The Billionaire's Ballet (Friends with Benefits)

By: Deanna Roy


I could picture him in the clubs and pricey restaurants. Staying in suites at the tippy top of hotels in Times Square.

“Just once or twice,” he said. He stopped and reached for my arm. “If I had known, I would have flown up every weekend.”

I flushed with anger. “Known what? That I wasn’t a kid anymore?”

Quinn drew me against him. He wrapped his arms around me and pressed my head against his shoulder.

I wanted to be angry, but the feel of him against me was so right. I’d longed for it since I was a girl.

And now the moment had come.

I wondered wildly if he would kiss me. If we’d keep going and undress in the field. I pictured Quinn’s body over mine in the grass and the need for him bolted through me so hard that I shuddered in his arms.

“I know,” he said. “I was terrible. I was a rotten friend.”

Friend.

Of course.

Friends. We were friends.

I pulled away. “It’s all right,” I said. I couldn’t look at him, but headed toward my horse. “I’m sure you were busy.”

My boots crushed the grass.

Quinn hurried to catch up. “You okay, Jules?”

“Fine,” I said, scrambling for a safe topic until I could get to Jezebelle and go. “Are you working at your father’s company?”

“It’s mine and Bennett’s company now. Mostly Bennett’s. He bought out all our sisters’ shares. I’ve kept mine, mainly just to piss him off.”

I couldn’t look at him, just kept trudging toward the trees. “So you’re working there?”

“Something like that. Juliet. Wait.” His voice was plaintive.

I stopped. But I couldn’t turn around. I was still struggling to contain all the things I was feeling. Need. Disappointment. Anticipation. Hope.

His hand touched my shoulder.

Maybe now it would happen. He’d turn me around. We’d kiss. He’d see that I’d always loved him. He’d know.

But if he didn’t feel it too, what then? How would I go on another month here?

“Will you look at me?” he asked.

The days piled up ahead of me. I was here to see my mother. Quinn would do his tennis lessons. I remembered his hand on my arm when he thought I was her. He had plans. Whatever was going on between us wasn’t part of that plan.

I would not turn around.

“I have to see if my mother is home,” I said and untied Jezebelle from the tree. My boot slipped as I missed the stirrup. I tried again and this time got my leg over the horse.

Quinn stepped aside. “Hey.”

I didn’t trust myself to look at him. I tugged on Jezebelle’s reins and said, “I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

“Juliet,” he said. “I’m sorry I didn’t write you. It was crappy of me.”

“It’s okay,” I said. “I survived.” And with that, I pushed Jezebelle into a light run. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

Bennett was right. I had already been pricked by the thorns.





Chapter 6





Sawyer took Jezebelle to her stall for a cool down and I raced back to Mother’s house. Quinn didn’t chase me down. I didn’t even see him on the trail. Probably he was having to walk his horse due to his silly choice to wear shorts to ride.

It seemed romantic at the moment, but now I wondered if the man had a lick of common sense.

The house was quiet and still. I pulled off my boots and wondered if I would have time for a shower before Mom showed. I jerked the pins out of my braids and began unraveling them. My hair was impossibly long and all one length to keep it easy to tie up for shows.

I rarely ever let it down. The cascading waves of black fell past my shoulders, kinked from the braids. I ran my fingers through it.

The pictures in the hallway were arranged the same as always. Me as a baby. Me and Mom. Riding Jezebelle. My graduation.

Except.

A picture of me and Quinn by the barn had been replaced by one of me onstage. I frowned and took the frame off the wall.

The back opened with a flick of the latch. Sure enough, beneath the image of my role in The Nutcracker was the old one.

I was about nine. Quinn would have been twelve. He was lanky and awkward, but still handsome in that cute way confident boys could be. We were sitting on the ever-present bales of hay outside the barn. Quinn held a pitchfork as if he was actually going to spread out the hay. Maybe he did. In his younger days, he liked working out at the barn. He was always looking for an excuse to escape the difficult atmosphere of the estate.

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