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The Hotel 3 (The Billionaire Seduction)

By:Lola Darling

The Hotel 3 (The Billionaire Seduction)
Lola Darling

 Chapter One




It's been two days since Dominic discovered the secret I've been hiding  from him: that the first night we met, I was hired to get compromising  photos of him. Two days since he threw me out of the Rexford hotel and  swore he never wanted to see me again. Two days of me wallowing in a  heartbroken mess around my apartment until my roommates must be sick of  my forlorn crying.

"We're going to need a Sherpa to come navigate this mountain of Kleenex."

Emily brushes wads of tissue off my bed before sitting next to me. I  wipe my eyes with the back of my hand and take the steaming mug she  offers. I think I smile. I don't know. My face is so tight from dried  tears, I feel like I've had botched plastic surgery.

"What's in the mug?" I take a sniff. "Smells good."

"One of my secret tea blends."

"Made with unicorn tears and rainbows?"

"Of course. And also honey and green tea to soothe your throat."

Her soft voice brings fresh tears to my eyes. I don't deserve her  kindness. At least, that's how the sick, twisted sensation in my gut  makes me feel. Because of me, Dominic may lose control of the hotel. I  deserve to be miserable.

Plus, I miss him. A hell of a lot.

A plopping noise makes me look down, and sure enough, I'm crying in my tea.

"Hey," Emily takes the mug and runs a hand down my hair. "I know it hurts, Jules."

"Understatement." I lean against her shoulder. "It feels like he ripped  out my heart and stomped all over it then left it bleeding in the gutter  with all the Rexford's dirty garbage."

I see him every time I close my eyes-the blend of shock and anger on  Dominic's face as his ex-wife, Lillian, revealed everything. The way he  looked at me when I admitted I helped set him up. How he smirked when I  tried to confess my feelings for him.

In that moment, I lost everything. My internship, my career, and the man I love.

It couldn't get any worse.

"He won't call me back," I admit. "I've left messages." It dawns on me  that I haven't checked my phone in a half hour. I scramble to get my  cell, but Emily stops me.

"He hasn't called, Juliet."

"How do you know?"

She just shakes her head, and I crumble a little more.

"He won't call, will he?"

She tries to look supportive, but I can tell, she doesn't believe me.  And if my ‘bright side only, glass half full' friend can't find it in  her heart to lie, there's really no hope for me. My heart cracks again.  Dominic Rexford has washed his hands of me. How can I blame him? I  helped his ex-wife strip him of control over his own empire. Thanks to  me, he's lost everything that he held most dear.

I just wish I'd known. The first night we met, it was just a job: my  cousin, Callie, was sick, so I filled in for her acting as a honeytrap  for her private investigator boss. I was supposed to flirt with the  target, let them get photos of him kissing me, and make a quick exit. I  didn't expect Dom to be so sexy, so magnetic  –  all my rules went out of  the window when I followed him upstairs. It was just one night, I told  myself. Nobody would ever know.

I didn't realize that my incredible one night stand with him was going to have consequences like this.

I didn't expect my love would ruin him.

Pressing the heels of my hands to my eyes, I force down another wave of  tears. I've never felt this way before, and I don't know what to do. I  need to do something, to fix it any way that I can. But, how?

An apology won't mean a thing compared to his lost empire. I don't think Hallmark makes a card for this kind of thing.

I lean over the side of my bed and grapple for the neck of a wine  bottle. It's empty-so is the next one I reach for, and the one after  that. I don't have to check the cookie bags or the pizza box on my  floor. I know they're empty, too.

Emily stands and starts to collect the trash. "You've gone on one hell of a broken-heart bender."

"It's not over yet."

She bypasses the mountain of snot rags to grab my garbage can. "Believe  it or not, you'll get through this, Jules. Things like this just make  you stronger."

"How would you know?" It flies out of my mouth before I can take it  back. Emily pauses a moment, then keeps cleaning. "I'm sorry," I say  quickly." She doesn't talk much about her romantic history, but I do  know that some guy did a number on her a few years back, bad enough that  she won't even mention his name.

"It's OK," Emily says with a supportive smile. "I know that it gets better. Eventually."         

     



 

My bedroom door flies open, and Callie bursts in. "Ugh, you're still  wallowing? Come on, you'll be a public health hazard if you don't get  out of those sweatpants."

"So what?" I slump back down. "I don't have anywhere to be, remember? I got fired."

Callie rolls her eyes. "Dominic is a purebred asshole, and you don't need him, Juliet. Fuck him. And not in the fun way."

She disappears and comes back with not one bottle of cheap wine, but two. "You're welcome."

"You're not helping." Emily looks slightly disgusted. "She needs to get up and take a shower."

"But failing that, she needs to get drunk until she's ready to not be  drunk anymore. It's a rule of break-ups. Didn't you read the girl code  handbook, Em?"

I'm not about to argue with Callie's wonderful logic. I open a box, pour  some into a glass, and take a sip before they stop nitpicking each  other and look at me.

"That'a girl." Callie nods approvingly.

I try to drink more, but it tastes bitter in my mouth. I remember the  sweetness of the wine Dominic and I drank while he fed me oysters in  Paris. And the wild sex in the alley after that? What I wouldn't give to  turn back the clock and relive it again.

Just to have him next to me, to hear his voice.

I'm a hundred shades of pathetic.

"That sappy look on your face has to stop." Callie opens a bag of chips  and hands them to me. I know it needs to stop. But it's too soon.  Truthfully, I'm still reeling-and starving. A take-out container plops  onto my lap. Pad Thai.

"I could seriously kiss you right now," I say, and crack the top, reveling in the waft of peanut sauce and noodles.

"Please don't."

I wolf down the Thai. This, I can do: eat, drink, repeat, until my food  is gone. Now if calories would just take the pain away, I'd be all set.

That, and if Dom would just talk to me. He still might not forgive me  after I explain, but I need to clear the air about everything. Thinking  his name brings the sadness back and boom, just like that, I'm crying  again.

"I can't do this!" I gulp. "I need to talk to him."

"He's not ready, Juliet. You have to give him some time."

There's a noise from the living room. Emily turns. "What was that? Did someone knock?"

My brain is slow to register what she said, but then it does. And wham,  my pulse picks up. We listen, and sure enough, there's a fast, light rap  on the front door.

"Oh my God!" I flip the covers off. "What if it's Dom?"

I leap out of bed, then freeze. The sight of myself in the mirror is a  slap of reality. Bedhead hair, pallid skin, and these sweatpants. "I  can't see him like this!"

"Quick," Emily pulls things out of my dresser before darting into the living room, yelling, "Just a minute!"

"Help me!" I beg Callie.

"Sweetie, Cover Girl could come at you with a paint gun and it wouldn't  help." She drags me into my bathroom and turns into the pit crew queen  of hang-over desperation. In seconds, my face is washed, my hair is  brushed, and she's doused me with spray-on deodorant.

Clean yoga pants and a tank top and I'm as ready as I can be. I smooth  my hands down my palms and eye the front door. With a big breath, I  throw it open …  and stop. It's not Dom, not even close.

"Hello Juliet."

It's Dom's ex-wife, Lillian.





Chapter Two




What the hell?

"What are you doing here?" I ask, gripping the doorframe for support.  She looks perfect; of course she does. Lillian is rocking a pair of  black capris and a flowing turquoise top that drapes off one petite  shoulder. Her hair is perfectly pony-tailed, her make-up flawless, and  me? I'm one step away from homeless.

"I thought it was time you and I had a little chat." Without missing a  beat, she sashays past me and into the apartment. I follow, thrown.

"If you're here to gloat … " I stop as I realize what a mess the apartment  is, my own wallowing debris taking over the couch and floor.

Lillian's lip curls as she takes it in. "What a …  charming home you have."

There's a snort from my bedroom door. "Seriously?" Callie glares. She  folds her arms, and I half expect her to be wielding the pocket knife  she keeps under her bed. Emily is beside her with the coldest look I've  ever seen on her innocent little face. Probably the wine, but I feel a  little mushy. My girls have my back and I love them for it.

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