Selling Out to the Billionaire

By: Penny Wylder

"I certainly hope so."

"Can I ask why you're buying a new home?"

For just a moment I think I see a reddening on his skin. But it's only a moment, before he's smiling at me. "Do I need a reason?"

I'm intrigued but I try not to show it. "No, you don't. I was just hoping that the reason you're looking for a change might give me some insight into what you're looking for. Besides floor-to-ceiling windows," I add, pulling out a file.

He takes it from me, even though I hadn't offered it. Flipping through the papers he says, "I donated my current home to a charitable organization, and it's currently in the process of being renovated into a shelter for underprivileged youth."

The surprise registers on my face before I can stop it. Derek Conway is famous for being rich, and he's known for giving money away to good causes, but this seems very personal. It's a huge step to give up the place where you live for something like that. "That's incredibly generous of you."

He laughs a little. "Don't be too impressed. I wasn't exactly sober when I promised to do it. Kind of surprising news to get in the morning. I don't regret it, though."

It was a chore not to look at him with new appreciation. I'd been trying to remind myself he was a jerk, but jerks don't donate entire houses. "Most people wouldn't do something so selfless while blackout drunk. I still say it's impressive," I whisper.

He clears his throat, facing the window and hiding all the emotion from his expression. "Give Andre the next address."

"I'm sorry?"

He hands the file back to me. "I don't want this one, it's far too palatial for my taste. I don't like houses that are overly extravagant. Give him the next address."

I do, fighting the blush of shame I feel creeping up from my stomach, and repressing the urge to tell him that all these houses are overly extravagant. I also thank whatever energy bender I was on last night that one of the more modern mansions is next on the list. I try to keep my voice even. "So you're looking for something more modern in style. I managed to glean that from our conversation yesterday, so most of what we'll be seeing today falls into that category."

Derek nods.

Okay then. I don't give him the next file, instead pulling out my phone and text Anna, thankful that he’s sitting opposite of me so he can't peek.

We were getting on great for about five minutes before he flipped back into asshole mode. This is going to be a long day.

I glance up at Derek while I'm waiting for her response. He's watching me, his eyes dark as sin. My phone buzzes in my hand.

Don't let him get to you. You're going to be great. Sell him the house of his dreams!!!

I send back an anxious emoji before switching to the Sunset Realty login. I cancel the first showing. I thought that he might skip some of the houses, so I gave each showing a larger window. But if he skips each one without looking we might have some scheduling problems. I slip my phone back into my bag.

Now that he's derailed the conversation—and my plan for the day—I'm not sure what to do here. Do I attempt small talk? More questions about his preferences? I suppose that can't hurt.

"Besides the windows that feed your imagination, can you tell me what's most important to you in a house?" I ask.

"I'll know it when I see it."

I bite the inside of my lip to keep myself from making a face and give him my best smile. "That's good, but if you share something you like it will be easier for me to make sure you get that."

He sighs, looking out the window. The morning sun falls across his face as we make a turn and my breath catches. He really is gorgeous, and if I could have captured that moment with a camera, I would have. I think he's going to ignore me, but after a long silence, he speaks.

"I need a place that's large. Because of my various business endeavors, I have a lot of staff. I want the place to be big enough to not feel crowded, and where I can go find some private space if I need it. I like it to be comfortable, but I don't like it to feel cluttered or claustrophobic. I like natural light. And windows." He adds that last one with a touch of a private smile.

My shoulders relax. Teasing me with those insufferable windows is better than the cold silence. "Any special amenities you're a fan of?"

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