His: A Claimed by the Billionaire novellaBy: Kami Kayne
When I was a kid I used to dream of meeting a real prince, like Prince William. He would take one look at me, fall madly in love with me, beg me to marry him, and we would live happily ever after in his castle on a mountain. Just like Cinderella.
And why shouldn’t that happen? I deserved to be happy, right? Especially after the crappy life I’ve led so far.
Ten years of watching my mom’s health decline.
Ten years of food stamps and disability, of scraping to get by.
Ten years of clinging to hope when reality kept telling me I was being a total idiot for even imagining my dreams might come true.
All this time I’ve been waiting, anticipating meeting him. Meeting my prince charming.
On my eighteenth birthday.
He was tall. His shoulders were broad enough to carry the weight of the world. His features were striking and masculine and everything I’d imagined. But his eyes were different. Instead of soft and gentle, they were sharp. Piercing. The color of steel. And, like steel, they sliced right through to my soul, leaving me feeling exposed and vulnerable and unsteady on my feet.
He wasn’t a royal from a distant country. Based on his very American accent, I would guess he was one hundred percent American. The prince of an industry. A business tycoon. With power and money.
And he was older than I’d expected. At least thirty.
“Honey, this is Ryan Sharpe,” my mom said as she motioned toward the intimidating man standing next to the limousine parked outside our dingy bungalow. The car looked out of place on our narrow street, packed with beaters and broken down trucks. Just as the man himself, wearing clothes that fit as if they’d been made just for him, looked out of place standing on the cracked, tilting sidewalk, littered with broken toys abandoned by the kids next door. “Mr. Sharpe offered to take you out to dinner for your birthday.”
“That’s very kind of you.” It felt surreal, extending my hand to shake his. Was this really happening? Was I meeting a genuine billionaire? “Thanks. But…”
“You’re welcome. Happy birthday.” He motioned to the limo. “Please.”
Mom rolled her wheelchair back slightly, and suddenly I realized what she’d said, you. She’d said, take you to dinner.
“Mom, I thought you would be coming too.” I hesitated. Something was wrong. I knew what Mom had told me earlier. I remembered it clearly. She’d said that the boss at her new temp job had found out about my birthday and he had invited both of us out to dinner to celebrate. While she’d spent more time helping me pick out my outfit than her own, I still had expected her to come with us.
Mom shook her head. “I’m not feeling well. Are you too disappointed?”
I was disappointed.
And a little confused.
I had thought Mr. Sharpe had invited us out to dinner to get to know my mom better. She was closer to his age than I was, thirty-six. She was beautiful, with long, thick mahogany hair and huge blue eyes. She was single. She was thin and petite and graceful, even though she was sick, while I was tall and curvy and awkward. And, after Dad had run off ten years ago, after she’d been diagnosed with MS, she deserved her own prince charming as much as anyone. Actually, she didn’t just deserve a prince charming, she needed one. Especially now that she was no longer able to walk.
There she was, the picture of feminine beauty, sitting in that stupid wheelchair, more or less shoving me out the door, encouraging me to go out with the man that should be taking her out.
God, she was at it again.
When she had first come to the realization that she would spend the rest of her life in that damn chair, she’d become withdrawn, depressed. I thought she’d given up on life. But lately, when she’d found the temp job at Sharpe Industries, she’d seemed to have come alive again. She talked nonstop about her job, her coworkers, her boss. I hadn’t seen her this happy in ages.
But now she was backsliding again, falling back into a depression.
“Um,” I mumbled, not sure what to say. With her big, pleading eyes and tip of the head, she was encouraging me to go without her. Why? “You haven’t eaten.”
“I’m not hungry. You can bring something back for me later.” Mom jerked her head toward the car. “Go. Please. I don’t want to ruin this night for you. It’s your birthday.”
“But we’ve always celebrated our birthdays together. You and me. Always.”
“I’ll make a cake. We’ll celebrate just like we always do.”
I glanced at Mr. Sharpe, who was waiting patiently beside the car. He didn’t deserve to be stood up after having made such a generous offer and going to the trouble of hiring the limo and everything. I nodded. “I’ll bring you something back.”