Home > Crave (Billionaire Bachelors Club #1)(2)

Crave (Billionaire Bachelors Club #1)(2)
Author: Monica Murphy

When I don’t say anything, Gage continues.

“She broke it off with the guy she’d been seeing a few nights ago. Not that he was worthy of her, but she’s been down in the dumps ever since,” Gage explains. “You could go hang out with her for the rest of the night, use her to fight off any other female who might approach. Ivy’s always liked you, though I don’t know why since you’re such a jackass.” He pauses, his eyes narrowed. “I realize you enjoy chasing everything in a skirt, but I know you won’t take advantage of my sister. Right?”

The pointed look he gives me rings loud and clear. I want to promise him I won’t take advantage of her. But he’s talking about Ivy . . . and I always want what I can’t have.

Especially her.

“She doesn’t count anyway,” Matt says with a chuckle. “After all, it’s just Ivy.”

“Right. Just Ivy.” I nod as I look around, hoping to spot her. She’s here. I saw her earlier, though she avoided me. Most of the time, I choose to aggravate the shit out of her rather than let on how I really feel. “You mean she doesn’t count toward that crazy-ass bet you just made me?’

“Yeah, she totally doesn’t count. Besides, Gage would kill you,” Matt says matter-of-factly. “There are approximately twenty-five women spying on us at this very moment, all of them sorority sisters or whatever of the bride. They’re dying for you to even look their way, Archer. First one that talks to you, I guarantee you’ll marry.”

“Bullshit,” I mumble. My friend has lost his damn mind.

“Whatever.” Matt laughs as does Gage, but I ignore them.

Glancing across the room, I see her. Ivy. Sitting at a table alone, watching couples sway together on the dance floor to some sappy love song. Her long, brown hair is wavy when she usually wears it straight, and I’m tempted to run my hands through it, see if it feels as silky soft as it looks. Her dress is a rich, dark blue and strapless, revealing plenty of smooth, creamy flesh that my fingers literally itch to touch.

The wistful longing on her face is obvious and I’m compelled to go to her. Ask her to dance. Pull her in close, feel her curves mold against me as I breathe in her sweet scent.


Yeah. She’d probably tell me to go to hell before she’d dance with me.

“I don’t want to touch her,” I say, which is a lie because I would f**king love to touch her. “You can trust me.”

More lies. Gage should kick me in the nuts just for thinking about his sister. Let alone actually doing something to her. With her. Over her, under her, any way I can get her. She’s the only one who could tempt me to break the crazy bet I just made. Who could make me want to go against everything I’ve ever believed in since I was a kid.

But I won’t. I refuse to give in. She’s not for me.

No matter how badly I want her to be.


THERE’S NOTHING WORSE than going to a wedding alone, especially when I’d had a date approximately forty-eight hours ago. Before I realized the guy I was seeing was also still seeing the woman he claimed he’d broke up with well over six months ago.

How did I find out this amazingly bad news? The supposed ex called my cell and chewed me out while I was looking over wallpaper samples with a client. Talk about humiliating. Talk about my life turning into a Jerry Springer episode. She made me feel like a cheating whore-bag out to steal her man, the very last thing I am. I am not a man-stealer. I know some women are attracted to men in relationships but not me. Taken men are too much trouble, thank you very much.

I hung up on the still-ranting, supposed ex-girlfriend and promptly called Marc, letting him know I couldn’t see him any longer. He’d hardly protested—no surprise. What a jerk.

So now I sit here alone. At the single and dateless table, because when I called the bride and told her I wasn’t bringing my date after all, Cecily flipped out. Claimed I would mess up her carefully orchestrated seating arrangement and oh my God, couldn’t you just bring your date anyway and deal?

I think my saying an emphatic no resulted in me ending up at the desperate and single section as punishment.

Sighing, I prop my elbow on the edge of the table and rest my chin on my fist, watching all the couples dancing, the bride and groom in the center of the floor, grinning up at each other like fools. They look happy. Everyone looks happy.

I’m jealous of all the happiness surrounding me. Weddings remind me I’m alone. For once, I wish I could find someone. I’ve had a string of bad luck with men my entire dating life. I pick wrong, my mom has told me more than once. She describes me as a fixer. I take the broken guys and try to put them back together again. “Humpty Dumpty syndrome” is what she calls it.

Gee, thanks, Mom.

My brother says I’m too young to want to settle down, but I’m nothing like him. He just wants to screw around and stay single forever. Gage doesn’t know what I want. Do I though? I’m not sure. I thought I did. I thought Marc had potential.

Turns out he went splat all over the ground. Definitely couldn’t put him back together again.

Maybe I shouldn’t take everything so damn seriously. Maybe I should let loose and do something completely and totally crazy. Like find some random guy and make out with him in a dark corner. I miss having a man cup my face and kiss me slowly. Thoroughly. Unfortunately, Marc wasn’t that great of a kisser. Too much thrusting tongue, though I firmly believed I could help him correct that annoying habit.

He didn’t give me a chance, which is fine, because really, chemistry is everything. If I don’t feel a spark with a kiss, then the guy is clearly not right for me.

If I’m going to consider a relationship with a guy, that’s what I want. What I need. A spark. Chemistry. A few stolen kisses, wandering hands, whispered words in a quiet corner where someone might catch us. He’d press me up against a wall, cradle my face in his hands, and kiss me like he means it . . .

I frown. I’m sitting alone contemplating a wild wedding reception hookup with a faceless guy. Since when did I become so desperate?

“What’s wrong, chicken?” a familiar voice asks from behind me and I stiffen my shoulders. Great. I’d know that deep, velvety voice anywhere. Archer Bancroft. The absolute last guy I want to deal with tonight.

Talk about a Humpty Dumpty type. Archer knows he’s broken and damaged. And he definitely doesn’t want to be put back together again. The twisted part? He likes being that way. He revels in his brokenness.

No thanks. Even I know my limits. Despite how freaking gorgeous he is, because oh my God, Archer is beautiful. Dark hair, dark eyes, tall and broad with a body that’s hard and muscular without being over the top; he’s downright swoon-worthy.

And he’s my brother’s best friend. I’ve known Archer since I was twelve and he moved in next door with his cold-as-ice parents. I’d developed an immediate crush, because back then he was the most exotic thing I’d ever seen in my never-changing, no-one-ever-moves neighborhood.

The crush died a swift death when I realized what a player he was. Even at twelve, I could see the ugly truth.

Smart girls don’t mess around with Archer.

He trails his finger across my bare shoulder, knocking me from my memories, making me shiver. “You’re looking awfully down during this happy occasion, chicken.”

Glancing over my shoulder, I find him flashing that trademark panty-melting smile at me. I absolutely refuse to let my panties dissolve for even a fraction of a second. “I really wish you wouldn’t call me that,” I say irritably, scowling at him. Calling me chicken twice in as many minutes is a sign he’s trying to drive me crazy.

What else is new?

Chuckling, his dark brown eyes flash. It’s not fair how pretty he is. He has that strong jaw and lush mouth. The dimple that makes such a rare appearance that whenever I see it, I immediately want to kiss it. Lick it.

My frown deepens. I should not be thinking about licking Archer’s face. What the hell is wrong with me? Too much champagne or what?

More like too much dreaming about being pulled into a dark corner and kissed until you can’t breathe.

“No, ‘Hi, Archer, how are you?’” He shakes his head, resting his hand on the back of my chair. His knuckles brush against my bare skin and I try to repress the shiver that overtakes me at his casual touch. “And you’re usually so polite.”

“Archer, cut the shit.” I meet his gaze, watch with satisfaction as the smile falls from his face. Have I ever talked to him like this? Probably not, but I can’t deal. Not tonight. “I’m not in the mood. I’ve had a bad week.”

“Yeah, I heard,” he says quietly, his eyes full of sympathy. “Sorry about the guy.”

I’m going to kill my brother for blabbing. Now I feel extra pitiful. Archer probably came over because he felt sorry for me. I saw him talking with Gage and Matthew DeLuca a few minutes ago, though they didn’t notice me. Were they laughing at my yet again failed attempt at finding a decent guy? Probably. Those three have mocked me for years. It’s become habit now. “It’s no big deal. He was a total jerk.”

“I’d say, for letting you go so easily.”

Did he really just say that? What did he mean? “Is there something you wanted to talk about?” I’m eager to get rid of him. For whatever reason, with only a few words he’s confusing me tonight and I don’t like it. I’m confused enough, what with my secret wishes for random hookups with hot guys.

Hot like Archer . . .

“Yeah, there is.” The smile returns, gentler now, not full of the usual bravado. “Want to dance?”

“With you?” I’m incredulous. And I want to laugh when I see he’s obviously offended by my question.

“Yeah, with me. Come on.” He holds out his hand. “Be my shield before some crazy woman tries to drag me out onto the dance floor. They’re circling, chicken. They’re about to jump me if I don’t watch it.”

He’s right. I can see a few women starting to approach us. Suddenly overcome with the need to let them know that he’s not available, I let him take my hand, his long fingers clasping around mine as he pulls me to my feet. He blatantly checks me out, his gaze running down the length of my body, lingering on my chest, and I simultaneously want to punch him and ask if he likes what he sees.

Yeah, definitely confusing.

A woman appears before us, her smile so wide I wonder if it hurts her face. “Hey, you’re Archer Bancroft, right? From Bancroft Hotels? The Hush Resort and Spa?” she asks, her voice falsely bright.

“I am.” He pulls me closer, releasing my hand so he can wrap his arm around my shoulders in a proprietary way, like he’s claiming me. His thumb rubs circles against my skin, making my breaths come a little faster, and I drop my gaze to the floor, trying to gather my composure. “Have we met before?”

“Once. Long ago, but I’m sure you don’t remember me.” I glance up and watch as her smile grows. How is that even possible? “I’ve always wanted to go there. To Hush.”

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