smile, reassured by his calm words.

I wish I was so easily placated. The knot's back in my stomach and  growing. Ain't no avoiding this. Eddie deserves a good send-off, and  we'll be there. I just wish . . .

Fuck, I don't know what I wish.



The funeral's a good one, I guess. I've only been to two, but compared  to my father's funeral, this one's done right. Eddie's in the most  expensive coffin that Price money can buy, since he died working on one  of our rigs. There are flowers and wreaths all over the small chapel,  and a shit-ton more at the graveside. The service is nice and decently  attended, and I try not to look at Eddie's widow and the three little  boys she has sitting on the pew next to her. If I do, that knot in my  stomach just grows and grows.

Eddie was too old to be roughnecking. Well, not too old. Too broken and  too slow. It's a young man's job, and Eddie was pushing forty-five. He  just didn't have the moves he used to, and when equipment snaps-like it  did this last week-you have to move fast. The good news is that when the  pipe tripped and hit him, it hit him in the head. Never felt a thing.  Just snapped his neck like a potato chip and boom, no more Eddie. I  guess if you have to go, that's a good way to go.

I wiggle my foot in my shoe, feeling the gap where my two missing toes  are. When I lost them on a rig accident, it fucking hurt like hell and I  bled like a stuck pig. But Eddie would have gone instantly. One minute  there, the next, gone. The world is minus one Eddie Murteen in the blink  of an eye.

I worshipped Eddie as a teen. He was a great guy. Worked with me when I  started on my first rig, just a shitty kid with a chip on his shoulder  and a broken heart. Bought me a beer when my dad died and I couldn't  sack up enough to stop crying, even on the job. He was mentor and friend  to both me and Boone, and when Price Brothers Oil hit it big, we gave  him work. He's not great at what he does, but he's loyal as hell. That  counts for a lot.

Guess that should be past tense now.

My gut churns again.

I glance over and Ivy's rubbing the widow's back while Boone talks. I  know what he's telling her. PBO is gonna cover the funeral expenses and  make sure she has a pension. The good thing about being rich is you can  throw money at people and it makes it seem like everything's gonna be  okay. Except it doesn't feel like it's okay. It just feels shitty and  this knot in my stomach won't go away.

Someone sits down next to me. Even though most of the family and friends  are getting up to go to the wake, I can't quite pull myself out of my  seat. I'm staring up at the altar, at the front of the church where the  coffin was a short time ago. Eddie's gone, six feet under. Shit, that's a  mindfuck.         

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