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Home > The Forbidden Billionaire (The Sinclairs #2)

The Forbidden Billionaire (The Sinclairs #2)
Author: J.S. Scott

PRELUDE

Five Years Ago, Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Where the hell am I?”

The inebriated man on the living room floor was muttering, only partially coherent, mumbling to himself as he experienced a rare moment of consciousness. Not wanting to be awake again, he groaned in protest. Getting up awkwardly, he stumbled to the bathroom, his bladder ready to explode if he didn’t move.

Looking at himself in the bathroom mirror after awkwardly taking care of business, he squinted at the image, his vision still blurred and hazy.

Oh yeah, he recognized the face beneath the growing beard, swollen eyes, and gaunt features.

Still the face of a killer.

He promptly put his fist into the mirror with what little strength he had left in his body, the reflective image shattering on contact. “Bastard!” he rasped weakly, a cut from the shattered glass starting to bleed, blood trickling from his still-fisted hand. “Stupid, ignorant, fucked-up asshole.”

The relief of not seeing his repulsive counterpart anymore was brief and hardly noticeable. He turned and left the bathroom, not bothering to clean up the glass. It hardly mattered. His entire house was a disaster, and he couldn’t have cared less.

Shit! He hated these moments of lucidity. They sucked. All he wanted was some reprieve from the agony of thinking.

Anger or guilt?

Hatred or love?

Fury or remorse?

Disoriented emotions entangled inside his head until he couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe because of the anguish it caused. A brutal pain ripped through his chest, his gut cramping as he thought of her. And him.

Don’t think about it. Don’t think. Don’t. Think.

He tried not to reason, not to try to make sense of anything, but his brain wouldn’t allow it. So . . . fury or remorse? Christ . . . he just didn’t know, but the two emotions warring inside him were tearing him apart, piece by piece.

Escape!

Did he hate them . . . or himself? Or both?

He decided he loathed himself most of all, and stumbled into the kitchen, rummaging through the liquor cabinet until he found another bottle of whiskey. He tore off the top and drank straight from the bottle, gulping a healthy portion of the contents.

Landing facedown on the living room couch as he staggered out of the kitchen, he laughed bitterly at the irony that until recently . . . he rarely drank. The harsh sound echoed through the large home that was devoid of another living soul except him.

I don’t give a fuck if I don’t usually drink. That person who didn’t imbibe often was a different man—a guy so stupid and so naive that he actually believed in love and friendship.

Not anymore. He was done giving a shit about anything. Caring about anyone or anything hurt too damn much.

Lifting his head, he tipped the bottle again, needing oblivion before the voices in his head drove him crazy and the pain in his chest killed him off. Not that he really cared.

Coward. You screwed up. Deal with it.

Problem was, he couldn’t handle any of his raveled thoughts.

Rage.

Confusion.

Despair.

Pain.

Betrayal.

Everything was bombarding him, destroying him.

Starting to feel the solace that he sought in darkness, he sighed and hit the bottle one more time.

“I’ll never give a fuck about anything again,” he vowed in a slurred voice.

As his vision started fading to black, a tiny, lost part of his soul started to rise inside him, a portion of his old self that wanted him to get his shit together.

If I keep this up, I’m going to die.

He had no idea how long he’d been doing this, waking and finding oblivion again. But judging by the emaciated, bearded figure he’d briefly seen reflected back at him in the mirror for that horrifying moment, it had obviously been a while.

You can’t do this forever. Get up.

Taking another pull from the whiskey bottle, he squashed the small voice of reason and closed his eyes, his hand falling to the side of the couch limply, the bottle dropping from his hand to land soundlessly on the carpet.

I killed two people who betrayed me.

There was no dealing with that for him.

The grim hopelessness descended just as the dim void he was seeking swallowed him whole, obliterating all thought, cutting off the well of agony he was wallowing in. Welcoming the darkness he sought, the man suspended consciousness and let the black shadows take him.

CHAPTER 1

The Present, Amesport, Maine

She’s crying.

He shouldn’t give a shit.

He didn’t want to care.

But unfortunately, he damn well did.

Jared Sinclair rested one muscular shoulder against the brick exterior of Shamrock’s Corner Pub on Main Street, watching as Mara Ross left her doll shop and walked briskly across the road, swiping angrily at her cheeks. He held his breath as she passed within a few yards of him on her way down to the boardwalk, feeling like a damn stalker. Her gaze was focused straight ahead, and he released the air from his lungs as Mara walked right by him, completely unaware of his presence.

She never even saw me.

That shouldn’t bother him, either, but somehow it rankled that he was so fascinated by Mara, enthralled enough by her that he stopped everything to watch her, and she never even acknowledged him.

Why is she crying? She’s always smiling.

Pushing himself away from the building, he followed her, unable to resist the compulsion to chase after her, selfishly hoping her unhappiness wasn’t caused by his actions.

She shouldn’t know . . . yet.

It could be anything. Maybe she was just hormonal. That happened to women, right? Or perhaps her dog died. Tragic, but animals did have short life spans compared to humans, and they did die. He’d never had a pet, but Jared imagined losing a canine companion would definitely make Mara cry. Problem was, Mara didn’t have a dog, and her only close relative, her mother, had passed away a year ago.

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