Billionaire UnmaskedBy: J.S. Scott
The Billionaire's Obsession ~ Jason
Midnight, New Year’s Eve, Amesport, Maine, 2014
Hope Sinclair desperately tried to draw her eyes away from the most attractive man she’d ever seen, and failed miserably. She knew him, had known him for most of her childhood, but she wasn’t a child anymore, and sweet Jesus!—neither was he.
Dammit. I have to stop staring at him. I’ll look in another direction in just a minute. I will. I will stop drooling over him.
Still, her eyes stayed riveted on Jason Sutherland, unable to pull her gaze away from the most breathtaking man on the planet. Hope tried to be subtle by taking a sip of champagne while she stared, but she was fairly certain her lust was pretty obvious. He was enthralling when he sported a pair of ripped jeans and t-shirt. In a tux at a New Year’s Eve party, he was overwhelmingly beautiful, heart-stopping—in a very male, unconsciously seductive kind of way. It wasn’t just his gorgeous face and ripped body that made women stare; it was the entire package. Every action, every word that came out of his mouth exuded confidence, a bold masculinity that no woman could seem to resist. His expression was predatory and cautious as he conversed with another man at the party, no sign of the sweet, genuine smile she knew he was capable of flashing. Obviously, he wasn’t talking to someone he knew; it was probably someone who wanted something from him, like most people generally did.
Her breath caught as she watched him nod his head abruptly at the man and stroll over to her brother, Dante. His expression morphed, changed into the charming man that she knew Jason could be. He slapped Dante on the back and gave her brother a genuine smile; his eyes warmed as he appeared to joke around with Dante.
The many faces of Jason Sutherland.
She sighed, and finally ripped her gaze away from Jason, wondering how many people actually knew the man beneath the billionaire exterior. Hope hadn’t seen Jason often in the last several years, but he couldn’t have changed that much.
Hope had decided long ago that she adored Jason. She had wanted to marry him at the tender age of seven, and her feelings hadn’t changed much over the last nineteen years—except for maybe the wanting to get married part. Oh yeah, and the lust part which had popped up suddenly when she’d seen him at eighteen. Now, at the age of twenty-six, she still thought he was the most devastatingly handsome, dangerous man she’d ever seen.
Granted, Jason wasn’t slaying her dragons for her anymore. He wasn’t stopping the bullies who’d picked on her in grade school because her hair was just a little too red, her freckles a little too noticeable, and she was just a little too awkward to fit into the popular crowd of kids at school. Back then, Jason had been larger than life to her: her older, wiser twelve-year-old superhero who came to her rescue any time she needed him. And one of the things she had adored most about Jason? He had never, ever told her older brothers about any of those humiliating experiences. The guy could definitely keep a secret. As close as he’d been to her brothers back then, Jason never divulged any information to Grady, Dante, Jared, or Evan if she’d asked him not to tell. If Jason had let her brothers know what had happened at the snobby, private grade school she’d been forced to attend at the time, her brothers would have gotten involved, and they would have ended up in trouble. Adding more strife to her brothers’ lives back then would have just given her alcoholic, abusive father more reason to create chaos—not that her constantly angry parent had ever really needed a reason. Still, Hope hadn’t wanted to rock a boat that was already sinking. Life in the Sinclair household had been plenty miserable without adding any of her childhood problems to the drama.
Then, when she’d turned twelve, everything had changed. Jason had gone off to college later that year, and she’d been devastated. But like any twelve-year-old girl, she’d eventually gotten over the loss of her idol, seeing Jason only during his brief visits back to Boston. During her teen years, he’d become more of a friend or acquaintance who she saw occasionally, someone who existed only on the fringes of her teenage years. At least…he had, until she’d seen him again at her high school graduation, a day when all thoughts about her childhood icon and casual friend shifted and completely altered the way she felt about Jason forever. He wasn’t a god or a buddy anymore after that day. Nope…her hero-worship had turned into something far more dangerous when Hope had turned eighteen: