The Billionaire's VowBy: Ava Claire
(Loving The Billionaire Book 6)
The room was so quiet I could hear every homicidal thought that rippled through Jacob’s head.
The tick beneath his left eye told me he was calculating how many witnesses he’d have to contend with.
The paparazzi (and their cameras) would ensure that whatever his next steps were, they’d be immortalized in living color for the whole world to see. The staff at the restaurant could be trusted to be discreet and would likely turn a blind eye to a left hook or two.
His gaze, frozen, cold enough to turn anyone in his path to stone? It sketched out plan B, where he’d say yes to Corbin’s absurd demands just so he could get him out here—and hurl his ass from the balcony.
I couldn’t take that bloodthirsty look in Jacob’s eye, so I stared at the bottle of wine instead. Finished the last third in a couple of solid gulps. Straight from the tap.
I caught a stream of merlot that was coursing down my chin and stapled a smile to my face. “I think we need more wine.” I lifted my eyes to meet Charmaine’s bulging ones. “Thanks so much.”
Her brow furrowed in confusion and she looked at Jacob, then darted back in my direction. She clearly thought I was crazy. Or in shock. She made a wise choice to turn to me. It beat the glowering action she was getting from Jacob.
“You want another bottle?” she squeaked, straightening her spine. She wiped her palms on the front of her pants in slow motion, giving me plenty of time to change my mind and make a reasonable request. Something that addressed the bombshell she’d just dropped on us, for instance. When I didn’t correct myself, she cleared her throat. “I’m sorry, a bottle of-”
“For fuck’s sake,” Jacob growled, all his frustration rushing to the surface. Ready to lay waste. Eviscerate someone who had nothing to do with any of this.
I held onto my smile, handing over the empty bottle since I certainly couldn’t pronounce the name of the winery etched in gold. “Just give us a moment.”
It was the out she was looking for. Her face flooded with relief as she offered her third apology in less than five minutes. “Sorry again.”
I wanted to tell her apologies weren’t necessary, but she wasted no time getting on that wine. Anything that would get her out of the line of fire.
We were alone.
Me, with my vibrating undies.
Jacob, with his flaring nostrils.
“That son of a bitch-”
“Is not gonna ruin our evening,” I finished, still wearing the smile, even when a gust of wind brought the buzz of the city up to meet us. It was like our own private, urban soundtrack. Reminding me that we were in the thick of the concrete jungle. But just outside the restaurant, there was a different tune. The dull hum of the paparazzi’s questions were colliding with the God-knows-what that was coming out of Corbin’s mouth. It was almost enough to rip the staples out. Erase my mask. Put an end to me pretending that this night was salvageable.
The sexy buildup, ‘Leila a la Climax’ at the hands of my Dom, was officially the last thing on my mind. My appetite was like a leaf on the wind, fluttering off in the distance because my husband looked genuinely ready to step into the ring.
He took off his cuff links, lining them beside his wine glass. I knew rolling up his sleeves would come next, and as hot as I found his forearms, I needed to diffuse the situation before he made good on the promises that blazed in his eyes. That rippled in the muscles as he flexed his fists.
“This doesn’t have to be a thing-”
“That man is outside, probably with his fan club and photographers. They don’t know me, but they know enough. Know that I’m up here imagining how good it will feel to rearrange his face-”
“So why don’t we do the last thing everyone expects and invite him up here?”
My voice was level.
Not betraying the truth...I was secretly rooting for Jacob to knock Corbin out.
More than rooting, even. I wanted a Fathead made from Jacob’s likeness. Pompoms. A t-shirt that read #teamjacob.
But that approach would feed right into Corbin’s master plan. I didn’t know the specifics, but I could guess. He wanted a reaction. Wanted Jacob to storm out to confront him. Me to follow suit, creating the kind of scene that would keep him trending and relevant.
Even though I hadn’t taken a single bite, I reached for the napkin. Snapped it like a bullfighter because Jacob looked ready to poke holes into my plan.
“You want to invite him up here?” He was hard at work on his sleeves, creasing them with a precision that made me wish Charmaine was back with the booze. “Give him exactly what he wants?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “We don’t know what he wants, do we? But we do know the longer he’s down there, drawing eyes, getting recorded by tourists, the more damage he’s gonna do. Damage that we’ll have to clean up later.”
But that’s not the only reason, is it? You want answers. You want Corbin to own what he’s done.
I kept that to myself, since I knew it was like getting blood from a stone. And Jacob would slice right through my logic, telling me not to hold my breath. Considering his current state, I didn’t want him to slice through anything.