Copyright © 2018
Luca Brown glared toward the door, wanting nothing more than to walk right through it and leave. He’d not been in a social setting for over ten years, not since a fight had branded him a monster and the press had a field day posting his scarred face all over the media. For ten years he’d lived alone on a reclusive ranch that was no longer in working order but that allowed him to pursue his dream of working with his hands to create pieces of furniture. In fact, being alone, he pursued many different avenues with his time as he now could afford to do them all. At the peak of his career, he’d been the guy on Wall Street. Making money. Investing money. Doubling income. Tripling income. It didn’t matter. Money flowed toward him, and because he never took anything for granted, he invested his portion in good stocks and businesses, and in the past ten years, he’d become a very wealthy man.
Coming out of hiding wasn’t what he wanted, not by a long shot.
He’d gone away from the world he once knew and had no intention of ever coming back. Yet here he was, and he was pissed off.
Ryan Miller had once been his friend but they’d not spoken in over fifteen years, and he’d not even thought of the guy until last night when he got a phone call. His friend had gotten his high school sweetheart knocked up, and even though Luca had been supportive of his friend, he’d thought it was a huge mistake having a kid when you were a kid yourself. That had been eighteen years ago, so the girl in question had to be the same age. Fuck, he knew she was a teenager because that’s why he was here. Ryan hadn’t changed his name for the next of kin, so now that Ryan and his wife had been killed in a drunken car crash, Luca was picking up the pieces.
What the fuck was he supposed to know about a teenager?
He’d tried to get the woman from child services to house her in one of those fucking orphanages, but she came with a whole load of baggage. His friend had been loaded, and the girl had a trust fund, which she could only access through him. He’d be the one taking care of her from now until she was twenty-one.
Great, just great.
Because this was how he wanted to deal with his life.
To have a teenaged brat hanging around the house, driving him crazy. The moment he got her home, she was being put into one of those boarding schools, and once she finished, and was midway through college, she could have all of the trust fund that was rightfully hers anyway. He didn’t want to deal with any part of this. Big or small.
Running fingers through his long hair, he blew out a breath. There was a time when he wouldn’t have allowed it to grow so long. It was currently down to his shoulders. This wait was starting to really irritate him, and no one ever kept him waiting long.
He was tempted to push his hair back, to let his scars show and to see if they freaked anyone out. He looked toward the window on the far side. No one stood staring in, but he saw his reflection. His right side was, in fact, his good side. There was no change there. His left, however, held the scar from when he had gone through a damn window during a fight with a piece of shit husband.
It didn’t matter how much money you had. Sleeping with someone else’s wife had changed his life forever. He shouldn’t complain, not really. He’d done a lot of bad shit in his time, and this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Sitting back in his chair, he ignored the anger that built up inside him whenever he thought about that night.
Twenty-six years old, ruling the world.
Everyone had been putty in his hand.
No matter what he said or did, they lapped it up like lost little fucking puppies. Then he’d fucked a woman, a slut really. She hadn’t been important, and neither had her husband. They’d been a couple of hangers-on. They were not part of the social circle because they’d lost all their money in some bad choices. He’d thought it was funny how the whore had begged to suck his cock. Begged to be fucked. Begged to be taken and used like the filthy little cunt she was, so he’d obliged.
He didn’t get to have the last laugh.
They’d turned him into a monster and in doing so, sent him into hiding. Now he got to watch their faces splashed across the media whenever he took the time to look. They’d made a big comeback. Using the incident as some kind of therapy. The fight that had left him scarred had been the result of the wife he’d slept with. Her husband had decided to defend her honor, and in doing so Luca had lost big time. He could only imagine that it was all part of their plan. They had been working together from the start. They wanted to see him fall and had plotted it themselves. He’d ended up with his face scarred, and while he’d been in the hospital trying to fix the damage caused to him, the couple that started it gave interviews. The wife told lies about how he’d tried to manipulate her. The couple was paid for interviews, reality television shows. They were once the pieces of trash on the edge of the society that he ruled, whereas now they were looked at as if they were fucking royalty.
He hated it.
His scarred face had been what brought them back.
His downward slide had brought them wealth.
Pushing those thoughts to the side, he sat up as the door opened. The blonde child services worker pushed her chest out and sent him a smile.
He wasn’t interested in petty smiles. If he wanted to get his rocks off, he had places he could go or women to see.
Sex wasn’t something that was high on his list of things to do right now.
“Mavis, I’d like you to meet Mr. Brown.”
The blonde moved out of the way, and Luca stared at the young woman who stepped forward.
He’d not seen Mavis Miller in a long time, and who stared back at him now wasn’t a little girl. In fact, Mavis didn’t even look like a teenager. Not even close to it.
She looked like a fucking woman.
A curvy woman at that.
Her raven hair was pulled back into a ponytail. He saw her face was pale, and she looked so fucking nervous.
He didn’t like the pounding of his heart as he stared at her, or the twisted feeling in his gut. This was his ward. He’d just become her guardian, and yet he felt an answering pull in his dick.
Pushing those fucking forbidden thoughts aside, he stared at her. Her eyes were the brightest blue that stole his fucking breath.
“Hello,” she said.
Even her voice sounded sweet. What the fuck was with him right now?
“You’re Ryan’s kid?”
She nodded her head.
“Leave us alone,” Luca said, turning to look at the blonde, who was still there.
“It’s not appropriate—”
“You called me down here because she is now my responsibility. I’m taking her home, and you think being alone with her for five minutes here is inappropriate? I’m about to take her far from here, think about that. Fucking system pisses me off.”
Still. The blonde stormed out of the room, and he was alone with his ward. The door slamming closed made Mavis jump.
“I don’t know you,” she said.
“Not a lot of people know me.”
“Mom kept telling Dad to change your name. That you wouldn’t want a kid.”
“I guess he never got around to it.”
“No.” She glanced down at the floor.
“You got a lot of stuff to bring with?”
“I don’t think so. Just some clothes. Not a lot.”
“Look, if you’re wanting to take stuff from their house, we can. That house is already bought and paid for. It’ll belong to you come your twenty-first birthday. I’m going to have it locked down and stuff packed up. It’ll be there when you need it.” He got to his feet.
Her gaze ran down his body, and it was in that moment he realized she’d not flinched at the sight of his face.
“Do you want to come with me?”
“You don’t even know me.”
“Dad always spoke highly of you. He said you were a good guy once.” She looked down at her hands.
“Do you need to see a therapist or something?”
“Why would I need to see a therapist?”
“Your parents died.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay, fine. The offer will always be open for when you need it.”
“I don’t need it.”
He didn’t like her attitude.
“If you think for a single moment you’re going to give me a problem, think again. I will have your ass dumped in the first available boarding school before you even know it. Do you get me?”
“I got it,” she said.
He saw her teeth were clenched. She clearly wanted to say something else, but he wasn’t interested in saying anything more. “Excellent. Now sit down and color while I’ll go and handle the crazy lady.”
Luca didn’t know for sure, but he thought he heard her laugh. When he looked back, she was sitting at the table, arms folded, glaring off into space.
He didn’t have the energy to deal with her shitty behavior. Heading out, he got to the blonde and told her exactly how it was going to go and what she was going to do to make his life easier.
Luca always got what he wanted, and now that he was a damn guardian that wasn’t going to change.
Five days later
Mavis stood at her bedroom window and stared out at the monster of a man that was now her parent. Her guardian. Her babysitter, whatever they wanted to call him. He’d come out of nowhere for her. Pressing her palm flat against the window, she felt the chill of the fall morning, but it didn’t hurt. It didn’t make her pull away with a gasp.
She didn’t feel anything.
Ever since the cops had turned up at the boarding school where her parents had dumped her, she hadn’t felt anything.
She hadn’t even cried over the death of her parents.
How weird was that?
She didn’t feel anything.
The man downstairs, Luca Brown, he was … different. Not just because of the giant scar on his face. When she looked into his eyes, she didn’t see pity or sadness. There was none of the cloying guilt that made her feel sick to her stomach just by watching him. No, he’d seen her.
He’d looked at her, and he’d been normal.
She liked that he’d seemed angry almost pissed off that he had to be there with her. That he had to even be in the same world as she was.
For five days she’d lived in his house, and other than a passing glance, they hadn’t spoken. He’d taken her back to her parents’ place to grab some of her clothes. She’d not taken anything else.
He’d warned her multiple times that he wouldn’t allow her to come back. She shrugged, like she always did. Why even bother to fight him? There was nothing else she wanted. Her parents’ house wasn’t hers. There was nothing there that reminded her of home, or even got her feeling like she was at home.
She was rather surprised to find Luca in the garden, weeding through a flowerbed. He had a wheelbarrow to his left, and was digging through a lot of mud.
Her father had fallen out with him over something, but she didn’t know what. He’d never thrown out the old photographs of them as kids. The businessman she’d seen in those photographs wouldn’t be on his knees in the dirt.
Yet, this man was.
This man with shocking green eyes and messy blond hair was.
Even his hair looked unkempt. He had it pulled to the back of his neck with a band. She’d never thought hair could be sexy on a guy.
Tilting her head to the side, she watched him work. There was no order to the way he did things. He sat back on his heels, wiped his brow, and grabbed his bottle of water. She couldn’t see his neck as he swallowed the liquid.
He put the bottle down and turned back to the house. She didn’t step away from the window as he looked up at her.
What was he thinking as he stared at her?
He seemed to really look at her, which took her breath away.
She couldn’t remember the last time anyone really looked at her and cared about what they saw.
Her parents certainly hadn’t.
Before he looked away and took a part of her with him, she stepped away from the window and turned her back on him.
She didn’t know why it would bother her so much if he was to turn away from her first. When it came to Luca, she was losing her mind. He was a thirty-six-year-old man with some serious issues.
By serious, she meant it.
Other than in one bathroom, all of the mirrors had been removed or covered. She figured that had something to do with the scar across his face. She’d already checked him out online way before he actually turned up.
Whenever her parents would yell about him, she’d find herself fascinated about the man she’d never really met.
From what she’d been told, he was there at the hospital the day she was born.
Some people would probably find it icky that she was having a serious crush on the guy that held her as a baby.
The thing was, she wasn’t a baby anymore.
Her body had curves.
She found herself more curious about him than anyone else.
From the boarding school she’d attended before he came into her life, she’d heard several of the girls talking about the guys they’d fucked. It wasn’t dating or going out. They’d sneak out of the school late at night to meet up with the guys.
People thought boarding school was so prim and proper. Nope.
They were a bunch of girls with needs.
At least some of them got to explore those needs. Mavis was always one of those who sat on the outside of the circle, pretending not to care, reading whatever homework was needed, but she’d listen.
She’d listen as each girl would talk about the guys’ dicks and their hands, and how it felt when the guy finally fucked her.
Maybe she was a little weird in the head. For a long time, sex had fascinated her. Now that she was in Luca’s home though, she found herself more and more curious about it.
She wasn’t the kind of woman Luca would go for.
She’d seen pictures of the models and slim-figured actresses that he’d dated before his accident. None of them looked like her.
From a young age, her mother would bitch and moan at her about being slim. About watching her calories and making sure she didn’t put on too much weight. Mavis had been on one kind of diet or another since she was five and her parents decided that she was way too big for her age.
There was no way the Millers could have a fat daughter.
She never thought she was fat as a kid.
When it looked like she wouldn’t be the perfect daughter her mother wanted, she’d been shipped off to boarding school. If they didn’t have to have her home for the holidays, she stayed at school. A couple of the teachers were there at all times to keep an eye on the school.
She didn’t mind staying at school.
A couple of girls were always forced to stay there. It was fun. They had a club, the Our Parents Hate Us Club. Kind of funny.
Maybe that was why she didn’t care that her parents had died?
Still no tears. Not even a shred of regret.
Making her way downstairs to the fridge, she saw it was a little past lunchtime, and she got to work making a sandwich. Figuring Luca would be in any moment, she grabbed another plate and made him one as well.
She even put a few of those weird pre-cut vegetables that couldn’t be good for anyone. Before they went on his plate, she washed them thoroughly.
No one knew who had mauled them prior to going in the bag.
Just as she was taking out two sodas from the fridge and closing the door with her hip, the back door opened. The scents of soil and grass permeated the kitchen. It was a smell she really liked.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“I wanted to. I was hungry.”
“Can you cook?” he asked.
“I have a cook that comes in a couple of times a week. The freezer should be full with meals. I’ll ask her to add something for you as well.”
“Okay.” She sat down at the counter. “I made this for you.”
She moved his plate across the granite counter.
The sound of it scraping seemed to get on his nerves, and for some messed-up reason she found that really funny but kept the smile off her face.
Picking up her sandwich, she took a bite as he walked to the sink.
He bent forward, and she stared down the line of his body to his ass. The pictures on the internet didn’t do him justice. He’d bulked out a lot since he’d gone into hiding. She had no doubt as to why.
He’d been the star of the show. The pristine little piece of human jewelry the world like to show off. People young and old had always flocked to him. It was clear to see why at the time. The scar he’d been given had turned him from being a shiny new toy to something ugly. They wanted to hide him, or at least he wanted to hide himself.
It was a shame. She found the scar made him interesting, giving him way more character than the dollar signs in his eyes ever did.
Also, there was a darkness that swirled around him.
“You doing your homework?” he asked.
“Yeah.” She hadn’t touched her schoolwork since coming here. She had more fascinating things to do, like explore his home and watch him.
Schoolwork paled in comparison.