Thursday, January 4, 2018

Chapter One from Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady

Bad Boy Billionaire’s Lady
© 2017 Mary Hughes

The Lovless Billionaires. Three brothers with too much money and no time for love—until each meets the woman guaranteed to infuriate—and inflame—him most.
Bad Boy Billionaire's Lady (Book 1)

Elizabeth Rothschild promised a dying man she’d protect his charitable legacy. But how, when the greedy, manipulative sharks on the board want her out?
And now the biggest shark of all, the Lovless heir, is coming home.
Landon "Rebel" Lovless is a bad boy, a billionaire by virtue of being his grandfather's heir. The Navy SEAL wants nothing more than to get back to his team, but lovely Elizabeth Rothschild brings out a protective streak in him.

The loner and out-of-sync boy who left is not the stunning man who strides into the board meeting. He shocks them all by barking orders and commanding them to a team-building exercise on a tropical island. They're getting their hands dirty constructing a house. But as Reb, Elizabeth, and the board members toil side by side, will it build their camaraderie—or only put them close enough for someone to stick in the knife?

Chapter One

The trouble started when Elizabeth Rothschild, toting the rescue kitten, tried to dodge New York City rush-hour foot traffic by cutting through a dark alley.

She was late for an important after-hours board meeting. Stopping at the animal shelter to see if they needed food or medicine—part of her job as head of charities for Lovless Industries, but also her passion—made her later.

The kitten had been mewing piteously. She’d picked it up to cuddle and console it. Big eyes blinked trustingly at her from the ball of yellow fur, and she was lost, plucking the stray from the shelter to give him a home.

Now, as she muddled along the congested sidewalk, she kept one arm securely around the kitten’s tote. Her messenger bag flopped against her other hip, its strap crisscrossed with the carrier. Taking the poor animal with her probably wasn’t her best idea, but there’d been no time. A friend at work could watch the kitten during her meeting.

Jostled and late, the empty alley looked like salvation.

She ducked out of the press of bodies into the alley opening. Clutching the carrier, she peered down the dark, narrow path between the two tall buildings.

Deserted? Or hiding dangers?

She touched her knit hat. Her hair was safe from grabbing underneath. Muggings were no joke, but her coat covered her expensive power suit and nice jewelry. And she wore a good pair of runners.

One arm still around the kitten’s carrier, she dug with the other hand in her messenger bag for her phone and checked the time.

Five minutes until the meeting. And she still had to find her friend to drop off the little ball of fur.

Elizabeth swore. Walk in late? Or potentially not at all? She shifted on her runners, thinking of the boardroom that awaited, the big table ringed by two dozen of the greediest, most blood-thirsty suited sharks there were—and no more Landy to support her.

“One goal,” she coached herself. “Protect Landy’s charity legacy. Well, and not get fired.”

The kitten, perhaps hearing her voice, meowed.

“Okay, three goals,” she answered. “Protect the charities, don’t get fired, and buy you kitten chow. But for now, don’t worry. Ainsley will take good care of you while I face the sharks.”

The sharks, and one other complication—the new chairman of the Lovless Industries board of directors. A man even Landy called uncontrollable. Her stomach lurched, remembering her mentor’s last words to her.

“You’ll have to deal with my grandson.”

Muggers or sharks? Oh, what’s the difference?

“Right.” She made her decision.

*       *       *

The man saddled with the appalling name of “Landon Lovless the Third” was pissed.

The snarl of traffic, beeping and honking around him, echoed his mood. He sat on his motorcycle amid New York rush hour, hot and chafing despite the cool day. He ought to be with his SEAL team, not dressed up in this ridiculous suit. He ought to be hearing his brothers in arms calling him Rebel and Reb instead of a pack of corporate wolves calling him Landon or Lovless or worse yet, Mr. Chairman.

That was his old robber baron of a grandfather, not him.

Yet everything he’d rejected from day one, the name, the title, the money, had been forced on him by the old man’s death.

“I won’t do it,” Reb snarled for the umpteenth time. He’d donned his leathers over the suit and rode his Harley through midtown rush hour traffic in protest. It made him late, but that was a form of protest, too.

The light changed. Cars, cabs, and bikes moved forward. He rolled on the throttle—clamping and stomping the brakes when, three inches later, the car in front of him squealed to a halt. Clamping the bike into neutral, he slapped boots to the pavement. The left lane was supposed to be faster, but nothing moved right now. He was hot and late, and the fact that he’d done it to himself made him even more pissed.

Then he saw her.

Immediately, everything else dropped away, including his temper. He didn’t know what about her attracted his attention; she scurried into his periphery, about a block behind him on the sidewalk, nothing out of the ordinary. Her lumpy cloche hat looked hand-knit—like something made by a kid, not the trendy, artisanal kind his grandfather’s too-young mistresses wore. Her coat appeared to be good quality wool, but a bit scuffed looking.

His forehead tightened in a frown beneath his helmet. Everything she wore looked a little worn, including her no-name running shoes and the messenger bag where, if she was like every other New York City office worker he’d met, she’d tote her sensible pumps. Unless she was the back-killing heels type.

The pet carrier looked new, though.

Then her face came into focus. She wasn’t worn-looking at all. As she hurried nearer, he was struck by her creamy skin, sparkling eyes, and ruby lips perfect for a man’s kiss…

He shook his head and turned away. Then turned almost immediately back.

Little wisps of blonde hair escaped from her hat. He normally couldn’t stand blondes, but something about those small, fragile curls, shimmering silver and honey and flaxen, intrigued him as she scurried past him on the sidewalk.

As she neared the alley and slowed.

Damn it. He could almost hear the thought going through her head.

Don’t do it.

Ignoring his mental warnings—and plain good sense—she swiveled on graceful legs and went into the alley.

The dark alley.

He chomped molars and turned away. Not his problem. She’d done it of her own free will. On her own head be it.

That dark, narrow alley. Perfect for an enemy ambush.

He glanced again at the shadowed maw. Nothing good came of pretty women cutting through alleys.

Forcing himself to look away, he told himself it was none of his business. Besides, he’d have to cut across two lanes plus the congested sidewalk…

She might be in danger, the SEAL in him urged.

The light changed. Traffic began flowing forward.

He eased out the clutch, first gear engaged, and rolled forward with traffic. She made the choice herself—

The panicked yowl of a young animal caught his ears.

Barely audible over the traffic noise. But his hearing, attuned to danger, meant the poor beast’s fear cut through.

With a sharp curse, he cranked his fork. Earning several honks and rude gestures, he shoved the bike into non-existent gaps in the wall-to-wall traffic. He only hoped he wasn’t too late.

*       *       *

As Elizabeth hurried down the alley, a big, bulky man stepped from a shadowed doorway to block her path.

“Where’re you going so fast?”

Her blood iced. The man was all beef and flexing muscle, with flinty eyes. She clasped the kitten’s carrier to her, forcing herself to breathe deeply, trying to slow her heart’s pounding in her ribcage. She knew what to do—extract her wallet from her messenger bag, toss it behind the guy, and while he was distracted snatching it up, run the other way.

A clattering from behind caught her attention. She glanced over her shoulder as a second goon slouched into the alley. His knit cap hugged his skull, the hat’s brim rolled to expose his hungry eyes.
Skullcap had just cut off her escape route.

She swallowed, hard. Squaring her shoulders, she faced the first mugger and thrust out a palm. “Back off.”

Instead, the beefy man sauntered closer. “What’s in the carrier?”

Her arm convulsed around the animal tote. A worried meow answered. “A cat. You don’t want him. You want my briefcase. You can have it.” She eased the messenger bag from her shoulder. “Just a bunch of work papers, though. A subway pass. Credit cards, but they’re maxed out.” And her phone and second-hand Gucci pumps, which she’d counted on to make the right impression with the new chairman.

But the best way out of the situation was to give the mugger the bag.

She glanced behind again, wondering if she could toss it far enough to have both muggers run after it, when the beefy man suddenly grabbed the strap.

She automatically yanked it away. Her fear and fury and rampaging adrenaline boosted the tug into a full-body swing. She spun around—and whirled the bag into the beefy man’s head.

“Hey!” He threw up a hand last-minute, but she still managed to wallop him in the skull. He collapsed with a groan to his hands and knees.

Her jaw dropped in amazement. Then self-preservation kicked in, and she lurched into a run past him. One step, two, she built up speed, her gaze zeroed on the street opening at the other end of the alley.

Just let me escape. I vow never to take a shortcut again.

Feet pursued her. A hand clamped onto her coat. Her pulse kicked into overdrive.

“Where d’you think you’re going?” Skullcap dragged her to a stop.

She swung around, messenger bag first, the kitten still clamped to her body.

Skullcap caught the briefcase mid-swing, ripped it from her grasp, and threw it to one side.

“Bad move, bitch.” He slapped her face.

His palm was like a flat rock smashing into her cheek. Her bone rang with the impact, and her head spun with the momentum, jarring her off balance. She stumbled back a step. The pain came an instant later, sharp, insistent. She willed it down to a dull throb, desperately trying to keep control of what she could.

The mugger grabbed her by the lapels—and tore open her coat beneath the carrier strap.

She sucked in a shocked breath. Inhaled a wash of male stink. She recoiled automatically, heart hammering. The kitten released a terrified screech.

“Well, well.” The mugger dragged her back, his foul excitement pouring off him. “What’s this?”

Beyond him, the beefy man was just rising. “Hold her.” Hand to his head where she’d clipped him, he staggered toward her. “I owe her some payback.”

She struggled against Skullcap’s hold, impotently, horrified that the situation had careened so out of control. Her blood thundered in her ears as she tried desperately to think of a way out…or was that the sound of a motor?

Suddenly, the hard roar of a powerful machine filled the mouth of the alley.

Beyond the muggers, a motorcycle skidded into the narrow way, its harsh engine reverberating against the buildings.

Both goons spun toward the intruder. Freed, Elizabeth clutched the carrier and stumbled back, her pulse racing frantically.

The bike tore down the pavement and squealed to a stop a few feet from the muggers.

A big, helmeted, leather-clad man sat easily on the low-slung seat. Scuffed, shitkicker boots rested flat on the pavement.

Her panted breaths rasped in her ears. The muggers’ more dangerous biker pal? God, and she’d thought things couldn’t get worse.

One boot rose to toe the stand down. With a fluid lift of his muscular leg, the man dismounted easily, unfolding to almost a giant’s height. Face completely covered by a mirrored visor, he stood before them without a word.

More dangerous? Try deadly.

Elizabeth’s breath came in frosted little pants. Was she rescued, or in even more trouble than before?


  1. Amazing. I love it. I'm so intrigued now. Can't wait to read it. Thank you for this teaser. :)
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

    1. Thank you, Carol <3 I'm so happy you enjoyed it!!