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A Billionaire in Disguise #3 : The Wrong Side of Midnight

By:Terri Marie

Terri Marie - A Billionaire in Disguise #3 - The Wrong Side of Midnight

The Wrong Side of Midnight (A Billionaire in Disguise #3)
Terri Marie


Chapter 1

Chloe strolled around her parent's mansion carrying a glass of orange juice and a slice of peanut butter toast while carelessly leaving crumbs in her wake. Even though she didn't glance in the mirror when she climbed out of bed, her natural beauty, ruffled hair and all, was evident to everyone but herself. Being surrounded by the most exquisite furnishings and décor all her life had only served to magnify her feelings of emptiness. Living inside of a showcase made her adamant about not trying to fit the part. What Chloe wanted couldn't be bought. Stopping to stare at paintings and statues, which had been shipped from all over the world, caused her to laugh at the ridiculous amount of money her parents spent to make their home look more like a museum than anything else. She lived here, but would never consider this as her home. The estate was large and sprawling, but it amounted to nothing more than a prison for the twenty-four year old. Being engaged to Edmund ranked right up there with her assumed prisoner status. She kept the large diamond ring he'd given to her upstairs on her dresser and only wore it if she was seeing him.

Opening the heavy front doors, Chloe let the sun hit her face. She closed her eyes and inhaled while the light danced off her long golden hair. She wished the hammering sounds would stop soon and stop interrupting her daydreaming. Sighing heavily as she shut the doors, a voice came from behind Chloe causing her to startle.

"Good morning, Miss Burlington," said one of the security staff.

She smiled and then rolled her eyes after he'd passed by. Spies. She couldn't wait for Becky, her best friend since first grade, to come over and cheer up her day. Best friends shared their laughter and joy, their sadness and secrets; but some of Chloe's secrets never left her mouth. She knew she was getting close to her breaking point.

She was very wealthy and could definitely afford to live anywhere she wanted, but Chloe was tailgated, her friends investigated, and when security would show up to drag her back home, she wanted to bury her head in the sand. Being Chloe Burlington wasn't an asset. She was to stay out of the public eye and avoid cameras. The press knew the Burlington's had a baby girl, but had no idea of what she looked like now. Slowly, every friend she made, other than Becky Lockhart, ran for the hills. She was encouraged to socialize with only people 'of her own stature', and the last thing she wanted was to hang out with anyone who represented everything she disliked. Just because you had wealth, didn't mean you were free to treat others like garbage. There was one good thing about being kept so isolated. With her face unknown, she could easily lie unless her license was checked. Being disclosed would remove whatever grain of freedom she had left. 

Chloe followed the sounds of the hammering and walked back to the front doors. She could roam the grounds, but if she left the gates of the estate, there were very strict guidelines. She followed the rules, only because fighting for her freedom and independence was such a fruitless effort. Exhausting. She couldn't see any work crews, but it was possible the sounds were coming from the neighbor. She turned and walked back inside.

The only personal photographs on the wall were a family picture of her parents holding her when she was a baby and a large photo of her and Edmund after they became engaged. Chloe looked up at Edmund's frozen smile with a horrible taste in her mouth. The pictures were hung in the entrance so that anyone who came over could see they were a happy family.

When she turned twenty-one, her parents went into a panic. They were terrified of their daughter not being married and carrying a name as prestigious as Burlington. She was shoved into a date with Edmund, whose parents are nearly as wealthy as Chloe's. She thought he was a really nice guy on that first date, but by the second date, she hated him. She put up with Edmund, knowing it was perhaps her ticket to freedom. Truth be told, Chloe hated her life more and more each day.

Her serious face turned to nothing but wide smiles when she heard Becky's Jaguar racing up the long drive. The two young women had become closer than sisters … just sisters with secrets. Chloe ran through the kitchen in her oversized pink t-shirt and out the side door to the pool. She entered the fancy pool room and quickly changed into her bikini. Chloe stepped back outside just as Becky was letting her designer cover-up fall off her shoulders onto the lounge chair.

"Where's that hammering coming from?" Becky whispered as she placed her hands over her ears.

"Too much to drink last night?"

"Yeah, and don't laugh at me. That wine tasting event … Oh God, I don't want to talk about it." Becky lifted up her sunglasses, grimaced, and then placed them back over her eyes.

Becky was five-foot-eight and much more fuller figured than Chloe's five-foot-two slender build. She would never be caught dead in public without her face made up and appearance pristine. Becky thrived in her wealth and flaunted it whenever possible, which was such a big part of her personality, almost to the point of being gaudy. She was also the only one who loved the young heiress unconditionally. Chloe returned the love and friendship, gaudiness and all.

"That freaking hammering is going to make me shoot myself." Becky covered her ears.

Chloe laughed as she stood up to go investigate. She knew it wasn't at her house because Becky would have told them to leave as soon as she drove up. She could picture her screaming at a work crew to the point of alerting security. Chloe was still laughing when she returned.

"I have no idea where the sound is coming from. It echoes." Her friend was looking a little green around the gills. "Did you eat anything?"

"No, and don't mention food. I'll gladly take some coffee if Lois has any made." Becky stuck her lip out like a little girl.

"I'll go inside and look, if you promise to put your lip back in your head." Chloe gave her a thumbs-up and walked into the kitchen. Lois, Chloe's chef and life-long maternal figure wasn't around, but the coffee was nice and hot. She poured two glasses of juice, decorating the rims with orange slices, then poured two mugs full of the aromatic brew and grabbed some headache medicine. She pushed the door open with her foot and stepped back outside carrying a tray. Becky grabbed the mug quickly, nearly spilling the coffee.




Chloe lay down on the lounge chair and closed her eyes. The hammering sounds were getting a little stronger, but the white noise of her thoughts spinning around in her head was even louder. Twenty-four years old, and the best she's seen in this world is the gated community of Berkshire.

Chloe and Becky were privately schooled. They met through an arranged play date set up by their mothers, and they'd been inseparable ever since. Edmund, on the other hand, was a different matter.

"You there?" Becky laughed.

"Sorry, I must have dozed off. Feeling better?"

"Yes, but that pounding is on my nerves."

Chloe smiled, stood up, and walked over to the edge of the pool. "Oh my, I found the hammering, Beck. There're roofers on the neighbor's guesthouse. Look at that … "

"Look at what?" Becky rolled over to see what Chloe was talking about. "What in the heck are you looking at him for? You're practically married, though I must admit he's quite the male specimen. However, you're spoken for."

"Well, my mother and father can marry Edmund. I'm certainly not."

"The man on that roof is certainly not an Edmund." Becky stretched her neck to get a better view. "Fine indeed … Wait, what do you mean you aren't marrying Edmund?"

"My mother and father are in the same social circle as Edmund's parents and they shoved us together. He doesn't mind, but I do! They're all filthy rich, and my parents found that pig to be acceptable. He only cares about my money and my looks. Seriously, that's all he talks about. When I got my trust fund a few years ago, Edmund really started to pour it on thick."

"You're rich, too, so why are you judging him? That's not like you."

"Oh my God, look at that man … "

"Chloe, you seriously need to cool off. That guy wouldn't be any good for you. Besides, if you think your parents are going to let you get hooked up with something like that, you have another thing coming."

"I just want to be happy. I want someone to love who'll love me back … someone who'll acknowledge my heart, not just my looks, status, and my money."

"You're getting married," Becky reminded her.

"I told you, I'm not marrying Edmund. As a matter of fact, today's a great day to end things with him."

" … Sweetie, do your parents know how you feel?" Becky sat up and took her sunglasses off. She'd never seen her friend this upset before.

Chloe felt her cheeks flush and eyes burn. She had no intentions of spilling what she'd been hiding inside these walls for all her life. Pretending to be happy in her engagement, pretending she was close with her parents and that they called her at least three times a week, had finally made her break. Slowly she turned her back to her friend and stared up at the neighbor's roof. She heard Becky get up and walk toward her. She thought she could be strong, but as soon as she felt Becky's arms go around her, she lost it. The tears came out in force.