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Hung:A Billionaire Bad Boy Romance

By:Simone Sowood

Chapter One

The Rich Bitch (Skye)

"Don't give up," Ava says.

"It's not like I have a choice," I say, frowning as I examine the way I've captured the movement of water on my canvas.

"There's always a way. We'll find it, have faith."

"I've been here six months and have sold exactly one painting."

"And that one painting was great, just like all your others. It's just  about being discovered. It will happen. You're too good for it not to,"  she says laying an arm around my shoulders.

"I'm too crap, and that's why it won't happen. If I were any good, it  would've happened by now." I fling my brush onto my wooden tray and  sigh. Being faced with rejection every day has destroyed any belief I  had in my abilities.

"That's not true. If you weren't any good, I wouldn't let you live here  rent-free. I'd go find an accountant who arranges all her rent payments  upfront." The bohemian scarf Ava always wears wrapped around her head,  bobs as she waggles her head.

"Thanks for reminding me what a freeloader I am."

It hadn't started that way. When I first moved to Santa Barbara I paid  Ava rent, funded by an inheritance from my grandmother. But art supplies  cost a fortune, and I was running through my inheritance so quickly  that Ava decided not to accept any more rent from me, no matter how hard  I tried to pay her.

"You aren't a freeloader. You're going to owe me the commission from your tenth and twenty-fifth paintings sold, remember?"

The corners of my mouth turn up and I can't help but laugh. "Two  paintings aren't going to make up for all the rent I'm not paying you."

"Yes it will. It won't take as long as you think, not if you keep on  painting like that." Ava nods her head to the bold colors and delicate  swirls on my canvas. We both stare at it for a few minutes.

All I can feel is frustration at it. Frustration that no matter how much  effort I put into it, no matter how much of my blood, sweat and tears,  it's most likely going to end up gathering dust in the attic.

"I don't know how to thank you for all the support you give me. Both  financial and emotional. I would've given up weeks ago if it wasn't for  you."

She squeezes my shoulders and says, "Skye, listen to me. You are one of  the most talented artists I've ever come across. You're a dream come  true to me. Every art professor dreams of discovering a talent like you.  It's an honor to have you in my home."

"I'm going to request extra shifts at the restaurant. I know they said  they only need me on the busy Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening  shifts, but I heard a rumor that one of the guys on the dayshift has  been slacking off and is going to get fired."

"Absolutely not. You cannot work during the day, you need to be here, capturing the natural light."

"But … "

"There is no but. Either you're serious about supporting yourself from your art or you're giving up. There's no in between."

I take my brushes to the utility sink in the adjacent room and begin  cleaning them. Ava continues to stare at my work in progress.

She's very kind but I struggle to understand why. My own parents have  disowned me for wasting the money my grandmother left me. They insist  painting is a hobby and not a real job, and that I need to get myself a  real job real fast.

Ava found my blog online and, according to her, knew in an instant I was  set for big things. She even paid for my plane ticket from Michigan.

At first I'd assumed she was rich because she has a nice house with a  view of the ocean in the distance. Then I found out she's given away  most of her money to various charities for fighting poverty and realized  she only kept the amount of money she felt she needed.

I should've known, given the anti-poverty and ‘share the wealth' themes of my paintings.

Knowing she isn't rolling in money makes me feel even guiltier about not being able to pay her rent.

As it is, on top of my paycheck, I'm still dipping into my inheritance  and all I'm covering is my art supplies, the upkeep of an old banger I  bought to get to and from work, and my groceries. Though I take as much  food from the restaurant as I can.

"I see it," she says from the next room.

"See what?"

"The meaning. I see what you're doing. It's genius."

Patting dry the brushes in my hands, I walk back into the room she  converted into a studio for me. It's mostly empty, and light floods  through the large windows onto the easel standing in the middle of the  room. Ava is a few feet away from it, staring at it with her hands on  her hips.         



"What do you see?" I ask, knowing there's no way she sees the real meaning, which is my lack of a sex life.

"The movement in the water represents the movement of money. It's all  gathering over here," she says, pointing to the top corner, "in a sort  of whirlpool. I assume that's the one percent?"

"Is it too obvious?" I'm not about to tell her the whirlpool is actually  my poor pussy, and the movement in the water is all the action I've  never experienced.

Instead of going out and socializing like everyone else in high school  and college, I spent every waking second studying and practicing  different techniques.

Twenty-two and never been kissed. It's pathetic, even if I do know a zillion different ways to lay paint on a canvas.

"Not in the least. Remember, I have the benefit of knowing you and  knowing your themes. It's perfect the way it is. You really are amazing,  I hope you see that. To most people, this is a beautiful image of the  seaside. It would look pretty on any wall."

"You really think so?"

She turns and grabs the tops of my arms, shaking me gently. "Stop doubting yourself, you'll drive yourself crazy!"

"Thank you. For everything. I don't know what I'd do without your  support." Especially without my parents in my life. Ava's now the  closest thing I have to a mother, even though she's nearly old enough to  be my grandmother.

"Stop being silly."

"I have to get ready for the money-making job now."

Late for my Saturday night shift as usual, I rush into Johnny's  Roadhouse, making my way as fast as I can to the staff changing area. I  say changing area, it's more or less a big closet lined with hooks to  hang our stuff on.

I grab my apron out of my bag, and tie it around my waist. The dress  code is pretty boring: black skirt and a white t-shirt. At least I don't  have to wear any buttons or flashing lights.

"You're late," my boss Kevin says, his overgrown eyebrows narrowed and his gnarled finger pointing at me.

"Sorry Kevin, won't happen again."

"Two customers just sat down at table six, I was going to give it to Melanie, but get on it."

"I'm going."

I grab two menus, plaster a smile across my face and make my way through  the rows of tan wood booths in my section of the restaurant until I  spot the table that's just arrived.

"Good evening and welcome to Johnny's Roadhouse. I'm Skye, and it's  great to see you both here tonight. The specials are on the first page  of the menu." I say this so many times each shift that I practically go  into a trance and I pretend I'm looking at them, but really my eyes are  scanning the license plates on the wall behind them.

When I finally do look at the couple, the woman sticks out. She doesn't  look like she belongs in here. This isn't exactly the kind of place  where you wear an evening dress and sparkling earrings that hang to your  shoulders, but clearly no one told her that. I want to ask her if she  got lost on the way to the mansion party, but don't. Wouldn't want to  mess up my tip.

I pass her a menu and turn my attention to the man. For a moment, I'm  speechless as I take him in. He doesn't look like he belongs with the  woman. He's wearing jeans and a gray t-shirt that's pulled taut over his  broad chest, with two full sleeves of tattoos on display. His dark hair  is intentionally messy and there's a day's worth of stubble peppering  his strong jaw. He's most definitely appropriate for this joint. Or any  joint.

He pulls the menu from my hand, and I realize I've been frozen in place instead of handing it over.

"Sorry," I mutter.

"No problem," he says. He looks at me, and when we make eye contact a jolt rushes up my spine.

I let go of the menu and hurry to my station. It's a cramped spot hidden  in the back corner of the dining area; a place I can watch my tables  without them seeing me. Normally I think of it as my jail cell, but  tonight I use it to spy on the hot guy.

Chapter Two

Drawn (Lawson)

My eyes fix on that fine waitress's ass as she walks away from our  table. Skye, she said her name was. Appropriate for such a heavenly  body.

Despite what my sister, Julie, had promised, my date's turned out to be yet another gold digger.

I hadn't intended to bring Freya here. But when I picked her up and she  was dressed that way, and she had giggled, actually fucking giggled, at  every little thing I said, it had become pretty fucking obvious that she  was more interested in my money than in me.